2015 Flagship 3: LG G4

Tue May 12, 2015


When it comes to the blossoming South Korean GDP, whether Samsung or LG triumphs is a moot point. But nonetheless, there is a cute national rivalry between these two Korean companies in their efforts to one-up each other. And it has served them well. When looking at 2014 sales, Samsung is currently the top smartphone manufacturer in the world, and LG is in a respectable fifth place. If Samsung is the aggressive older brother, then LG comes off as the clean-cut, conservative younger brother who is extremely capable, but somewhat boring.

Let’s start by taking a look at the spec sheet of the LG G4:

Operating system: Android 5.1 Lollipop

Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum Display (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 808

Memory: 3GB LPDDR3 RAM / 32GB eMMC ROM, microSD card up to 2TB

Rear camera: 16MP with F1.8 aperture / OIS 2.0

Front-facing camera: 8MP with f/2.0 aperture

Battery: 3,000 mAh removable

Size: 148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3-9.8 mm

Weight: 155 grams

In keeping with LG’s conservatism, the LG G4 breaks no new ground here. While Samsung and Apple have both opted for non-removable storage and batteries in the name of design, LG has kept the removable back with a user-replaceable battery and SD card. Personally, I’d expect enough battery power and storage capabilities in a 2015 flagship, that I wouldn’t have to constantly swap out these components. Tinkering with hardware is a bother and takes away from a seamless user experience. I’m sure there are Android diehards out there who will appreciate LG’s stubborn adherence to the old ways, but I’m not one of them.

I’m not really a fan of how this phone looks either.

This is a big, ugly phone. The removable back options range from dimpled plastic to a faux stitched-leather that just reminds me of the horrible skeuomorphic Corinthian leather in Apple’s old notes and calendar apps. It also reminds me of business-type accessories, such as handbags and leather briefcases, neither of which appeal to my aesthetic sensibilities. In addition, the placement of the volume keys on the back just seems odd and unintuitive.

Having said that, it feels a bit incongruous to pick on the design because, in all other respects, this seems like a rock-solid phone. By all accounts, the slightly-curved screen is bright and has superb colour accuracy. The camera is right up there with the other big boys - maybe not the best out there, but close enough. The Snapdragon 808, while not as fast as the 810, appears to be more than adequate in maintaining a smooth user experience. Unsurprisingly, LG’s software skin continues to be all sorts of ugly, but that is easily fixed with a launcher.

I respect LG. I’ve never had a problem with LG phones in the past, and let’s give praise where it’s due: the Nexus 5 is just a perfect combination of price and feature sets. But do I feel an emotional tug toward their products? Not really. They may have won my mind, but not my heart.

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