LG G4 vs. Samsung Galaxy S6: Which Android phone should you buy?

By Kyle Wiggers

It’s finally official: LG unveiled its next flagship, the LG G4, at events simulcasted throughout the globe. With an exterior engineered around the tenant of “comfortable elegance” and a litany of hardware enhancements over last year’s model, the Korea-based electronics giant has made what is calls a “handmade masterpiece.”

But the G4 isn’t the only fancy new handset on the block. Samsung released its own highly anticipated smartphone, the Galaxy S6, to critical acclaim last month — DT’s own Ted Kritsonis scored them a 4.5/5. And if demand is any indication, it’s a very compelling devices in its own right.

The obvious question, then, is how the G4 measures up to the S6, arguably its biggest rival. While we’ve yet to put LG’s smartphone through its paces, we’ve cursorily compared the two in the meantime to illustrate the biggest differences.

Design

When you walk into a store, a smartphone’s design is what attracts you, and what sticks with you. After all, after you buy that smartphone, you’ll see it a countless number of instances every day for years; it may sound like common sense, but unless you want to end up regretting your purchase every time you pull it out of your pocket, you want a phone with a design that you’ll find pleasing.

LG claims the shock-absorbing bend makes the G4 20 percent more durable than the G3

What about the G4’s? It’s less striking than refined — there aren’t many surprises in store for those already familiar with the LG G3. It adopts the same, inoffensive design language, delegating the speaker, power, and volume buttons to the upper back for a minimalist presentation. It’s just as curvaceous, too: the rear panel arcs as it tapers on either side, a contoured bezel borders the display, and the entire outer shell itself is ever-so-slightly curved. That last characteristic is a major selling point — LG claims the shock-absorbing bend makes the G4 20 percent more durable than the G3. The effect, lucky for those put off by the G Flex 2’s exaggerated angle, is nearly imperceptible.

The Galaxy S6 is flat, by contrast. Samsung opted for Gorilla Glass 4 on the front and rear, which fabricator Corning claims is twice as tough as Gorilla Glass 3, the iteration in use on the G4. But the display glass is just the beginning of the aesthetic differences between the phones. The Galaxy S6 is a refinement of Samsung’s design paradigms, retaining the signature Galaxy home button and sensor placement. There are, however, touches worth noting, like a metal bezel made entirely of aluminum, bottom-level speaker placement (the G4’s is on the back), and a bulging camera module.

Jeffery Van Camp/Digital Trends

If some of those sound like compromises, they are. Samsung made them in the pursuit of thinness, which it definitely achieved — the Galaxy S6 measures just 6.8mm, a number the 9.4mm thick LG G4, can’t touch.

But the G4 is a standout in other areas, namely some of its removable (unlike the S6) back covers. LG says material engineers spent more than three years researching and developing the leather, which uses Gutermann’s Mara sewing threads for the stitching. It’s very soft to the touch (a characteristic the company attributes to its proprietary, 3-month vegetable tanning process), and in our limited experience it’s also fairly resistant to scratching.

If leather isn’t to your liking, though, LG will offer three “metallic craft” plastic covers in three colors: “titan black,” “shiny gold,” and “ceramic white.” Like the brushed finish on the G3’s rear panel, they definitely won’t be mistaken for metal, but they’re an appealingly neutral alternative to the more conspicuous leather.

In terms of coloration, the S6 and G4 are evenly matched. The S6 comes in white, black, gold, and blue, while the G4 will be available in black, beige, blue, and yellow.

What about size, you ask? While it’s true the G4’s display is a few tenths of an inch larger than the Galaxy S6’s (5.5 inches versus 5.1 inches), it never feels unwieldy — like the G3 before it, LG’s managed to squeeze the panel into a relatively compact frame. One-handed operation is out of the question for most, but it’s never uncomfortably large.

– Winner: LG G4 (so far)

The LG G4 is more comfortable to hold and practical, but the Galaxy S6 does look prettier with its dual-glass sides.

Processing power

The internals are where things get interesting. The Galaxy S6 eschews Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoC for the in-house, 64-bit Exynos 7420. It’s an eight-core monster of a chip, packing more than enough oomph to send the Galaxy S6 soaring past competitors in benchmarks.

LG chose the less exotic route. A Snapdragon 808 processor powers the G4, which the company says is very purposeful — it collaborated with Qualcomm to “optimize” the processor. LG may have had its reasons to skip the 810, but optimizations may not be enough to push it over the performance gap.

– Winner: TBA

LG’s processor is slightly weaker, but may produce better battery life.

Display

The Galaxy S6 made the jump to Quad HD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) AMOLED to much fanfare, but it was a catch-up move, in a sense — the G3 achieved that a year ago, but with compromises in brightness and contrast. The G4’s panel is an improvement in every way. It’s what LG calls a “Quantum” LCD IPS display: by using negatively charged liquid crystal instead of the typical positive and leveraging a color-transforming backlight, LG says the G4 is able to reproduce more accurate, less saturated colors than all other competing display technologies.

The initial comparison between the S6 and G4 screen yielded mixed results. Some colors, like red, looked far better on the G4, but the differences were harder to perceive in photographs with lots of blues and greens. It’ll take more testing to make a definitive call, but LCD does have its drawbacks — blacks on AMOLED are inherently better, for one, and power consumption is, in some cases, lower. We also noticed a yellowish tinge on the S6, a tinge that remained even after switching off the Adaptive setting in the display options. It’s possible we have a bad panel, but a similar, subtler shift towards warmer colors was observable on the our Nexus 6, too. There definitely appears to be something to LG’s claims.

-Winner: LG G4 (so far)

Head to head, LG’s screen looked better. Samsung also doesn’t fully take advantage of its AMOLED screen, rarely showing deep blacks.

Battery and storage

The other divergences are many. The G4 has a 3000mAh battery, while the S6 settles for 2550mAh. We haven’t formally tested the G4, but it certainly wins by numbers alone (numbers sometimes lie, of course.) Another point to consider: the battery’s removable, which definitely lends a bit more flexibility.

When it comes to storage, Samsung has taken the very Apple-like approach of removing its MicroSD slot and instead selling 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB models of the Galaxy S6. That’s fine, but we like LG’s decision to make a 32GB model that includes an MicroSD slot expandable up to 2TB.

– Winner: LG G4 (by a landslide)

Camera

Considering the amount of use smartphone cameras get, it’s no LG and Samsung spend so much time improving them. The S6, for its part, packs 16-megapixel back-facing shooter with a f/1.9 aperture lens and built-in optical stabilization. That falls slightly short of the G4’s specifications: f/1.8 aperture — “the brightest lens in the world on a smartphone,” LG says — and “three-dimensional optical stabilization,” which ups the compensation level and accounts for motion on the z-axis (forward and backward) in addition to the x (vertical) and y axes (horizontal).

Jeffery Van Camp/Digital Trends

That’s not the only trick the G4 has up its sleeve, though. LG’s “color spectrum sensor” is an inconspicuous little meter beneath the flash that uses light and object recognition to “read color as you understand it with your own eyes.” It’s meant to help automatically adjust white balance and color temperature, but that’s proven hard to test in our short time with the G4. It’ll take shooting in different lighting environments to highlight the differences, if any, the new sensor makes.

We should also note that the G4 does have a full manual mode for adjusting ISO and other elements, and can shoot in RAW format, which is a plus for any serious photographers.

– Winner: LG G4 (so far)

So far, we are impressed with the LG G4’s ability to replicate the natural color of objects and not wash them out, though it did tend to make objects bolder and brighter than in real life.

Overall winner: LG G4 (so far)

So far, who is the winner? Probably the G4. While we haven’t had a chance to thoroughly review the hardware yet, what we’ve observed so far is enough to give it the edge over the S6. Accessories like leather backing aside, the display’s colors are incredibly impressive. The camera, too, seems to take shots at least as bright and colorful as the S6, although we’ll have to take a lot more shots to see if it holds up in dimmer lights. And the G4 just feels great in the hand — it’s light and conforms to the curve of your fingers, very unlike the angular and hefty competition.

If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, then, we recommend waiting for the LG G4. Check back for the full review.

Spec comparison

Samsung Galaxy S6 LG G4
Size 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 (mm) 148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8 (mm)
Weight 138g 155g
Screen 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED 5.5-inch IPS LCD
Resolution 1,440 x 2,560 pixels 1,440 x 2,560 pixels
OS Android 5.0.1 Lollipop with TouchWiz Android 5.1 Lollipop with LG UX 4.0
Storage 32GB, 64GB, 128GB (non-expandable) 32GB (expandable up to 2 terabytes)
SD Card Slot No Yes
Processor Octa-core 4×2.1GHz + 4×1.5GHz 64-bit 14nm Samsung Exynos Hexa-core 2×1.8GHz + 4×1.44GHz 64-bit 20nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
RAM 3GB LPDDR4 3GB LPDDR4
Connectivity Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+, NFC Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA+, NFC
Camera Front 5MP, Rear 16MP Front 8MP, Rear 16MP
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.1 LE Yes, version 4.1 LE
Sensors Accelerometer, barometer, compass, gyroscope, heart rate monitor Accelerometer, barometer, compass, gyroscope
Fingerprint sensor Yes No
Battery 2,550mAh (non-removable) 3,000mAh (removable)
Charger USB 2.0, PowerMat wireless, Qi wireless USB 2.0, Qi wireless with compatible case
Colors White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz Grey, White, Gold, Blue
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Ave. Price $199.99 to $679.92 TBA
Availability April 10 on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Cricket, and U.S. Cellular Late May/early June on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and U.S. Cellular
Advertisements

LG Watch Urbane vs. Apple Watch: Up close

By Will Shanklin

If we had to pick the two best smartwatches you can buy today, there’s a good chance we’d go with the LG Watch Urbane and Apple Watch. Let’s take a quick look at the best wearables from the Android Wear and Apple camps.

w1

Before jumping into other differences, you have to start off knowing that the phone you own may make up your mind for you. Right now the Watch Urbane requires an Android phone (running version 4.3 or higher) while the Apple Watch only works with iPhones (5 and newer).

We may eventually see Android Wear work with iPhones, but right now there’s no overlap.

The first thing you’ll notice between these two watches is a big honkin’ size difference. The Watch Urbane is 24 percent taller, 28 percent wider and 4 percent thicker than the Apple Watch. And keep in mind that we’re handling the larger (42 mm) of the two Apple Watches. There’s also a 38 mm model where that size gap is even bigger.

We don’t have a big problem with the Urbane’s size; there are regular timekeeping watches with faces this big. It’s also very comfortable on wrist (like the Apple Watch). Ultimately a wide variety of shapes, sizes and styles is what will serve customers best, and we’ve yet to see that from one single company.

Screen size and quality are a mixed bag, and both wearables are in pretty good shape there. The Apple Watch has the sharper screen, with its Retina Display looking terrific all around, with rich colors and good contrast. The Watch Urbane has a less pixel-dense display (245 PPI vs. the Apple Watch’s ~326 PPI), but the Urbane’s screen is also 21 percent bigger – giving you a more immersive peek into your alerts and other goodies.

Generally speaking, we also love the look of round-screened watches like the Urbane, something Apple doesn’t offer with its first-generation Watch.

The Watch Urbane’s screen does also have one huge intangible on its side: it stays on all the time. The watch’s battery life is good enough that you can leave the clock face turned on all day long, and you’ll easily get through the day with no worries. Apple doesn’t even give you that option – its screen stays off until you lift your wrist or tap it.

This makes a big difference. You can look at the time just by glancing down at the Watch Urbane, no gestures or movement of any kind required. It’s a big reason why the Urbane is better at passing for a “dumb” watch – and if not for its huge size, that gap would be even bigger. The Apple Watch, sharp as it is, looks like a smartwatch.

The Watch Urbane has a smooth stainless steel finish, and ships with a leather band by default (you can swap it with other 22 mm bands). We handled the Apple Watch Sport, which has an aluminum body (it looks very nice too) and a rubber band which is much nicer than you’d expect. You can also pay more for a stainless steel Apple Watch, and if you’re Beyonce or Kanye West and on the hunt for some new bling, you can fork over US$17 grand for an 18k gold Apple Watch.

Alerts are handled about the same on both watches: when your paired smartphone gets a notification, you’ll feel a little vibration on your wrist. Apple’s alerts feel more like a tap, though, adding a human touch that the Urbane’s mechanical buzzing (it’s basically like a smartphone set to vibrate) can’t match. We wouldn’t base your decision on this, but Apple’s “Taptic Engine” is a nice touch.

Controls are a little different, with the Watch Urbane taking the simpler and more obvious approach: touch screen and touch screen only (though its side button also serves as a home button and shortcut). Touch is also the main way that you get around the Apple Watch, but it also has a Digital Crown (above), which you can turn to scroll up and down lists and zoom in and out of your apps screen. The Apple Watch also has two dedicated shortcut buttons (including that crown) and a second way of touching your screen known as Force Touch: by pressing down on the screen a little farther, you can, in some places, call up menu screens and the like.

These differences reflect the two different operating systems. Google has made the simpler OS, the one that a child could pick up and understand within a few minutes. Swipe down through your cards, and sometimes to the side to get more info or to “action” one of them. Easy peasy.

w2

Apple’s Watch OS, meanwhile, has a steeper learning curve, with different areas staked out for apps, Glances (basically widgets that live in a horizontal row below the main clock face), messages, Siri and more. It isn’t that complicated, mind you, and Watch OS is laid out intuitively. But this is a case where Apple doesn’t win the grand prize for simplicity. That goes to Google.

We see value in both approaches, and both platforms are also going to evolve over the next few years. We wouldn’t be surprised if Android Wear and Watch OS ultimately settle into similar places, like Android and iOS have. Right now, though, Android Wear is the simple and straightforward one, while Watch OS is the more app-centric one (Apple has also enjoyed much more early support from third-party app makers).

Both watches’ batteries can easily get through a full day with regular, or even heavy, use – and well into a second day. But the battery life advantage goes to the Watch Urbane as, again, it can do that with its screen on all the time. That’s surely a compromise Apple had to make, in the name of that smaller, more compact build.

So which smartwatch is the better value? Well, the stainless steel Watch Urbane (with leather band) rings up for $350, while this aluminum Apple Watch Sport (the entry-level version of the larger 42 mm Watch) with rubber band costs $400. There are many intangibles that will change the “value” for each individual customer, but we’re leaning slightly towards the Urbane as the general-purpose “better bang for your buck” watch. You could just as easily, though, argue that the Apple Watch’s better app support puts it ahead.

The next few months are going to be very interesting in the wearable space, as we see how Google (as well as Samsung) responds to the Apple Watch. Will Android Wear adopt some Apple Watch-like features, to try to compete with the most popular wearable on the planet? Or will Google continue in its own unique direction, trusting in the simplicity that Apple was once famous for? We could start to find out as early as next week, as Google I/O kicks off (we’ll be there for on-the-ground coverage).

Both the LG Watch Urbane and Apple Watch are available now.

Gizmag

LG G4 vs. iPhone 6 Plus

By Will Shanklin

The LG G4 is a phablet that can almost pass for a “regular”-sized smartphone. Let’s see how its features and specs compare to those of the iPhone 6 Plus.

Size

This is what we mean by the G4 almost passing for a standard smartphone, as it’s 6 percent shorter and 3 percent narrower than the iPhone 6 Plus – despite both having 5.5-in screens.

The G4 is 38 percent thicker, though that number is a little exaggerated, since the G4 has a rounded back (measuring only its thickest point) while the iPhone’s thickness is uniform.

1

Weight

Thanks (mostly) to that smaller size, the G4 is also 10 percent lighter than the iPhone 6 Plus.

2 weigh

Build

There are two versions of the G4: one with a leather back, another made of plastic.

3build

Colors

Within each of those build categories; LG gives you two color options to choose from.

4 colors

Display (size)

Both handsets have 5.5-in screens.

Display (resolution)

The G4 gives you a much sharper picture, with its Quad HD resolution.

6 resolution

Display (type)

Both phones have IPS display panels.

Fingerprint sensor

The iPhone uses Apple’s excellent Touch ID fingerprint sensor, for securing your phone, logging into supported third-party apps and using Apple Pay.

7 sensor

Camera megapixels (rear)

The G4’s rear camera has the higher resolution, but that won’t necessarily make it a better camera. Stay tuned on this front.

8 rear

Camera megapixels (front)

The difference in pixels here is huge, though, so it’s probably a safe bet that you’ll take better-looking selfies on the G4.

9 front

Camera aperture

The G4’s rear camera also has a wider aperture, which is often a good hint that it will fare well in low-lit conditions.

10 aperture

OIS

Both handsets also have Optical Image Stabilization for their rear cameras.

Laser autofocus

The G4 brings back one of our favorite features from the LG G3, its laser-based autofocus. It quickly and automatically measures the distance between camera and subject, and (almost immediately) takes a shot with that part in focus. On the user end, it’s as simple as tapping the point on the screen where the subject is.

12 laser

Battery

The G4 has the higher-capacity battery but, similar to camera resolution, we won’t know if that means anything until we put it through the paces. Stay tuned.

13 bat

Removable battery

The G4 does have the perk of letting you swap its battery on the go, a quality that’s becoming increasingly rare in Android phones.

14 remov

Storage

There’s no internal storage decision for G4 buyers, as 32 GB is your only option.

15 storage

MicroSD

The G4 does, however, have a microSD card slot.

16 micro

RAM

The G4 triples the iPhone’s RAM.

17 ram

Processor

On paper, the iPhone’s core count and clock speed looks dated by at least two or three generations. But that’s a little deceiving, as Apple’s mobile chips typically far outperform what you’d expect from their processor specs.

18 process

Software

The G4 has Android Lollipop at its core, with an LG custom UI on top of that. The iPhone 6 Plus runs iOS 8.

Release

The G4 has yet to launch in the US (and we don’t yet have a firm release date on that), but it’s already available in South Korea.

The latest iPhones launched last September, so we could be about four months away from Apple’s next batch.

19 release

Starting price (full retail)

We still don’t know what the G4 will cost outside of Korea.

20 price

Starting price (on-contract)

That includes on-contract pricing as well.

21 contract

Source: Gizmag