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LG G4 First Impressions

Patrick Afschar Kaboli (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 05/26/2015

Say "cheese!" LG has once and for all completely dedicated itself to photography with its new flagship. A higher resolution, bigger lenses, a higher luminosity, and an improved image stabilizer... it almost lets us forget that the G4 is a superb smartphone - optionally available in leather. Unfortunately, it also has some old weaknesses.

For the original German preview, see here.

The product manager's presentation of LG's new G4 flagship smartphone was strongly focused on the new cameras. The invited guests - including us - had the opportunity of getting an impression of the prowess of the South Korean manufacturer's 5.5-inch top model at the event. The engineers have apparently poured heart and soul into the field of photography. Multiple optimizations have been made compared with the former G3 that also excelled with good camera equipment. Ambitious photographers will be pleased about the manual mode that gives the user full control. More about that in the course of this preview and naturally in the in-depth test report coming soon. 

The screen has also been modified. Although its size and resolution are the same as in the G3, LG now speaks of a "Quantum IPS" screen that is allegedly absolutely superior to the screen in the G3, and especially in terms of brightness, contrast and color accuracy. It was already obvious that it is very bright at the presentation.

LG's new premium model is to cost 700 Euros (~$761). However, its removable back cover is genuine leather. The phone costs 50 Euros (~$54) less when plastic is enough. Micro-SD is presently included as a bonus on early pre-orders.

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Graphics adapter
Qualcomm Adreno 418, Core: 600 MHz
Memory
3072 MB 
Display
5.5 inch 16:9, 2560 x 1440 pixel, capacitive, 10 multitouch points, Quantum IPS, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, curved, glossy: yes
Storage
32 GB eMMC Flash, 32 GB 
, 21.89 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, 1 HDMI, Audio Connections: combo audio 3.5 mm in/out jack, Card Reader: microSD max. 2 TB (SD, SDHC, SCXC), Sensors: ambient light, proximity, accelerometer and position sensor, barometer, digital compass, GPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Android Beam, Miracast, Infrared, Wifi Direct, DLNA, OTG, FM radio
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5), Bluetooth 4.1, GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz), UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1900 and 2100 MHz), LTE Cat. 6 (800, 1800 and 2600 MHz), head-SAR: 0.618 W/kg, body-SAR: 0.460 W/kg, VoLTE
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 9.8 x 148.9 x 76.1 ( = 0.39 x 5.86 x 3 in)
Battery
12 Wh Lithium-Ion, 3000 mAh, 3.85 V, Talk time 2G (according to manufacturer): 19 h, Talk time 3G (according to manufacturer): 19 h, Standby 2G (according to manufacturer): 360 h, Standby 3G (according to manufacturer): 440 h
Operating System
Android 5.1 Lollipop
Camera
Webcam: front: 8 MP; rear: 16 MP, OIS 2.0, f/1.8
Additional features
Speakers: mono speaker, Keyboard: virtual, power supply, data cable, Knock Code, LG Backup, LG Health, Quick Remote, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
155 g ( = 5.47 oz / 0.34 pounds), Power Supply: 72 g ( = 2.54 oz / 0.16 pounds)
Price
700 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

First Impressions

No question: LG's G4 stands out from the current trend of absolutely flat premium-range smartphones comprised of glass and metal. We find that good. The laterally and longitudinally curved casing has considerably more height at 9.8 millimeters than all flagship rivals, but it is extremely pleasant to hold - particularly when it has been ordered with the genuine leather back cover. It might cost 50 Euros (~$54) extra, but it is worth every cent. The plastic cover is also in the box. LG's G4 is not only an eye-catcher with the leather cover, it also has an extremely high-quality feel. Of course, leather is more susceptible to scratches than, for example, sapphire glass. However, it will tell its own story in the course of its service life. Anyone who has ever owned a raw leather product will know what the author means. The weight of 155 grams is also within limits. Overall, LG's G4 makes a relatively compact impression despite it 5.5-inch screen. Apple's iPhone 6 Plus is, for example, almost a centimeter longer at the same display diagonal.

LG's G4 not only looks good and has a pleasant feel, though. Its stiffness is also decent, and the removable back cover enables replacing the battery. LG is now alone with that in the premium range and proves that high-quality feel does not have to exclude a removable battery. The SIM and micro-SD slots are also under the cover. The latter theoretically supports cards with a storage capacity of up to 2 TB. For the record: The casing of LG's G4 is the best of its kind - and it is out of the ordinary with its leather back to top it off.

158.1 mm / 6.22 inch 77.8 mm / 3.06 inch 7.1 mm / 0.2795 inch 172 g0.3792 lbs148.9 mm / 5.86 inch 76.1 mm / 3 inch 9.8 mm / 0.3858 inch 155 g0.3417 lbs146.3 mm / 5.76 inch 74.6 mm / 2.94 inch 8.95 mm / 0.3524 inch 149 g0.3285 lbs144.6 mm / 5.69 inch 69.7 mm / 2.74 inch 9.61 mm / 0.3783 inch 157 g0.3461 lbs146.5 mm / 5.77 inch 72 mm / 2.83 inch 7.3 mm / 0.2874 inch 152 g0.3351 lbs142.1 mm / 5.59 inch 70.1 mm / 2.76 inch 7 mm / 0.2756 inch 132 g0.291 lbs

Cameras & Multimedia

The cameras are probably the most interesting feature of the new G4 - at least according to the manufacturer. However, even objectively, the South Korean company has put a lot of effort in this aspect. Not only has the resolution of 16 MP on the rear and a "selfie suitable" 8 MP on the front increased considerably compared with the precursor. LG has improved both the lens size and the maximum aperture to f/1.8. Then there is the optical image stabilizer OIS2 that can now correct deflections of up to two degrees on three axes, a manual mode with extensive settings, and helpful control options. For example, the front camera shoots four selfies in succession via hand gesture. If it has to be fast, double tapping the rear-sided volume down button immediately triggers a shot - even from standby. According to LG, the entire procedure only takes 0.6 seconds. We can say after a few tries: We believe it. More information about the technical innovations regarding the cameras will be published in the in-depth review.

A first look at the image quality: Some pictures were shot during the G4 event - indoors in rainy conditions and approaching twilight. However, the light-sensitive lens shows its prowess here. The pictures are still exposed perfectly and also sufficiently focused in the normal size. Graininess is first seen in extreme blowups. The colors look natural and in no way overly gaudy. The image quality even improves visibly in bright surroundings. They are more dynamic, and the level of detail is higher. Thanks to the high maximum aperture, it is also possible to tinker with the focus. In any case, we are curious about the other features of the cameras in the G4.

Display

A glance at the screen's tech specs suggests that LG has not changed anything. Why should it? A WQHD screen should suffice. In fact, both the size of 5.5-inches and the resolution of 2560x1440 pixels have not been altered. However, the screen is a completely new generation from the South Korean manufacturer. The marketing term "Quantum IPS" conceals a panel that is to display improvements in all key specs, owing to a modified production process. We could convince ourselves of that in a short time. The brightness, black level and contrast have been improved considerably compared to its precursor. All rates are on a high level. The brightness of considerably over 500 cd/m² is easily high enough even for outdoor use. Unfortunately, the G4 dims the brightness after a short while of heavy usage - a condition that we also criticized in the precursors.

The color accuracy of LG's G4 is slightly worse than that of the G3. The shifts in the grayscale level and mixed colors in relation to the sRGB reference are still somewhat too high. However, that will not adversely affect everyday use. LG's G4 covers the DCI color space (Digital Camera Initiatives) by 98% according to the manufacturer. Since this color space is shifted a bit more to blue and red in contrast to sRGB, it at least explains the deviations in color accuracy to some extent.

515
cd/m²
544
cd/m²
549
cd/m²
511
cd/m²
566
cd/m²
549
cd/m²
518
cd/m²
541
cd/m²
534
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 566 cd/m² Average: 536.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 90 %
Center on Battery: 566 cd/m²
Contrast: 1204:1 (Black: 0.47 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 6.17 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6
ΔE Greyscale 6.26 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
98.63% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 65.48% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.48
LG G4
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 64 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
Mali-T760 MP8, 7420 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
HTC One M9
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Sony Xperia Z3
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
LG G3
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Screen
1%
15%
-5%
-17%
-27%
Brightness middle
566
519
-8%
343
-39%
474
-16%
702
24%
417
-26%
Brightness
536
496
-7%
338
-37%
458
-15%
671
25%
395
-26%
Brightness Distribution
90
90
0%
94
4%
85
-6%
90
0%
89
-1%
Black Level *
0.47
0.62
-32%
0.4
15%
0.72
-53%
0.96
-104%
Contrast
1204
837
-30%
1185
-2%
975
-19%
434
-64%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
6.17
3.67
41%
2.2
64%
6.32
-2%
8.92
-45%
5.67
8%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
6.26
3.78
40%
2.37
62%
6.36
-2%
9.59
-53%
5.66
10%
Gamma
2.48 89%
2.42 91%
2.41 91%
2.43 91%
2.75 80%
2.53 87%
CCT
8171 80%
7327 89%
6425 101%
8218 79%
9408 69%
7741 84%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
65.48
87.77
34%
58.81
-10%
59
-10%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
98.63

* ... smaller is better

Performance

Unlike the premium range contenders, LG does not use the latest top model of its SoC supplier. That would currently be Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 with eight cores. The Snapdragon 808 is installed in the G4 instead. Although it utilizes the big-LITTLE design like its big brother and fuses two processing cores, it only has two powerful Cortex A57 cores in contrast to the four in the 810 model. The four energy-saving cores, type Cortex A53, are the same. Qualcomm's Adreno 418 is integrated into the SoC, which also cannot compete with the bigger 430 brother. This decision is somewhat incomprehensible especially when considering the extremely high resolution, and even more when LG's statement that the waste heat could not be controlled has been contradicted.

Our first benchmarks also show that LG's G4 is inferior to some comparison devices in almost every sector. LG's 4 can only defeat its precursor and the soon to be replaced Sony Xperia Z3 in the synthetic benchmarks Geekbench 3 and AnTuTu v5. The premium models from Samsung and HTC are beyond reach. It looks similar in the graphics-driven tests. The G4, however, still has an edge on Apple's iPhone 6 Plus in 3DMark 2013 Ice Storm Unlimited. The GFX benchmark also locates LG's G4 behind the leading group. The off-screen results still look very promising. However, the reality is on-screen, and the Adreno 418 struggles quite a bit with the high resolution.

The performance of the internal flash memory is a plain and simple "very good." Only Samsung's Galaxy S6 (Edge) plays in its own league here. The browser performance is also impeccable although our sample lags behind the leaders. Subjectively, LG's G4 proved to have an absolutely sufficient performance after the first few hours of use. We will deal with high-requirement games in the in-depth review.

Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
LG G4
2952 Points ∼4%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
2874 Points ∼4% -3%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
4843 Points ∼6% +64%
HTC One M9
3499 Points ∼4% +19%
Sony Xperia Z3
2708 Points ∼3% -8%
LG G3
2323 Points ∼3% -21%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
LG G4
1022 Points ∼21%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
1609 Points ∼33% +57%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
1329 Points ∼27% +30%
HTC One M9
1163 Points ∼24% +14%
Sony Xperia Z3
979 Points ∼20% -4%
LG G3
941 Points ∼19% -8%
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
LG G4
3556 Points ∼9%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
5619 Points ∼15% +58%
HTC One M9
3835 Points ∼10% +8%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
LG G4
1107 Points ∼23%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
1503 Points ∼31% +36%
HTC One M9
1275 Points ∼26% +15%
AnTuTu v5 - Total Score (sort by value)
LG G4
49941 Points ∼50%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
50360 Points ∼51% +1%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
72094 Points ∼73% +44%
HTC One M9
55374 Points ∼56% +11%
Sony Xperia Z3
42125 Points ∼42% -16%
LG G3
36792 Points ∼37% -26%
3DMark - 1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
LG G4
18821 Points ∼8%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
17873 Points ∼8% -5%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
22723 Points ∼10% +21%
HTC One M9
22783 (min: 22783, max: 23171) Points ∼10% +21%
Sony Xperia Z3
17882 Points ∼8% -5%
LG G3
15911 Points ∼7% -15%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen (sort by value)
LG G4
10 fps ∼0%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
13 fps ∼0% +30%
HTC One M9
16 fps ∼0% +60%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen (sort by value)
LG G4
5.7 fps ∼0%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
6.1 fps ∼0% +7%
HTC One M9
17 fps ∼0% +198%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
LG G4
15 fps ∼3%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
18.8 fps ∼3% +25%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
25 fps ∼5% +67%
HTC One M9
23 fps ∼4% +53%
Sony Xperia Z3
11.8 fps ∼2% -21%
LG G3
11.3 fps ∼2% -25%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
LG G4
9.5 fps ∼3%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
30.6 fps ∼8% +222%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
15 fps ∼4% +58%
HTC One M9
24 fps ∼7% +153%
Sony Xperia Z3
12.6 fps ∼3% +33%
LG G3
7.3 fps ∼2% -23%
AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
LG G4
15 MB/s ∼6%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
19.84 MB/s ∼8% +32%
HTC One M9
13.91 MB/s ∼6% -7%
Sony Xperia Z3
2 MB/s ∼1% -87%
LG G3
1.44 MB/s ∼1% -90%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
LG G4
31.5 MB/s ∼16%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
77.43 MB/s ∼39% +146%
HTC One M9
20.66 MB/s ∼11% -34%
Sony Xperia Z3
15 MB/s ∼8% -52%
LG G3
20.98 MB/s ∼11% -33%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
LG G4
153 MB/s ∼26%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
139.12 MB/s ∼24% -9%
HTC One M9
123.81 MB/s ∼21% -19%
Sony Xperia Z3
18 MB/s ∼3% -88%
LG G3
23.83 MB/s ∼4% -84%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
LG G4
251 MB/s ∼17%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
319.25 MB/s ∼21% +27%
HTC One M9
235.14 MB/s ∼16% -6%
Sony Xperia Z3
149 MB/s ∼10% -41%
LG G3
167.46 MB/s ∼11% -33%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
LG G4
7832 (min: 6791) Points ∼15%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
7276 Points ∼14% -7%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
8650 Points ∼17% +10%
HTC One M9
6493 Points ∼12% -17%
Sony Xperia Z3
5339 Points ∼10% -32%
LG G3
4345 Points ∼8% -45%
LG G3
3892 Points ∼7% -50%
Browsermark - 2.1 (sort by value)
LG G4
1931 points ∼6%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
2731 points ∼9% +41%
HTC One M9
1729 points ∼6% -10%
LG G3
1370 points ∼4% -29%
LG G3
1343 points ∼4% -30%
Peacekeeper - --- (sort by value)
LG G4
1659 Points ∼27%
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
2613 Points ∼42% +58%
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
1337 Points ∼22% -19%
HTC One M9
1043 Points ∼17% -37%
Sony Xperia Z3
811 Points ∼13% -51%
LG G3
1097 Points ∼18% -34%

Legend

 
LG G4 Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 MSM8992, Qualcomm Adreno 418, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Apple iPhone 6 Plus Apple A8, PowerVR GX6450, 64 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa, ARM Mali-T760 MP8, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
 
HTC One M9 Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994, Qualcomm Adreno 430, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia Z3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
LG G3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash

Energy & Battery Runtime

The battery of LG's G4 is removable, which is very good news. The lithium-ion battery can also supply a relatively high amount of energy with 11.55 Wh or 3000 mAh. In contrast to the precursor, the power requirement has changed slightly. Although the G4 consumes less power than the G3 in both maximum idle and during load, that is the opposite in the partial load sector. We therefore presume that the real-life battery life will be a bit shorter. The G3 was not an endurance machine, either.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 1.1 / 1.5 / 1.9 Watt
Load midlight 6.6 / 8.8 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Preliminary Verdict

We were very anxious about the test of LG's G4 in the run-up - and we still are. The South Korean manufacturer's new flagship could in fact keep most of its vaunting promises. Primarily, the superb camera equipment that will again have the opportunity to show its prowess in our extensive tests.

LG's G4 is well on the way to becoming the new camera reference among smartphones. Both hardware and software are well-conceived and their implementation is first rate.

The casing is also unmatched. The interplay of selected materials, looks and functionality are simply balanced. Lighter and thinner smartphones naturally exist, but none fit in the hand as comfortably as LG's G4 at present.

LG slightly slows down in performance. We believe uncompromising performance is not always the most important thing and the Snapdragon 808 seems to be a good choice... if it did not involve the somewhat weak GPU that will still have to show its capabilities. It is also very annoying that the screen's brightness is again visibly dimmed after a few minutes during games or benchmarks - which has likely developed into a bad habit at LG.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > LG G4 First Impressions
Patrick Afschar Kaboli, 2015-05-26 (Update: 2018-05-15)