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LG G4 is a new age smartphone with an outdated UI

 It’s almost an inevitable phenomenon around this time of the year, at least since the dawn of the twenty-tens. By this time most leading mobile device manufacturers have unveiled their prestigious flagship for the year, sparking the usual debate – which is the greatest of them all. It also triggers the bigger question – what do customers willing to spend in excess of Rs 40,000 on a mobile device really want? We had the opportunity to spend a month with the G4 as part of LG’s novel pre-launch experience programme. The LG G4 joins a formidable fray with a power-packed device; but does it have all the bells and whistles that can give LG much needed traction at the top of the Android pyramid?

One of the consumer insights device manufacturers seem to have finally fathomed is the optimal size. In 2015, the sweet spot seems to be somewhere between 5 and 5.5 inches and, not surprisingly all flagships are in this zone (The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is probably the only exception). But with large form factors (coupled with metal and glass builds) comes another gripe – being able to cling on to your device and not letting it go into ‘free fall’ mode. The G4 does two things right – the device is slightly contoured (LG calls it Slim arc design) and there’s a reassuring leather back. The stylish leather back doesn’t just add visual appeal but ensures a
better grip, even with sweaty palms. The big question is how the leather back will age over a few months; there’s a ceramic back option too but it’s not half as appealing.

The G4 is a good looking device but there’s no escaping a sense of déjà-vu – it does have a striking similarity to its older sibling (the G3). The G4 becomes the third LG flagship in a row to sport the rear key. There are many benefits – the biggest being ‘one-handed usability’ but it takes a lot of getting used to. Aside from the LED flash the rear cam is also flanked by a colour spectrum sensor to improve colour accuracy of your images. At a time when smartphones are ditching removable back covers in favour of a unibody form factor, the G4 almost has an old-world charm about it. The leather back cover is removable and so is the battery, especially for those ‘paranoid androids’ who like to carry a spare.

Unedited aerial shot of Chennai coastline.

Indoor low-light shot.

The G4 is more than ‘2015-proof’ on the hardware front. At its heart is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 Processor with X10 LTE (1.8GHz, Quad Core) coupled with 3GB of RAM; enough said! It’s blazing quick – the G4 clocked 49008 on our AnTuTu scores while the corresponding score (Work performance score) on PCMark was 4614. The 5.5-inch IPS Quantum display (2560 x 1440 pixels) packs an incredible 534 PPI (pixels per inch); it is one of the most vibrant displays out there. We wish more flagship devices would give their speakers the same love and attention as the display. The G4 is covered on the storage front – 32GB internal memory plus support for Micro SD cards up to 128GB and a generous 100GB of Google drive cloud storage for 2 years.

The G4 ticks what many mobile users consider the two most important boxes – the camera and the battery. The 3000 mAh battery gives this device a serious edge over its immediate competition like the S6 and the One M9+. The fact that the battery is removable is a bonus. We got through most days (except a couple of days when the camera was on overdrive) comfortably with a single charging cycle. The 16MP camera is not just one of the fastest out there (LG put this down at 0.6 seconds) but the results put it up there with the Samsung Galaxy S6. We also like how the rear key doubles up as a camera hot key (With a double click) and the manual mode option that allows you to store images in a ‘Raw format’. The 8MP front facing camera is a huge improvement over its predecessor.

What we liked:

Primary camera, Display, Leather back

What we didn’t like:

LG’s custom UI

Key Specs
  • Processor: 64-bit 1.8GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon
  • Memory: 3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage (Support for Micro SD Cards up to 128 GB) and 100 GB of Google drive storage free for 2 years)
  • Battery: 3000 mAh battery
  • Connectviity: Dual SIM / 4G LTE
  • Display: 5.5-inch screen (2560x1440p) with 534 PPI
  • Camera: 16MP primary shooter / 8MP front Camera
  • Price: Rs 51,000

LG like to use the term ‘Human-centric UX’ to showcase its user friendly and intuitive user experience that combines both hardware (Like the nifty double press for the camera) and software enhancements. While some of the features like Event pocket are handy, the UI still has a slightly ‘dated’ visual experience that doesn’t do the G4 any favours. The LG G4 is undoubtedly LG’s finest smartphone ever; it has the hardware fire power, a good solid build, a killer camera and a battery that won’t let you down. LG will be hoping it has enough to justify the Rs 51,000 price tag, we will find out soon enough.

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