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LG G4 review: Killer camera, killer display, but not a revolutionary smartphone

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You can’t wake the phone with an “always listening” feature a la the Nexus 6 or Moto X, and this really should be a standard trick for all Android phones. But like the G3, the G4 lets you set a “knock on” code to wake and unlock the phone with a particular fingertap pattern. Knock on is definitely my favorite OEM method for unlocking a phone, though Android’s new Smart Lock system (using trusted locations, trusted devices, etc.) is really the end-all, be-all solution.

LG g4 curve Rob Schultz

The G4’s glass is ever-so-slightly curved, but the display itself is flat. 

The G4’s rear-mounted speaker can’t match the sound quality of HTC’s One M9, but let’s face reality here: This flagship battle is really between Samsung and LG, and when deciding between the Galaxy S6 and G4, you really need to look at the features that excite you the most versus the features you’re willing to concede.

LG g4 hand Rob Schultz

The G4 has extraordinary manual camera controls, but doesn’t beat the GS6’s low-light performance in auto mode. The G4 has a removable battery, but Samsung’s battery lasts a little bit longer and charges quicker. The G4 has an incredible display, but the one on the GS6 looks more accurate.

Deciding between one phone and the other really comes down to personal preference. Indeed, for many people who are due for a phone upgrade, the LG G4 will be the clear choice. But in the final analysis, we have to separate the G4 and GS6 by half a verdict point and give the nod to the GS6.

Samsung dumped its cheapo plastic materials, dramatically upgraded its camera software, and added the blissful convenience of quick-charging and wireless charging. LG has done a lot with its flagship too, but the differences between the G3 and G4 just aren’t that dramatic—that swanky (albeit polarizing) leather option notwithstanding.

At a Glance
  • With awesome manual camera settings and a gorgeous display, the LG G4 is one of the best phones of the year. Depending on your preferences, it might even be THE best phone.

    Pros

    • Best manual still camera controls.
    • Removable battery, upgradable storage.
    • Androidy UI, light on bloatware.

    Cons

    • No quick or wireless charging.
    • Downmarket design, except for the polarizing leather option.
    • Overall, a timid update to the G3.
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