Hands-on: LG G4 delivers promising first impressions

Hands-on: LG G4 delivers promising first impressions

Overview

LG's latest flagship Android smartphone, the G4, is set to "make a bigger splash" when it is available at the end of the month. As the successor to the impressive G3, the G4 has some big shoes to fill and LG is promising that it is more than capable in doing so.

We were provided with a preproduction unit and spent the weekend toying around with it. While this isn't a conclusive review of the capaibilties of the G4, here are some initial thoughts and impressions of the phone:

Design

Phone makers approach the concept of premium differently. HTC sticks to an all-metal design for its One M9 while Samsung chose a combination of glass and aluminium for its Galaxy S6 models. LG has its own take on premium by offering the G4 with handcrafted, genuine full grain leather backs in six colors: black, brown, red, sky blue, beige and yellow.

The different colors have different textures; brown and red have a smooth finish whereas black is textured. Consumers in Singapore will have three leather options (black, brown and red) and two ceramic-coated plastic options (metallic gray and shiny gold). If you can't make up your mind on which colour to choose, you might want to go with brown as it is the flagship colour and thus, we received the brown model for this trial. The rest of the chassis is made up of plastic and the sides have a metallic chrome finish. How different is the G4's leather back from what we've seen on the Moto X?

Well, LG states that it takes three months to make each leather back, and the materials and process involved are the same as how fashion brands make their luxury handbags. After a few days of handling the G4, we liked how the leather back felt in our hands. It has a similar (if not better) feel and texture as the Apple leather case for the iPhone.

While some may prefer metal or even glass, the nature of leather ensures that you do not have to deal with scratches, cracks, breakages, fingerprints and smudges. In fact, the colour and tone of the leather is said to change overtime, which will give each G4 a unique look. If leather is not your thing, LG offers the G4 in another option with metallic gray or shiny gold, both of which are plastic. We reckon most people will go for the leather option though. If there's one negative to the leather finish, it's that it looks a bit too premium, and as a result, the contrast between it and the not-so-premium plastic front is hard to ignore.

Another key thing to note about the leather back is that it is removable. LG bucked the trend of Android flagship smartphones coming with built-in battery and non-removable back covers. Removing the leather rear is fairly easy via the silt at the bottom left corner. Having said that, do not expect the G4 to be dust/water resistant.

The G4 comes with a removable 3,000mAh battery, a micro-SIM card slot and a microSD card slot which supports capacities up to 128GB. There is only one storage option available, which is the 32GB model. As for the available storage out-of-the box, we were unable to advise as we had a preproduction unit running on a different version of software from the final retail set.

We've received some queries on whether the G4's battery is compatible with that of the G3 since both are of the same capacity. Looking at the model numbers of the batteries, we have gathered that they are different.

Let's talk about the overall design of the G4. LG hasn't deviated much from the design philosophy for the G4. In fact, the G4 takes the best of the G3 and the G Flex 2. The footprint of the G4 is slightly larger than the G3 with a longer (148.9 vs. 146.3mm), wider (76.1 vs. 74.6mm), thicker ( 6.3~9.8 vs. 8.9mm) and heavier (155 vs 149g). Like its predecessor, the G4 is marginally larger than the 5-inch rivals and notably smaller than the 5.5-inch Apple iPhone 6 Plus. It also boasts a curved rear which rests comfortably in our palms.

While it was initially not apparent, the 5.5-inch display of the G4 is actually slightly curved. It is not as pronounced as the G Flex 2, but you can feel it as you navigate your thumb or finger across the display. Together with the curved back, LG gives the design language a name, Slim Arc and claims that there is a 20 per cent better durability of the G4 in face-down drops when compared to the flat smartphones. Nonetheless, the comfortable and secure feel of the G4 in the hand should minimise such accidents from happening.

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