LG G4: Personal Leather, Quantum IPS, and F/1.8 Camera

The LG G4 Smartphone was launched today at the Artscience museum, and LG wants you to try the great (G4), feel the great (G4). The focus this time around is the new software experience, the new camera, and the overall craftsmanship. Here’s our lowdown on the good, the bad, and the ugly!

The Good

Quantum IPS Screen

Dubbed “quantum” IPS – LG is immensely proud of their new technology as they pit it against other key competitor screens, notably the AMOLED display, and Retina display that looks suspiciously like an iPhone 6 Plus.

Described as a quantum leap in display technology, the LG G4 is the first smartphone to use LG Display’s new 5.5-inch IPS Quantum Display, which offers 20 percent greater color reproduction, 25 percent improvement in brightness and 50 percent greater contrast. Not too clear on what exactly LG is comparing against but the G4 display is really quite impressive. The last G3 display had problems on brightness but that looks to be adequately addressed with the G4.

It is also the first Quad HD display to employ Advanced In-Cell Touch (AIT) technology, which combines the LCD and touch sensor into a single layer to provide better color reproduction and touch sensitivity. This new display is calibrated for DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) standards for color expression.

lg-g4-screen-comparison

LG G4 Camera Offers Full Manual Controls

The LG G4 camera is really quite sweet. It features a F1.8 aperture lens which allows 80 percent more light to hit the image sensor than the LG G3. There’s also the laser focus from the previous G3, which allows for quick focus, and image capture.

LG improved low-light performance even further with OIS 2.0, which doubles the performance of the improved OIS+ by expanding the range of image stabilization from one degree to two degrees on the X- and Y-axis, and adding a third axis for the first time.

The Manual Mode allows experienced photographers the ability to exercise more artistic expression by letting them directly control the focus, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation and white balance for every shot. Advanced photographers can also save their photos in RAW format, in addition to JPEG, for more precise editing with no loss of details. Shutter speed adjustments allow for long exposures, up to 30 seconds in duration, which can be used to create motion effects such as light trails or bright images taken at night without flash.

lg g4 manual mode

The last feature is the Color Spectrum Sensor (CSS), the first feature of its kind to find its way into a smartphone. CSS improves color accuracy by precisely reading the RGB values of the ambient light in a scene, as well as the infrared light reflected from objects. CSS uses this information to adjust the camera’s white balance and flash color to create images that are as close to what one would see with the naked eye. With Color Spectrum Sensor, no longer will reds appear as bright orange or whites as dull yellow.

For selfie enthusiasts, LG included an industry-leading 8MP front-facing camera for sharp, detailed portraits and group shots. Gesture Interval Shot improves on the original Gesture Shot feature by taking four shots spaced two seconds apart, increasing the chance of getting that perfect shot. Triggering the shutter is as simple as opening and closing one’s hand twice in front of the camera.

Quick Shot allows customers to take pictures without opening the camera app by double tapping the phone’s Rear Key while the display is off. LG G4 also has an incredibly fast camera startup time of just six-tenths of a second.

The Design: Leather is a stylish and beautiful choice

lg-g4-leather (1)

The LG G4 is available in handcrafted, genuine full grain leather in three beautiful colors (Black, Brown and Red). The vegetable tanning process employed is an age-old tradition that requires skilled craftsmen to produce and dye the leather. Leather adds a certain touch of class and character. Good leather would age with you and mould to your specifc usage, just like fine leather shoes and wallets. However, whether the G4 leather would age well remains to be seen.

If it does, well, that would really boost the street cred of the G4. Here’s a look at the patina on another leather back phone – the Moto 360 and after it has been “worn” for a few months.

moto-360-patina

The LG G4 sports a curved design, similar to the G Flex 2. It is defined by the Slim Arc, which runs along its entire body. The curvature is not obvious, but it does help out in the ergonomics. It gives the smartphone a more comfortable and secure feel in the hand.

The Slim Arc
The Slim Arc

Removable Battery, External Memory Support

These two features are slowly disppearing from other flagships. They are always good features to have. Especially now that the camera can take RAW photos – which takes up 19MB per photo. In fact, LG is throwing in an additional battery for Singapore users.

The Bad

Poor Positioning of the Speaker

One area I don’t like on LG phones remain. The speaker is still positioned on the back of the phone. It doesn’t offer as rich a multimedia experience as other phones with front facing or bottom mounted speakers.

The UX 4.0

LG’s quite proud of the new UX 4.0 but personally, the new design seems rather dated. It looks old in comparison to other lollipop material design software overlays and the colours are extremely garish. The good thing is, all this can be removed with a custom launcher. Although you would still have to deal with parts of it – for example the settings and notifications.

The Ugly

While the leather is nice, one concern I highlighted earlier was whether it would age well or be robust enought. I felt the leather to be rather thin. A more in-depth look at this would be required. In any case, the back casing is removable and you can replace the leather back with a plastic back and vice versa. The other material options for the G4 rear cover include “artisan-forged Metallic Gray” as well as “Shiny Gold”. They are the cheaper options and really, just plastic backs.

LG says the LG G4 is a refreshing change from the uniformly flat, full metal designs that have become commonplace in the industry. That might be true, but the front view of the G4 is really quite bland. In fact, the front view of the G4 looks absolutely void of character, and it only gets interesting when you spin it around for the curve and leather back. Perhaps it is to keep the focus on the excellent screen.

The Snapdragon 808 felt pretty responsive on the quick hands on test. However, in absolute benchmark performance, the Snapdragon 808 is slower than the 810, and does lag behind the current top chip the Samsung Galaxy S6 Exynos Chipset. One advantage could bve with the less demanding Snapdragon 808, the overall power consumption could be reduced. LG claims that the G4 is estimated to last 20 percent longer than the G3, and further testing remains to be seen.

Testing The Camera

Here’s a couple of shots I took with the LG G4, in comparison with the HTC One M9. Both were taken using auto mode.

The G4 was quick to focus, and I didn’t need to recatpure any shots. I had to take the first shot with the M9 a couple of times, as the first two images turned out blurry. The exposure time on the M9 was 1/14 wheras the G4 was 1/23. The F Stop on the One M9 is F/2.2.

The second photo quality is nearer, as both were able to capture fine details. However, the white balance on the HTC looks off. That brings to mine the LG’s Colour Spectrum Sensor. As evident in this photo, proper white balance and colour rendition are often problem areas for phones. Located just under the flash, the sensor measures red, green and blue colour components and also infrared independently of the camera’s main imaging sensor. This could be the key to the difference in the two image and the more accurate colour lighting of the LG G4.

Price and Availability of the LG G4

Enhancing the overall user experience of the G4, the LG G4 comes with Google Office pre-installed for easy collaboration on-the-go and G4 owners will receive an additional 100GB of Google Drive storage free for two years.

The LG G4 will be available at the end of May, retailing for S$998 (Genuine Leather) and S$928 (Metallic) from M1, Singtel, StarHub and authorized LG Mobile retailers. Customers will receive an additional LG G4 battery and battery charger worth S$126 when they purchase an LG G4*. Consumers can register their interest at the websites of the respective telecommunication companies from 15 May 2015 to 24 May 2015.

LG G4 Singapore Promo

By the way, Mr Bang Youn Hwang from LG is always a star at these media events.

Verdict

From the launch impression, there’s really more good to the LG G4. The improvements made to the G4 sound nice and I’m quite intrigued by how the leather back of the G4 would turn out and if it would be able to develop a classy patina. To me, performance is less of an important feature since I don’t game as much. Even if I do, I think the Snapdragon 808 should perform reasonably well. A phone with a nice design and good camera would be more important features to me and the LG G4 does seem to do both pretty well.

Sean

Sean is a tech geek and star wars fan. He loves playing with new gadgets, writing little code snippets in Python, JS, and dabbling with Android programming from time to time, while keeping a lookout for the next biggest happening in the world of tech!

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