LG's new flagship smartphone looks ready to take on Samsung's Galaxy S6, but can it match that phone's business credentials? The LG G4 was revealed this week as a brand-new Android device, with enough features and performance to woo consumers. But LG has its work cut out for it if it wants to persuade business users to adopt its handset over Samsung's new flagship, which was good enough to be named our favorite overall business phone.
The G4 – which doesn't have a firm release date yet but is expected to launch in the coming weeks – does have a few advantages over its closest rivals, though. While we wait to get our hands on the G4 for review, here's an early look at what makes the device good for business – and where it falls short.
While Samsung took a page out of Apple's playbook with the sleek, glass-backed Galaxy S6, LG has gone in a totally different direction with the G4. It sports a leather back, with stitching detail that gives it the look of a leather handbag. I'd say it's a nice look for a business phone, especially one that you'll be paying a premium price for. Plus, it makes the G4 easier to hang onto than devices made from metal or plastic, so you're less likely to drop it. That's a good feature in a work device that you depend on.
Otherwise, the G4 looks a lot like last year's G3, with a sharp 5.5-inch display and a slim profile. The gently curved backside also still includes the same rear-facing volume and power buttons. LG says they're easier to reach than buttons on a smartphone's edges, though it really comes down to personal preference.
If you don't like leather, you can still buy the G4 with a plastic back. In fact, the back is actually removable, so it can be swapped out on the fly. The snap-off back panel also allowed LG to include two key features that Samsung nixed in its latest Galaxy smartphone: a removable battery and an SD card slot.
Battery and storage
In a quest to make the Galaxy S6 slimmer and sleeker than last year's model, Samsung removed the ability to swap out the battery in its latest flagship phone, and also decreased its capacity. That's a potential downside for road warriors who need a work phone that lasts and lasts. We don't know how long the G4 will run on a charge – we haven't yet had a chance to put it through our battery life test – though we do know it packs a beefier battery than the S6.
Plus, you can swap out a dead G4 battery for a fully charged spare on a long business flight, if you're willing to spend money on a spare, something that's not possible with the sealed unibody design of the S6. You'll probably also be able to purchase an extended battery for the G4, which would add some thickness, but could potentially double your staying power, ensuring you can stay connected well beyond the end of the workday.
The other advantage of the G4's removable back plate is that it makes room for an SD card slot, which lets you expand the phone's internal storage. That's a feature that existed in all previous Samsung Galaxy phones until the S6. Along with HTC, LG is now one of the only phone makers still including the feature in its flagship smartphones, which is a nice perk for business users who want to store a lot of files and documents on their work phone.
The centerpiece of the G4 is its huge 5.5-inch display, which plants this phone firmly in the "phablet" category. The upside is that the screen is big enough to give you tons of space for screen-intensive tasks like editing a document or spreadsheet on the go, especially compared to the smaller 5.1-inch display on the Galaxy S6. The big screen also gives you more room to use LG's Dual Window feature, which allows you to run two apps at once in a split-screen mode, which is seriously useful for multitasking. I liked using the feature on the G3 to compose an email while using the calculator or performing a Web search, for example.
Plus, the G4's quad HD display uses Quantum IPS technology, which LG promises delivers sharper images and brighter, more authentic colors than other phones. Based on first impressions, the screen does look impressive.
As you'd expect from a flagship smartphone, the G4 packs more than enough power to handle your daily workload. The device includes a blazing-fast Snapdragon 808 processor with 3GB of RAM, which is likely to provide performance comparable to the Galaxy S6.
Business users don't necessarily need the speediest smartphone on the market, but fast performance is a nice perk. Snappy performance means you can access information and load large documents very quickly, and multitask without a hint of slowdown.
LG is also packing in an impressive 8-MP front-facing camera. Business users might not be concerned with taking selfies, but a good front shooter is nice for videoconferencing sessions, if you want to meet remotely with colleagues or clients using your smartphone. The G4's front-facing camera is leagues ahead of the average smartphone camera.
What you won't find on the LG G4 is a fingerprint scanner, a feature you'll find on every new Galaxy smartphone. That's one big advantage the S6 has for security-minded business users.
LG's approach to Android is simple. Instead of changing the interface and packing in an overwhelming number of features you'll rarely use, LG equipped the G4 with a relatively clean version of Google's Android 5.0 Lollipop. I consider that a perk, since stock Android is cleaner and easier to understand than Samsung's TouchWiz interface.
The LG G4 is an impressive smartphone that packs top-of-the-line hardware and premium good looks. If you find the 5.1-inch Galaxy S6 too small, and the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4 too big, LG's 5.5-inch phone is a nice middle ground, offering plenty of room to work without feeling unwieldy. Plus, it offers a removable battery and an SD card slot, two features that power users will really appreciate.
The Galaxy S6 is slimmer and sleeker, though, and its built-in fingerprint scanner is a huge boon if you want to keep your work phone secure. Samsung's phone also comes with better built-in security via Samsung Knox, which encrypts your messages and keeps work and personal apps separated.
For our final word, check Business News Daily for a full review of the LG G4 very soon.