LG G4 review: Welcome changes put it among best smartphones

The LG G4 is the successor to the G3, one of our favourite smartphones of last year. And two months after its global launch, the Korean corporation has finally let us play with its latest flagship device.

While a number of handset manufacturers have recently made only incremental changes to their flagship models, LG has been bold with its most recent update, even if some changes are more welcome than others.

The boldest decision is to introduce a leather backing to the device, available in brown or black, although plastic options are also available. The leather back is a brave move but gives the G4 an odd feel, falling short of the premium design of the HTC One M9 and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.

Other changes are far more welcome, not least in the camera department. The rear-facing camera has now been upgraded to 16 megapixels, with the addition of a colour spectrum sensor and the ability to shoot and export in RAW format. If that means nothing to you, suffice it to say images are stunning, with a brightness and crispness beyond many of its competitors.

LG says it has tweaked the G3’s 5.5-inch Quad HD display to make it brighter and more accurate in its colour representation. It is hard to see much of a difference in the G4, but the display is still one of the best around, with a gorgeous, naturalistic colour palette that makes a nice contrast to the more vivid Samsung displays.

The G4’s only other real downside is its battery, which struggled to last an entire day of moderately heavy usage on a single charge. Not an issue if you keep your phone charging at work, but battery life is noticeably weaker than other flagships such as the iPhone 6.

That said, the LG G4 is the device we’ve found it hardest to say goodbye to after reviewing this year. Its camera functions are simply stunning, as is its display. The S6 Edge and HTC One 9 may pip it in terms of design, and yes, the battery life isn’t great, but otherwise the G4 is right up there with the best smartphones currently on the market.

q&a a remarkable pedigree

John Everington reveals more about the LG G4:

Why do you keep on going on about the LG G3?

We’re not the only ones. It shared the best smartphone award with the iPhone 6 at the Global Mobile Awards at the Mobile World Congress in March. Plus, in a competitive market, its success reportedly boosted LG handset sales by 25 per cent last year.

Fair point. Back to the G4 – what makes it different from all the other high-end Android devices?

Apart from its awesome screen and camera, like its predecessor, its power button and volume controls can be found on the back of the phone. This differs from other phones. Another new G4 feature is KnockCode, a quirky feature that lets you wake your phone by tapping the screen. A nice touch, although I would have preferred a fingerprint reader like the iPhone’s. And unlike the iPhone, there is a micro SD slot.

That all sounds great, but there is still that battery issue.

The G4 is one of the few flagship smartphones that has a removable battery, which may have something to do with its slightly below-par battery performance. Being able to replace the battery was once a must-have feature, but in this day of the ubiquitous charging cable and generic battery packs, it’s an interesting decision for LG to offer that option.

So how much does the LG G4 cost?

Around Dh2,699. A bit pricier than the HTC One M9; a little cheaper than the iPhone 6.

jeverington@thenational.ae

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