A comfortable evolution: LG’s flagship G4 reviewed

For the G4, LG has taken the time to use a different processor, skipping on the eight-core processor HTC used in its One M9 and going for something different, likely because of how hot that thing got and how it tends to destroy batteries.

Instead of an octa-core chip, LG is relying on something with six cores, utilising Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808, a processor that is one part dual-core 1.8GHz and another part quad-core 1.4GHz, making the six cores of the 808 processor.

This six-core chip is paired up with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, with this set of specs lending itself to some pretty solid performance on both the system and battery fronts.

In system performance, we found only a skerrick of lag as we opened apps and multi-tasked, with often that hint of a slowdown popping up when we brought the phone back from standby right into the camera app, which can be done not just by sliding up on the icon on the lock screen, but also from double clicking the volume down when the phone is on standby.

You might see more lag when excess programs are running, and LG’s overlay of Android is pretty close to what Google sets out, so you can simply press the square multitask button and “clear all” apps quickly from one button, or slide out others by flicking them out or pressing their individual “x” button to close them.



System performance can also be measured by synthetic benchmarks, and here the results are strong, though not as high-end as what some of LG’s competitors offer, the 25712 benchmark we clocked on Quadrant not quite as up there as either of the eight-core chips offered by HTC or Samsung in recent phones.

That said, few will likely exhibit any real issues with the performance on offer, and we found our regular assortment of writing and gaming apps ran without any problem, putting this phone up there in terms of performance, even if it doesn’t bench as high as the rest of them.

Using Android is quite easy too, and as mentioned before, LG hasn’t exactly reinvented the wheel when it comes to this overlay. It’s not LG’s first dance with Google Android 5.0, either, updating the G3 with “Lollipop” only recently, and this feels like a continuation of that understanding, of those improvements.


Gone are the typical Android on-screen icons from version 4.0 and higher at the bottom of the display for back, home, and multitask, replaced with a simple triangle, circle, and square.

You’ll have several home screens available at your disposal, all except for one widgetised and ready for shortcuts, icons, and the little mini-apps known as “widgets”, with LG even including one of its own by default, a weather app that gives you a hint of the day’s activities and changes colour to match your backdrop.

You can still pinch to zoom to get a whole picture of those home screens, and push apart your fingers to push all your icons, shortcuts, and widgets aside, letting you gaze at your background picture, which is especially handy if you’ve set this background to be a photo of a loved one like a digital photo frame.


A second extra home screen is also offered, all the way on the left with no way to be moved (we tried, it doesn’t work). This is LG’s “Smart Bulletin” screen, which shows up your daily calendar, remote control, health access for LG’s own apps, tips for the phone, automated settings creator for the phone (useful if you want an app to load when you’re at home or when earphones are plugged in), and a music app.

Overall, this could have more compatibility for other activities, with music only relying on the built-in music player and nothing else — no Google Play or Pandora, for instance — and no third-party apps running through this. If you rely on Jawbone’s Up, you can’t have a panel that loads this information in your list, nor can you add an RSS reader or Flipboard reader here.

This lack of expandability makes LG’s Smart Bulletin screen kind of a waste and very unnecessary, as it doesn’t really find a way to weave its way into your life. Thankfully, you can turn it off without any real problems, and just get to using the phone.

LG's smart notice widget changes colour to match your wallpaper. Sort of.
LG’s smart notice widget changes colour to match your wallpaper. Sort of.

And outside of it, you’ll find app menus, widget menus, and a fairly flat and clean look that is more Google than LG, which is nice to see. LG has even left some of its trademark Android overlay editing features, such as the ability to edit icons and replace them with other pictures, and even play with the virtual buttons at the bottom of the screen.


If that’s a little too complicated for you, LG has included another “easy” home screen with a few screens prepared for you with bigger icons, ideal for the user that doesn’t want to fuss or fiddle with much of the Android home screen concepts normally available.


Mobile performance is also strong, tested on the Telstra 4GX network in both Sydney and Melbourne, and producing benchmarks from between 28 and 112Mbps, no real surprise given the Category 6 LTE technology built inside this phone, which typically caters to speeds up to 300Mbps, though this is network dependent, of course.

Most people in Australia will see speeds between the 15 and 60Mbps mark, though it is theoretically possible to hit as high as 160-200 locally as the networks improve.