Earlier today, we wrote about what we wanted to see in LG's latest smartphone and what we were expecting to see based on information LG had teased, as well as some helpful leaks. Looking back at what we wrote, it looks like we were pretty spot on with what we were expecting. Sadly, it does look like perhaps a couple of our wishes went unfulfilled.
At this morning's New York City event that was held on the 64th floor of the new World Trade Center (what a view) Jun-Ho Cho, President and CEO / Mobile Communications Company and Frank Lee, Director, Mobile Communications LG mobile USA took us through the highlights of their latest flagship.
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 64-bit Processor (2 x Cortex-A57 and 4 x Cortex-A53 CPUs, Adreno 418 GPU) with X10 LTE modem|
|Display||5.5-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum Display (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)|
|Memory||32GB eMMC ROM, 3GB LPDDR3 RAM & microSD slot|
|Camera||Rear: 16MP with F1.8 aperture & 1/2.6" LG Innotek image sensor / OIS 2.0 / LaserAF / Color Spectrum SensorFront: 8MP with F2.0 aperture with Manual Mode / Gesture Shot / Quick Shot|
|Battery||3,000 mAh (removable)|
|Operating System||Android 5.1 Lollipop|
|Size & Weight||148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3 - 9.8 mm, 155g|
|Network||4G / Cat 9 LTE / HSPA+ 21 Mbps (3G)|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac / Bluetooth 4.1LE / NFC / USB 2.0|
|Colors||(Plastic) Metallic Gray / Ceramic White / (Genuine Leather) Black / Brown|
|Carriers||US: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular Canada: Bell, Rogers, TELUS, Videotron and WIND Mobile|
As was teased and leaked, the G4 will be available with a genuine leather removable back in six different colors (shown below). At the event, LG stressed that its "premium tanning process" produces a smooth, durable finish, so we'll have to put that to the test. Another unique feature of the leather back is that each one will wear differently over time, making your G4 different from any other. While LG did announce multiple colors, it looks like many of the brighter ones are optional. In the US, the G4 will be available in two different plastic back colors, gray and white, and in two different leather colors, black and brown. Canadians, unfortunately, will only get the G4 in gray plastic and black leather.
Another feature we mentioned in our preview was that the G4 was slightly curved. LG is calling this aspect of its design "Slim Arc," and, as can be seen, the curve is extremely subtle and much less pronounced than the G Flex's. LG claimed that this design element makes the phone more comfortable to hold and more durable. If the G4 is dropped on its face, the curve prevents the screen from hitting the ground directly and possibly shattering.
Other than these two new features, the G4 is very similar to the LG G3, with LG's trademark rear volume and power buttons and a high screen-to-body ratio, making for a compact device despite its 5.5-inch screen size. We are disappointed to see that no metal seems to have made its way into the G4's construction.
As we predicted, the G4 uses LG's new 5.5-inch IPS Quantum Display, which LG claimed has 20 percent better color reproduction, is 25 percent brighter, and has 50 percent greater contrast than the screen of the G3. We also learned that additional enhancements make this display more power-efficient too, which was one of the G3's display's biggest weaknesses. LG said that its "Graphic RAM" should improve its efficiency by 4 percent, and its improved LCD technology will improve it by 7 percent.
As was teased, the G4 does have an extremely fast lens f/1.8 in front of its 16MP sensor. The wide aperture of this lens should allow for excellent low-light performance. At the event, LG claimed that the G4's low aperture makes it 80 percent brighter than the average f/2.4 lens found on the average smartphone. It is even 11 percent brighter than the S 6's f/1.9 lens.
In conjunction with this class-leading lens, the G4 also has a new larger 16MP sensor. While we were thinking that LG would use a 16MP Sony sensor, since the G3 used a 13MP Sony, at the event we found out that the G4's sensor is in fact made by LG. It is a 1/2.6" sensor made by LG Innotek, and is 40 percent larger than the G3's. LG has also upgraded the OIS (optical image stabilization) on the G4. Its new OIS 2.0 has two degrees of stabilization on the X and Y axis and also adds Z axis stabilization.
The last piece of innovative camera technology that LG has incorporated into the G4 is a Color Spectrum Sensor (CSS). The sensor, the first to be found on any smartphone, reads both the RGB light and reflected infrared light in a scene to adjust white balance and flash color for more accurate color representation in pictures. The G4 also still has the super fast LaserAF of the G3.
To control all this new camera hardware, LG has added a full manual mode to the camera software. With it, you can adjust every aspect of the camera – ISO, white balance, exposure and shutter speed. You can even capture images in RAW with it.
Again, all the speculation was right. The G4 uses Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 808 SoC. The 808 is a hexacore SoC with 2x Cortex-A57 and 4x Cortex-A53 CPUs. At the event, the clock speed these cores would be running at was not announced, so it's possible that LG and Qualcomm are finalizing what speeds provide the best balance of performance and power consumption on the G4 before formally announcing them. The 808 pairs these CPUs with an Adreno 418 GPU, which, at least on paper, looks to be less powerful than the 430 in the Snapdragon 810 and the 420 in the older 805. Of course, we can't comment on actual performance until we've had a chance to test this new silicon properly.
What is clear is that both Qualcomm and LG must be aware of the troubling heat issues of the 810, and after they saw how that chip performed in the G Flex 2, they prudently decided to take a different path for the G4. It also doesn't hurt that the 808 is probably a cheaper chip for LG to buy, allowing for bigger profit margins on the G4.
Like the G3, the G4 has a removable 3,000 mAh battery and a microSD slot, both welcome inclusions when the G4's competition is moving away from these features. Despite the battery being the same size as its predecessor, LG claimed that thanks to various optimizations and the power-efficient 808 SoC that the G4 has 20 percent batter life than the G3. If this proves to be true, then the G4 might be the 2015 flagship phone to beat. Battery life has been the Achilles heel of all of 2015's contenders so far.
The G4 now has the standard 32 GB of internal storage and 3 GB of RAM.
The LG G3 comes with Android Lollipop 5.1 running its new "human-centric" UX 4.0. LG told us today that this new UI will be simpler and more intuitive than that found on the G3, but still includes advanced options for more experienced users. LG is also pre-installing the complete suite of Google office apps on the G4 and is giving G4 buyers an additional 100 GB of Google Drive storage free for two years.
Since the G3, when LG decided to adopt elements of Google's Material design into its UI, LG has had an attractive UX with many useful features. However, its weakness has always been that it is one of, if not the, slowest Android OEM to update its devices. While nothing was mentioned today about improvements in this area, let's hope the G4 is updated to the next version of Android in a reasonable amount of time after Google launches.
Pricing and Availability
The LG G4 will be available "soon" on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular in the U.S., and in June in Canada on Bell, Rogers, TELUS, Videotron and WIND Mobile. Pricing has not been announced, but we expect it to be similar to other flagship Android devices like the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S 6.
Update, 4/28/2015, 11:01pm ET: The Snapdragon 808's cores run at the following clock speeds: 2x Cortex-A57 at 1.82 GHz and the 4x Cortex-A53 at 1.44 GHz
Update, 4/30/2015, 3:26am ET: Added hands-on video and additional pictures