The LG G4 is here, and it’s a little later to hit the streets than its prime Android competitors such as the HTC One M9 and the Samsung Galaxy S6. However, it’s coming up to six months behind the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, with which it shares its 5.5-inch screen size. We like the iPhone 6 Plus, and have had the chance to spend some time with the LG G4, so how do the two stack up against each other in a series of early tests? Let’s find out.
It’s all in the palm of your hand
Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus is a big phone, and although the G3 looks quite compact in the pictures, it’s actually very close in size and weight. However, there is a considerable difference in the way the two phones feel in your hands. The G4 isn’t curved like the G Flex 2, but it does have a very slight bend to it. It’s barely noticeable, but it’s enough to shape the phone to your palm. The G3 was a comfy phone to hold, but the G4 takes it a step further with its slight curve. It’s not that the iPhone 6 Plus is like holding something covered in spikes, and the rounded edges are a delight, but the G4 has a great shape, which makes it sit just right in your hand.
The iPhone 6 Plus has a oh-so-expensive aluminum body, that begs to be handled and caressed. With the G4, LG gives us a choice of finishes, ranging from the nondescript metallic rear cases — which are less tactile than the G3 — to the pleasantly chilly white ceramic, and a range of real leather rear panels. Combine the leather with the G4’s minimal curve, and it’s grippy where the iPhone 6 Plus is slippery.
LG has closely followed the G3’s design for the G4. It’s attractive, particularly the razor thin bezels around the screen, and the leather makes sure it looks suitably different. However, the iPhone 6 Plus is a space-age slab of cutting edge design and obsessive attention to detail. The G4 comes apart — it has a removable battery and a MicroSD card slot — which means there are seams and cutouts, where the iPhone 6 Plus is sealed. From a design perspective, that makes the 6 Plus more pleasing, even if there are compromises to the spec.
– Winner: iPhone 6 Plus
LG goes all out with the G4’s camera
LG heavily promoted the G4’s camera at the launch event, and with good reason. It’s technically very impressive, and for once, the extra features seem to make a difference. It’s ideal for those of us who aren’t camera obsessives and just want to take better pictures. You don’t really have to understand about f-stops or manual operation to take great pictures with the G4, but if you are a camera buff, the manual mode is a joy.
Even for a novice, it’s very easy to use, and provides tweaks one can only dream of (outside of an app) on the iPhone 6 Plus. What’s more, the shots taken with the manual mode activated looked great, and it was fun and satisfying to mess around with the ISO, focus, aperture, white balance, and other settings. The laser autofocus makes a return on the G4, and is as lightning fast as ever, plus the OIS has been given a Z-axis reading, making for clearer shots.
The iPhone 6 Plus takes excellent low-light images, surpassing the G3 in many cases, so the G4’s f/1.8 aperture could see the two perform similarly in that area. In some tests where we put the G4 against the 6 Plus, the G4 outperformed Apple’s already excellent camera. However, the tests were designed to make the G4 look its best, so real world results may vary. The G4’s 16-megapixel camera beats the iPhone 6 Plus’s 8-megapixel camera on paper, but that’s rarely mattered in the past, with Apple’s camera consistently beating the competition. Only an extended test will reveal how it does this time.
– Winner: Tie — for now
Software will split opinion, but there’s a clear winner on display
LG has installed Android Lollipop on the G4 with a new version of its own user interface. It didn’t seem to be all that different to the G Flex 2 — perhaps a little smoother — and it’ll come down to personal preference (or app store allegiance) whether Android trumps iOS for you. One thing that was noticeable on the G4 was the lack of bloatware. LG has made an effort to cut down on superfluous apps, even getting rid of its own browser and simply using Chrome, albeit with a few LG tweaks. Google’s services are more deeply embedded inside the G4 than any LG phone before it, and new owners even get 100GB of Google Drive space free for two years.
The OS is viewed on a 5.5-inch display, regardless of if it’s the G4 or iPhone 6 Plus. The resolution differs though, and while Apple’s 1080p screen is very bright, shows rich colors, and has pleasing depth to its blacks, the G4’s Quad HD screen just edges it out. It’s all thanks to LG’s Quantum Display technology, which it says gets close to the standards laid down in the Digital Cinema Initiative used by Hollywood movie studios. It shows more colors, more brightly, and with a higher contrast than before — and doesn’t suck more battery power when doing so. The results are startling, and the difference was clearly noticeable next to the iPhone.
– Winner: LG G4
The battle isn’t over yet
There are many aspects of the G4 we can’t compare to the iPhone 6 Plus yet, from battery life and the way it runs our favorite apps, to the performance of the new Snapdragon 808 processor against Apple’s proven A8. On paper, the G4 wins. The two batteries are of almost equal size — 3,000mAh inside the G4 and 2,915mAh in the iPhone 6 Plus — but the G4’s cell is removable. It’s interesting to see LG opt for the hexa-core Snapdragon 808 over the octa-core Snapdragon 810 it used for the G Flex 2, suggesting its battle with heat dispersion wasn’t quite the non-issue it made out. The iPhone 6 Plus works its powerful dual-core A8 hard, but the 1GB of RAM is dwarfed by the G4’s 3GB. However, on paper spec wins of this kind rarely translate into quite the same real world advantages, and we’ll find out the truth after fully reviewing the phone.
At this stage, if you’re an ardent iPhone 6 Plus user, the G4 probably won’t convince you to drop Apple’s flagship, but if you’re weighing up between the two, or are considering a change, then the LG G4’s already impressive camera and truly beautiful Quad HD screen make it a compelling alternative.
iPhone 6 Plus
|Size||158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 (mm)||148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8 (mm)|
|Screen||5.5-inch||5.5-inch IPS LCD|
|Resolution||1,920 x 1,080 pixels||1,440 x 2,560 pixels|
|OS||iOS 8||Android 5.1 Lollipop with LG UX 4.0|
|Storage||16, 64, 128GB||32GB (expandable up to 2 terabytes)|
|SD Card Slot||No||Yes|
|Processor||Apple 64-bit, A8||Hexa-core 2×1.8GHz + 4×1.44GHz 64-bit 20nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 808|
|RAM||2GB (speculation)||3GB LPDDR4|
|Connectivity||4G LTE, 802.11ac||Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+, NFC|
|Camera||8MP rear, 2.1MP front||Front 8MP, Rear 16MP|
|Bluetooth||4.0||Yes, version 4.1 LE|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, barometer, compass, gyroscop|
|Fingerprint sensor||Touch ID||Yes|
|Battery||24 hours of talk time||3,000mAh (removable)|
|Charger||Lightning||USB 2.0, Qi wireless charging with compatible case|
|Colors||Space Gray, Gold, Silver||Grey, White, Gold, Blue, Red, Black, Brown|
|Marketplace||Apple App Store||Google Play Store|
|Ave. Price||$750, $300 with 2-year contract||TBA|
|Availability||September 19 on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile||Late May/early June on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular, Sprint|
|DT Review||4.5 out of 5 stars||4.5 out of 5 stars|
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