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LG G4 review: Discontinued and forgotten

LG G4 camera hands on
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £530
inc VAT SIM-free

With its vibrant screen, versatile camera and surprisingly comfy leather rear, the LG G4 still holds its own


  • Super bright screen
  • Fancy leather back
  • Removable battery


  • Performance is lacking

LG G4 review: Camera

Aside from the screen, the G4’s other headline features is its 16-megapixel rear camera. It’s the world’s first smartphone to have a colour spectrum sensor on the back, which LG says is able to read and interpret colours in exactly the same way as your own eyeballs. It can read both the RGB spectrum and infrared, and will automatically adjust the white balance to make objects look more life-like. 

The camera also has a wide f1.8 aperture lens and a huge 1/2.6in sensor, too, allowing it to let in up to 80% more light than your average smartphone snapper and take more accurate pictures in low lighting conditions. LG’s also improved the camera’s optical image stabilisation and I’m pleased to see the G3’s laser auto-focus making a welcome return as well.

LG G4 camera hands on^ That’s not a dual LED flash next to the camera – that’s the G4’s colour spectrum sensor

Colours looked very natural in my outdoor shots and I thought it captured the particular shade of the surrounding brickwork much more accurately than the images we took on the Galaxy S6 and One M9. It still struggled to correctly expose some areas of particularly bright cloud at times, but switching to HDR mode quickly sorted this out.  

^ Outside, the G4’s Auto mode produced bright, natural-looking images that were very well exposed 

The real star of the LG G4’s camera, though, is its new Manual mode, which lets you adjust the white balance, manual focus, shutter speed and ISO live onscreen, giving you plenty of flexible controls to be a little more creative with your photography. There’s also an auto-exposure lock button, which automatically locks the ISO and shutter speed no matter where you point the camera. This is particularly handy for stitching several shots together, as it keeps the exposure steady as you pan across a landscape, for instance. It’s a shame you can’t combine this with the dedicated panorama mode, though.

However, photo enthusiasts will be pleased to hear you can save your files in RAW as well as JPG, making them easier to edit afterwards on your PC, and shutter speed times reach all the way up to 30 seconds, allowing you to take shots of cityscape light streams and liquid waterfalls, for example.

^ Manual mode gives you a huge number of controls to play with, and we particularly like how you can adjust them live onscreen

LG’s also included a quick launch mode, so you can take instant snapshots without having to unlock the phone first. It’s certainly very handy, as LG says it launches in just 0.6 seconds, but I wish it hadn’t been mapped to the rear lower volume key, as this is possibly one of the least accessible buttons on the entire phone, particularly if you’re trying to shoot in landscape mode.

As for the front camera, this has an 8-megapixel sensor and LG’s new Gesture Shot feature will let you take four selfies two seconds apart by opening and closing your fist twice. It’s a fun feature if you’re out with friends, but my tests shots could be quite overexposed in the background and there was quite a lot of noticeable noise cancelling present as well, which smudged the edges of certain objects. I’d also recommend keeping the beauty filter on low, as this tended to blur some of my facial features together, wiping out almost all sense of skin texture and fine detail.

LG G4 leather colours^ The leather versions of the G4 come in various different colours, but currently cost more than the ceramic and metallic models

LG G4 review: Performance and Battery Life

Rather than use the same octa-core 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset as LG’s own G Flex 2 and the HTC One M9, LG has instead chosen the slightly slower hexa-core 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808 chip to power the G4 as well as 3GB of RAM. This isn’t as fast as the chips inside other top-end smartphones, and it showed in our suite of benchmark results. 

In Geekbench 3, for instance, the G4’s score of 2,547 in the multicore test is a long way behind the Galaxy S6 and One M9, as they both scored 4,501 and 3,649 respectively. In fact, it sits more comfortably alongside the mid-range £270 Moto X Play. Likewise, the G4’s single core result of just 692 has even been surpassed by budget phones such as the Acer Liquid Jade Z, which is hardly a ringing endorsement for a flagship smartphone.

However, benchmark scores are only part of the story, as I found Android to run perfectly smoothly on the G4 and I had no trouble dipping in and out of apps. The G4 also closed the gap somewhat in our Peacekeeper web browsing tests, scoring 818. As a point of comparison, the One M9 scored 1,138 and the S6 1,257. Again, while this doesn’t look great on paper, I found web browsing was beautifully smooth when scrolling up and down complex news sites like the Guardian, and I saw no signs of judder whatsoever, so it should be more than capable of handling demanding tasks.

LG G4 bottom^ The G4’s micro USB port is extremely secure and has a satisfying click when you connect a charging cable

The G4 also coped well with our suite of games, as it ran Blizzard’s Hearthstone, Threes! and Alphabear perfectly fine despite its somewhat average benchmarking results. For instance, it only produced 921 frames in the offscreen GFX Bench GL Manhattan test, which equates to roughly 15fps, but this is an extremely demanding benchmark and even the Snapdragon 810-equipped LG G Flex 2 only managed 1,179 frames (or 19fps) in the same test, so you should still be able to get your gaming fix on the G4 regardless of what type of game you like to play. 

One big advantage the G4 has over its rivals is its expandable storage. All handsets come with 32GB of built-in memory, but this can be expanded by up to 128GB via a microSD, making it much more flexible than the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. It also means you don’t have to pay more to get a high capacity phone. Instead, the only price decision you have to make here is whether you want the more expensive leather model or not. 

LG G4 battery^ Unlike its metal rivals, the LG G4’s 3,000mAh battery is completely removable

Another point in the G4’s favour is its big 3,000mAh removable battery. Unlike its metal-bound rivals, which seal the battery away inside the main chassis, the G4 gives you the option of attaching larger battery packs to the rear of the phone to extend the phone’s overall battery life. It also allows you to replace the battery later on in the phone’s life-span if it starts to degrade. 

Admittedly, I was hoping for a little more from the G4 considering the size of its battery, but its 11h 58m of video playback with the screen set to 170cd/m2 is still a pretty decent score for such a large phone. This should be more than enough to get you through the day, and it compares well with the Galaxy S6, which lasted 13h 37m under the same conditions and has a smaller screen to power. It’s certainly got more life in it than the One M9, which managed just 9h 13m, but the Galaxy S6 Edge is still the current forerunner with its battery life of 15h 33m.  

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ProcessorHexa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
Screen size5.5in
Screen resolution2,560×1,440
Screen typeIPS Quantum
Front camera8-megapixel
Rear camera16-megapixel
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
Wireless data3G, 4G
Operating systemAndroid 5.1
Battery size3,000mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£530
Price on contract (inc VAT)N/A
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
Contract/prepay supplierN/A
Part codeLG-F500L

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