LG G4 review

An Android smartphone that's all about its camera and a strange look

LG G4 review

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LG G4 review

LG's making a big deal about the camera prowess of the LG G4, and rightly so: if you're going to release a new flagship phone, the screen, design, battery and camera should be the elements you get right before adding any bells and whistles on top.

The specs make for salivating reading: there's a 16MP camera on the rear, and it's fused with an f1.8 aperture that is designed to deliver spectacular low-light ability. On top of that LG has added in a huge amount of control to the camera, allowing users to choose the settings for pretty much any area of the snapper they wish to play with.

LG G4 review

The manual mode is excellent

That includes RAW support, which is baked into Android these days and will attract some of the more photographically-minded among the smartphone community.

However, there's the necessary 'Auto' and 'Simple' modes that will let you just take snaps as and when you want to, getting the best picture you can without having to mess around with the settings.

LG's also touting the fact its camera loads in 0.6 seconds - coincidentally faster than Samsung's 0.7 second opening speed on the Galaxy S6. However, where Samsung has added the quick open to double tapping the home button, LG's speed is only when tapping the camera icon.

You can open the camera using the rear volume key, double tapping it to fire up the snapper, but that's only when the phone is asleep - and it takes about two seconds to load. That's not slow, but it's nowhere near as fast as Samsung manages.

In practice, the LG G4 is an accomplished camera, and up there with the best I've ever tested. The Samsung Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 both offer phenomenal pictures just by framing and tapping the shutter button, and LG probably slips the G4 just in between these two in terms of picture quality.

The low-light claims definitely hold up to scrutiny - trying it in darker, shadowy places the results were amazing, even compared to the Galaxy S6, which has excellent ability in this space too.

LG G4 review

However, the processing LG places on top of its pictures is higher, so edges seem ever so slightly less sharp than that seen on the S6's pictures - which I considered the gold standard in low light photography. It's your choice though: slightly brighter pictures, more muddy results. The difference is very, very slight though.

In good light though, the LG G4 really comes into its own. The laser autofocus will generally give good, sharp results and the colour and brightness levels are excellent.

That said, a quick snap picture doesn't always give something sharp and in focus - that laser is either misfiring or not as impressive as the marketing sounds.

Overall, the LG G4 has a great camera, and will result in amazing pictures most of the time, with bright, clear and colourful images. The results are always too over-sharpened for my tastes, but that's been a feature of LG's camera prowess for years.

LG G4 review

It's worth noting that most of the above is talking about automatic mode, rather than the manual control, which gives brilliant pictures if you know how to play with the settings - manual focus is awesome, and altering the exposure and ISO settings never failed to get the right picture.

If you're someone who knows what they're doing with photography, this is a brilliant phone to play with - but for the automatic mode, it's not quite as impressive. Very good, but just below the best I've seen.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.