LG G4 initial impressions

After many leaks and teasers from LG about their 2015 flagship, the LG G4 was finally announced a few days ago. It retains many of the same features as its predecessor, both in terms of aesthetics and functionality, but adds quite a few new tricks and modifications to further improve upon the phone that was awarded the GSMA Best Smartphone of the Year award at MWC back in March. Add on to that the 26% increase in smartphone shipments over the past year and LG is having a good time in the mobile industry. With critical acclaim and commercial success fuelling LG's growth, many people have high hopes for the G4. As always, here are my initial impressions after scouring the web and collecting info on LG's newest Android flagship of the year.

The good

Display improvements without resolution bump
If you follow me on Google+, you'll know I'm not a pixel junkie. Smartphone displays are more or less staying within the same size range, and cramming more pixels into those displays doesn't serve much of a purpose other than for bragging rights. At 1440p resolution, the G4 definitely doesn't need more pixels, so it's great that LG decided to improve other aspects of the display instead of just falling back onto the pixel race. With the G4, LG is touting a display that is (on paper) 25% brighter, has 50% increased contrast, 56% better colour accuracy, and 11% more battery efficient. It's also slightly curved, which LG says makes the display 20% less likely to break if dropped. Numbers don't mean much on paper of course, but many tech sites who have had some hands-on with the G4 all seem to agree. The display of the G4 looks amazing. Hopefully this will set an example to everyone that you don't need to increase pixel density to improve display quality. There are many other ways to do so as well, and LG just proved it.

A better display without a resolution jump. Source

Better Google integration
One thing which I feel many OEMs have been guilty of is not fully utilising Google's suite of apps. The reason why many people like using them is not simply because they work well, but because they work well together. LG decided to take advantage of this integration and make the G4 more, Googly. For starters, Chrome is now the default browser. Google's productivity apps - Docs, Sheets, and Slides - also come pre-installed on the G4. But a bigger tie-in with Google comes in the form of Google Drive. The G4 will give owners 100GB of free storage for two years. On top of that, many default LG apps like the gallery, file explorer, and music apps all come with Drive integration. Many LG apps also work natively with Android Wear. LG is setting another good example by utilising Google's apps and services which people are familiar with instead of pushing their own.

Improved OIS
I'm not into photography that much, but I do highly appreciate the importance of OIS, especially on a smartphone. When you are out and about trying to steady your hands to take a photo, having OIS can easily prevent blurry and shaky photos. LG didn't just use the same OIS mechanism that's been used in their previous phones, they improved it. Calling it OIS 2.0, LG's improved OIS on the G4 now allows the lens to move along three axes, instead of just two. It also allows slightly more movement, 2° instead of just one. This will hopefully allow for even better stabilisation under more strenuous hand movements while taking a photo or video.

Better OIS = better shots on-the-go. Source

Quick Shot
Another camera related point. I know. Weird coming from me. Anyway, one of the reasons I don't care much for camera performance (quality) in smartphones is because in my mind, a smartphone camera is not meant for artistic photography. Some can be, but for 9 people out of 10, it's a camera that you use when you are out on your daily routine and you suddenly see something you want to share on social media or instant messaging (services which we all know reduce image quality to reduce file size). A smartphone camera is for most people, a camera to capture moments on the go, and sometimes, those moments come and go in a second. So to be able to simply double click the bottom volume button to instantly take a photo (not just launch the camera, but actually take a photo) even when the phone is locked and asleep, is a really useful feature that brings new meaning to the phrase "point and shoot".

The bad

No wireless or quick charging
Charging your phone has gotten easier over the past few generations of smartphones. Wireless charging and quick charging (or rapid charging) have been around for a few years now, and while its rare to find a phone with wireless charging built-in (accessories don't count), many OEMs have at least incorporated quick charging into their devices. LG with the G4, didn't include any. LG did say however that wireless charging can be added via cases, and the phone charges pretty fast even without Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0 technology, but to not have either of these out of the box is a let down for me.

Leather backs
I'm not really a fan of leather backs. Especially the G4's with it's stitched spine. Sure it's unique, but it's soft. Glass may shatter, plastic (polycarbonate) may scratch or chip, and metal may dent (or bend lol), but leather is just as susceptible to physical deformation, maybe even more so, as it doesn't need to be dropped to be damaged.

The G4 is the last of the major flagships to launch in the first half of 2015, and it's a good way to mark the mid-way point of the year. While Samsung may be running away with the plaudits thanks to the S6 and S6 Edge, the G4 is not far behind in my book. Definitely a bigger release than HTC's One M9 and Sony's Xperia Z4. Like I said in the beginning of this post, people have high expectations of LG now. And for many, I'm sure the G4 has met those expectations.

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