Review: This is what it was like to use the LG G4 for a month

The LG G4 isn't cluttered with too many of pre-installed apps and unnecessary modifications to the user interface making multitasking very simple. However, for a powerful, high-end phone, the LG G4 is surprisingly sluggish. In fact, it’s all pretty ordinary, nothing that a mid-range Android phone isn’t capable of.

tech reviews Updated: Jun 19, 2015 14:13 IST
Sahil Bhalla
Sahil Bhalla
Hindustan Times
LG G4,Android,Smartphone

The first time I saw the LG G4, I couldn’t wait to take it home and make it mine — for the next few weeks anyway. It’s a stunning piece of glass and metal with a lovely, textured faux-leather back. Seriously, I was smitten.

The novelty started wearing off sooner than I expected, however — just a couple of weeks later.

What is it?

The LG G4 is a high-end, curved Android smartphone with volume buttons placed rather strangely on the back, not the side. It’s LG’s “flagship” phone, which means it competes directly against the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the HTC One M9.

Unlike the Galaxy S6, which was a complete overhaul of the mess that was the S5, the G4 is an evolution and that itself might be what sets it apart — if you don’t count the price, that is. At Rs. 51,500, this is one expensive device, although you might be able to get it slightly cheaper online.

Why does it matter?

LG’s in a tough spot. The company doesn’t sell any budget phones in the country, so it can’t compete with budget-friendly rivals like Xiaomi, Micromax and Huawei. Worse, India is one of the most crowded markets for phone brands, with an average of 3 phones launched every single day, according to this report. LG desperately needs a hit in India, and it’s hoping the G4 is it.

How does it look and feel?

This is how I felt when I first switched on the LG G4.

It’s a sleek, gorgeous device with a bright, vibrant screen like a musical in Technicolor. The 5.5-inch display is the phone’s centrepiece since there are no buttons on the front or sides. There’s a faux leather back that is pretty grippy.

The G4 has a lovely, textured, faux-leather back that’s quite grippy.

On the back is a 16 megapixel camera, which sits right in between the volume buttons. There’s a curiously small — but loud — speaker at the bottom. Unlike Samsung’s previous flagships, for instance, the LG G4 looks and feels like a premium device.

What’s it like to use every day?

Three words: hit and miss. For a powerful, high-end phone, the LG G4 is surprisingly sluggish. You can tap the screen to wake up the phone, for instance, but it’s like taking a taking a car uphill — it’s just not fast or responsive enough.

I like the fact that LG didn’t clutter this phone too much with pre-installed apps and unnecessary modifications to the user interface.
It runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, the latest version of Android. Setting it up is a breeze, switching between apps is simple, and watching videos on the gorgeous screen is a treat. Browsing the web was fast and responsive. I didn't have a 4G SIM card to test out speeds, but the phone does support it.

But that said, nothing is. . .remarkable. In fact, it’s all pretty ordinary, nothing that a mid-range Android phone can't do. This begs the question — to the average user, does the advantage of a phone loading apps a few seconds faster matter that much?

How’s the camera?

The 16-megapixel camera is one of the best things about the G4. You can safely take it on a vacation and come back with amazing pictures.

The G4’s 16-megapixel camera is chock full of settings and manual controls. If you’ve ever used a DSLR before, you’ll feel right at home. But you don’t really need to mess around with any of that. Even on the auto mode, photos look marvellous. You can safely take this one on vacation and come back with amazing pictures.

Will the battery last me through the day?

Rarely. My average run on a single charge was about 12 hours. That seems really good — until you count the fact that this was with a measly three hours of screen time. The phone was on standby in my pocket or on my desk the rest of the time. I don’t want to slap a bulky battery case on this sleek beauty. And I definitely don’t want to carry a second battery with me all day long.

What rocks

• The beast of a camera, which can give some point-and shoots a fair run for their money.
• The display, which is one of the best I’ve ever seen on a smartphone.
• The removable battery, which means that you can easily swap batteries if you have to.
• It comes with a dual-SIM slot—yes!

What doesn’t

• The single speaker on the back. I don’t like to put my phone face-down on a table to listen to a song at full volume and then flip it back to switch playlists or something.
• How hot it gets in the pocket. Delhi is really hot right now but a phone shouldn’t feel uncomfortably warm with casual use. When it’s charging, it positively burns.
• The display shattered relatively easily — a couple of clumsy spills on the pavement was all it took.
• The LG Health feature that tracks your steps and calories was wildly inaccurate — it says I cycled for a kilometre the other day and I haven’t cycled in years. If you’re a fitness nut, just get a dedicated fitness band.

Final thoughts

The LG G4 is a good package overall, but is it worth spending over Rs. 50,000 for? That depends on what you’re looking for. Photography freaks would say that having such a great camera in such a slim package alone is worth it.

But to me, that itself isn’t exciting enough. If I spend that much money, I want to be wowed on a daily basis. There’s literally nothing here that a sub Rs. 20,000 smartphone won’t do — and God knows there’s dozens of those flooding the market right now.

A premium phone should be a complete package that delivers on all fronts — not just a few. You’ll definitely enjoy the high points on the G4, but there are just not enough of those for the price.

Spec sheet:

• Display: 5.5-inch, QHD LCD, 538 PPI
• Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
• CPU: 2x Cortex A57 + 4x Cortex A53
• GPU: Adreno 418
• Storage: 32GB
• MicroSD: up to 128GB
• Rear Camera: 16MP, f/1.8, OIS, laser focus
• Front Camera: 8MP
• Battery: 3000 mAh
• Dimensions: 149.8 x 76.2 x 10.16 mm, 155 g
• Operating system: Android 5.1 Lollipop
• Dual SIM, supports 4G LTE

First Published: Jun 19, 2015 12:57 IST