Maybe it’s the somewhat tacky leatherback or the bloated LG software add-ons, but it seems that on paper this phone gives long-time Android users everything they’ve wanted in a phone. The G4 has one of, if not the best, screen on any phone, sporting a resolution of 1260x440 with 534 pixels per inch on a 5.5-inch screen. The camera has also been hailed as the best Android camera on the market and possibly the best over all, beating out the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Most importantly to die-hard Android fans, the G4 has a removable battery and SD card, something Samsung has abandoned with the launch of the S4.
So what’s wrong with the G4 if we’re looking at a phone with the best display, best camera and upgradable battery and storage space?
1) The screen is too large — While the LG G4 is smaller compared to the iPhone 6 Plus, the 5.5-inches of screen displayed on both phones is still a lot for consumers to swallow. Some will like the phablet size but most still seem to be more comfortable in the 4.7 – 5.3 inch range. The G4 just doesn’t fall in that range and will be a deterrent for many.
2) The Back Buttons — Consumers do not like having their power and volume buttons moved. Most phones place power buttons on the sides or in the case of Samsung and Apple, place one big button on the bottom of the front display. But LG has continued a philosophy that these buttons along with volume controls belong on the back of the phone. I personally like this placement because, in theory, you should be able to increase screen size while making the phone itself smaller if there’s no home button on the front display. It also allows you to keep the finger print scanner. However, the G4 does not take advantage of that extra retail space, opting instead for an ugly LG logo on the lower black bar instead of a nice front facing grill speakers like those featured on the HTC M9. More so, consumers are just thrown off when they first pick it up. They might get use to it, but the consumer walking into a Verizon or AT&T store to buy a phone will pick this thing up and be immediately confused.
3) Too little metal — There’s a reason that most flagship phones today are full-bodied metal — they look beautiful and feel premium and sturdy. In order to accommodate the removable battery and SD card, the G4 comes in a variety of plastic and leather backings with metallic rims. At least this way it’s easier to hold in the hand, but ultimately it just feels cheap. No one wants to feel like they’ve bought a “cheap” phone when they’ve just dropped several hundred dollars on it.
These are three reasons consumers might not care much for the LG G4, and they’re three legitimate reasons at that. However, we could probably come up with similar complaints about the Galaxy S6: the screen isn’t big enough, the front button is obtrusive just like the bulging back camera and the glass back is more fragile for cracking. Maybe Samsung just chose the correct trade-offs this time around, but I think there may be some media bias at play.
If the G4 had a dramatic redesign like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, those photos would have been played up and seen everywhere. But, because LG stuck with it’s basic design debuted on the G3, it won’t get the same kind of play. We’ve already seen this design before and unfortunately for LG we’ve already heard this narrative before. We’re just coming off a media cycle of HTC One M9 reviews in which the narrative was largely the same — internal improvements but a near exact same design. The difference here is that the G4 has some major internal improvements that make it much more attractive than then M9. There’s no sexy story to be told with the G4, just a great phone with the same old design.
It’s great there is so much competition happening among Android manufacturers, especially now that camera’s are getting up to par. Let’s just make sure we’re evaluating things correctly. And for the love of god can I get stock Android on a phone with as good a camera as the G4.