When the LG G4 smartphone arrives in South African stores in mid-June, it won’t dazzle the market with the latest in technology breakthroughs. That would be so, like, yesterday, for a brand that has already shown its technology smarts, with advances ranging from 3D visuals several years ago to curved screens over the past year.
This time round, LG wants to impress the market with something more basic: market share.
While specific sales figures for South Africa have not been released, LG says the G3 sold double the number of the G2, and the target for the G4 is to double up again on the G2. To put that in context, the most recent market research from World Wide Worx and GeoPoll shows that LG has about 2,7 per cent market share in South Africa, almost exactly on a par with Sony. While other LG models contribute to that share, doubling G3 sales with the G4 will contribute significantly.
LG has something of a hill to climb, though, as the intended next purchase of South African consumers, revealed in the same study, shows it dropping a percentage point and Sony rising substantially.
For this reason, the timing of a phone like the G4 could not be better. The latest G-round comes across as a culmination of several years of development, fine-tuning and learning from the customer.
On the most basic level, LG has repaired a flaw in its previous devices, namely an overtight SIM slot, which tended to shred SIM cards when they were swopped to other devices. It still has an old-style slide-in wire-frame SIM slot, but the fit is more comfortable, and not designed to prevent one from ever removing it. On such basic foundations are positive experiences built.
It’s the first phone I’ve used where the switching process from one device has worked seamlessly, as advertised. Using NFC (Near Field Communications) on the phone, one holds it to another phone also running NFC to capture all settings, files and profile of installed apps. Aside from a few prompts and logging into an e-mail account on the new device, it all happens automatically.
So far so similar to Samsung and HTC. The difference is that, once logged into Gmail or the Play Store, it begins automatically downloading all apps installed on the previous phone. With other devices, most have to be selected individually, and accepted one by one. The saving in time and energy can be enormous.
The user interface is also simpler and more satisfying than on most Android phones, thanks to an avoidance of “bloatware”, as proprietary software add-ons are known.
On the hardware side, the phone naturally also outdoes its predecessors but, more important, much of the competition.
Most noticeably, the battery is removable, and it has giant-sized 3000mAh capacity – allowing for full-day usage despite the large screen – in what has the appearance of a standard-sized battery.
The camera is especially impressive, and a quick test against the iPhone 6 Plus and MTN One M9 give it a clear edge. At F1.8, it has the widest aperture lens on a major brand phone in this market – edging out the F1.9 aperture of the Samsung Galaxy S6 – which means it lets in more light and allows for more precise focus. Unlike many comparisons between phone camera lenses, the difference here is obvious even to the untrained eye.
The display dazzlingly sharp, in an environment where there is no longer such a thing as a screen that is NOT sharp. This is largely thanks to Quad HD resolution (four times high-definition, or 2,560 x 1,440 pixels) of its 5.5-inch display, and something called IPS Quantum Display, which allows for better control of the liquid crystals that make up the screen. More light is emitted, contrasts are sharper, and blacks are deeper, allowing for a richer, more defined colour.
Deon Prinsloo, General Manager LG Mobile, summed up the marketing position of the G4 like this: “We wanted to give consumers a truly human-centric device that combined the analog sensibilities with technologies that delivered real world performance. From the design to the camera to the display to the user interface, this is the most ambitious phone we’ve ever created.”
Hand-in-hand with LG’s highest ambitions yet for market presence, it takes the concept of “flagship phone” into a new category we can call the “standard-bearer phone”.
The Specifications of the G4, as supplied by LG, are:
• Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 808 Processor
• Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum Display (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)
• Memory: 32GB eMMC ROM, 3GB LPDDR3 RAM / microSD slot
• Camera: Rear 16MP with F1.8 Aperture / OIS 2.0 / Front 8MP with F2.0 Aperture
• Battery: 3,000mAh (removable)
• Operating System: Android 5.1 Lollipop
• Size: 148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3 – 9.8 mm
• Weight: 155g
• Network: 4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21 Mbps (3G)
• Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac / Bluetooth 4.1LE / NFC / USB 2.0
• Colours: (Ceramic) Metallic Gray / Ceramic White / Shiny Gold /
(Genuine Leather) Black / Brown / Red / Sky Blue / Beige / Yellow
• Other: Manual Mode / Gesture Interval Shot / Quick Shot