LG’s G4 is one of the best phones on the market this year. It has a phenomenal camera, great display and lasts all day on a single charge. So, when LG used the same brand name for a mini version, expectations were understandably high. Does the G4c deliver as a mid-range smartphone?
The G4c is, in almost every way, a small version of the G4 that’s much cheaper. It’s most noticeable in the design. There’s no shiny smokey chrome frame or premium leather back. Instead, it’s a rather unappealing slab of plastic. At least it is from the back, where it still has the well-placed and textured rear volume and power buttons, although even they don’t feel quite as well-made as the G4’s. The plastic finish is very glossy, making it a bit of a fingerprint magnet, and giving it a slightly slippery feel.
Perhaps the phone’s biggest attraction from an aesthetic perspective is its size. It’s only 140mm tall and 70mm wide, making it really easy to hold in hand. It’s light too, ensuring you don’t really feel it sitting in your pocket. The front is a pretty standard, but fairly attractive black glossy rectangle with an angular cutout at the top for the earpiece grille. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s still feels solid, and well-made. Despite the plastic rear shell, it still feels like it could land a few falls to concrete without dying.
For low to mid-tier smartphones, it’s common these days to find a 720p resolution display around the 5-inch market. So it was no surprise to find that resolution and size sitting on the front of the G4c. But what is surprising is that, like the more expensive G4, the mini-version still has a slightly curved display. I wasn’t expecting that from a low-end phone at all. Other manufacturers would flatten the glass, to keep it simple, and keep costs down.
As for visual quality, the display did disappoint me slightly. At 294ppi, it’s technically sharp enough — it just didn’t look all that sharp to the eye. What’s more, colors weren’t perfect either. They were too dark. Colors that are meant to be bright and vivid weren’t at all and blacks came through as gray. Saying that, the white’s were surprisingly neutral, not too warm or cool. They were crisp and pure white, putting some much more expensive panels to shame.
With LG’s custom software slowing down even its highest specced phones I didn’t have much hope that this Snapdragon 410-powered mid-range phone with 1GB RAM would be any better. It wasn’t. Most of the time, it wasn’t really an issue, but at other times, it was pretty horrible. Going back to the home screen from apps would show a blank screen for a few seconds before apps and widgets loaded (an issue I had even with the LG G3 last year), switching screens would be lagging behind, and loading times online were slow. It wasn’t consistently bad, but it was bad enough on the odd occasion, that I couldn’t help but notice.
If there’s one area of this phone that outshines the others, it’s battery life. I can’t overstate it: This thing is phenomenal. It’s a 2,540mAh battery and it can go for hours. Using Geekbench’s battery benchmark test I got 5 hours 40mins screen-on time with the brightness set at 50%. That’s more than I got from the Moto X Play which has a hefty 3,630mAh cell. In daily use, I’d get to the end of the day with around 30-40% left with medium to heavy use. In simple terms: it’s a two-day battery. Even if you’re a heavy user, you should easily make it through an entire workday without even having to check your battery level.
Like the display, the camera is good enough, but not great. It’s 8MP, and films in full HD. Outside in bright daylight it tends to overexpose leaving images looking harsh and contrasty instead of being natural. I have to give LG credit though, it does focus well on objects, even when they’re close to the phone. Lowlight performance isn’t its strong point, as once indoors, defined lines get fuzzy and noise starts to creep in to the shadows.
All in all, even for a budget phone, I feel like there are compromises on the LG G4c. Its one redeeming feature is the battery life, it performs better in this regard than almost any other phone on the market, despite not having a giant capacity. If you like LG’s custom software and can live with the average speed and fluidity, then the battery’s performance is the one reason to buy this phone. If you’re looking for something a little more fluid, with a closer to stock version of Android, the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 is a great choice, and cheaper too. The LG G4c will set you back over $460 since it’s not officially available in the States yet, on my side of the pond, it’s just £210.