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LG G4 Review

The LG G4 retains a familiar look and still packs a removable battery and microSD slot, but it receives several internal upgrades, including a Snapdragon 808 SoC, an all-new camera, and a QHD IPS Quantum Display.

Snapdragon 808

The overheating and performance issues LG encountered with Qualcomm’s top-tier SoC, the Snapdragon 810, in the G Flex 2 seems to have pushed it to use the next best option in the G4. For a little background about its architecture and features, as well as the controversy surrounding it, you can read our Snapdragon 810 Performance Preview article that goes over them in detail. In short, in order to compete with Apple’s 64-bit SoC, Qualcomm was forced to move away from its custom 32-bit Krait CPU architecture sooner than planned. Building an SoC with four powerful Cortex-A57 CPU cores on TSMC's 20nm HKMG planar process ultimately proved too much to fit into a smartphone power envelope, causing significant overheating. The 810’s design seems to have been rushed overall, as the chip’s layout does not appear to be well optimized and we have yet to see the 810’s new LPDDR4 memory controller reach advertised speeds.

The Snapdragon 808 is still made on the same 20nm process as the 810, but it drops two of the power-hungry A57 CPU cores, which should reduce the thermal output of the SoC somewhat and possibly allow the two remaining A57 cores to participate more often at higher clock speeds. In fact, there is a chance that from a pure CPU performance perspective that the 808 will perform better than its big brother. The 808 also uses Qualcomm’s tried–and–true LPDDR3 memory controller, avoiding the issues encountered with the new design.

SoCQualcomm Snapdragon 810 (MSM8994)Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (MSM8992)Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 (APQ8084)Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AC)
CPUARM Cortex-A57 (4x @ 2.0GHz) + ARM Cortex-A53 (4x @ 1.55GHz) [big.LITTLE]ARM Cortex-A57 (2x @ 2.0GHz) + ARM Cortex-A53 (4x @ 1.44GHz) [big.LITTLE]Qualcomm Krait 450 (4x @ 2.65GHz)Qualcomm Krait 400 (4x @ 2.45GHz)
ISA32/64-bit ARMv8-A32/64-bit ARMv8-A32-bit ARMv7-A32-bit ARMv7-A
GPUQualcomm Adreno 430 @ 600 (v2.0) or 630MHz (v2.1)Qualcomm Adreno 418 @ 600MHzQualcomm Adreno 420 @ 600MHzQualcomm Adreno 330 @ 578MHz
Memory2x 32-bit LPDDR4-1600 (25.6GBps)2x 32-bit LPDDR3-933 (14.9GBps)2x 64-bit LPDDR3-800 (25.6GBps)2x 32-bit LPDDR3-933 (14.9GBps)
ISP14-bit dual ISP (1.2GP/s throughput, image sensors up to 55MP)12-bit dual ISP (1.2GP/s throughput, image sensors up to 21MP/8MP)12-bit dual ISP (1.2GP/s throughput, image sensors up to 55MP)dual ISP (930MP/s throughput, image sensors up to 21MP)
DSPHexagon V56 @ 800MHzHexagon V56 @ 800MHzHexagon V50 @ 800MHzHexagon V50 @ 800MHz
H.265 HEVC Decode/EncodeYes/YesYes/NoYes/NoNo/No
Integrated ModemX10 LTE (Cat 9)X10 LTE (Cat 9)NoMDM9x25 (Cat 4)
eMMC5.05.05.05.0
UFS 2.0 SupportYesNoYesNo
Manufacturing Process20nm HKMG20nm HKMG28nm HPm28nm HPm

It’s not all wine and roses for the G4’s SoC, though. The Snapdragon 808 has a few other deficits when compared to the 810, and the most worrying is its GPU. While Qualcomm does not share too many details about the specifications of its GPUs, the very naming of the 808’s Adreno 418 GPU puts it a step below both the 810’s Adreno 430 and the 420 used in last year’s Snapdragon 805. The 808 also sacrifices memory bandwidth, which provides a hint as to how the Adreno 418 GPU will perform.

One of the problems with the G3 was its GPU was not powerful enough to consistently provide a smooth experience when running games at its native QHD resolution. Our performance testing will determine if the choice of the Snapdragon 808, with its lower CPU core count and slower GPU and RAM, proves to be a good choice for the G4. Will the 418 GPU be powerful enough to handle the QHD display? Will battery life improve over the G3?

  • cknobman
    Wife absolutely loves this phone and glad she picked this over the Samsung S6.
    While it does not have quite the specs the Galaxy S6 does the microSD slot and the removable battery make it the easy choice.

    LG gave her a free premium leather cover and a extra battery with charging cradle.

    Sealed batteries are terrible because when they go bad you either ditch the phone or pay big money to have it replaced.

    I learned the hard way with my last phone that had a sealed battery, it will never happen again.
    Reply
  • geosol62
    DONT YOU THINK THIS REVIEW IS A DAY LATE???? WTF!!!

    GET WITH THE Z170 ROUND UP ALREADY!
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    16981641 said:
    Wife absolutely loves this phone and glad she picked this over the Samsung S6.
    While it does not have quite the specs the Galaxy S6 does the microSD slot and the removable battery make it the easy choice.

    LG gave her a free premium leather cover and a extra battery with charging cradle.

    Sealed batteries are terrible because when they go bad you either ditch the phone or pay big money to have it replaced.

    I learned the hard way with my last phone that had a sealed battery, it will never happen again.

    I agree that a SD card slot would be nice but the battery is something I am not as convinced because most people move on from a smart phone in two years (now sooner with the new way they do their plans) and I have had a lot of phones and never had a battery die in that two year period. Only one of them started having issues with longevity of use and that was the Droid Bionic I had that was known for having horrible battery life.

    The microSD is very nice though for music and pictures, especially if you use FLAC quality audio or take a ton of pictures.

    I hops Samsung at least puts that back into the S7 but then again the Lumia 950XL looks very tempting especially with the USB Type-C and docking station.
    Reply
  • Rob_9_
    The G5 could well be launched in 7-8 weeks. Tom must've been writing this this review for a good while ;-) I have a G4 - it's fast, reliable, skinny, has a beautiful display and you can swap the battery out when it gets low.

    LG work closely with Google and Quallcomm to get fast(ish) updates and searing performance.
    The headphone jack is on the bottom so it doesn't dangle weirdly and obtrusively from the top of your device like most other handsets. Plus, you can edit the nav keys any way you want which is a welcome relief from the awkward placement of the stock buttons.

    I've owned loads of phones. Ignore these benchmark and gamut 'ratings'. This phone really is awesome. And it's now very cheap.
    Reply
  • cknobman
    I hops Samsung at least puts that back into the S7 but then again the Lumia 950XL looks very tempting especially with the USB Type-C and docking station.

    I have a Lumia 950xl on pre-order, ships Nov 25th.

    Looking forward to it.
    Reply
  • SamSerious
    Apart from this review being more than late, i stopped reading after the first ten sentences. It is nonsense that early LG phones lacked quality and were copies of what Samsung offered at the same time. The firmware often spoiled the otherwise good phone, ok, but e.g. the build quality was always very high, these things were built like bricks. Even my Optimus P880 ist way more solid than any Samsung Andorid phone i know.
    Reply
  • innocent bystander
    Got a G3 and nothing I see here makes me want to upgrade.

    Then again, I'm the type of smartphone user for whom a full charge will last 3 days...
    Reply
  • bpbarrette
    How can you not mention price as a plus?
    Reply
  • ptrick2000
    It was impossible for me to delve into the review itself after reading the first paragraph. The Monkees later output produced generally great records? This analogy is an insult to LG.
    Reply
  • SirGCal
    The V10 is out for everyone accept Sprint and the G4 Pro (GIMME GIMME GIMME) is rumored to be right around the corner. So this does seem a bit late.
    Reply