LG G4 Smartphone review: Removable battery, MicroSD support

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LG G4 Smartphone review: Removable battery, MicroSD support. LG’s newest flagship phone is loaded with lots of goodies that might make you think twice about which smartphone you’d like to own. From it’s Genuine leather back and curved 5.5″ IPS Quantum display to it’s upgraded camera high res image sensors, the LG G4 brings together a smooth Android experience and you get to keep your microSD card slot and removable battery! Let’s take a closer look at the LG G4 smartphone.


LG G4 Specs

The G4 is packed with some nice hardware starting with it’s curved 5.5″ IPS Quantum Display (1500:1 contrast ratio) 2560 x 1440 res Quad HD at 538 ppi that is brilliant and beautiful. Comparatively the iPhone 6 Plus displays 1920×1080 and the iPhone 6 at 1334×750; the LG G4 offers a tighter pixels for a larger array at 2560×1440 for the same 5.5 inch screen.


A 1.8GHz 64-bit HexaCore CPU (Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor) and Adreno 418 GPU run atop the X10 LTE chipset with 3GB of RAM keep things running in a comfortable manner. The device comes with a 32GB Internal flash drive and includes a microSD card slot that supports up to 2GB of additional storage memory. Additionally for you battery hounds the 3,000mAh battery is removable in case you like to carry around multiples. Equipped with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi support, Bluetooth 4.1 BLE, NFC, 4k Slimport supported, GPS-A, Glonass. Ships with Android 5.1 Lollipop.

Amongst the high end smartphones, the HTC one M9, Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note 5 and  join the iPhone, removing the microSD card slots along with any removable battery; So if you’re looking for a high end mobile device that still has those two options, the LG G4 may be at the top of your list.

It’s not waterproof, no wireless charging (though you CAN purchase a wireless charging back cover) no USB 3x, are about the only missing features you might want aside from an octacore processor. But even Samsung is looking back at running a Qualcomm CPU and chipset again in future devices.

The LG G4 is quite snappy and performs great in most every application. We are not benchmarking here, we’re looking at everyday usability. There remains some quirkiness that seems to extend in one form or another across all Android 5.1 Lollipop devices. We experienced oddities with email in particular, the gmail app seemed to work better but yet still exhibits similar behaviors with missing or laggy email synchronization. This will no doubt be fixed in a future firmware update.


LG G4 Fit & Finish

I applaud LG for taking some chances with the design but the power button residing dead center under the camera lens takes some getting used to. Ergonomically it works fine when I’m on a phone call as the volume rocker/buttons sandwich the power button and my finger tends to fall naturally in the center; however in all other situations, it remains a bit awkward to use.

It does allow LG to pack the hardware into the device while keeping the footprint smaller. The LG G4’s curvature both vertically and horizontally brings the phone back to a comfortable and agile grip size for smaller hands. The contours also allow the hardware to be packed in while keeping a super thin edges. There are no protrusions on the outer edge at all nor the face with the exception of the ear speaker through the front glass which sits flush. The bezel does rise slightly above the glass and looks great with this deep chrome look finish but it dents quite easily so put a case on it or at least a bumper if that’s a concern for you.

Our test unit from T-Mobile comes with a brown Genuine leather back. The leather is thin but beautiful with a stitched seam down the center and G4 impression on the lower right add lots of character. It’s unique and classy and looks even nicer with a bumper around it. The genuine leather back cover has been worked with vegetable dye colors over 3 weeks to achieve the pigmentation. The T-Mobile variety also comes with an additional back simulated leather plastic yellow back cover if you want something more durable. Note that the leather back may pose problems fitting the phone into certain cases.

I am appreciative of the curved screen when I’m using the phone, as a phone, watching a movie or playing a game. When the LG G4 is resting on a table screen side up, you can simply tap the sleeping screen two or three times and it will wake just fine, but when typing/taping the phone while on a table it will tend to rock left and right in it’s vertical position (up/down in landscape) which can be quite annoying.


G4’s Camera

With smartphones being an overwhelming percentage of how the general public takes pictures these days, it’s important that yours performs well. A Rear firing 16 megapixel and front firing 8 megapixel camera find their home inside  the LG G4 but what’s important to note is the laser autofocus, larger image sensor at 1/2.6” and f/1.8 Aperture on the rear. It’s HDR capable and will even capture images in RAW format. Also featured is manual ISO control for those of you with some camera experience and want more control over your photographs for things such as manual exposure shots. The rear firing camera can record in Ultra HD 4k video.

As smartphones have taken over as the compact camera of today, you know by now, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Out of focus or unintended focal points, blown out whites or over-saturating your colors. Remember that you are limited by the lens glass and available light, so no smartphone camera will give you the quality that a DSLR or mirrorless camera and full-sized glass would produce for you.

LG-G4-smartphone-camera-pictureThat said, the LG G4 does make your pictures the best that they can be from a smartphone with it’s larger image sensor and lens aperture. Additionally the manual controls allow you to tinker with not only ISO but brightness, white balance and manual focus. The LG G4 seems to provide a more true to color photo than the other high end smartphones. Clarity of photographs is quite good with a better overall balance in color. The balance threshold in brightness can be lower than some other smartphones so some images can come out slightly darker in certain situations sacrificing some brightness for overall clarity. The LG handles low light shots quite well where you have bright sky for example and captures the details without blowing out your whites. Two thumbs up for video and picture capture quality.

Bringing up the camera is speedy and flipping back and forth from front to rear camera is fluent and snappy. A simple flick of the finger on the screen while in camera mode will allow you to change between cameras quickly. The LG G4 makes a great personal camera for snapping pics of family, friends and even more creative pro shots with use of the manual controls. The absence of a physical button on the outer edge is still somewhat inconvenient when snapping photos but the virtual button is very responsive and easy to use even one handed.

Though the position isn’t very familiar or ergonomic you can use the physical volume rocker to snap pics without getting your finger in the shots. Two-handed shots using the volume rocker are much easier than the awkward twist your wrist shot.


LG G4’s Usage & Features

The LG G4 comes with it’s own flavor of Android implemented with LG’s UX 4.0 application layer with some notable features include a customizable capacitive hotspot bar, 5×5 home screen grid so you can pack more icons into fewer pages, QSlide which allows you to quick launch some useful apps in a floating window, Dual Window allows you to run two apps side by side in a split window view. You’re email will even automatically split into two windows panes, (email list on left with email view on right) when you tilt your phone horizontally.

The native email app works fine, great even, however with one small important limitation, you can only sync up to 2 months using imap, with no option for a custom range or simply all. There are certainly some peculiarities with regards to email on the LG G4 and Android 5.1 lollipop. For example, emails seem to lag slightly behind and does not want to sync up with the latest emails. This problem manifests itself in a variety of ways across Android Lollipop and not necessarily exclusive to the G4. No doubt a feature to be fixed in an update.

On a day to day basis, the LG G4 overall is a very pleasant phone to use. The curve on the device and the narrowing thickness to the edges makes the LG comfortable to hold in various positions with one or both hands. The Quad HD 5.5″ IPS Quantum Display is absolutely beautiful. Color saturation is wonderful and features a 1500:1 contrast ratio for crisp, clear picture with excellent color reproduction.

Battery life seems to be quite on par with the other flagship devices or slightly under. Extended video play does of course deplete your battery faster with the Quantum HD display. Charge times can be a bit slower as the stock charger only outputs at 1.8 amp vs the customary 2.1 amp. Qualcomm confirms that the LG G4 does in fact support the Quick Charge 2.0 standard so if you have one around you may be compelled to use it over the stock wall charger.

T-Mobile LG G4 Voice & Data

A quick note about T-Mobile voice, I can’t say enough how impressed I am with the increase in overall performance on both voice as well as data. The T-Mobile 4GLTE network seems to penetrate buildings much more effectively (not like the old days) and internet connection doubles my downstream from AT&T at 30mbps down /15 up! Callers have noted how improved the voice call quality and clarity is with HD calling under Android 5.1 Lollipop. Android 5.1 infuses the ability to make wifi-based calls natively as well which can be quite a welcome feature.


LG G4 Recommended

The LG G4 with it’s snapdragon Hexacore CPU, 3GB of DDR3 ram, Quad HD 5.5″ IPS display, 32GB of flash storage space makes it a hardware packed device. It’s also one of the last flagships you might find with a removable battery and MicroSD card slot which allows you to tack on up to 2GB more of storage! That’s huge when you’re shooting raw, or 4k video with your phone. Improved manual camera controls and a vivid, snappy experience keeps the LG G4 hangin with the big boys. The G4’s IPS Quantum curved 5.5″ display is rich and robust, great for movies and games. It’s  an excellent smartphone and the slimming contour and profile make it a very comfortable phone to hold and use on a daily basis.

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