LG_G4

LG G4 review: A cheaper premium alternative

LG’s premium smartphone packs in a great camera at an appealing price.

If you're not Apple or Samsung in the current smartphone space, you're typically competing for a very small slice of the smartphone market, or trying desperately to take market share from the big two incumbents. LG's strategy over the past few years has been to deliver phones with a very distinct design difference.

Here are the basic specifications for the LG G4:

LGG4
Screen size5.5in
Storage32GB
Weight155g
ProcessorSnapdragon 808 1.8Ghz
Rear camera16MP
Front camera8MP
Battery3,000mAh
Resolution1440x2560
Display density538ppi

Upsides: Why you’d want the LG G4

  • Distinct design: If you're after a phone that most definitely doesn't look like an Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, the LG G4 definitely fits the bill, with its curved back available in a variety of colours or even a leather finish.
  • Extremely fast camera: The LG G4's 16MP camera has exceptionally quick focus and delivers quality image results. That's not unusual for a camera in the premium space, where it should be expected, but the G4 stands out from much of the pack for the general quality of the images it captures, even if you're shooting in fully automatic modes.
  • Fully removable battery: LG is the last of the big premium names to offer a premium phone with a fully removable back. That means that you can swap batteries in and out, as well as add expandable memory to the LG G4.
  • Lower "premium" price: LG's forte in Android has historically been in the budget phone space, with numerous models selling well south of the premium space. The G4 easily undercuts every other "premium" handset on an outright purchase basis, although that won't follow through quite so much if you opt to go on contract for the G4.
  • Curved screen: Curves are all the rage in the premium TV space, but very few manufacturers have introduced curves to their smartphone ranges. The LG G4 has a mostly subtle concave curve that should protect it slightly from drops; in most cases you'll barely notice it's there otherwise.

Downsides: Why you might not want the LG G4

  • Performance is only decent: The LG G4 runs on processor with specs and ram. It's a combination that delivers decent overall performance under LG's Home launcher, but not in quite as snappy a fashion as some other handsets. In synthetic benchmarks, here's how the LG G4 compares against other premium handsets
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+14924893
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge13244626
    Google Nexus 6P12514597
    Samsung Galaxy S613474569
    Apple iPhone 6S25404410
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus24914391
    Sony Xperia Z513584134
    LG G411903313
    Google Nexus 5X11883198
  • Ordinary battery life: The LG G4 packs a 3,000mAh battery, but sits relatively low in the premium field for actual battery performance. Here is how the G4 compared to a range of premium handsets using Geekbench 3’s battery test:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+8:24:105041
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus7:48:104681
    Samsung Galaxy S66:51:304115
    Google Nexus 5X7:14:204062
    Google Nexus 6P6:39:203754
    Sony Xperia Z55:41:303414
    LG G45:27:503224
    Apple iPhone 6s3:52:102321
  • Home launcher is very garish: LG reskins Android extensively with a theme that's an assault on the senses. Yes, it's Android and you can rework it to something that looks less like an explosion in an 80s neon factory, but for such an otherwise elegantly designed phone it’s quite incongruous.
  • Rear buttons: One of LG's key design principles in recent years has been to throw the phone's volume and power buttons around the back of the phone, and the LG G4 is no exception. There's a distinct learning curve to remembering to switch the G4 on or off this way that won't suit everybody.
  • Not much changed from the G3: The LG G3 was a great phone in 2014, but the G4 isn’t a huge leap beyond its capabilities. That still means it’s a decent performer, but if you’re buying a premium phone for the latest cutting edge features, the G4 comes up a little short.

Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?

There's really nothing quite like the LG G4 in the premium space, thanks to its genuinely unique design, removable back and curved display screen.

Some of those aspects are taste issues, however, so if other aspects such as the camera appeal to you, consider the Sony Xperia Z5 or Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ handsets. The only challenge there is that if you're looking at it from an outright purchase point of view, the LG G4 is markedly cheaper than either competing handset.

That puts it more in the price range of handsets such as the Google Nexus 5X, which is coincidentally produced by LG itself.

Where can I get it?

The LG G4 is available from a wide variety of carriers on contract, or outright for $799. To find the best deal for you, including whether you’re better off buying outright or going on contract, check out our comprehensive mobile phone comparison tool.

Alex Kidman

Alex is the Telco Editor at finder.com.au. He's been writing about consumer technology topics for the best part of two decades, and enjoys breaking down complex topics into their component parts.

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