The LG G4 was a phone designed to keep building the head of steam LG's creating in the smartphones space, building on the worldwide success of the LG G3 sales.

The brand should be applauded for trying something different with the design: the leather back and curved chassis are just the sort of thing that anyone looking to not be a 'me-too' brand should be doing.

There's a lot going on with the LG G4, and for the most part it's rather positive indeed.

LG G4 review

We liked

The LG G4 has a large, expansive and rich screen – and still a decent experience a year on. The great colour reproduction and sharpness generally make everything look that much better.

The camera errs on the side of sharpness too much for my liking, and LG has repeated its usual trick of mudding the edges of some darker snaps, but overall I got great pictures time and again – the low light capabilities are exquisite at times.

The curved chassis might be thick, but that doesn't mean it felt large in the hand, and I still believe the rear buttons make sense from an ergonomic point of view.

We disliked

The battery life is still too poor, and subsequent upgrades haven't improved things massively.

I never, ever got through a whole day on battery with the G4, no matter what I was doing, and quickly found myself topping up at 4PM just to make sure I could make it through the commute home. Not good enough, especially when a slower processor was chosen to help with battery drain.

The leather back just doesn't work. Some out there will like the novelty, but it's not even nice feeling leather. When you feel it for the first time it doesn't feel like a quality leather wallet but more plastic leather – thin and grainy. Plus it's leather on a phone – miles away from the premium feel of the HTC One M9 or iPhone 6.

LG G4 review

The plastic options are just too cheap-feeling to be used on a flagship phone - and while this is still a better interface than Samsung's TouchWiz, it's still not as fast or fluid as I'd expect from a phone of this ilk.

It's not the fastest out there among the flagships either. It's not the slowest, but for general zipping about this is a middle-of-the-road phone.

Verdict

I know the number of LG fans is growing, and for good reason: the South Korean firm is working hard on bringing the best from its labs into a smartphone. The screen and camera on the LG G4 were really good additions and are genuine upgrades from 2014's G3.

But the LG G5 is here now, and it's not done enough to keep that momentum going. Where the brand was on the comeback trail, that head of steam seems to be escaping.

With the G4 the brand didn't show me it can make a truly market-leading smartphone. The decision to use leather and plastic is awful – LG needed a premium design and failed badly in trying to be a little different.

Those that value a removable battery need to realise that an all-in-one design comes at a price - so if you value the option of being able to swap out a power pack, you'll have to accept a lowering of design prowess.

It feels slightly churlish criticising the G4 in some ways, as it's a strong phone with a lovely screen and decent elements that people really want and it's a decent price now. 

The issues are around the ergonomics the larger phone brings, the poor choices in leather and plastic and the battery life - and although the new super-low price means the G4 is a better proposition with the power on offer.

The overall package is just slightly too rough around the edges to say this is a really brilliant phone, although with the new lower price it's a much, much more attractive proposition.

First reviewed: April 2015