It’s been a fun year for phones. I wrote about my Nexus 6 in March. My friends at Verizon let me spend some time with the Samsung Galaxy S6 in April and the HTC One M9 in May. Each phone had strengths and weaknesses, but when I needed to select a phone to use this year on the farm, I bought another LG G3. When Verizon offered in June to let me try out the new LG G4, I was excited to see how it would perform against the Nexus 6, the S6, One M9 and, most importantly, the G3.
The G4 is the perfect size. The gorgeous 5.5″ screen is significantly bigger than the S6 and M9, but pleasantly smaller than the Nexus 6. The G4 is slightly larger than the G3, and features a slight curvature that’s stylish enough to be neat but no so pronounced that it’s annoying. The plastic back doesn’t feel quite as good as the aluminum of the One M9, but it’s much better than the glass back on the Galaxy S6. The power and volume buttons are located on the back of the phone just below the camera, like the G3, which makes them easy to access regardless of which hand is used or how it’s held.
The 16 MP camera on the G4 is the best camera on a phone I’ve seen so far. I don’t have a lot of requirements in a camera nor do I use many of the advanced features, but I do want a camera that’s fast and produces great pictures. I love the laser autofocus and optical image stabilization on the G4, two features that allow the 16 MP camera to outperform the 20 MP camera on the M9. The pictures from the G4 seem as good if not better than the pictures I took with the S6. The G4 also has a huge 8 MP front camera. I’m not big on selfies, but it also takes great pictures.
The G4 is fast and cool. I notice no appreciable difference in performance among the flagship phones. While the One M9 had a tendency to get hot when charging and while under heavy use, the G4 doesn’t seem to get nearly as warm. I did, however, have the G4 turn off on me once. I was working outside when the temperature was around 100° and had the phone in a holster on my belt. It’s unfortunate that the thermal protection kicked in due to the outside temperature, but it’s not an environment that the average user will likely encounter on a regular basis.
I selected the Customerfirst LG G4 case as an inexpensive belt holster case and it worked very well. I received my G4 just as I started drilling milo and I immediately transferred my Google Voice number and podcasts to it in an attempt to use it as my primary phone. Unfortunately, I found the battery life to be only slightly better than the S6 and One M9, lasting me only from about 6 a.m. to just after noon on the farm. I got a good 8 hours or more out of the battery using it around the house. I wish the G4 would have shipped with wireless charging, but the availability of aftermarket Qi charging stickers makes that oversight easy to fix. The expandable battery means that the G4 is the only one of the recent flagship phones that I’ll actually be able to use on the farm without worrying about finding a charger during the day. The expandable storage means I’ll be able to use an SD card to hold all the podcasts I want without having to worry about filling up phone.
The software on the G4 is definitely colored by a custom overlay on top of Android. It’s not as intrusive as Sense on the M9 or TouchWiz on the S6, but it’s definitely not as clean as the stock experience on the Nexus 6. As with any non-Nexus device, I recommend immediately installing the Google Now Launcher and SwiftKey to get a jump on creating a clean and productive Android experience.
I really like the G4. It’s the perfect size and has the best smartphone camera I’ve ever used. The expandable storage and upgradable battery make this phone far superior for my needs than the S6, M9 and Nexus 6. I’ll be upgrading as soon as a company releases an extended battery for the G4 so I can get through the whole day.
As always, here’s the gallery of unedited images taken with the G4. You can easily download the original from the attachment page by clicking on the dimensions link above the picture.