LG G4 review: A very good smartphone, almost a flagship
The LG G2 was the beginning of the rebirth of LG in the smartphone world. Last year the LG G3 was received with acclaimed reviews. It’s 2015 and LG is back with another smartphone in their top of the range line: the LG G4.
With the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and iPhone 6, can the LG G4 become the must have smartphone in 2015?
LG has decided to keep their winning formula with the back button (power button and volume rocker). You won’t find any buttons on the sides of the LG G4. Everything is kept to a minimalist design. This year, LG has decided to imitate the style of the LG G Flex2. Yes the LG G4 has a slight curve and it is an excellent design choice. The LG G4 feels perfect in the hand. It is a large smartphone but it doesn't feel that big. It is easier to hold the LG G4 than the iPhone 6 plus.
The back of the LG G4 is a very different story. They have decided to keep the removable cover and battery, which is good news (if you need it) but the choice of back covers is not that exciting. The black plastic feels cheap a la "Samsung" old school. There is also the leather back cover. At first it looks posh but when you touch it you realise that it is extremely thin and unfortunately the Web is full of upset users showing how their “leather cover” has lasted less than a month! Personally I think this is a bad design choice for a company that want the LG G4 to be a great flagship. They have totally missed the point and with HTC, Samsung and Apple, I think that the G4 can't compete as a flagship (at least build quality wise) in 2015.
In one word: beautiful. The LG G4 display is much better than the LG G3. It has bright colours, great viewing angle, excellent colour reproduction. I honestly cannot fault this QHd display. It is a pleasure to watch Netflix, Hulu, YouTube etc…, it's an amazing display.
Speakers and headphones:
In 2015 it is still difficult to find a Smartphone with front stereo speakers. This is really unfortunate because flagship phones are not cheap. Thankfully some manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have managed to produce a smartphone with a powerful speaker (better than nothing I suppose!). Unfortunately this is not the case with the LG G4 as the speaker is not that great: not loud and poor quality. Then the red headsets that are included (not too sure about the colour choice) are not really good either. They look great and I had high hopes but ultimately I was disappointed. Really LG? What were you thinking? A smartphone with such a beautiful display deserves equally good care on the sound department.
Why it is so hard to find a smartphone with good battery life? I used a lot of phones in 2015 and 2014 and honestly nothing beats the Blackberry Z30. The battery was just a monster! So what about the LG G4?
Unfortunately I never reached the end of the day and I had to charge it in the late afternoon or early evening. Then the charging is not fast either. The most surprising design choice this year is that LG has removed the wireless charging (it was a very much appreciated feature in the LG G3). Now you need to buy an LG cover to enjoy wireless charging. This is not a really good design move. Yes you can remove the battery and replace it, but I don’t really want to go everywhere with a spare battery! So, I am a not that pleased with the battery! At least they could have included a Fast Charger inside the box.
The software and LG UI:
The LG G4 comes out of the box with the latest version of Android Lollipop. This is good because lollipop is probably the best Android version so far. It is nice, and material design is great. Well, until LG decided to kill the beauty of lollipop with their ugly UI. I am not a fan of Touchwiz, HTC sense, Sony UI but I think that anything is better than the LG UI. This is a matter of taste and we will never agree. Personally I don't like this UI.
There are too much many extras everywhere making it very messy and the user experience is not satisfactory. In a way it reminds me of the Samsung Galaxy S4 with all the bloatware etc… I know a lot of Android users will say "root your device or change your launcher". This is true, but I want something that works straight out of the box and I want a good user experience.
Then my unit didn’t perform as well as I expected. Too often apps crashed (especially Google ones). Scrolling on Chrome wasn't as smooth as I expected (much better on the S6, HTC One M9 and the iPhone 6). I had some issues too when using the camera. If somebody was calling me while taking pictures the LG G4 randomly froze. I couldn't answer the phone or keep using the camera, I had to restart the phone. As I said maybe that was my unit but the overall experience was far from great. Apart from these hiccups, there are also some good points. It launches apps fast (only the Google apps crashed), and the multi tasking is fast and very nice to use.
The LG G4 can be a super fast reliable smartphone with probably one of the best performances in 2015, but sometimes it would behave so weirdly. I don’t think this is due to the processor or the ram. In my opinion the LG UI is affecting the performance.
An excellent camera is a key point in the flagship war. Apple and Samsung have raised the bar and on paper LG has decided to be very aggressive with the LG G4: 16MP camera, OIS, laser autofocus etc…
This camera can take outstanding pictures with amazing details. I took a lot of pictures and it can be without a doubt the best camera phone I have used. However, sometimes the laser autofocus can miss the point or be slow to focus. I missed quite a lot good pictures because of this. I don’t know why, software perhaps? I've read other reviews that mention the same problem. The LG G4 camera is awesome 97% of the time. But believe me this camera won’t disappoint you and the details and quality of the pictures is really good.
Call quality and network:
I would say the call quality was good. No dropped calls, or problem hearing or being heard. I have noticed some issues with the WiFi. It could lose signal pretty fast. That’s something to take into consideration.
The LG G4 is a very good smartphone. Design wise in my opinion it is hard to call it a flagship because in 2015 Samsung, Apple, HTC have raised the bar and they produced beautiful handsets. In 2014, against the Samsung Galaxy S5, this smartphone would have been the best Android phone, but not this year. I had some performance issues and I dislike the LG UI which made my decision to return it easy. However, it has a beautiful display, it feels well in the hand, and the camera is capable of outstanding results. If you like rooting your phone or playing with launchers etc… this phone is without a doubt an excellent choice. However if like me you want a flagship to be and feel great straight out of the box, I think there are better options out there.
But there is also a huge point in its favour: The LG G4 is much cheaper on contract than any of the other 2015 flagships and if you are on a tighter budget it could be the best option.
There is a lot to love about the LG G4, and if you are coming from the G2 you will be be pleased by this upgrade.
I think LG has to stop trying to catch up with Samsung. They need to produce a smartphone that will leave everybody amazed (like Samsung with the S6 and S6 edge). The LG G4 won't be my smartphone for the months ahead. Maybe the the LG G5 will be.