LG G4 Review


LG has issued its response to the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6 in the form of the LG G4, a phone that sees efforts focused on the features that most impact everyday use. While the phone ultimately feels a bit too familiar to last year’s LG G3, the G4 holds serve with its 2015 counterparts and offers compelling improvements in the areas of design, display, and camera.


With the G4, LG intended to eschew the rectangular shape we have come to expect from smartphones, carrying over elements of the curved design of the far more ambitious G Flex 2. It’s far more subtle here, however, and the G4 lacks the flexible OLED display.

The shape of the device does not call attention to itself, but it won’t go unnoticed. The phone is ergonomic in hand despite its measurements —5.86 x 3.00 x 0.39 inches — and the curve adds a nice aesthetic quality. The G4 most definitely borders on the phablet designation, and even those with long thumbs will likely have a hard time reaching all corners of the screen. Depending on the app or situation, the G4 is often difficult to operate with one hand, a trade-off any phablet user should be well aware of.

LG does address this reachability issue to some extent with their unique home button/volume rocker arrangement found on the rear of the device. First introduced with the G2 and honed with the G3, the button placement does take some getting used to for the uninitiated. After your brain is trained it seems rather natural. You might even wonder why all smartphones haven’t be using this design for years.

lg g4 colors 2

Adding to the phone’s visual appeal are a variety of finish options, including leather, ceramic, or a more traditional metal/plastic hybrid. The model we tested featured the latter, perhaps the most underwhelming of the bunch. Ceramic has the feel of a premium material and promises good durability, but leather with stitched accents seems to be the look LG wants the G4 to be know for. We’ve seen other manufacturers experiment with the idea, from simulated and faux leather to the real thing, but LG really pulls it off here in a selection of colors.

A removable backplate means users can swap from one to another to change the look of their G4 on the fly, and LG has plans to sell all options separately. That should be appealing to consumers with personalization on the mind, and means buyers won’t feel any regret over the version of the device they initially choose.



LG has opted to stand pat with a 5.5-inch QHD display, the same size and resolution as the display featured on last year’s G3. Our initial reaction in many ways was similar to the experience with that phone, but LG has made improvements that do make a meaningful impact.

LG touts improved IPS Quantum technology, and the G4’s 500 nit display indeed stands out as one of the brightest we have ever seen on a smartphone (said to be 25% brighter than previous QHD displays). There have also been enhancements in terms of color reproduction over the G3 with a 20% wider range of color and 50% increase in contrast ratio (1,500:1) from last year’s model.

What you can expect are colors that pop and hues that are more true to life in comparison to technology like the Super AMOLED displays Samsung has come to rely on. The tones generated by the G4’s display are more representative of what the eye sees in nature, but often images can seem a little washed out. Some depth seems to be lost in the brightness.

Our perception might be somewhat skewed after too much time with the almost cartoonishly vibrant displays of Samsung’s Galaxy line, but if your preference is for such exaggerated imagery you could potentially view the G4’s display as a let down. We don’t. It’s display that is easily viewable even outdoors on a bright and sunny day, and it offers sharp, clear images on par with other Android flagships.

Hardware and Performance

The LG G4 features an interesting mix of hardware being the only 2015 flagship device so far to employ Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 processor, a hexa-core SoC comprised of a dual-core ARM A57 CPU paired with a quad-core ARM A53, which offers 64-bit support. Graphics processing is handled by an Adreno 418 GPU, and the processing suite is paired with 3GB of RAM.

In comparison, both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 take advantage of quad-core processing with an Exynos 7420 and Snapdragon 810, respectively. Even the predecessor G Flex 2 from earlier this year sports the 810 chipset, leaving some to wonder if the G4 is a step back in terms of processing.

LG_G4_Benchmark2 LG_G4_Benchmark1 LG_G4_Benchmark3

Benchmark scores reproduced here indeed suggest the phone underperforms when pitted against the competition, but a string of somewhat arbitrary numbers doesn’t tell the full story. LG and Qualcomm made it a point to discuss how closely they worked to optimize the Snapdragon 808 for use in the G4, the result being a device that should still perform well despite hardware with a little less sizzle.

Real-world performance was as it should be with no noticeable lag when navigating software and launching apps. Launching the camera and snapping off a few photos took mere seconds, cycling between apps was effortless, and the G4 deftly handled the demands of graphics-intensive gaming.

Though the G4 includes 32GB of onboard storage, fans of expandable memory will be glad to know the LG has not abandoned MicroSD support. Extra removable storage is especially useful for those wishing to take advantage of the 16MP camera’s RAW image capabilities.


LG has gone all out with the G4’s camera, utilizing hardware that really starts to blur the line between smartphone photography and something more akin to what we might see from a DSLR. It starts with an f/1.8 aperture and super-sized 1/2.6″ image sensor. These combine to offer a camera that excels in nearly any lighting condition, including those dreaded lowlight situations. LG didn’t stop there, though. They have also included a color spectrum sensor that works to bring out the most lifelike colors in the images it captures. For good measure the laser autofocus of the G3 returns, offering speedy refocusing for subjects in close range.

The results speak for themselves. The G4 offers up finely detailed shots with little fuss, and strikes a fairly even balance of color, light, and shadow. The camera’s ability in poorly-lit environs was indeed impressive, though you should expect these shots to still lack a certain quality found in more ideally illuminated pictures.

In general, the G4’s auto mode churns out impressive images on its own, but a retooled camera interface gives photographers the tools they need to adjust shooting parameters on the fly with its manual mode. Focus, exposure, ISO, white balance, and more can be dialed in to the perfect amount. Within manual mode, one tap enables the ability to save images in RAW format (an uncompressed file offering more data and detail) for later editing and processing.



The camera isn’t the only software that gets an update with the G4. LG has further improved the look and feel of their user experience over the G3, giving us an interface that stays quite true to the Material Design roots of the Android 5.1 Lollipop OS that ships with the device. Colors are bright and fun while icons and interface elements take on a flat, paper-inspired look.

The most prominent addition is Smart Bulletin — a homescreen pane showcasing a series of widgets like LG Health, the music player, and calendar. It is accessed by swiping to the far right (the same place you might find Samsung’s Briefing pane or HTC’s BlinkFeed). The idea is nice, and there is some use in quickly accessing certain widgets, but in this iteration Smart Bulletin feels a little half-baked.


LG has also introduced a new feature within the calendar dubbed Event Pocket. When opened, Event Pocket will present a variety of items culled from your Facebook events or nearby points of interest, allowing you to drag and drop them directly to your calendar. For those managing an endlessly busy schedule, Event Pocket could become a useful tool.

Beyond these additions, the G4 also includes an improved Smart Notice widget that incorporates data like weather, location, and stored events to offer predictive suggestions, tips, and more, much like what we expect from Google Now. As we said with our G3 review, Google Now remains a superior alternative.

Speaking of Google Now, the great thing about the G4 is that its interface is relatively unobtrusive and allows much of what we love about Lollipop to shine through. LG’s user interface changes strike a good balance with stock Android.



While the battery capacity hasn’t increased since the G3, battery life is improved thanks to optimization spanning software and the phones Snapdragon 808 processor. How much things have improved is a matter of debate.

It’s safe to say you will get a solid day of use from the G4 dependent on usage habits. 12-14 hours of uptime seems to be a reasonable expectation with an average gauntlet of messaging, web surfing, light gaming, and some video consumption. With even more spare usage you might push into a second day before needing to recharge, but this would be a rare case for most users. Standard Android battery saver modes can be set to kick on when power runs low in order to shut down unnecessary services that speed battery drain.

A removable battery is convenient for power hogs who need the security of a backup, but the G4 lacks built-in wireless charging, a feature found in the Galaxy S6 and starting to see a surge in popularity. Is it a deal breaker? No, but it’s the little things that count.



Taken individually, features like the camera, display, and design of the G4 are quite impressive, if not tops among it smartphone peers. As a package, however, there still seems to be something missing from the overall presentation. Something feels a bit underwhelming, though it’s difficult to place a finger on.

Perhaps the G4 does not feel like a big enough leap from last year’s G3. Maybe it’s a fingerprint sensor away from feeling complete. While there is this sense that LG could have pushed harder, it is also difficult to find much to complain about with what the G4 ultimately presents: a phone worthy of consideration as one of the best to launch in 2015 so far, though perhaps not THE best.

LG G4 Rating:star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_empty (4.0 / 5)

The Good

  • Near-DSLR quality camera with advanced shooting options
  • Big, bright, and beautiful QHD display
  • Subtle design accents that add form to function

The Bad

  • Battery life is average and improves little from last generation
  • Snapdragon 808 processing performs well but lags behind other current flagships

The Bottom Line

Overall an incredibly solid performing from LG that meshes great hardware, beautiful display, and powerful camera to make it a must-consider device for new phone shoppers.

Kevin Krause
Pretty soon you'll know a lot about Kevin because his biography will actually be filled in!

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  1. Went to the photo store to get an photo printed and the cables in store wouldnt read from the G3, next I tried to upload to Google Drive and download from there but the instore software sucked.. so I just pulled out the SD card and printed from there. Couldnt do that on many of the latest smartphones…

    1. The value of Micro SD support is almost intangible isn’t it? Bavo to LG for continuing to support it on their latest flagship. Bravo.

      1. For sure. Mother’s day saved!

  2. “What you can expect are colors that pop and hues that are more true to life in comparison to technology like the Super AMOLED displays Samsung has come to rely on.”

    These types of phrases get thrown around a lot, but when groups like Anandtech measure the accuracy of the S6, Note 4, and even S5, they’ve measured out to be among the most accurate in the industry. So I’m not sure where that thought process comes from any more, unless it’s just leftover from the older AMOLED days.

    Thanks for the solid review Kevin!

    Edit: That kind of sounds like sarcasm since it was a “thanks” after a “complaint” – it was a sincere thanks!

  3. Solid phone and you can’t go wrong with it, but I too felt like there was something missing from this phone. I personally think it has something to do with the overall design/form factor of the phone and the skin. I love the leather back and color options, but the front of the phone is so boring to me. Maybe if they kept the more rounded look of the previous generation or something more attractive. Their skin is a lot more flat, but still seems noisy in my opinion, cluttered.

  4. I am so pumped.

    BUT.. WTF is up with a 30-60 day later USA release from announcement? That leaves the door open for the Z4, a new Moto, a possible next Nexus and the next Note to be announced or leaked and that means lost G4 sales. It seems like they really botched this timing. And, this lag also means people loose interest, move on, forgot and buy something else.

    1. Well the general public probably has no idea about it yet. I’m sure LG will pump up their US marketing blitz next month once it’s out.

      1. Most people are gaga over the Samsung S6. I just played with one in the store and loved the camera . Nice and fast

        1. Part of that comes with the build up, announcement and then immediate release of the phone so people can jump on it. Not announcement and then 30-60 day delayed release IMHO. The S6 is nice yes, but IMHO, the G4 offers more so I am holding out. I was testing an S6 in the VZW store the moment I found out about the G4… I set down the S6 and left. To many benefits to the G4 for me to continue considering the S6. And, I am an S3, S4, S5 guy. I am jumping ship based on all I know and have seen thus far.

    2. To be fair, when it comes to the Z4 it’s not gonna hold up as great of a fight against the G4 which is surely going to have greater market saturation in comparison. Those pesky Sony phones are just not common enough around here.

    3. Hold your horses there. You’re expecting Q3 to happen in Q2

  5. “Snapdragon 808 processing performs well but lags behind other current flagships”.. terribly vague and totally empty statement. It lags behind mostly due to a number reference in the name. “08” versus “10”. But it does not literally lag behind in speed or performance – and in fact many argue it is better on battery and paired with a 3000 battery, nice. And the “10” has it’s own proven issues and I have seen them first hand on 2 different M9 phones. Makers can tune their phones and OS and such to work better with an 808 then an 810, especially if at the end of the day some have to throttle back the 810 anyway. And, so what if you have an 810 when your phone has a bad RAM leak (hello S6?). So, this is comment is more about name and newness of the chip then ACTUAL functionality.

    1. I guess if you really want to believe that.

      1. I love it how someone pips in with nothing but a jab and no actual quality retort. Yeah, I 100% believe it as it is 100% true.

        An 810 can be crap if the phone is not tuned to run it. An 808 could be awesome and better if the phone is tuned to run it. This is not really debatable stuff and goes for any variation of chips. It being an 8″10″ does NOT de facto make it better for that phone if the maker borked the setup. All depends on what the maker tuned the phone and chip to do together. And the heating issues on the 810 are real as I personally have seen 2 M9 phones with 810 returned for heat issues.

      2. I came back just to drop this review quote for you to make the point…

        “Qualcomm dominates the market, but their top-of-the-line chip, the Snapdragon 810, is very hot. In the LG G Flex 2 and the HTC One M9, that we found the 810’s throttling to be so significant that in longer CPU-heavy tasks, the 810 can actually come out slower than the Snapdragon 801 or 805. “

      3. Oh and this one also…

        “Despite turning the dial back on all these components, the 808 isn’t always slower than the 810. While Qualcomm’s general design seems to have a lot of problems, with the 808 it has stuck a good balance between raw speed and the reality of heat constraints. Subjectively, the device feels plenty fast, and we prefer the saner heat output of the 808.”

        1. I really think you need to get your head checked! You seem a little obsessed to me and it’s actually a little terrifying

    2. Basically RAM leak is solved by 5.1.1 so the G4 isn’t impacted, thx to google for that.

    3. Samsung isn’t at fault as much as Google is for the memory leak.

  6. So are there actually any TANGIBLE benefits to the leather backs, vs whatever the cheapest option is? I mean, will it last longer and/or scuff less?

    1. Leather often looks better with age. Scuffs and imperfections usually gives it a nice distressed look rather than appearing old and worn out. It might offer some drop protection (cushioning), it feels great and has excellent grip. It looks classy and matches my leather laptop bag. Leather is more premium than metal, plastic or glass. Can keep going :)

      1. Most of what you said is about looks; that’s not tangible :P On the other hand, if having scuffs on the back of the phone actually increases the resale value, you might be on to something. Depending on how much the leather back costs vs how much it increases the resale value …

    2. BTW, a leather back also comes with the plastic back and is about $50 more than plastic only – says the rumor mill.

      I think the leather looks awesome and depending on what Verizon gets, I intend to spend $50 to get 2 backs so I have a choice. And, I think there could be some benefit to the leather in terms of innate grip of the phone due to texture and IF it drops and lands on the back, some piece of logic says the leather could absorb some of the blow of said drop plastic (or a glass back) would buckle under.

      1. Based on your description, it looks like the ‘premium’ label might actually have some merit this time, unlike the glass back of the S6. Will definitely keep an eye on it.

        1. Here is another potential benefit… it is going to be real hard for people like Verizon – who love to stick a f****** branding logo on every open part of the phone – to have anything put on that leather.

          1. LOL, I’m sure they’ll figure out a way somehow. Or else they’ll just put it on the front :(

          2. Verizon will legitimately “brand” the phone.

          3. Sorry to disappointed you but that didn’t stop them with the Moto X…

  7. Ill stick with the G3 until the 5 comes out.

  8. I love reading these reviews for the many smart phones out there but especially the G4. There are however a couple of caveats that I keep reading over and over again about how 1) The camera is not quite up to par with the phone from those Samsung products. 2) Battery life is not quite what you expected it to be. 3) the screen isn’t quite the neon powerhouse like the screen on those Sammy Products. I am sure these are all true in your opinion but, come on, get a grip. Most reviewers probably have only a week before deadline to review a phone putting them through every kind of test they can think of. Of course you are not going to get good battery life. I guess what I am trying to say is to use whatever phone you are reviewing in real life for a month or so and then give your opinion, good or bad. Use it and tweak it like a real person instead of pushing it to the max. Lets see what your opinion is then!!!!

    1. Oh.. and the Sammy RAM leak issue is not what many expected. I have read many of not all reviews I have found, and I have seen some that say the camera is equal if not better. And battery? I have read many bemoaning the life of the NOT removable S6 battery.

    2. There’s also the purple spots in the front camera issue now popping up in the GS6. Time to get your new phone replaced, I hope this G4 holds up and the software isn’t buggy.

  9. Current GS4 owner here, who has experience switching from Sam Galaxies to LG Gs? There are plenty of things I love about the GS4 and Sam, but I’ve had 2 GS4s suffer catastrophic screen breakages (despite having screen protectors and cases on them). Another thing I don’t like about the screen, is how dim it is in direct sunlight. My understanding is the G4 has a much brighter screen, and I really like retaining the removable battery and mSDs that made me go to Android phones in the first place. I’m seriously considering going with the G4 this time, as opposed with the GS6.

  10. loved my G2 and G3….looking to dip out of my Nexus 6 here soon….i’m sure with those camera features, that average battery turns into horrible batter, no? its the reason i left the G3.

    1. Don’t you do it… Don’t u leave your Nexus 6 behind!

      1. I probably won’t. I’ll end up waiting for the next one.

  11. This phone is a solid. But i dont think its better than samsung’s offering this year. Ill say the S6 is the best flagship, not too far behind is this and far behind that is the M9.

    1. It’s pretty much plain and simple the S6, S6Edge and Note4 and NoteEdge are BOSS over this LG G4 so easily it’s comical.

      1. More silly pandering to the Samsung god.

      2. The battery situation alone is too sour a pill to swallow on the S6/Edge combo. Too small, drains too fast, and can’t be replaced when it will inevitably start to weaken about a year out…

        The loss of the microSD card also means that a factory reset (recommended after upgrading your Android version to get rid of all of the kinks) will get rid of all of your media stored therein. That is the one of the dumber moves in the whole situation.

        I’ve owned and loved the SGS1 (Vibrant) and the SGS III, and I’ve looked at envy at my mom’s S4 and S5, but I feel nothing but pity for those who pick up the S6.

        You’re right, though, the Note 4 is fairly solid (even though the loss of waterproofing was a pretty sad event).

  12. While I’m a new owner of a Tribute, which I’ve very pleased with (aside from the meager 4Gb of memory), I’ve played a bit with G3 and Flex 2 in the store and I can’t see the advantage of the button placement in terms of *not* swiping your finger over the camera lens when reaching for the buttons, even after some muscle memory develops.
    Granted, on my Tribute, the volume rocker sits right under my thumb and the power button is right under my index finger (a case really helped with accidental presses) but I’d think on a taller phone, like the G3/4/Flex, putting the buttons on the side but higher up would solve both problems.

    1. G3 owner here and G2 prior to that. The camera lens has olephobic coating and I have never got any smear on my G3’s after a year of owning it and accidently putting my index finger on the lens more than once. Putting buttons on the side means wider bezel to accommodate button hardware, negating LG’s near bezel-less selling point for the G2/G3/G4…

  13. just because its a ‘flagship’ phone doesn’t mean one must cram every insane piece of hardware into it. the 808 is an extremely capable processor. in fact, the 801 in my m8 is overkill for most applications currently on the play store. all readers should do some research into the 810 before buying a phone with one. they are screaming fast …. for about 90 seconds before they overheat and scale down to 900 mhz. they 808 lacks 2 cores and a bit of speed but in real world application use where a user will run the program longer than 90 seconds the 808 will destroy the 810. as proof, go ahead and run the same benchmark tests on the 810 repeatedly for 5 minutes…the readings will go near the readings of a 400 snapdragon. in addition to the constant throttling of the 810, the processor gets quite hot and uncomfortable to use. i am certain that all users with phones using the 810 will jump to spam me and defend their purchase. all i am saying is that if you are looking for a new phone do all your research before you go out and have to have the absolute top-end piece of hardware on the market

    1. The snapdragon 810 revision 2.1 has fixed that. Look at the xiaomi mi note pro

    2. I agree, the 808 is definitely capable. Especially with smartphones coupled with the 3GBs of RAM nowadays, these devices scream and are multitasking beasts

    3. I put your claims to the test with my M9:

      First, I ran AnTuTu Benchmark twice, back-to-back, a total of 8 minutes. No throttling, as far a I could tell, and the phone only got slightly warm, certainly not hot.

      Second, I ran Geekbench 3 three times, back-to-back, a total of about 6 minutes. No throttling at all, scores were about the same the 3rd time as the first. The phone got a little warm, but still not hot.

      Consider your lies debunked. How much does Samsung pay you to keep repeating them?

  14. Would love if the g4 had ddr4 RAM. Also if it had the snapdragon 810 version 2.1 clocked at 2.5ghz. The same one in the Xiaomi Mi Note Pro

    1. You mean lpddr4, and I don’t know where you’re getting your information on a 2.5 ghz snapdragon 810. There’s enough overheating as is even with the update to reduce clock speeds.

  15. What the heck? No mention of speakers… At all?

  16. Guess it’s note 5 now for me!

  17. Quick Charge 2.0 added, another reason this phone is beast!

  18. Glad to see the G4 isn’t leaps and bounds better than any device out. The S6 has a better experience in terms of software with more features and a cleaner feel. The LG UI looks too inconsistent with color choices. They cannot stop the S6/S6 Edge either, so it’s a solid #2 manufacturer candidate.

  19. Nice camera but based an samples the software needs improvement as the Galaxy S6 is consistently taking better shots in auto mode.

    Otherwise not impressed at all, I still don’t like the rear button, the phone is too big and from the front just looks like a OnePlus One.

    Good to see them focusing on the camera, unlike HTC who just don’t care anymore.

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