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Thread: LG G4 review

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    LG G4 review

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    LG’s last flagship, the G3 was one of the first phones to ship with a quad-HD 2560x1440 display and to be honest, it was slightly ahead of its time. While it boasted the highest resolution screen around, the screen itself didn’t really look any better than the competition but worse yet, the rest of it wasn’t quite as cutting edge. The camera while not terrible, wasn’t terribly good either. Don’t forget that the processor was barely up to the task of driving the high res display.

    Since then, Samsung unleashed their GS6, which in many ways is a big step up from the GS5 which was was the G3’s contemporary. Now LG has the G4, is it enough to compete with the GS6?

    vs G3:

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    On paper, they’re not all the different but the G4 has a lot of tweaks that make it more than the sum of its parts.

    For example, both have Quad-HD displays but the G4’s looks much sharper because LG has fixed the weird halos that appear on some text on the G3 that was never fixed even after the 5.0 update.

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    The G4’s camera is quite a bit step up. The G3’s was a middling camera - it wasn’t horrible but it definitely wasn’t market leading. The G4’s is right up there with the GS6 at the top of the market.

    Performance is also quite a bit step up. While the G4 Snapdragon 808 has 6 cores, only 2 of them are higher performance Cortex A57 cores. Still, most tasks don’t require all 4 cores running at once so the difference is more on paper than something you’d notice in everyday usage.

    While neither is super thin, the curved back on both helps to make them feel a little smaller than they are. The G3’s curves only run longitudinally whereas the G4’s curves both run along both the latitude and longitude.

    vs Samsung Galaxy S6/S6 Edge

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    This is the G4’s real competition. They match up well in many areas; the cameras are comparable, as are the displays. Both have excellent multimedia chops with powerful headphone, amplifiers and speakers.

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    The GS6 pulls ahead with a truly usable fingerprint reader which I much prefer over the G4’s custom knock pattern unlock.

    There’s also the GS6’s metal and glass body which is a bit more tactile than the G4’s plastic and leather.

    One area where there’s no contest is that the G4 has both a user removable battery which happens to be 20% larger and memory card slot. Let me put it this way, Samsung is really pushing the fact that the GS6 charges really quickly. The reason they have to do this is because many people will have to top it off. It’s actually Samsung’s way of apologizing for giving the GS6 a lousy battery.

    Another way to think of it, is if the G4 and GS6 were electric cars. The G4 would have a long enough range that most can wait till they get home to charge it. The GS6 on the other hand would charge faster but would require you to take time out of your day to add some juice.

    As for the GS6 Edge, it’s a very sleek device but the sloped sides of the screen make it awful to use. On the other hand, I had no problems using the G4. It fits well in my and and is predictable.

    Both are great phones; you get more sizzle with the GS6 while the G4 is more about the steak. The G4 is the more practical choice while the GS6 with its metal and glass is a more emotional one.

    vs HTC One M9:

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    I haven’t posted my M9 review yet because I’m working on mine simultaneously.

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    I will say that I prefer the G4. The M9 does have a nice metal body but that’s about the only advantage that it has. The leather covered back also helps to close the gap.

    While not terrible, the M9 camera isn’t particularly good either. It’s not terribly responsive, the camera software isn’t terribly intuitive. I’m also not a fan of HTC’s Sense software and find that it brings little benefit. Then again, you could say the same thing about LG’s interface.

    On paper, the M9’s SoC should be more powerful than the G4’s but when I test it, there isn’t much of a difference between the 2 devices.

    The differentiator is that the G4 comes with a slightly larger, removable battery.

    Specs:


    • 5.5” IPS LCD display
    • 2560 x 1440 resolution
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, 2 x 64bit Cortex A57 + 4 x 64bit Cortex A53
    • Adreno 418 GPU
    • 3GB RAM
    • 32GB storage
    • MicroSD
    • 16MP rear camera with OIS, f/1.8 lens, dual tone LED flash, laser autofocus
    • 8MP front facing camera
    • 3000mAh battery
    • LTE support
    • 148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8m
    • 155g


    Body:

    The G4 is now the lone flagship that comes with a user-removable battery. Sony, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Apple all ship with sealed batteries. If you plan on keeping your phone for a while, a removable battery is really handy. You just buy a new battery and you’re done. You don’t have to find a repair shop to do it for you.

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    You get 2 different back covers in the box.

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    A plastic one one with a hammered metal finish (because brushed metal looking plastic is so 2012) or a slick leather one.

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    The leather back looks sick (in a good way).

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    Just look at it, they really grained the hell out of it.

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    I guess I do have a minor complaint, the leather is really thin so it lacks a bit of the softness/suppleness you normally get with leather.

    The frame is made of plastic. Note the chromed paint on it, it’s solid enough that it had be second guessing that it’s made from plastic. Despite the large footprint, the G4 is a very solid phone with virtually no flexing when you twist it.

    Check out the slick diamond pattern behind the glass on the bezel.

    Like the G2 and G3, the G4 has no buttons on the sides. The power and volume keys are located on the back, just below the camera. Since most users aren’t constantly pressing these buttons, it makes handing the G4 very straight forward. That said, getting used to having the buttons on the back does take some getting used to. I tend to put my finger where the camera is when I’m hunting for the volume buttons.

    Still, you can always wake the G4 up by double tapping the screen or using one your own knock pattern to unlock it.

    Then again, it’s not quite as simple as pressing the home button and then placing your finger on it to unlock it like you can on the GS6 or some iPhones.

    If you take a lot of pictures the lack of buttons on the side really allow to hold the G4 very securely. Just watch out if you’re shooting video because it’s easy to accidentally cover up one of the microphones.

    Otherwise, the G4 is very easy to handle. The top and bottom of the front have plenty of space so there’s little chance of accidentally pressing the screen when you reach across with your thumb.

    These days heat is a big issue so you’re probably wondering how hot the G4 gets. While I didn't bother putting a thermometer to it, the G4 does get quite warm but only on the top part around the camera. It doesn’t get as toasty as the GS6 does.

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    Headphone jack, Micro USB, Microphone.

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    Microphone, IR blaster.

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    Since there are no buttons on the sides there isn't much to see.

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    If you look carefully the front of the G4 has a slight curve to it.

    Display:

    LG calls the G4’s display a “Quantum IPS”, I asked LG what this means and was mildly disappointed that it doesn’t mean it has a quantum dot display. Instead, it’s just a marketing term to refer to the fact that it’s “a quantum leap” forward. I guess they had to say something since they couldn’t increase the resolution.

    Jokes aside, even though the resolution hasn’t changed, there’s quite a difference between the G4 and the G3 display. First off the blacks are much deeper. They’re not quite AMOLED black but they come pretty damn close. Off the top of my head the G4 has the deepest

    Consequently, colours on the G4 pop much more than they do on the G3. LG manages to do this without totally over-saturating colours too. I don’t have any equipment to measure saturation but the reds and greens and blues on the Chrome icon look well behaved on the G4.

    It goes without saying that a 5.5” 2560x1440 display is insanely sharp and indeed that’s the case. Actually, even though they have the same resolution, the G4’s looks much sharper because it doesn’t have those strange halos that the G3 does. If I may segue for a moment, I figured that the G3’s halos would go away after a few software updates but that never happened.

    Since the blacks are so deep and the colours pop, I initially thought the G4’s display was brighter than the G3’s (which looks kind of washed out next to the G4) but after putting them side-by-side, I’d say the G3 is actually a tiny bit brighter.

    However, the awesome colour seems to come at a cost. The G4 loses a quite a bit of brightness when you don’t view it straight on. I tend to take a lot of pictures when I’m not holding the G4 right in front of me and the loss in brightness is very noticeable - especially outdoors because I have trouble framing my shots/videos. Compared to the GS6 outdoors it’s noticeably brighter but once you go off-angle there isn’t a big difference between them.

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    Note how much dimmer the G4 (and M9) displays are compared to the 6 Plus and GS6 Edge.

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    I suspect the G4's poor off-angle performance is caused by the curved front.

    Straight on the G4 display is incredible but the loss in brightness off-angle really hurts its usefulness.

    Overall, the G4 display is incredible. However it seems to come at the cost of off-angle viewability which in turn reduces outdoor performance.

    Camera:

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    There’s been a lot of buzz about how good the G4 camera is so I was very curious to try it myself. While the camera sensor appears to be top notch, I think the real differentiator is the image stabilizer.

    Just to clarify, I’m talking about ‘real’ stabilization where parts of the camera can actually move to counteract shake and not digital image stabilization which just reserves a few pixels at the edges of the frame to allow space for the image to shift around.

    I don’t remember which phone was the first to introduce it, but my Lumia 920 from 3 or 4 years ago had it as does the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, LG G2, LG G3, Note 4, GS6, HTC One M7, etc. Image stabilization hardware in a phone is nothing new.

    What’s different about the G4 stabilizer is that it works really well. I don’t have a rig setup to test it but when you shake the G4 it does an incredible job of reducing shake. It’s so good it doesn’t have to resort to using ‘tricks’ like a super wide angle lens (like on the GS6), using excessive amounts of digital stabilization (like on a Blackberry).

    LG tells me that the G4 can correct horizontal and vertical shake along with Z-axis (forward and back) shake. The stabilizer is also able to correct up to 2 degrees of movement vs 1 degree on the G3.

    You can quickly take a picture by pressing the volume down button twice - this will launch the camera, give you a second to frame your shot and then take the picture. I wonder where LG got the idea of this feature from? On a GS6, you can double tap the home button to launch the camera. I prefer Samsung’s implementation over the LG one because you can do this from any screen with a GS6. The LG double tap only seems to work when the phone is off.

    Picture quality is excellent. These days, most cameras - even cheaper ones do well outdoors and that’s the case with the G4. Where it really sets itself apart is indoors. It’s amazing how well it does when there isn’t a lot of light and most of the time, it doesn’t even need to use super long exposures which it could since it has a very effective stabilizer.

    My only complaint about the G4 is that sometimes it takes a little longer to focus than the competition - especially the first shot, which usually takes a second or two. I’m not sure if this is a side effect of the faster than normal f/1.8 lens or if LG just tweaked the focus to make sure it gets focus but I did notice it.

    It also focuses more between shots which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it does make shot-to-shot speeds slower.

    There are 3 different shooting modes; simple, auto and advanced.

    Advanced is a manual mode complete with:


    • white balance
    • manual focusing.
    • exposure
    • ISO shutter speed
    • exposure lock
    • histogram (I’m not joking)


    Note that there’s no aperture control as most phones only have a fixed aperture. It can even shoot in RAW mode if JPG isn’t enough for you. RAW files are saved as DNG files. You can use the DNG files to adjust the white balance yourself, sharpening, that sort of thing. One thing I wasn’t prepared to see is just how many lit/dead pixels the sensor has in DNG mode during longer exposures. This doesn’t really affect anything since removing dead pixels from an image is very simple but it’s still quite shocking. I guess it also reminds us that it’s a true RAW mode with no processing at all.

    What I really liked about the manual mode is that it’s actually fairly responsive and easy to use. I wouldn’t use it all the time but I’d definitely play with it occasionally - the manual focus (great for macros) and exposure lock are both very useful.

    Speaking of macro, the G4 minimum focusing distance (MFD) is pretty impressive. You can get in really close - it’s comparable to the GS6/S6 Edge/Note 4/Note Edge all of which allow you to get in really close.

    Each shooting mode produces slightly different looking pictures. I found that Auto mode produced photos that sometimes have excessive sharpening - it gets really bad if there isn’t a lot of light. I liked the pictures I got from the advanced mode when I left everything default. Pictures are a little more ‘normal’ looking. The only problem is that you lose burst mode in advanced mode. As good as the G4’s camera is, sometimes you’ll need burst to tip the odds in your favor that you’ll get a keeper.

    Here are some comparison shots of my family room built-in. The shot was taken at night so there's no light coming from the outside. It's only lit by chandelier with 6 LED (25 watt equivalent) bulbs. You can right click any of these images to view them at full resolution. Note that the zoomed out shots are resized to 1600x1200.

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    The GS6 has the cleanest looking shot here but it missed the white balance. Normally it's pretty good about white balance so this is an anomoly. The G4 is a bit over-sharpened. I would have gotten better results if I had used advanced mode. The iPhone 6 Plus looks like there is very light processing - it uses a fairly slow shutter speed (which isn't ideal). The G3 does its best here but you the noise reduction takes up a lot of detail. The M9 with it's lack of image stabilization really hurts it here. It's forced to use a fairly high ISO and even then it took me a few tries to get that shot.

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    Remember that awesome stabilizer I was talking about earlier? It allows for really smooth video - I didn’t do a side-by-side comparison but it reminds me of the stabilizer in my dedicated Panasonic camcorder which is extremely effective.

    Video looks great, the sensor is quite sensitive so indoor video stays relatively clean looking even when there isn’t a lot of light.

    Unfortunately, the manual mode only works for photos so you can’t manually focus while shooting video.

    The microphone sounds great but it tends to pick up a lot of handling noise - I suspect it’s because the lack of buttons on the sides encourages you to hold the G4 much more securely. Then again, it could indicate poor microphone placement.

    The stabilizer is so good that feature alone is making me think of packing a G4 just so I can use it shoot 4K video.

    LG has resisted the urge to fit a really wide lens on the front facing camera. I personally don’t like super wide front facing cameras but I guess this is a personal decision. I mean, I tend to use the selfie cam for just that, selfies. I don’t care if my camera can’t get me and 4 other friends in the same frame nor do I care about it capturing as much of the background as possible. You might have different priorities. I guess you could argue that you could always zoom in on a wide angle if you don’t want to capture so much.

    I’m not 100% sure of the best way to test a front facing camera. Most of them have a fixed focus lens and are optimized to have their subject a few feet away. Further, companies are under pressure to pack more megapixels into their cameras. At the same time, most of them usually have settings to soften things up so that they don’t they capture every single pore on your face which in turn eliminates all the extra details you get with more megapixels.

    The only thing that really matters to me is how well the front facing camera does in low light. As it turns out, this is very difficult to test because some manufacturers do more post processing than others. Sorry for getting all loquacious about front facing cameras but there’s a lot to think about.

    None of these pictures looks good but out of these 4, I prefer the HTC One M9 and the LG G4. The M9 is a bit splotchy (it looks ‘ultrapixel-ish’). The G4 has a tiny bit too much sharpening.

    The M9 also has the shallowest depth of field. Is this because it’s fixed focus is set to focus closer or is it because it has the largest sensor?

    The iPhone 6 Plus doesn’t do a lot of lightening in post-processing so the picture is the darkest here. Even though by far, it has the lowest megapixel sensor here. If you lighten the picture, it still captures a bit of detail compared to the others because it doesn’t try to remove too much of the noise.

    The GS6 does the worst here, the wide-angle lens makes for uninteresting look selfies and even though I turned the ‘beauty’ feature all the way down it still softens everything to the point that it looks like a watercolor painting. Oh and BTW, nice try making me look ‘beautiful’ - it’s not gonna happen.

    Software:

    The software hasn’t changed much from the LG G3. It’s still a bit cartoonish/ugly looking. Check out the pull down, it has 2 gears on it, which gear does what?

    Also note how the pull down switches take up half the space, I prefer how stock Lollipop allows you to pull down once for your notifications and then a second time to see your switches.

    Like the G3, the G4 likes to try to hand out lots of cards with what it thinks are useful bits of information. It’s basically a clone of Google Now.

    While I don’t use the split screen apps much, it’s nice that this feature is available.

    Like the GS6 and M9, the G4 has an infrared blaster located at the top so you can use it to control your home theater equipment. Unlike them, the G4 doesn’t use Peel’s useless remote software that requires you to subscribe to cable to satellite to be of any use. That means the G4’s remote software is actually useful.

    Another useful carry-over program is quick memo, which lets you take a screenshot and then mark it up with your finger.

    Performance:

    Under the hood is a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC. If you’re keeping track of other recent flagships, the HTC One M9 is packing a Snapdragon 810 while the GS6 pair have a custom Samsung Exynos 7420.

    All feature a high performance ARM Cortex A57 cluster paired with an energy sipping Cortex A53 cluster.

    The A57 cluster in the Snapdragon 810 and Exynos has 4 cores while the 808 only has 2 cores.

    So the 810 and 808 are twice as fast right? Technically, yes but not really. The A57 cores run very hot so in the case of the 810 in the M9, it’s not always able to run them at full speed. Another thing to consider is that the each additional core usually brings diminishing returns when it comes to performance.

    Something else to consider is that the A57 cores run hot. After a few minutes the GS6 feels like a nuclear rod, the G4 has half the cores and while it doesn’t get quite as hot it still gets quite warm. Doing anything taxing also causes battery to drain at an alarm rate (much more so on the GS6).

    I got a feeling that the A57 cores aren’t really ready right now but due to market pressures they were rushed out the door.

    I need to point out that the software on my G4 is Benchmark aware. It won’t allow me to run benchmarks unless the phone doesn’t have a network connection. Is this because LG doesn’t want scores showing up on benchmark sites before launch? Is LG trying something underhanded like overclocking the SoC or maybe relaxing throttling clock speed limits for benchmarks (I have no idea)? Do they just want to make sure the phone isn’t working on anything else while the benchmark is running which could result in lower scores (probably).

    This has the side effect of not allowing certain benchmarks at all because they’re not able to connect to the internet to download files they need to run. You can trick some of them by turning on airplane mode, launching the program and then disabling airplane mode via the notification area pull down switches but it doesn’t work for all of them.

    As such, the only benchmarks I could run are Peacekeeper, Antutu and 3DMark Unlimited.

    The G4 knocks it out of the park with Peacekeeper. It’s about 25% faster than the GS6 and HTC One M9.

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    In Antutu, I suspect the fact that the G4 has 2 less high performance cores than the HTC One M9 and GS6 results in its lackluster score. Then again, what do you use more? The browser or do you run Antutu constantly?

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    3D Mark Unlimited runs off screen so the M9 with it’s lower resolution display doesn’t have an advantage here. I’d run 3D Mark Extreme which runs on-screen but all the devices here can easily hit V-Sync so they’d all have similar scores.

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    Check it out, the SoC appears to report it’s maximum speed as 1.2Ghz. I wouldn’t pay too much attention to this as the scores indicate that it can run quite a bit faster - 808’s are supposed to run their A57’s at 1.8Ghz.

    Finally I included PC Mark which I don't normal use.

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    Personally, I don’t pay much attention to benchmarks. I want a powerful phone so I don’t have to wait for it. I want it to launch my camera as fast as possible, ditto for Chrome, and my favorite video games.

    The GS6 has the highest benchmark scores out of all the phones I have tried so I figured I put it next to the G4 to see which one launches programs faster. With 2 extra ARM Cortex A57 cores which are clocked faster than the G4 along with DDR4 RAM and speedy UFS 2.0 storage the GS6 has a bit of an advantage.

    To see which is faster, I killed all open applications on both phones, put them side-by-side and then launched each app simultaneously.

    I was surprised but the cameras on both phones take exactly the same amount of time to launch.

    When it comes to Chrome, the G4 is half a step faster and drawing pages. Its high Peacekeeper score is the real deal.

    The tables are turned for Plants Vs Zombies 2 which the GS6 consistently edging out the G4 by a small amount.

    My point is even though the G4 isn’t a hero at Benchmarks, it’s competitive with the best out there - no one’s going to find it slow.

    Media Capabilities:

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    The built in speaker is extremely powerful. LG claims the G4 has a 1 watt speaker and a 2 watt amplifier. The GS6 is another phone with a rocking speaker but they sound slightly different.

    The GS6 has a more balanced, tuned sound. The G4 doesn’t sound cheap but it’s lacks some of the GS6’s thumping bass. They’re both about the same when it comes to maximum volume.

    No surprises here, the headphone jack has plenty of volume and should be able to drive any pair of headphones you throw at it. It also has excellent sound quality.

    You get 32GB of storage (22.7GB available). If that’s not enough, you can add MicroSD cards which currently top out at 200GB.

    As a Phone:

    The earpiece maximum volume is above average (average = iPhone 6 Plus) but lags behind the GS6.

    Ditto for the speakerphone, which is louder than average but not as loud as the GS6.

    RF performance is average.

    Conclusion:

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    The LG G4 is a much more balanced device compared to the GS6/GS6 Edge. It matches the GS6 camera, has nearly as much performance, has similar multi-media capabilities, has a nice leather back and is solid. When it comes to practicality, it one-ups the Samsungs with a removable battery which is 20% larger and a MicroSD slot.

    I think it's currently the best Android smartphone yet.

    4.5 Howies out of 5.

    Pros:

    • Display
    • Effective Image stabilizer
    • Leather Back
    • Removable battery
    • MicroSD slot
    • Large battery


    Cons:

    • Screen loses a lot of brightness off angle
    • Camera takes a while to focus at times
    Last edited by howard; 06-05-2015 at 12:07 PM.

  2. #2
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    Good review and a great phone. I'm not the biggest LG fan, but got an LG G Stylo in for review last week and found it to be pretty nice all around. I tried the G4 out at my local T-Mobile store and found it to be much more to my liking over the S6. The buttons on the back(on both the Stylo and the G4) took me around 10 minutes to get used to, and the build quality, despite being plastic, is great. One other thing, the G4 is currently selling for only $599.00US as opposed to the S6 standards $679.00US and Edges $779.00US on T-Mobile's site, so it's a better bargain to boot, at least in the US.

  3. #3
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    Good review. Too many reviews just focus on "looks" - not on how well the instrument works (or doesn't). I use my phone 90% for business, so the fact the screen doesn't work well at off angles doesn't matter. I often need to use/view screen head-on in bright Calif. sun - so the fact the screen IS very bright head-on is a big plus.
    I am considering migrating from Samsung because of the replaceable battery. Now, w. my S4, I carry a spare in my wallet for peace of mind not having to worry about whether I'll be out of power late in the day. I only have to actually swap batteries once or twice a month - it's all about peace of mind.
    I carry my phone in my shirt pocket. I don't think some shirts in my wardrobe have pockets big enuf to slip this phone in. One reason I'm considering upgrading from my S4 is to take advantage of T-Mobile's Band 12. The S4 is a perfect size.

    I usually wait a month or two before buying any new phone or s/w - to make sure any initial bugs have been squashed.

  4. #4
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    Great phone, thank you for good review.

  5. #5
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    As an add on, I actually bought the G4 for my friend who is on my plan with T-Mobile. He loves it! I set it up for him and used it for a few hours. The UI is a bit heavy(I'm a Nexus lover, so....), but after fiddling with it, I slimmed it down enough to be non intrusive. It's fast, has an amazing screen, and the replaceable battery is nice to have. The leather back is nice, but feels a bit thin, hope it holds up. All told, a really nice phone an a real competitor to the flagships out there. It's gonna be hard deciding on what to get next,lol.
    Last edited by dragon2knight; 06-11-2015 at 08:31 AM. Reason: grammer...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    4
    Device(s)
    Samsung Galaxy S4
    Carrier(s)
    AT&T
    Feedback Score
    0
    I have a Brand New one for sale right now here on Howard , check the classified section

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Posts
    9
    Feedback Score
    0
    Great Phone with couple of new features

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Posts
    3
    Feedback Score
    0
    Damn man, you go in depth with these reviews!! Well done!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    40
    Device(s)
    Galaxy S4
    Carrier(s)
    Rogers
    Feedback Score
    0
    I've had my LG G4 for about 6 months, with a generally positive experience.

    This morning I woke up without my alarm going off (I use the phone's alarm) and I check the LG G4 to see the boot screen looping.

    After all of the usual steps (removing battery, etc) I checked the web and found out that this is "a thing" and has happened hundreds (thousands?) of times.

    I was surprised that there aren't any threads about this here - am I missing them? Here is one from another site: http://www.androidauthority.com/lg-a...-fault-669603/


    Who else has had this problem?

    I would have to say that despite the fact I love the camera - I would warn everyone to avoid this handset.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    220
    Feedback Score
    0
    My G4 is ok onoy what i noticed it looses the music that i chose for waking up alarm
    It is going back to default alarm sound.
    The battery life it is a huge improvement in comparison with my S4.

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