LG G4 Review

September 29, 2015 | Amy Davies | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The LG G4 is a new smartphone from the company, which promises some very interesting specifications for its inbuilt camera. It has a 16 million pixel sensor, which is joined by an f/1.8 fixed length lens. A “colour spectrum sensor” has been included for analysing the available light in a scene - LG says that this means the G4 is capable of reproducing very accurate colours. From a photography standpoint, the fact that the camera can shoot in raw format and offers manual control, is of course very appealing. Other photographic specific functionality includes super quick autofocus speeds and optical image stabilisation. You can insert a Micro SD card in the back of the phone, particularly useful if you plan on shooting in the more space intensive raw format.

Ease of Use

The LG G4 features a large, flat, design, and as such it can be a little awkward to use in certain scenarios. It’s difficult, for instance, for your thumb to reach the top corner of the screen when holding it one handed. The fact that LG has included optical image stabilisation is useful for a phone like this as it’s difficult to hold it perfectly steady.

Despite the lens being positioned in the middle of the back of the phone, it’s still possible to obscure it with your finger when holding it in landscape position. It’s something you get used to after a while, learning where to naturally position your hand for best effect.

If you’re using the LG G4 in portrait position, you can use one of the buttons of the back of the camera to take your shot. This is the volume down button, but unfortunately, it’s a little too close to the screen on/off button, so it can be very easy to accidentally switch the camera off when you don’t want to. Again, you do get used to this over time, but it seems like a little bit of a strange design decision none-the-less. It’s pretty much impossible to use this button when holding the camera in landscape position, too.

As this is a mobile phone, there are hundreds of photography apps which you can download from the Google Play store. However, as you might expect, there is a native camera app built into the LG G4 which you’ll probably find yourself using most often.

Front of the LG G4

You can access the app from the lock screen by dragging the camera icon across the screen, this saves you having to unlock the camera for quick shots. Otherwise, there’s an icon on the home screen of the phone which you can tap to launch the app.

Depending on whether you’re looking at the app (or holding the phone) in landscape or portrait format, the icons which allow you to change settings are either along the left hand side, or the top of the screen.

The first icon, a cog icon, allows you to change a few key settings, including displaying a grid on screen, switching on the timer, allowing voice commands (such as taking a shot when the camera hears the word cheese), HDR shooting on / off, as well as, an important setting, the image ratio. You can choose between 16:9, 4:3 and 1:1. As standard, the camera shoots in 16:9, but you may prefer the more traditional 4:3 for most shots, or 1:1 if you’re shooting with Instagram in mind.

Rear of the LG G4

Next up, is a mode icon, which allows you to choose between standard shooting, panoramic, and “dual” mode. The latter allows you to shoot an image with the back camera and the front camera at the same time, which means you can capture your reaction to whatever is happening in front of you at the time.

The third icon simply allows you to switch between the front and the back camera, while the fourth icon switches the flash on or off. The final icon, which comprises of three dots is one of the most important as it’s here when you can switch to manual shooting. Tap the three dots and you can choose between “Simple”, “Auto” and “Manual”. By tapping the Manual option, you’ll see a whole bunch of different options appear on the screen.

One of the key selling points of the LG G4 is the ability to shoot in manual mode, and as such you’ll find there’s quite a lot you can control from the app itself.

The LG G4 - Image Displayed

Along the bottom of the screen (if you’re looking at it in landscape format), you’ll see options for changing white balance, manual focus, exposure compensation, ISO (sensitivity) and shutter speed. The final icon along the bottom allows you to reset options to the automatic ones quickly, which is useful.

To make a change, tap the parameter you want to change, let’s say white balance, and then move the slider which appears. For white balance you can choose from a variety of K values, with markings for traditional settings, such as daylight and fluorescent.

If you select MF, you can again use a sliding scale to alter the focus from close-up to further away. This is particularly useful for shooting close-up if autofocus is struggling a little.

The LG G4 - Camera Mode

When you alter shutter speed or ISO sensitivity, you’ll see an exposure compensation display at the top of the screen alters to give you an idea of how well your exposure will turn out - the live view also changes to show you the effect of changing these settings has. The biggest criticism here is that you can’t change the aperture, which if you’re shooting something fairly close-up means you’ll be left with a shallow depth of field effect (as the lens is f/1.8). This may be fine if this is the effect you’re going for, but it would be nice to have the choice to change it if you’d prefer.

In order to use long exposures, you’ll need to rest the phone against something to keep it still to avoid blur. Unlike a normal compact camera, there’s no tripod thread, and since the edges are quite thin, the phone can’t stand up by itself, therefore it’s recommended that you purchase a specialist phone stand if you plan on doing lots of long exposure shots.

The LG G4 In-hand

Happily, autofocusing speeds are very good. When the light is bright, the LG G4 will lock onto the subject almost instantly, but even in lower light they’re pretty quick too, and it’s fairly rare for a false positive to be introduced.

At the bottom of the screen, or on the right hand side if you’re looking at it, there are icons for taking a picture (if you’re not using the button on the back of the camera), or for taking a video. You simply press the latter button and video will start recording. You can change the type of video quality from HD (720p), full HD (1080p) to UHD (4K) in the settings menu (the cog icon). You can also record slow-mo video, too.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

Directly from the camera, JPEG images display a good level of vibrance and clarity, perhaps being a little too saturated to be completely accurate but never-the-less giving a great effect. It would have been good if you could choose different shooting modes to bring down that saturation a little.

As you can shoot in raw (DNG) format, it’s possible to see how much processing is applied to JPEG images. By contrast, the raw files are much less saturated, aren’t quite as sharp and there’s more noise. This is good news for photographers who want to take advantage of image editing software, to keep exactly the amount of detail they want, for instance.

Low light capability is good, if not quite as amazing as LG likes to claim. In the middle of the sensitivity range, such as ISO 800, noise (in JPEG) images is barely apparent, while if you go further up the range it’s difficult to see much example of noise unless you examine at 100% - something which seems to be unlikely for the majority of users of this camera.

The LG G4’s automatic white balance setting does well, even when faced with artificial lighting conditions. Similarly, the camera’s all-purpose metering system produces accurately exposed conditions in the majority of conditions.


Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting for both JPEG and RAW formats:


ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

iso50.jpg iso50raw.jpg

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg

ISO 1500 (100% Crop)

ISO 1500 (100% Crop)

iso1500.jpg iso1500raw.jpg

ISO 2000 (100% Crop)

ISO 2000 (100% Crop)

iso2000.jpg iso2000raw.jpg

ISO 2700 (100% Crop)

ISO 2700 (100% Crop)

iso2700.jpg iso2700raw.jpg

Focal Range

The LG G4's lens provides a focal range of 29mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.


Digital Zoom On

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg


Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The LG G4 handled chromatic aberrations fairly well during the review, with some purple fringing mainly present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg


The LG G4 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 5cms away from the camera.


Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg


The flash settings on the LG G4 are Off, On and Auto. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off

Flash On

And here are a couple of portrait shots.

Flash Off

Flash Off (100% crop)

flash_off.jpg flash_off1.jpg

Flash On

Flash On (100% crop)

flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg


The LG G4 allows you to take panoramic images very easily, by 'sweeping' with the camera while keeping the shutter release depressed. The camera automatically does all the processing and stitching.


Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the LG G4 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The LG4 enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We've provided some LG RAW (DNG) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 3840x2160 at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 16 second movie is 58.3Mb in size.

Product Images


Front of the LG G4


Rear of the LG G4


Rear of the LG G4


Front of the LG G4 / Image Displayed


Front of the LG G4 / Camera Mode


Front of the LG G4 / Settings


Front of the LG G4


Front of the LG G4


Battery Compartment


Although many photographers will scoff at phone cameras, for many others, the decision about which new phone to buy will be at least influenced by the quality of the onboard camera.

For those that don't want a separate compact camera, but still want to be able to take very good photos when they don't have their DSLR or CSC with them, the LG G4 represents a good investment as its very capable of producing excellent shots. It's the best that is available on the market right now, with the possible exception of the Panasonic CM1. It certainly beats many of the lower end compact cameras, too.

While it's fantastic to have some manual control and raw format shooting, it's a little disappointing that you can't control the aperture - if you could, then it would be almost perfect as far as phone cameras go. Perhaps that is something LG can incorporate via a firmware upgrade later down the line.

The other problem you have with this phone is the handling. The large, flat, design makes it slightly unwieldy to use, and it's difficult to use one handed, something which many will want to be able to do. The design of the lens and the buttons on the back of the camera could also be better thought out too, as it's only too possible to obscure the lens, or press the wrong button.

Of course, the fact that the LG G4 uses the Android operating system, means that you can download a huge myriad of different photo taking and editing apps, which make it perhaps much more flexible than your average compact camera, allowing you to get really creative with what you can do with the G4. There's also the added bonus that you can upload directly to Instagram, Facebook et al without having to worry about connecting to wireless networks and so on.

It's also a little cheaper than some of the other comparable phones on the market, such as the iPhone 6, which for those who are not in the church of Apple, is good news.

Overall, image quality from the LG G4 is great, but there's just a couple of niggles about how you achieve your images - something which some may be alright with, while others will struggle to get on with.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4
Value for money 4.5

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the LG G4.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus is the largest ever version of the most popular flagship smartphones of all time. Find out what it has to offer photographers by reading our Apple iPhone 6 Plus review, complete with full-size sample photos, test shots, videos and more...

Google Nexus 5

The new Google Nexus 5 is one of the cheapest flagship smartphones on the market, but also one of the most powerful and full-featured too, running the latest KitKat version of Android. But what kind of experience does it offer photographers? Read our Google Nexus 5 review to find out...

HTC One (M8)

The HTC One (M8) is a new flagship smartphone with not one, but two cameras, using the second one as a depth sensor that allows you to change the point of focus after taking a photo and achieve DSLR-like shallow depth-of field effects. Does this make the HTC One (M8) the best smartphone for avid photographers? Read our HTC One (M8) review to find out..


The HTC One is a new flagship smartphone with some intriguing photography features up its proverbial sleeve. The HTC One has a 4 megapixel sensor, 28mm fixed lens with fast f/2.0 aperture, 1080p video, sweep panoramas, a range of picture effects and 8fps burst shooting. Read our HTC One review to find out if it's the best smartphone for photographers...


The LG G3 is a 13 megapixel smartphone with a revolutionary Laser Auto Focus that can take photos in a fraction of the time required by other phone cameras. Read our LG G3 review, complete with full-size sample photos, test shots, videos and more...

Nokia Lumia 1520

The Nokia Lumia 1520 is a new 20-megapixel smartphone with a massive 6-inch screen, a 26mm fixed lens with fast f/2.4 aperture and built-in optical image stabilisation, and 1080p video recording at 30fps with stereo sound. Read our Nokia Lumia 1520 review now...

Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1

Is it a camera? Is it a smartphone? No, it's the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1, which is bravely offering both in one device. Can the Panasonic CM1 replace a high-end camera and a premium smartphone? Read our Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 review now to find out...

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is Samsung's latest attempt to fuse together a 10x compact camera with a smartphone. Can the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom really replace a standalone camera and smartphone? Read our Samsung Galaxy K Zoom review now to find out...

Samsung Galaxy S5

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the latest edition of one of the most popular flagship smartphones of all time. Find out what it has to offer photographers by reading our Samsung Galaxy S5 review, complete with full-size sample photos, test shots, videos and more...

Sony Xperia Z3

The Sony Xperia Z3 is a new flagship waterproof smartphone that features a lot of cutting-edge camera technologies. The Xperia Z3 has a 20 megapixel sensor, 25mm fixed lens with fast f/2 aperture, 4K and 1080p video, sweep panoramas, a range of picture effects and Timeshift burst shooting. Read our in-depth Sony Xperia Z3 review now...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the LG G4 from around the web.

techradar.com »

LG has tried to focus on what everyone actually wants out of a smartphone, a great looking design, color rich display and the great camera for photos - but it doesn't quite deliver as impressively as we'd hoped.
Read the full review »

trustedreviews.com »

The LG G4 has a lot to live up to since its predecessor, the LG G3, was crowned TrustedReviews’ Phone of the Year in 2014. It largely succeeds, too. The LG G4 has taken all the best bits from the LG G3 and rolled them into a new and improved package.The LG G4 is to the LG G3 what the iPhone 5S is to the iPhone 5. That’s to say its alterations are more evolutionary than revolutionary.
Read the full review »

digitaltrends.com »

"Life’s Good” is LG’s tagline, but life has been tough for the company’s mobile division. Its archrival Samsung has captured a big chunk of the phone market, and LG has spent several years chipping away at Samsung’s mighty presence.
Read the full review »

engadget.com »

It might not be as technically powerful as some of LG's other recent releases, but the G4 as a package is the most compelling the company has put out yet.
Read the full review »


FORM FACTOR Full Touch Screen
3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps)
LTE (Cat.6, VoLTE)
CHIPS Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 808
Processor with X10 LTE
OS Android™ 5.1 Lollipop
BATTERY 3,000mAh (Typ.) 2,900mAh (Min.) /
Removable / Wireless Charging*
DISPLAY 5.5" Size (inch) Quad HD
(2560 X 1440)
*Wireless Charger requires Quick Circle™ Case
16MP Optical Image Stabilization 2.0
with Laser Auto Focus
EXTERNAL Micro-SD card slot: up to 200GB
Bluetooth 4.1 LE (APT-x)
USB 2.0
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
A-GPS, Glonass
HDMI SlimPort(4K)

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