LG bets on battery life over performance with new G4 smartphone

LG Electronics is giving its latest flagship smartphone, the leather-covered G4, a big removable battery and a power-efficient processor, hoping a long battery life will help it stand out among tough competitors.

The G4, teased for weeks, was finally unveiled on Tuesday at events around the world. The company hopes to repeat the success it had last year with the G3 and compete head-on with the Galaxy S6 from Samsung, arguably the best Android-based smartphone. But LG has chosen a slightly different approach on the inside and the outside.

Like Samsung, LG used premium materials other than plastic. But instead of using a mixture of aluminium and glass, LG covered the back of the G4 in leather. There are six colors to choose from: black, red, brown, blue, beige and yellow. For leather-averse people, there is a version of the phone with a ceramic back covered in a diamond pattern.

The G4 has a slight curve along its entire body, which makes the phone more comfortable to hold and more resistant to damage than a flat smartphone when dropped face down, according to LG.

Inside, the G4 is the first phone powered by the Snapdragon 808 processor. The 808 uses four power-efficient Cortex-A53 processor cores and two Cortex-A57 cores, which offer better performance but are more power-hungry. LG says the processor offers the best balance between high-end performance and power efficiency. Other high-end Android-based devices such as the Galaxy S6 and HTC’s One M9 (which is powered by the Snapdragon 810) use four of each core.

That gives the G4 an edge when it comes to battery life, at least on paper. It’s estimated to last 20 percent longer than the G3, from the same battery capacity, LG said. Just like the G3, it has a 3,000mAh battery that can be removed, a rarity in today’s high-end smartphones.

LG has also worked on improving are the camera and the display.

The screen has the same size and resolution as the G3’s, at 5.5 inches and 1440 by 2560 pixels, but it offers better brightness, contrast and color reproduction. Despite the improvements, the new screen shouldn’t hurt battery life, according to LG.

Until in-depth tests are conducted, we won’t know exactly what difference the combination of the processor and the new screen will have on the G4’s overall performance.

The main camera’s resolution has been upgraded to 16 megapixels. The larger sensor lets in a lot more light to take better images in dark environments. Performance is helped by the camera’s upgraded optical image stabilization and laser autofocus. A new feature called Color Spectrum Sensor (CSS) adjusts the cameras white balance and flash color for more natural-looking images.

On the software side, LG has added support for saving images in a RAW format in addition to JPEG. A new manual mode lets users control the focus, shutter speed, ISO and white balance.

The camera on the front has an 8-megapixel resolution, up from 2.1 megapixels on the G3.

The G4 has a surface size of 148.9 millimeters by 76.1 millimeters; it’s between 6.3 and 9.8 millimeters thick and weighs 155 grams, so it’s slightly bigger and heavier than the G3. It has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of integrated storage that can expanded using the microSD card slot.

The smartphone will start its global rollout on Wednesday in Korea and is expected to go on sale in Europe and the U.S. at the end of May. Pricing wasn’t immediately available.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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