LG G4 vs Samsung Galaxy S6: First look

Introduction


Being half the size of Samsung hasn't stopped LG from continuously pressuring the current market leader in Android land, and 2015 is shaping up to be no different. The LG G4, still warm from our hands-on time with it, has an unusually tough year ahead of itself, however – its cross-town rival's Galaxy S6 proved a significant step forward from its predecessor.

Is the G4? On paper, it certainly seems so, though the improvements it underwent are a bit more muted in comparison. While sticking to its guns as pertains to design, the G4 has nevertheless evolved into an even better-looking device, and the hardware hidden behind the beautiful facade is no joke, either. So how does it stack against Samsung's greatest? Let's get a feel for both and see if we can't arrive at some early conclusions. 

Design


Until recently, neither LG nor Samsung brought particularly captivating devices to the market, at least not in a context where the likes of HTC's One line were also vying for your attention. Feeling under pressure to step their design efforts up and employ more complex and premium materials within their devices, both conglomerates relented and went for it. In the case of the Galaxy S6, we're looking at a significant investment – all units are protected by Gorilla Glass 4 on both sides and are kept together with an aluminum frame. A true glass-and-metal build.

LG didn't go to quite such lengths with the G4, though we have to point out that a more expensive version with genuine, stitched leather back is also available, and it can easily rival Samsung's new top shelfer. Regardless, the 'normal' G4 model features a polycarbonate build that is, in comparison, less impressive-sounding. On the bright side, the snazzy, numerous diamond-shaped carvings in the plastic back (which has been treated to a ceramic finish) do help elevate the G4 to a status of more than just a plasticky phone.

It's not just the pattern, though. Overall, LG's new flagship feels and looks very well defined and sturdily made. And while the catwalk isn't quite its thing, it has a few aces up its sleeve that may win over new fans. For example, LG is keeping true to its established customer base, and is holding onto what is slowly becoming a thing of the past: removable batteries and microSD card slots. Indeed, unlike the Galaxy S6, LG has decided not to meddle with this part of the design. Also, courtesy of its ergonomically-shaped rear, the G4 fits our hand nicely.

Of course, in the end, it'll be hard to argue against the simple fact that as far as ergonomics are concerned, most will likely side with the Galaxy S6. The reasons for this are several – Samsung's new flagship is lighter, notably smaller, and considerably thinner. It looks better than the G4 (at least the normal version), plain and simple.

Display 


If you were to scratch little-known vivo's Xplay 3S phablet from the list, you'd find that the G4's predecessor, the LG G3, was the first-to-market on a global scale with an extremely sharp, Quad HD display with 1440 x 2560 pixels. That worked out to 538 pixels per inch, which is insane, and is the case with the G4's 5.5-incher as well. As you can imagine, Samsung wasn't about to be outdone, it having its own display division as well, and jumped on the bandwagon with the Note 4. Fast-forward to today, and you'll find that the much smaller, 5.1-inch screen of the Galaxy S6 is similarly adorned with that same crazy number of tiny pixels – 577 per inch.

Size and pixel density aren't the only two difference between the two rival devices' displays, however. Case in point: LG is using an IPS LCD panel, whilst Samsung is sticking to its Super AMOLEDs for the Galaxy S6. Typically, that would mean significant differences in the way these things are built and function (AMOLEDs can turn off select pixels in some cases, saving battery, while LCDs can't), but the case here is a bit more complex than that. Indeed, LG is claiming to be using so-called Quantum Dot tech with the G4's display, meaning that it, too, can turn off select pixels when appropriate (e.g., complete blacks in the image). Other qualities that are typically attributed to this kind of technology, and that LG was fervently repeating, include a wider color gamut and higher achievable levels of brightness (the G4's panel exceeds 500 nits, from what we're told).

As always, we'll sit patiently and wait for a review unit so we can carry out our own measurements – after all, not one manufacturer has ever skipped over the opportunity to boast about its displays.

Interface


When you have both LG and Samsung – the two Android manufacturers with, traditionally, the heaviest of custom interfaces – concede that they need to cut down on the useless bloat and focus on streamlining the user experience, you've got yourself a positive answer: Feedback does matter.

Samsung notched the first here, for the Galaxy S6 predates the G4, and its TouchWiz interface hasn't felt as snappy ever before. Gone are the unequivocally gimmicky features that it used to drag around, and Samsung has instead focused on actually beneficial goodies, such as Quick Launch – a double click of the physical home button summons the camera almost instantaneously, no matter what you're doing. Of course, veteran features such as MultiWindow (run two apps side-by-side simultaneously) are still present, which should appease the power user crowd.

Now, just two months later, LG is doing the same thing. Dubbed UX 4.0, the new Android 5.1 Lollipop-based LG overlay has been similarly de-bloated, and now adheres to Google's Material Design guidelines. However, we didn't have the opportunity to spend a meaningful amount of time with it, and LG wasn't overly interested in discussing it during our visit, so consider our final verdict pending. What we can tell you right now, though, is that LG has substituted a few of the apps that usually come packed with its devices with ones from Google, and we couldn't be happier with that decision. One example – the enduring LG-made internet browser is gone, and Chrome is the only thing that's left to take care of your surfing needs.


Processor and performance


For the first time in what feels like an eternity, the mobile industry' silicon scene might just have a powerful, and quite serious, new entrant: Samsung. That's right, after sticking with Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors for years in major markets, and only making use of its home-grown Exynos chips in select regions, Samsung is now not only reversing the status quo, but booting Qualcomm off the team entirely.

Indeed, the Galaxy S6, no matter where you live, will come with an Exynos 7420 heart with eight, not four, chamers (or cores). Both synthetic and real world benchmarks indicate that the chipset is a worthy contender to Qualcomm's alternative – the Snapdragon 810 – which outdoes the 7420 in graphics performance, but is struggling with heat dissipation. 

That very same heat, precisely, is what forced LG's hand with the G4. Despite utilizing the octa-core Snapdragon 810 with the G Flex 2, LG is essentially murdering Snapdragon 810's future by dropping it with the G4, and opting for the hexa-core Snapdragon 808. Now, while the SD808 was announced a while back, this is actually the first time we're seeing the chip in a production-ready device, and we haven't yet had the opportunity to dig deep. In any case, it makes use of six cores, divided in two clusters (2+4), made up by ARM Cortex A57 and Cortex A53 cores, along with an Adreno 418 GPU. 

On the memory side of things, both the G4 and the S6 make use of 3 gigs of RAM, and offer a minimum of 32GB of built-in storage. As mentioned, you can expand upon that with the former, as it has a microSD slot in the rear. It remains to be seen if Exynos, in addition to Samsung's record-fast UFS 2.0 flash memory, will make quick work of whatever LG is using for the G4. 

Camera


While it'll be some time more before we can say this with any kind of serious backing, the LG G4 is looking like quite the cameraphone – just like the Galaxy S6. Both devices flaunt 1/2.6" sensors with 16-megapixels and super-wide lens, but LG is slightly ahead in this last regard – its camera sports an f/1.8 lens instead of the S6's f/1.9 one. 

The similarities don't end there, though. For example, while LG has been making great use of gizmos that allow for optical image stabilization for years now, Samsung has also recently joined in, meaning shake-free video and better low-light performance for everybody. Where the two differ significantly is the flash and auto focus systems they work with – the LG G4 has a slot for the LED bulb that also houses a color spectrum sensor, which measures your environment's color temperature and lightning, helping the shooter to produce a better, more natural image. As for Samsung, it is also making sue of a single LED flash, with no further camera-centric tech making an appearance next to it, along with phase detection auto focus. 

Despite this ostensible parity, the LG G4, in our heads, is slightly ahead, courtesy of its 8-megapixel selfie snapper, which ought to outdo the 5-megapixel front cam of the Galaxy S6. That said, it won't be the first time that a seemingly decent selfie camera under-performs and is beat by more conservative solutions. Time will tell.

Finally, we can't gloss over the dichotomy that is taking place in the camera interface department of the two flagships. With LG, we had the G3, which was extremely poor in terms of extra features and manual controls, and Samsung's Galaxy S5, which was the very opposite. Now, the reverse is happening – LG is introducing a number of new knobs and such that make the G4's camera UI feel busy, while Samsung has cut down on the bloat. Indeed, with the G4, we no have access to not just ISO and white balance, but also specialty latches that can even control shutter speed, unlocking some creative scenarios in the process. In comparison, Samsung has cut down on the number of special shooting modes with the S6, though you still have some control over the end result.


Battery life


The LG G3, mostly due to its power-hungry Quad HD display, fares poorly in the real world as far as endurance is concerned, despite its rather large, 3,000 mAh battery. This could also be the case with the G4, seeing how it also has as pixel-dense a display on board and a 3,000 mAh battery, but there's no telling whether LG hasn't carried out a number of optimizations to mitigate the drain. What's more, newer components usually tend to be better designed, so that could help with battery life, too.

Still, it's quite possible that the G4 bests or matches the Galaxy S6, as it also makes use of a taxing, Quad HD display, and it has to take care of it with a significantly smaller, 2,550 mAh battery.

Expectations


If one thing's for certain, it's that being half the size of your competitor doesn't mean you can't offer him a serious run for his money. LG has done just that with the G4, and the cross-town vendetta is about to reset and start all over in just a few months' time. We suspect that the outcome will mostly come down to preferences, as it'll be hard to argue every pro and con very successfully, no matter which side you look at this from.

Perhaps the only really major differentiating factor is the display size, though the way these two are designed will have a part in the conversation. Yes, the larger screen of the G4 will appeal to power users more, but if they also value the perceived (and felt, of course) sophistication of their devices, they will have a hard choice ahead of them – the Galaxy S6 is, after all, the more stylish of the two. That is, of course, until you consider the leather-clad incarnation of the G4 and the way both versions will be prices in comparison with the S6.

Unfortunately, pricing is one topic LG is keeping mum on, so we don't have anything specific to offer, bar rumors. According to them, both models will likely end up being at least slightly cheaper than the Galaxy S6, but this obviously isn't set in stone. It'll be interesting to see if a major shift in perceptions will occur if LG is planning just that – to undercut its opponent whilst bringing the same top notch proposition to market.

Related phones

G4
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, Hexa-core, 1800 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(18.5h talk time)
Galaxy S6
  • Display 5.1" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 7 Octa, Octa-core, 2100 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 2550 mAh(23h 3G talk time)

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24 Comments

1. chunky1x

Posts: 270; Member since: Mar 28, 2010

S6 is try so hard to be an iPhone while G4 seems different. At the end of the day it all boils down to one's preference.

3. gaming64 unregistered

Dude the s6 is just a beasty iPhone 6. The 4 is the real player here.

8. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

G4 took the way the S6 didn't take; removable battery, expansible memory, dual color LED, Google apps, Quantum dot LCD, wider camera. Even PA is hard to praise the S6 when sided by G4. LG G4 is a good contender for the S6.

11. Kakarotto

Posts: 255; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

No it's not. Plastic build quality, no fingerprint scanner, worse screen, soc, memory and storage speed. S6 is the king.

23. alex3run

Posts: 715; Member since: May 18, 2014

Plastic is better than glass.

14. TheBiz

Posts: 232; Member since: Apr 13, 2015

it would easily outpass s6 if it used a better soc especially the display of lgg4 it looks awesome and camera is technically better than s6 with 2 axis ois and f1.8 im already regretting a bit for rushing to s6 i should have waited for g4 and comparision between s6 and g4

20. Nexus_droid

Posts: 12; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Dude,LOL, I've come to realize that a lot of internal storage is much better than having little storage and a micro SD slot. Apps and games can't be stored on external micro SD's (without root) and that's the main memory hog in today's phones. On my 32GB micro sd, I only use like 5 GB's for photos on music, but I only have 1 GB left on my internal, mostly occupied with apps and games, so anyday, I'll take a variety of internal storage, than a micro SD slot. And removable back, for what? Swapping batteries? There's quick charging and UPSM for a bad battery day. Fingerprint Scanners are veryyy useful, though not necessary, and the s6 has that. both displays are amazing, its down to preference, but for me after going AMOLED, I cant go back to anyhting else However, although, many reviewers agreed the S6 camera is the best in any smartphone...ever (MKBHD) it looks like the G4 can give it a run for it's money, both sport OIS and 16mp snappers. The apertures are almost the same, however the S6's front camera has a better aperture, so selfies should be better despite the megapixel count. So, if I was choosing, it's the S6's sexier, slimmer body, beastly processor and amazing camera ;) G3 had me much more interested than G4... But as of right now, the S6 is king

2. gaming64 unregistered

Watched the livestream. Totally in love. It blows the S6 in every aspect. Moving away from iOS now. F&%$ it. I'm getting this

6. pmugghc

Posts: 46; Member since: May 11, 2014

Really? Plastic vs metal/glass SD808 vs Exynos powerhouse No fingerprint sensor Slower storage

12. Kakarotto

Posts: 255; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

lcd vs SAMOLED ddr3 vs DDR4

16. drunkenjay

Posts: 1695; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

if he has an ios device he doesnt care about specs as long as it works. in the end its his choice.

15. Carlitos

Posts: 671; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

And a theme store on the S6

17. drunkenjay

Posts: 1695; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

lg has a theme store for a while

19. altanjack unregistered

a long while

4. j_scorp

Posts: 61; Member since: Oct 22, 2013

Waiting to order.

5. Yeahman

Posts: 34; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

"LG is claiming to be using so-called Quantum Dot tech with the G4's display, meaning that it, too, can turn off select pixels when appropriate (e.g., complete blacks in the image)" What makes you say this? The display is still LCD, the Quantum Dot tech is just a layer of nanoparticles that enrich the backlight's gamut.

7. Birds

Posts: 1172; Member since: Nov 21, 2011

Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought this whole quantum dot movement was to have better pixel fill rate for colors, not for deeper blacks and stuff? Like, the crystals in the display could bend and make a certain color being displayed bounce around more...so like when displaying one subpixel, it's like that subpixel fills the entire pixel width to make the colors look more "full". If the substrates are thinner then... eh nevermind... I'm an idiot...

9. ama3654

Posts: 295; Member since: Nov 27, 2012

This can't match the S6 in anything, the SoC is too weak to even come close. You need power to execute complex image and video processing, drive the UI and 2k screen appropriately. The 808 just doesn't cut it and it'll show in comparison reviews.

10. epic_ninja420

Posts: 131; Member since: Nov 18, 2014

LOL this thing wont even hold a candle to the S6 anywhere expect maybe photography and even then I fully expect the 808/418 to hinder the true potential of it.

13. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Damn, Samsung really game timed it with the GS6 and GS6 edge.

18. drunkenjay

Posts: 1695; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

not really. design is alot better with the s6/edge. peopl fall for design before anything else.

22. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

I dunno, they hit all the right notes I think. Highest pixel dense screen Size not much bigger than the iPhone 6 Great drop test durability Cool looking edges to differentiate Wireless charging both standards Quick charging 14nm chipset Ultra fast ddr4 ram Great camera OIS in a 6.8mm body, Apple had to leave it out and could only fit it in the gigantic 6 plus Great fingerprint scanner Great selfie camera that use a smart way using the heart rate monitor so you don't need one of those loser selfie sticks That is just off the top of my head. They killed it, no question.

21. Anonn

Posts: 230; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

The LG G4 performance benchmark results are in and they are not stellar http://blog.gsmarena.com/lg-g4-performance-benchmark-results/

24. XaErO

Posts: 353; Member since: Sep 25, 2012

Hey John, I don't know what's wrong with your camera but it mostly produce blurry videos .. maximum time the camera tries to focus on subjects again and again ..

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