LG G4: A flagship Android phone with killer camera controls

With a manual shutter and RAW support, the G4 is almost like a pocket-sized DSLR. Add in a gorgeous display and removable battery, and you've got one of the best Android phones of the year.

I just found my favorite new digital camera. And surprise! It’s not a camera at all. It’s a phone! ALT

Meet the G4, LG’s latest flagship smartphone. It comes with a relatively chintzy plastic shell and its industrial design is not inspiring. But the G4 does come with the best manual camera controls you’ll find in any Android handset.

You get settings for white balance, exposure compensation, and ISO. You can even adjust shutter speed and save to RAW, two features that aren’t available in Samsung’s Galaxy S6.

But my favorite control is manual focus. The G4’s rear camera boasts an aperture of F 1.8, so you can fine-tune some really nice depth-of-field effects. And because the LCD display shows you a preview of all your changes in real-time, the G4 becomes a great teaching tool for digital camera controls.

There aren’t any manual controls for the video camera, but there’s a very robust selfie cam. You can choose from 8 stages of auto-beautify if you need to look like an air-brushed freak, and selfies can be triggered with voice commands and hand gestures.

The G4’s LCD display looks better than last year’s G3, with noticeably richer colors thanks to LG’s quantum display tech. The front of the phone is ever so slightly curved, but you won’t notice the bend unless you put the G4 on a flat surface and look for daylight.

Our benchmarks showed the G4 lacks the raw speed and battery life of Samsung’s GS6. That said, I didn’t notice any pokiness in the UI, and unlike the GS6, the G4 has a removable battery. That’s a huge upside if you’re the type to do battery swaps.

Like the G3, it’s difficult to pry off the G4’s rear casing to actually remove the battery. It remains to be seen, however, if the G4’s casing breaks off and skittles away like a damn tiddly-wink whenever you drop the phone. I found that out the hard way with my old G3. It’s slippery, OK? It slips.

I love LG’s take on the Android experience. The UI is simple, it honors Lollipop design conventions, and bloatware is kept to a minimum. LG’s Knock Code feature remains my favorite way to unlock a phone.

The G4 is a fantastic Android flagship, but it’s not a huge improvement over last year’s G3. There’s no quick-charging or wireless charging, and the only real design improvement is the leather option, which I didn’t get a chance to test. So unless the camera and removable battery are must-haves, there’s no clear reason to buy the G4 over Samsung’s GS6.