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Review: LG G4 for Verizon Wireless

Form Performance Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  21  

Jun 12, 2015, 2:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

LG's flagship for 2015 is a tricky device to classify. It both lags and surpasses the competition. With a quad HD display, 16-megapixel camera, and Android 5.1 Lollipop, this powerful smartphone has a lot going for it. Here is Phone Scoop's in-depth report.

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Is It Your Type?

The G4 is a modest update to LG's flagship smartphone line. It bumps up some specs and is available with a leather back cover. Where some phone makers have raised the stakes with artfully crafted designs, LG is happy to improve its premiere device where it matters most: performance. The G4 is for people who don't necessarily care about having a glass-and-metal phone, but still want a full-powered device.

Body

LG appears to be happy to buck industry trends. Its major competitors — Apple, HTC, Samsung — have all fielded high-end devices made of metal and glass. LG, for its part, is sticking to plastics and — should you care to splurge — leather. If you pit the G4 against the iPhone 6, One M9, and Galaxy S6, the G4 is the least presumptuous of the bunch and yet also the oddest.

The phone carries forward the basic design language from the G2 and G3. It has sharp corners toward the front, a very rounded back panel, and strangely-placed buttons. It has a clean look and adds a very slight curve to front (something LG is convinced consumers want).

The front of the phone is black, no matter which rear cover you select. There's an incredibly slim, chrome-colored rim that encircles the glass. It helps define the edges. Two different plastic shells are available off the shelf (white or gray), as are a handful of leather options. Personally, I am not a fan of the plastic options. The diamond pattern in the plastic is distinctive, but the plastic material drags down the perceived quality. If you can, go with one of the leather panels. Most U.S. carriers are only offering black leather, but there are other shades available online.

Leather gives the G4 a much-needed boost in personality. Motorola was first to break out the leather with last year's Moto X, but leather is still rare in the world of phones. Leather says "bad-ass" in a way plastic and metal can't. I like the leather covers LG designed. Leather has its own problems, though: It can be gouged and marked up, and it will certainly discolor over time, but those signs of use are what's so appealing about leather. Think about how great a good leather jacket or wallet looks and feels after a year of wear.

Body  

LG clearly isn't looking to win any awards for the slimmest or sveltest handset. With a 5.5-inch screen, the G4 is tall, wide, and disappointingly thick at 10mm. It's far bigger than the iPhone 6, Galaxy S6, or One M9. The tapered edges help a lot, but they can only do so much thanks to the general curved shape of the phone. The phone is bulky enough that those with small hands may find it too big. I found it to be manageable with just one hand, but only barely. You can cram it into your pockets easily enough, but make sure the screen is facing your body. The curved shape makes for an awkward profile if the phone is in your pocket with the screen facing outwards.

The overall quality of the phone is good, but plastic is plastic. The leather rear cover helps boost the appeal of the phone significantly when it's in your hand, and adds a welcome amount of texture. Otherwise, the materials are construction are decent enough, but not in the same league as LG's metal-clad competitors.

The G4's front face is sharp. As noted, the chrome rim helps define the edges and the tasteful design choices leave a clean, appealing fit-and-finish. Aside from the rim, the only other non-black element is LG's logo, which is emblazoned below the display. There are no buttons to speak of, and the user-facing camera and earpiece grille blend in well with the face.

You'll find no buttons along the outer edges of the G4. The left and right sides are completely barren of any controls or ports. You'll spot an IR blaster on the top, as well as a small hole for a microphone. The stereo headphone jack and USB port are both on the bottom of the phone.

The volume and screen lock buttons are on the back of the G4, as they are on most LGs now. LG believes this is a more comfortable way to reach the controls based on how your index finger naturally falls on the back surface of the phone. The array is positioned just below the camera sensor. The volume buttons are indented a bit and the screen lock/power button has a raised profile. All three buttons have decent travel and feedback. It takes time to get used to where these buttons are located. There is no dedicated camera button, but the volume keys double as shortcuts to user-defined actions (such as the camera) if you want. Unlike other LG phones with this button configuration, I managed to avoid smearing my fingerprints all over the camera lens cover.

The advantage LG has over Apple, HTC, and Samsung is that the G4's rear cover is removable. The cover peels off, the battery is removable, and the G4 has a memory card slot, too. LG and its carrier partners in the US are offering extra batteries and memory cards to those who order the phone the first few weeks it's available (hurry!). These are must-have features for some people. Oddly, the G4 uses micro, not nano, SIM cards. Most other flagships have adopted the smallest version of the SIM card.

I think LG could have done a better job with the hardware. It's good, but it doesn't necessarily keep pace with the competition. As far as I am concerned there's no point to buying the plastic version. Get the leather rear cover if you're going to buy the G4. It makes a huge difference and helps set the phone apart.

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Comments

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This forum is closed.

tyuan

Jul 7, 2015, 10:57 PM

poor durability

Had a G2 for a week, and while in case it slid off a coffee table and it broke e.g. Screen cracked and wouldn't take any touch input.

Beautiful phone, but way, way to fragile

Won't get a small bezal phone ever again

LiveAndLearnTim
varocketry

Jun 27, 2015, 9:39 AM

Review Didn't mention NFC, is there?

NFC availability seems like table stakes in the post-2014 phone world.

This review made no mention?

Is there or isn't there? Deal breaker for me.
LG website says YES to NFC.
varocketry

Jun 27, 2015, 10:27 AM

Can the VZ removed Features be restored?

Verizon LG G4 Missing Features

Multi-user Accounts
Smart Settings
Themes
Customizable Lockscreen
LG Smartworld
FM Radio


Can these be restored by any method?
vikes0115

Jun 12, 2015, 4:08 PM

Beg to differ

Eric, there is one point you keep hammering that I beg to differ with you on. I understand you HATE plastic, but that doesn't mean "there's no point to buying the plastic version".

I ALWAYS put my phone in a case to protect it. Once its in an Otterbox or something similar you can't tell if its plastic or leather (or if its plastic or a metal/glass phone for that matter really). So one could argue as well that unless you were't going to use a case at all there's no point to paying extra for leather (that's going to be hidden inside the case).

Personally I think people are putting way too much emphasis on the materials and not on the performance of phones. I've had plastic phones and have a metal/glass one now. With it in a case you...
(continues)
The position of tech sites and its editors, is to promote the idea that an expensive device should feel premium.

I feel while the point is valiant, it fails to embrace an encompassing user experience. It is easy to make a point of metal vs plastic...
(continues)
...
To add to your point, if there's a wireless charging option (I thought I read that somewhere) and it requires removal of the stock back, then a cheap stock back is good.

Errata to the review: microphone is on the bottom, no?

Eric is my go-to rev...
(continues)
...
Why spend the extra $50 for something you will never see?

Plus, all the third party cases I saw explicitly said they will not fit the G4 Leather Editions.

I just ordered a few spare batteries and two folio cases to try.

Jim
MGross337

Jun 14, 2015, 9:58 PM

LG G4

I have been a user of Samsung phones for a long time. I use my phones all day every day. I dropped 8 to 10 calls per day in some cases, where it was an unlisted number I could not reach the customer back unless they called me right back. After complaining about this problem with my carrier, they tried to replaced my Samsung phone with another Samsung phone. They replaced 2 Sim cards. After my Goggling my problem with a Samsung phone and reading about my dropping so very many calls. There were a lot of complaints on line about dropping calls. I asked the carrier to exchange the phone with another brand, they refused to replace the phone. They told me to call Samsung directly. I did that and got no where. I purchased an LGG4 with anothe...
(continues)
I asked the carrier to exchange the phone with another brand, they refused to replace the phone. They told me to call Samsung directly. I did that and got no where.


its very rare for a carrier to switch out make and model due to 2 reasons

1: ...
(continues)
Sams

Jun 15, 2015, 11:48 AM

If only it would be smaller

This phone sounds like almost the perfect thing for me, except for that HUGE size. I would be happy with a 4.7", or TOPS a 5.0". Why so big??

I wish LG releases a mini version with the same components and performance.
bofis

Jun 12, 2015, 2:51 PM

so what about a mini version?

It would be awesome if any other company besides Sony also made high-end COMPACT versions of their flagships, since they're ALL TOO BIG for my hands :-(
I would say that the vast majority of people couldn't use a 5.5" phone with one hand which is the reason HTC and Samsung stopped increasing the size of their flagships when they reached 5.2" or so. Unfortunately LG didn't get that memo and insists on ...
(continues)
I carry my phone in my shirt pocket. Anything much over 5" won't fit. Tried sticking this phone in my shirt pocket at the TM store. Really too tight or won't fit most shirts. Will stick w. my S4 for a while
 
 
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