3 days with the LG G4: First impressions


Last year, I was fortunate enough to attend LG’s G3 launch event to see if the company could come up with a device bold enough and powerful enough to beat its flagship rivals. Sadly, despite having great specs on paper, the overall performance for me wasn’t quite good enough. The screen was dull and dark and its camera could sometimes take amazing shots and other times not. It was a little indecisive to say the least. But the one thing that sticks in my mind from 12 months ago – apart from the terrible custom UI – was the speed. It would lag almost every time I went back to the home screen. It was almost as if its processor wasn’t built to handle so many pixels on one screen. Let’s not forget, this was the first time we’d seen a QHD resolution display on a flagship smartphone.

With the LG G4 then, I was anxious to see if the company would improve the parts it needed to and – after my first few days with it – I’m delighted say it seems like they have. I haven’t spent enough time with it to write a full review, but I wanted to share my initial impressions in the hope that the rest of my time with this device carries on as it has started.

First off, I have to say, I’m a real sucker for leather. I’ve had leather cases on phones since my iPhone 3GS back in 2009. In my younger days, I’d wear really chunk leather watches and cuffs. I wouldn’t quite go as far as wearing leather pants – THAT episode of Friends put me off for life – but let’s just say, if there’s a chance to put leather on my phones, I do it. My Moto X is customized with a black leather back. So when I saw the initial leaks of LG’s G4 all leather-clad, I got very excited. Even more excited when T-Mobile sent me the very same version to try out.

On the gently curved back of the G4, the leather really adds a sense of comfort and softness to the back of the phone. But it’s not quite as luxurious as you might hope. It’s essentially just a thin plastic shell covered in a really thin layer of tan, vegetable dyed leather. As far as I can tell, the light yellow stitching up the center does nothing to hold the leather to its shell, but it does help create a sense of authenticity. At least, from an aesthetic standpoint.

Although there are clear differences – like the black-patterned front face, chrome edges and leather back – between this and the G3, overall design hasn’t changed much. Even the slightly curved screen is so subtle you almost miss the fact that it’s not flat. But the lack of major changes isn’t a bad thing. The device shape, in-hand feel and rear-placed buttons were the few things I liked about the G3. But with the G4, it feels a bit more grown up.

First thing I really noticed was the display. Like the G3, it’s QHD resolution. For the spec-obsessed: That’s 2560 x 1440 pixels over 5.5 inches, giving it a pixel density of 538ppi. What’s changed this time, however, is the panel quality. LG will tell you it’s a “Quantum Display” to impress you with marketing talk, but it really doesn’t have to. It’s an impressive display even without the fancy name. Colors are much more vibrant – without being over-saturated – and content is really sharp onscreen. It’s easily one of the best displays on the market right now.

Performance is vastly improved from the G3 too. There’s no real lag or stutter in general use and frame rates during high-speed games is pretty smooth too. It doesn’t choke, despite the manufacturer going with an unconventional 6-core Snapdragon 808 processor instead of the usual octa-core 805 or 810.

Its camera is vastly improved too. On paper, and in real life. At least, it is if you have the patience to take the time needed to set up a shot manually. It features a new 16MP sensor with laser autofocus, optical image stabilization and an impressive f/1.8 aperture. While that’s great, what I really love is the controls offered by LG. You can manually set the ISO, shutter speed, focus and even the white balance. What’s more, you can save images in RAW to ensure you don’t lose any quality through saving as a JPEG. It reminds me a lot of the Lumia PureView cameras in terms of controls and quality. Again, I need more time to give my final thoughts later on, but I’m impressed so far.

If there’s one thing I’m not sold on yet, it’s the battery life. With a respectable 2,900mAh removable battery you’d expect great stamina from the device. But I haven’t experienced that yet. In fact, it’s only just making it to the end of the day before hitting the dreaded 20% mark. This could be due to heavier use than normal, but even checking screen-on time today, it got to just 2h 30mins of screen use leaving me with 15% battery. Granted, it’s not terrible. Lasting a work day is something of a universal standard for battery performance. But when you’ve used devices like the BlackBerry Passport, Xperia Z3 and iPhone 6 Plus which all get to the end of a day without even trying, it’s disappointing to have a flagship 5.5-inch phone that can’t easily get me in to my second day on a full charge.

Other features include 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage and the option to expand its storage using a MicroSD. Perhaps that last feature is something tempt the old Galaxy-faithful across to LG smartphones. If you were one of those frustrated by Samsung’s decision to use a non-removable battery and non-expandable storage in the GS6, this could be a great choice.

It’s not available to buy just yet, but you could be in with a chance to win one from T-Mobile if you entered the company’s pre-launch sweepstakes. T-Mo is giving one away every day until it’s on the market. Read up on that here. If my first few days are anything to go by, this could be one of 2015’s finest devices.

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  • donnybee

    I love the leather. It looks great the way they designed it! But I’m a leather guy too.. my phones have all had some type of leather.. I also like the wood options the Moto X had though.

    • thepanttherlady

      I’d have loved a wood back on this!

    • Cam Bunton

      Yeah, wood is also nice. ;-)

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  • Kogashuko

    Hopefully it didnt fall victim to whatever the hell they did with android 5.1.2 or whatever it is called for my g2. Nothing like killing my battery life and breaking my wifi calling with the update. Oh and the annoying cant download message when wifi calling breaks covers up my keyboard. All with no fix in sight.

  • thepanttherlady

    Cam, one thing I’m finding out is not all accessories will fit the leather backed versions. Ordered one, found out via another site that the one I purchased was not compatible so I canceled. Purchased a different version that didn’t specify it wasn’t and the corner cracked upon placing it into the cradle. :/ I’ve ordered a 3rd and hope it will work.

    The other thing is tempered glass screen protectors. I ordered one and installed it but ended up with a fuzz under the glass so I removed/reinstalled it. Not sure if it’s the curved screen and the protector covering the entire screen or if it’s my removal and reapplication that has a “bubble” in each corner. I purchased another one but the corners aren’t bothering me enough yet to replace it.

    • Cam Bunton

      Interesting. Since it has a leather back, I’ve not even though of buying a case for it. I like it as it is, and actually prefer it when leather looks worn and scratched. I guess time will tell if the screen likes not having a protector on.

      • donnybee

        I wouldn’t use a case if I had it either. I like the look of worn leather too, but I don’t like when brown leather turns into black leather due to use lol

        Does the leather feel as great as the leather iPhone cases?

        • Cam Bunton

          Yeah, it’s similar. After all, the official leather iPhone cases are made the same way = thin plastic and coated with thin leather.

        • donnybee

          Good to know :) I may just have to consider this thing!

        • thepanttherlady

          In addition to how easily tan leather gets dirty (had a Coach purse that this happened to :/) I want a case more to protect the leather against liquid damage as well as the bezels. I hate, hate, hate dings and scratches. I’m weird, I know. :)

        • donnybee

          I hate dings and scratches too haha unless it’s on leather. But on everything else, I’m super picky. I can’t even handle screen protectors because I can never get them to not have a tiny piece of dust or somthing.. and they always scratch easily haha

        • thepanttherlady

          Since the Xperia Z, I only use tempered glass screen protectors. It’s super hard to scratch those things up and I love them! The one on my Nexus 6 has been installed since day one, 5 months ago. Only issue is the oleophobic coating needs to be redone.

          The “protector” on this phone when you get it could essentially stay on for awhile. I left mine on until the glass one came in. It definitely had some scratches on it but nothing that affected the screen itself.

          ETA: This was the one time I ever had a fuzz end up under the protector when installing. I’ve had such good luck with these and they’re so easy to install. I was just being impatient and did it with the phone sitting in my lap. :/ Never had as much success with the other types of protectors though.

        • canofale

          Turn the shower on medium hot and close the door half way. As steam builds all the particles in the air drop and your screen protector installation will be perfect! My husband has always done this and it has worked every time.

    • Cam Bunton

      Side note: I’d have loved a leather back with Qi wireless charging support built in. I hate that the only option right now is the hideous Quick Circle case.

  • B Brad

    I’ve seen conflicting reports, in particular MKBHD mentioned qi charging . Does the G4 support Qi charging? For me to consider buying a top of the line phone I don’t want to have to replace it because a $20 battery or a fragile USB connector dies.

    • Cam Bunton

      You have to buy a compatible case (Quick Circle) to use it. The leather back doesn’t support Qi charging. I’ve tried it.

  • David Coleman

    What are the frequency bands?

    • Justin Smith

      They should have all of the bands that the S6 and M9 have.

    • Justin Smith

      So band 4/2 HPSA band 4/2/12 LTE and 1900/850Mhz EDGE

      • David Coleman

        Thank you Justin! Just what I needed to confirm my purchase!

        • Justin Smith

          No problem :)

  • JBrowne1012

    iPhone 6/6+ my sister’s iphone is always dead and needing a charge after few hours use

    • ck125

      6 has meh battery life, 6+ has great battery life

      • Adrayven

        yeah, not uncommon for my 6+ to have 60-70% at end of a full day. Love my iPhone 6+!

        Only time I drained it was I used it as my GPS for 4 hours to drive to a site w/o charging it then used it for calls most of the day.. and it still made it to 11pm at night before finally giving up it’s ghost! haha!

      • the2000guy

        Indeed battery life in 6 is the worst I’Ve ever had from any iPhone I owned since the 4S. I have to charge it every day. I wish stayed with my iPhone 5. I even have issues to reconnect my flexsmart on ios 8.

  • ck125

    Typo in article. Has 3,000mah battery, not 2,900 like in the article

    • Tanner

      T-mobile version has a 2900. Confirmed by pocketnow as well. It’s a weird quirk and it makes absolutely no sense.

      • ck125

        What? That is super weird. Wonder why they went with a smaller battery?

  • GreatNews

    Don’t tell me that T-Mobile decided for some odd reason to go with a 2900mAh battery rather then the announced 3000mAh battery, that’s just crazy! I hope to normal G4 that will be sent to customers will have the 3000mAh battery

    • Justin Smith

      The US model should have a 2900Mah battery… Sadly

  • Ozgur Sen

    Can anyone tell me if the GPU on the g4 is weak like it was on the g3 which was slow because of the weak GPU?

  • Philip

    Can LG design their phone a little cuttier?

  • Mike Thaler

    I’m assuming (like someone else asked here earlier) that this will support ALL of TM’s freq. that will be operating this year. I’m considering jumping the Samsung ship because of the replaceable battery (and SD card) Samsung has abandoned.

  • tankforty

    Would have loved to see this phone with front facing speakers.

  • ray

    I tried the g2 and the g3 both were the most laggiest phones I went back to Samsung’s laggy phones that were less laggy lol. Until the lollipop update on my note 4 I had never owned a phone that didn’t lag but LG phones are the worst I’ll never try them phone’s again

    • Justin Smith

      Really… Just because a phone from a year ago was laggy that means that a new phone from a refocused company is going to be bad? People like you make me not like our world

      • ray

        Sorry. You’re definitely right… The g4 might even be better than the s6. Wasn’t trying sway anybodys opinion… It’s just I had both phones and I preferred the g2 over the g3 because it was so much smoother. But I’ll never say never because I always try the new flagship for at least a couple of weeks. And who knows it might blow me away. So I change my remarks from earlier. Hope you like the world more now


    Cam you left Phone dog? Why? G4 Top Dog hands down..Just Zoom in

  • former_tmo_rep

    Cam, I own the G3, and my experience is completely different from what you describe. With that said, I’m inclined to take your reviews/impressions with a grain of salt.

  • Justin Smith

    You said the G4’s leather isn’t thin for phones. The Moto X (2014) back is thin too. This wasn’t that well of a researched piece… After this I’m not very inclined to take your device coverage ver seriously. Also on the performance of the G3 I use one as my daily driver and sure, it lags on the homescreen every once in a while but it doesn’t lag nearly as bad as you said.

    This is not meant to be a hate speach, this is I hope constructive criticism.

  • Angel Heart

    i love about my phone is the camera. LG.G3..the thing i love is that you can tell your phone to take a picture 2 special words cheese smile/…smile cheese… then it takes the picture. that i love…i dont know much about the lg,g4 as i dont have one