LG G4 – A worthwhile buy?

So, here we have the LG G4.  Yes, I know it was already released in April of this year, 2015, it’s almost time for newer flagships but, better late than never.  I promise, I did try my best to get a review unit but, I guess this phone was just so popular that there was just not enough units to go around.


In my view, the G4 is an upgrade to the G3 which was in-turn an upgrade to the G2.  A worthwhile one though, especially if you have the G2.


Before jumping in, let’s look at the things you should know.

Key features

  • Subtly curved design with optional leather backs
  • 5.5″ QHD (1440 x 2560px) Quantum Display IPS LCD, 534ppi, Gorilla Glass 3
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop with the latest LG UX v4.0
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 chipset with hex-core processor (dual Cortex-A57 @ 1.82GHz, quad A53 @ 1.44GHz), Adreno 418 GPU and 3GB of RAM
  • 16MP camera, phase detection/laser autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash, OIS, 2160p video recording
  • 8MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
  • 32GB of built-in storage, expandable via a microSD card slot
  • Active noise cancellation with a secondary microphone
  • Dolby mobile sound enhancement
  • 3,000mAh user-replaceable battery
  • microUSB 2.0 with SlimPort 4K
  • IR-port and NFC


Main disadvantages

  • Chipset isn’t top of the range
  • No IP-certification for dust or water resistance
  • No Quick Charge charger in the box


Where can I get it from?


The G4 currently retails for R7499.00 at TakeALot, down from R8999.00, a nice saving there.


If you prefer contracts, MTN offers the G4 on the My MTNChoice 100 package for R429 pm over 24 months


Cell C also offers a 24 month contract that includes the Lg G4 starting at R429 on the SmartChat 1GB package.


Vodacom’s web site doesn’t seem to be very blind friendly so, I was not able to retrieve the info for this device.  If you are a Vodacom customer, I recommend that you phone their helpline on 111, free from your Vodacom phone for further info or visit one of their stores and whilst you at it, tell them to fix their web site.


What’s in the box?


There was the usual manuals and other things that we blind people don’t care much for but, disappointingly, apart from the G4 and the battery, I could only find a cable and a regular 5V/2A charger.


I was a bit saddened that there was no Quick Charge charger included in the box and I confirmed with various mobile service providers that this was definitely not included.  This means that you’d have to go out and buy one yourself if you want to make use of the G4’s Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 capability.  not cool.


Next, I was frantically searching for a headset.  I love mine that I received with the G2 and was looking forward to testing the new one out but, alas, nothing.  No headset was included either and this is just how it is.  You’d have to go and buy one or use your old one, if you have it laying around like me.


I assembled everything and I’m sure you are not interested in how I did that.  You know, remove the back cover, insert a sim and the battery then leave it to charge for a bit.  Skip, skip.


Does Talkback work well with this phone?


Yes, it does and though LG doesn’t have their own modified version of Talkback like we find on the Galaxy s6 range, it’s definitely not hanging in some places like it’s doing right now on my old G2.


When I received the demo unit, I was not able to activate the screen reader, Talkback, without sighted assistance though.  There is an option that permits you to disable the feature to enable accessibility features like Talkback and guess what?  This was disabled when I turned on my unit.  That for me was quite annoying.  I’m not sure if this was disabled by LG before I received the unit or if it is like that when you actually purchase the device new, untouched.


Magnification was smooth and crisp and once Talkback was running, things were just fine.


Physically the phone feels somewhat curved but, this did not prevent me from using the device comfortably.  It’s definitely a big phone but, not heavy and I hardly noticed it in my pocket.  It’s a little bigger than the G3 but, smaller than the Apple iPhone 6 plus.


There are no buttons on the side and neither is there a physical home button on the bottom of the screen like you’d find on the Samsung Galaxy s5 or s6 and on the Apple iPhones.  But, this has no effect on accessibility.


The top of the phone holds the noise-cancelling mic and an IR blaster if you want to control your TV wirelessly using the included app.


On the right hand side, there’s a small notch that helps you pop the back open so that you can remove the cover easily.


The bottom of the phone is home to the mouthpiece, the 3.5mm audio jack and the microUSB 2.0 port. It’s SlimPort-enabled and with the right adapter (or compatible TV) the LG G4 has wired 4K video output.  (adapter not included.)


If you’re into selfies, I’m not; there’s a nice 8MP/1080p selfie camera above the screen.


LG kept their signature volume up, power and volume down buttons at the back of the phone, within easy reach and placed very naturally.  In fact, I find myself searching for these buttons on other devices constantly


The loudspeaker is at the bottom left at the back.  I was not necessarily impressed with the loudspeaker on calls but, it was fine when listening to media.  I would have liked stereo speakers.


The back can be removed to access the battery, the microSIM and microSD slots by using the small notch that I referred to earlier, located on the right-hand side of the phone.


The card slots are blocked by the battery.  You’ll have to remove the battery before you will be able to remove or insert the sim and/or the micro SD card.


You’ll also feel several pogo pins, two of those are for NFC, the rest for the optional wireless charging covers.  Be careful with those; don’t try to pull or move them.  They might break.


The fact that you can swap the battery and add additional storage via the micro SD card slot, is a plus as I feel that you must always have ample storage available.  You never know when you might need it for that surprise video.


I must say that I was a bit baffled by the placement of the micro SD card slot just above the SIM slot as it was not very tactile and I wasn’t sure if I’ve inserted the micro SD card correctly or not until I actually turned the phone on.


However, typically you would probably just ask someone to assist you to make sure that you don’t break anything.


Though the hardware might not look as impressive on paper as some of the other options out there, it definitely suffices and left very little room to complain.


If you are somewhat rough on your phones, remember that there’s no IP-certification for dust or water resistance like on the older Samsung Galaxy S5 and some of the newer phones.


It might not have an all-glass back and look as sleek as some of the more expensive rivals out there but, the G4 felt solid enough and didn’t make funny creaking noises when handling it unlike some other phones out there.


I walked around with this beasty in my pocket with my GPS apps running and it was responsive, accurate and warmed up somewhat but, not too much.


I was able to run quite a few applications at the same time and didn’t experience any stuttering or similar drawbacks in speech feedback.  On some devices, like on the Samsung Galaxy A5, some of my gps apps would crash and loop infinitely but, no matter how hard I tried, I was not able to reproduce this problem on the G4.


Touch response was excellent; no lagging, no delay.  And as the screen was nice and big, I got used to the layout very quickly.


Though this is not pure Android, LG definitely cleaned up their UI and though not all of their apps are accessible with Talkback, just like with many other manufacturers, things worked well enough and the replacement apps did just fine.


And the battery life?


Battery usage patterns differs from person to person but, with average use, you might get two days out of the device.  I was able to get just about 4 hours of intensive use out of the device with some 30% to spare.


I was able to go to bed with 100% of charge remaining and found that I’d have 97% left the next morning.  That’s rather impressive and I like.


So, even though the chipset isn’t top of the range, I was not really able to find many gripes with performance.


Would I recommend this phone?


Yes.  This phone is a nice fit for the right person.  If you currently have the LG G2, it’s a worthwhile upgrade.  If you’re looking for a reasonably priced phone with exchangeable backs, batteries and expandable storage, this is the right phone for you.  If you’re due for an upgrade and this is one of your options, take it.


And yes, if you are totally blind, it is a viable option as Talkback performs just fine.


If you’re a hard-core gamer, I’m afraid that the G4’s display might not live up to intensive games but, it certainly will suffice for 80% of games out there.


Finally, below I have included the specs for the G4.


Dimensions 148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3 – 9.8 mm
Weight 155 g
Display Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Display Size 5.5 inches (~72.5% screen-to-body ratio)
Display Resolution 1440 x 2560 pixels (~538 ppi pixel density)
Platform Operating System Android OS, v5.1 (Lollipop)
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8992 Snapdragon 808
CPU Quad-core 1.44 GHz Cortex-A53 & dual-core 1.82 GHz Cortex-A57
GPU Adreno 418
Card Slot microSD, up to 128 GB
Internal storage 32 GB, 3 GB RAM
Primary Camera 16 MP, 5312 x 2988 pixels, laser autofocus, optical image stabilization, LED flash
Primary camrea features 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps, optical stabilization, HDR, stereo sound rec.
Secondary Camera 8 MP, 1080p@30fps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot
Bluetooth v4.1, A2DP, LE, apt-X
Infrared port Yes
Radio Stereo FM radio with RDS
USB microUSB v2.0 (SlimPort 4K), USB Host
Sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, color spectrum
Battery Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery


Thank you to LG South Africa for having made the G4 available to us for evaluation.  It is appreciated.  Allowing people living with disabilities to make informed choices before purchasing a product is tremendously empowering and allows us to accomplish many things that we would not have been able to otherwise.

Look out for some more reviews on LG mobiel devices in the future.

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