By Gerard Ramos / Lifestyle & Entertainment Editor
BACK in January LG Electronics Inc. reported that it scored a “net profit of 501.40 billion won ($474.81 million) for full-year 2014, an increase of 125 percent over its 2013 net profit. Operating profit increased significantly in 2014 to 1.83 trillion won ($1.73 billion) from 1.25 trillion won ($1.14 billion) in 2013, an increase of 46 percent. Full-year consolidated revenue of 59.04 trillion won ($55.91 billion) was mainly boosted by a 24-percent increase in smartphone shipments.”
Also back in January the tech media reported that the other consumer-electronics giant headquartered in South Korea, Samsung, saw “its first annual earnings decline in three years, in part due to a sharp drop in sales of mobile phones. Net profit fell to 23.4 trillion won ($21.3 billion; £14 billion) last year, a 27-percent fall from 30.5 trillon won in 2013. Mobile-phone sales for the year fell 21 percent to 107.41 trillon won.” (tinyurl.com/mkfburp)
Of course it can be said that given the rapid shifts in the tech landscape, things may have turned around for Samsung since the release of its twin flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and the attention-grabbing Galaxy S6 Edge. That was back in April, and although the new releases—particularly the S6 Edge—have wowed media and consumers alike, it remains to be seen whether Samsung has arrived at a turnaround. (tinyurl.com/pghb22o)
Meanwhile, the latest flagship smartphone from LG, the G4, has arrived at gadget shops globally, with the handset launched with befitting grandness in late May at The Theater at Solaire in Pasay City, and becoming available around these parts shortly thereafter.
Nope, the successor to the LG G3—reportedly the best-selling top-tier Android-powered smartphone of 2014—doesn’t have the gimmicky curved-edge display of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, although it must be said that LG obviously took design cues from its South Korean rival, which began putting out phablets and smartphones with a faux-leather back with faux-stitching in 2013.
LG, however, pushed the idea even further with its latest flagship, as the G4 is available not only with the de rigueur hard plastic back cover (textured of course), but also with a vegetable-tanned leather backside. The back cover, by the way, is removable.
Yes, leather—actual, real leather, not the faux variety, this one crafted from animal rawhide using the same cutting and tanning process employed on luxury bags. And, yes, that’s also real stitching flanking the faux seam that runs vertically through the mid-section of the leather-clad LG G4, which the company’s local office sent over for us to play with for a spell. The process that the leather undergoes before it is fused to the hard plastic shell reportedly takes 12 weeks at the minimum—and the moment your hand cradles the LG’s leather-clad flagship, you will readily say that it is time well spent. The material gives the LG G4 a warm, organic, luxurious feel that neither metal nor glass—the materials of choice for flagship smartphones these days, from Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus to the twin Samsung Galaxy S6s—can provide.
It would come as no surprise if the brown variant becomes the most popular among the G4’s leather back covers, as brown leather ages handsomely, but fashionistas will no doubt be pleased that there are five other color leather variants they can choose from to match or contrast their OOTD: red, beige, sky blue, yellow and, of course, black.
The back cover being removable not only allows the LG G4 user a level of handsome personalization that goes beyond what the similarly leather-clad 2014 Moto X allowed, but it also means that—unlike a number of current flagship smartphones which have nonremovable batteries—you can easily swap out power packs just in case you overdid all the social media and other Internet stuff on the 4G-powered G4 (the Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery can last you a full day with typical use; our experience thus far usually has the G4 with 16 percent of battery life left by the time we hit the sack after a day of intermittent data usage). No need to have that humungous power bank or charger weighing down and crowding your bag or purse.
Compared to its predecessor, the LG G4 is just a hair taller, wider and thicker at 148.9×76.1×6.3-9.8 mm. But unlike the G3, the company’s newest flagship is a dual-SIM beast (the secondary SIM is limited to purely 2G performance); boasts of a 5.5-inch IPS Quantum Display that “offers 20 percent greater color reproduction, 25-percent improvement in brightness and 50 percent greater contrast,” and is also ever-so-slightly curved, which LG claims makes it more resistant to damage from face-down drops; and packs a 16-megapixel camera with a fast f/1.8 aperture lens, improved optical stabilization (OIS 2) and a color spectrum sensor that “improves color accuracy by precisely reading the RGB values of the ambient light in a scene.” In plainspeak, that means vibrant pictures that don’t look overprocessed or overworked. And, yes, the camera can save still images in RAW format—the format preferred by professional photographers—and capture video in ultra-HD, but be warned: choosing either of these capture modes will gobble up a huge chunk of memory from the 128 gigabytes microSD card you will slap into the LG G4. Out of the box, the smartphone offers 32GB for your media, apps, games and then some.
Under the hood, the LG G4 purrs along nicely and smoothly courtesy of Qualcomm’s 64-bit hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor, with a clock speed of 1.8GHz, plus 3GB of RAM and the latest and greatest version of Android (that would be Lollipop, or V5.1). Your nerdy friend might be quick to point out that, unlike a number of flagships, the G4 doesn’t run on the latest premium chip from Qualcomm, and he would be right. The latest top-of-the-line processor from Qualcomm would be the Snapdragon 810—which, alas, is dogged by heat issues that have yet to be addressed. No such thermal issues arose in the weeks that we have been putting the G4 through its paces, which include trying our hand at “FarmVille 2” and watching a couple of episodes of Season 3 of the excellent The Fosters.
All things considered, including its UX 4.0 user interaface that still needs a bit of reining-in, the LG G4 may not be as flashy as some of the flagship smartphones out there, but—with that handsome leather back, its buttery responsiveness, its stunning display and that envelope-pushing camera—it is sublime and gorgeous where it matters.
***To know more about LG’s latest and greatest smartphone, visit www.lg.com/ph/.