One feature has been pulled from the G3 design, though, and it’s clear from opening the back: wireless charging.
While Samsung is just beginning to embrace the idea of Qi’s wireless charging standard, something Nokia (now Microsoft) has been using in smartphones for a couple of years now, LG was here last year, throwing in support for wireless charging in the G3.
And yet in the G4, it’s gone, with the required pins missing on the back, and no connection for the wireless technology in the rear case, which is what the pins connected to. You can bring it back, we’re told, for an optional cost in one specific case LG is making for the G4, the G4 QuickCircle case, but that’s it, and if you don’t like the case and want wireless charging, too bad, because according to LG’s people, it’s not a feature that was really in demand.
Ruggedisation isn’t here, either, though LG never really included it, so we can’t say we’re all that surprised. LG says there’s a little bit of room to move on that back cover, with liquids being easy to wipe off leather, which is at least something, though it won’t help you if a beer falls on your phone.
It’s even thicker than its predecessor, with that curved display increasing the thickness to a maximum of 9.8mm, which is thicker than any other phone it competes with, as the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and HTC One M9 both clock in at 7mm and 9.6mm respectively, while LG’s G3 even skates by at 8.9mm.
LG could certainly make the case that the gentle curvature of the display means it’s not 9.8mm across the unit, and that’s true, but this phone is still fairly thick, and with the back curving out, it doesn’t balance well on a table when you press on it, bowing and moving from left to right as you balance it on its centre point.
You’ll also find a few quirks here and there, such as the inability for the phone to be on mute without leaving vibration on by default. You seem to have to go fairly deep into settings to disable vibration in general, and it would have been nice to have that half step between total silence and vibration offered like other phones.
It’s also a little odd to change default internet browser, with the default browser app setting missing from Android.
There’s a setting for apps, but this merely shows you your downloaded and installed apps, with the default apps for home screen and messaging displayed in their own settings menus. If you want to change default web browsers — which we wanted to the moment we got the G4 out of its box — you need to actually go into apps, press the settings icon in the top right corner, and press “reset default apps”, which will let you start up another browser that you want all for yourself.
There’s an easier way to do this, LG, and it’s built into Android normally, with a default apps menu. This isn’t it, and we’re a little surprised LG has made this side of things a little more awkward.
LG’s G4 is an interesting little handset, and upon first glance, this journalist didn’t really know what to make of it. It’s one of those phones that looks and feels so much like its predecessor that it’s hard to fathom what has actually changed.
And yet LG has actually spent some time refining the design, adding a few improvements here and there, and while the phone doesn’t strike you like the slick metal and glass monolith that is the Sony Xperia Z3, nor does it try to be that slick almost amorphous thing that is the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, there’s something still very, very intriguing about LG’s G4. One could say it was an elegant phone.
In a world like ours where plastic is so frequently used in smartphones and metal is the premium, it’s nice to see a company branch out and try something different. Leather is that difference, as is the gently curved screen, which feels like it was made for your pocket rather than just another gimmick.
And then there’s the camera, and while we thought Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge had the best camera in the business, LG’s gives it a good run for its money. We’re not sure which is better — they both have their flaws — but LG’s snapper and its support for a not-quite-manual mode is something that will give smartphone photographers something to cheer for, and that can only be good, which is like the rest of the phone.
Interestingly, we think the G4 is a little like a dance with a familiar partner. You’ve seen the G3 before, been introduced to her charm, and now the new dance is the G4: two steps forward, one step back.
The design is simple, the body is similar, but this new body is a little thicker than the previous generation. There’s a solid battery, and more of a reliance on premium materials, but the wireless charging has disappeared.
That’s the dance of LG in the G4: two steps forward, one step back, as the company improves elements and pulls back on others, with the result being a phone that is at both familiar and unexpected.
We actually found we were warming to the device more than any other from the lot this year, even with the quirks that make us wonder why LG went backwards on some and forwards with others.
But the G4 has something warm and friendly about its round design, and while we might bicker about whether leather is a true premium material in the grand scheme of smartphone design, the G4 is one of the most comfortable phones you’ll hold this year, conforming to the shape of your hand with a material that is soft to the touch.
That combined with an solid spec sheet, fantastic camera, brilliant screen, and one of the leaders in battery for 2015 makes it a star and worth checking out.
Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Feels great in the hands; LG's display is one of the best in the business; Curved display feels like it was used here for a decent reason rather than just a gimmick; Fantastic camera with some manual control in the software; Excellent system performance; Surprisingly solid battery life; Upgradeable memory via the microSD slot;
No fingerprint reader; Thicker than previous model; No water-proofing; While leather might be a premium material, the back is still technically made of plastic and is therefore not all that premium; Leather back doesn't need the stitching; Lacks wireless charging; A few quirks;