First the good news – the LG G4, the Korean company’s first flagship with 64-bit hardware support, is being launched in India this month.
Now the bad news – the phone, at a price of around Rs 50,000, offers very little practical differentiation over predecessor LG G3, priced at just Rs 36,000. The only major difference between the LG G3 is that the display of the newer model is curved and that the chipset has been upgraded from the 32-bit Snapdragon 801 to the 64-bit Snapdragon 808.
UPDATE: Phone is now available on Infibeam at Rs 49,999.
RAM remains constant in G4 at 3 GB, but the technology has been moved to the faster DDR4 standard, which should give a boost to the performance.
There is, however, one key area where reviewers have praised the LG G4 much – camera quality. The phone comes with an f/1.8 aperture lens. The number 1.8 indicates the ratio of the lens’s focal length to the diameter of the ‘hole’. The higher the number, the longer the focus (or if the focus remains the same, the smaller the hole.)
A small number, such as 1.8, indicates that the lens ‘hole’ or iris is very big, allowing more light to come in. This number is inversely proportional to the depth of field. As a result, the LG G4 Camera supports higher depth of field compared to most phone cameras.
How does this matter? Depth of field refers to the lens’ ability to retain sharpness of image even when the object is ‘too near’ or ‘too far’. Of course, most cameras can move their ‘focus’ back and forth, based on where the subject is standing. However, if two people – one standing close and another standing farther away – have to be both ‘in focus’ (or clear), then you need a lens with a high ‘depth of focus’, or low aperture, like the one in the LG G4.
But does it make the LG G4 a worthwhile upgrade over the G3, given the price difference?
The answer is possibly no, until the price comes closer to Rs 45,000.
The only exception is for those who want to get every ounce of performance from their phone and don’t mind paying the extra Rs 15,000. But in that case, they can consider the Samsung Galaxy S6, which is available in India for a price of Rs 59,000.
Let’s see how much more power the G4 offers compared to the G3. For the processor power, we can look at the Geekbench results. The G3 scores 1,000 in single core test, while its successor scores 1,200.
In multi-core tests, the G3 scores 3,000, while the G4 scores 3,500. In other words, the processor power is only about 15-20% higher in the newer model.
Now for the Antutu benchmark, which measures a lot of things – including the graphics processor, RAM quantity, RAM quality, memory quantity and quality and so on. Here, the impact of the switch from DDR3 to DDR4 is visible. Total score on Antutu is 61,000, while the G3 scores only 34,000.
This doesn’t really mean that the G4 is twice as good as the G3, but it does indicate that the user experience on the G4 would be better than the G3.
Again, the crucial question is – will you really notice? Most apps don’t push the G3 to even half its capacity. Perhaps a handful of games would really require more power than the G3 is able to deliver.
In addition, the market also has options like the HTC E9+, which has very similar specs to the G4, priced at around Rs 40,000. The HTC M9+, which is more powerful than the G4, is available at Rs 52,000.
So the key question is – why should one pay 50% more for G4 compared to the G3. The question throws light on the dilemma facing companies like Samsung, LG and HTC are facing as they upgrade their phones – does anyone notice the difference? When LG moved from G2 to G3, you could say that the flagship moved from full-HD display to quad-HD display. That was a noticeable difference.
But quad-HD is already at the maximum resolution that the human eye can notice on a 5.5-inch device. Pushing it higher will not make any difference. Similarly, in terms of power, the Snapdragon 801 and 805 already deliver enough power for nearly all applications and use-cases for phones.
So, what should phone makers like LG do? The answer lies in enabling PC functions on the phones. Phones would soon come with a facility to turn themselves into regular computers when they are wirelessly connected to large displays and keyboards and mice. In other words, you won’t have a separate PC at home or office, just a separate set of displays and keyboards.
For that to happen, MediaTek will have to release its Helios X20 processor by around September, and Qualcomm has to release its Snapdragon 820 chipset by around July.
Till then, frankly, a phone with a quad-HD display and a processor that scores 1,000 points on Geekbench (or 35,000 on Antutu) would be enough to meet nearly everybody’s needs. So, our recommendation is, unless you are one of those rare people who notice a difference of 1/5th of a second when an application opens up, you should consider cheaper options. On the other hand, if money’s not a factor, the Samsung Galaxy S6 would be a better buy as its better looking and slightly more powerful. For die-hard LG fans, the G4 is the best money can buy right now.