LG G4 review: The big smartphone with a removable battery AND a microSD card slot
LG G4 review: Specifications and performance
It wouldn’t be a flagship launch without a specifications bump, so it’s hardly a surprise to see an improvement on that front. But at least LG is doing things differently from most of the competition, utilising Qualcomm’s six-core, 64-bit 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808 SoC, which is backed by an Adreno 418 GPU, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.
Other specs include dual-band, dual-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi with support for MU-MIMO, Cat9 4G with download speeds of up to 450Mbits/sec, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC. What you don’t get is any kind of waterproofing or wireless charging as standard, although you can add the latter via an optional replacement back.
Those six cores are split in a dual-core/quad-core arrangement, running at frequencies of 1.8GHz and 1.44GHz respectively. On paper, and in testing, this delivers a mixed bag of results.
In the Geekbench single core tests it’s not that far behind the competition, but when it comes to multitasking, rival phones of a similar size stretch out more of a lead. In fact it lags behind all the market leaders at this screen size and above, including the 5.7in Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Google Nexus 6P, and the 5.5in iPhone 6s Plus.
It’s the same story in the GFXBench Manhattan benchmark, which tests the capabilities of the phone’s Adreno 418 graphics chip. In this test, it once again lags behind the major competitors at this screen size.
Of all the 5.5-5.7in phones launched in 2015, then, the LG G4 is the slowest. That‘s not to say this is a huge problem, though. Indeed, the LG G4 feels perfectly responsive in daily use, and I haven’t yet found a game that fazes it.
Elsewhere, battery life is an improvement on last year’s G3, both in terms of its capacity and according to the results in testing. Streaming a 720p video in flight mode with the screen set to a brightness of 120cd/m2 drained it at 6.3% per hour, while audio streaming over 4G drained it at 3.6%.
That can’t quite match the Samsung Galaxy S6’s figures of 6% and 2.8%, but it’s better than the HTC One M9 (9.7% and 2.6%). And with a user-replaceable battery, it’s more flexible than both.
LG credits the phone’s improved efficiency to a number of changes, not least a more efficient display. The G4 uses what LG calls “N-type liquid crystals”, which it says allow the light from the screen’s backlight through the structure of the liquid crystal more easily.
Reading between the lines, the benefit here isn’t intended to be extra brightness – the LG G4’s top brightness of 476cd/m2 is far from most eye-searing I’ve measured – rather a reduction in the amount of power needed to power the display to that sort of brightness in the first place.
Another of LG’s claims is that the screen is capable of producing a wider range of colours than other phones, in accordance with the DCI (digital cinema initiatives) standard, rather than sRGB or Adobe RGB. In practice, the G4 covers 97.9% of the sRGB colour gamut, which is highly impressive in itself, while producing a richer tapestry of greens and reds.
Colour accuracy, however, is tougher to assess, since even with the automatic brightness adjustment turned off, the display still adjusts the intensity of the backlight depending on what’s displayed onscreen. To the eye, though, the LG G4’s display has plenty of impact, is as crisp as anyone needs, and the colours really leap from the screen.
LG G4 specifications
|Processor||Six-core (dual 1.8GHz and quad 1.44GHz), Qualcomm Snapdragon 808|
|Screen resolution||1,440 x 2560, 538ppi (Gorilla Glass 3)|
|Rear camera||16MP (f/1.8, phase detect autofocus, OIS, 1/2.6in sensor size)|
|Flash||Dual LED with colour spectrum sensor|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||MicroSD|
|Wi-Fi||802.11ac (2x2 MU-MIMO)|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth 4.1 LE, A2DP, apt-X|
|Wireless data||4G, Cat9 (450Mbits/sec download)|
|Size (WDH)||75 x 8.9 x 149mm|
|Operating system||LG UX 4.0 (based on Android Lollipop 5.1)|
Price and availability
|SIM-free price||Plastic back, around £500; leather back, around £520|
|Contract price||From free on a £35/mth 24mth contract|