LG challenged me to use their new flagship Android handset, the G4, to run the blog for the last two weeks to see if it made my life easier than using my trusty iPhone – and I’ve got to admit, I don’t think I’ll be returning to my quite frankly tiny iPhone 5C anytime soon.
Last year, I tested LG’s G3, and while it was a superb handset there were a few annoying niggles that prevented it from becoming a truly great handset. Much like last year’s handset, the G4’s big talking points are the screen and the camera. The screen may have the same resolution as last year’s version, 2560×1440, but this time they’ve made significant improvements to colour reproduction and accuracy. They’ve also improved the phone’s cooling so when you’ve got the brightness set to full whack it doesn’t get as uncomfortably hot as it once did.
“Put it in the hands of a power user, or a photographer, and the results can be stunning.”
The camera, screen and battery have all seen significant improvements, too, over last year’s model, and are the best you’ll find on any phone on sale at the moment. The 16-megapixel camera is the real star here, not only has it been upped from 13-megapixels to 16-megapixels, LG has given users the ability to manually take shots. Now, this might not sound all that impressive, and judging by some of my failed attempts, it might not be. But, put it in the hands of a power user, or a photographer, and the results can be stunning. It gives users the ability to actually set the camera up like a DSLR, so you can adjust the shutter speed, white balance, and ISO. You can even get the camera to take pictures in manual mode where the camera takes pictures in a RAW format, so you can maintain the highest possible quality. Elsewhere, LG has given the G4 a much-improved image sensor, letting in 80% more light, thanks to the F1.8 aperture sensor, and they have also increased image stabilisation by adding in Z-axis feedback, the first for a camera phone.
“In layman terms the camera and screen are a match made in heaven.”
There’s no point having such a stunning camera if the phone’s screen can’t match its majesty, so LG has taken note of DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) colour specification, which was agreed upon by several motion picture studios as an industry standard set of specifications for colour expression standards, and LG’s improved IPS Quantum Display is the closest to get to that fabled spec on a mobile phone. In layman terms the camera and screen are a match made in heaven. There is a no phone on the market that even comes close to the specs or the ability to shoot raw, manually setup photos. Of course, taking a really good photo requires you to actually see the screen in all lighting conditions, even on a bright summer’s day, and the G4’s screen handles those situations effortlessly, allowing you to really hone in on the right picture settings before you press the button.
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Where I would have like to have seen some improvements on the G4 compared to last year, is the phone’s chassis. It’s still made from plastic and while it doesn’t have the premium feel of some of its competitors, LG still gives you the ability to remove the rear cover, supplement the onboard memory with a microSD, up to 2 TB, and remove and replace the battery, and personally I’ll take a slightly worse build quality to have those options than have a sealed phone any day of the week. Battery-wise, the LG G4’s performance really surprised me, whilst the battery isn’t any bigger than last year, 3,000mAh, the phone is a bit more efficient thanks to the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, so you’ll get well over a days use out of it, and with a bevy a battery-saving modes available you’ll be able to eek out more of it until your next charge.
“Basically, as a productivity device the LG G4 wipes the floor with any iPhone.”
Other nice additions over last year’s model come from LG’s new partnership with Google, so this year you’ll find Google Docs, Sheets and Slides pre-installed on the phone, as well as 100GB of Google drive space for 2 years. The inclusion of a productivity suite of apps was a real boon for me. When one of the site’s contributors sent across a word document, it was automatically pushed from the blog’s Gmail straight to the app, where I could edit it on the fly and he or she would also be able to see the changes too, making colllaborative working a breeze. Using a mobile phone on WordPress’s backend isn’t something I really do with my iPhone, the screen is just too small and you can’t upload pictures from iOS, so posting a fully finished blog post is off the cards. On the G4 I was able to easily upload an article to the blog’s backend, add a suitable picture and publish it from the handset with no issues. A future of a laptop-free blogging really became a reality with this handset. Basically, as a productivity device the LG G4 is leagues ahead of my iPhone, and add in a class-leading screen, camera and battery and you’ve got a device that can really change the way you work on the move. And that was a refreshing change for me, I could happily download promos from any number a bespoke systems that quite often are out of bounds on iOS, and do 99% of the stuff I do on my laptop on the phone whilst on the move. Overall, LG has addressed almost all of the niggles present on last year’s phone and compared to its nearest competition, Samsung’s S6, the ability to replace the battery and increase the onboard memory makes it a better handset for power users like myself.
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LG’s G4 begins shipping worldwide from this week.