LG unveils flagship G4 smartphone, highlights high-end camera specs

LG Electronics unveiled the G4, its latest flagship phone, and is focusing on both high-end specifications and a refined fashion sense to set itself apart in the crowded premium smartphone market. The G4, like its predecessor the G3, will go head-to-head with flagship phones from Samsung Electronics, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), HTC and others.

Like the G3, the G4 is coming to market a few months after other premium phones, including Samsung's Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, and the HTC One M9. Apple said yesterday it sold 61.1 million iPhones in its last quarter, which ended March 28, an indication that it still holds a great deal of momentum in the market.

Luckily for LG, it will have strong carrier support for the G4. Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T), Sprint (NYSE: S), T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) will all launch the G4. LG said the phone will launch tomorrow in South Korea and will eventually be available on around 180 carriers worldwide. Pricing and availability were not disclosed, but Sprint and U.S. Cellular said they will start selling the phone in June.

To gain market share and buzz, LG is giving away the G4 to 4,000 customers around the world, who will receive the new smartphone as part of the company's largest-ever consumer experience campaign. Customers' experiences might cause LG to change some software features of the phone before it is released widely to consumers, LG said.

LG focused a great deal on the design and materials used in the G4. The phone is available in handcrafted, genuine full grain leather in six colors. LG said the colors of the vegetable-tanned leather will look authentic and change over time.

As with the G3, LG highlighted the G4's camera. The phone's main 16-megapixel camera features f1.8 aperture lens, which is rare in smartphones and allows 80 percent more light to hit the image sensor than in the G3. The camera also features optical image stabilization to improve performance. Customers can also directly control the focus, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation and white balance for every shot, making the camera more like a digital SLR camera. The phone also sports an 8-megapixel front-facing camera.

The G4 is the first smartphone to use LG Display's new 5.5-inch IPS Quantum Display, which the company says offers 20 percent greater color reproduction, 25 percent improvement in brightness and 50 percent greater contrast. The G4 also runs on a Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 808 Processor and has a 3,000mAh removable battery. For the S6 and S6 Edge, Samsung got rid of removable batteries, bringing it more in line with Apple and HTC.

LG also touted the phone's user interface, which it said is more intuitive and simple than before. For example, the "Quick Shot" feature allows customers to take pictures without opening the camera app by double tapping the phone's Rear Key on the back of the phone while the display is off. TheG4 also has an incredibly fast camera startup time of just six-tenths of a second. The new gallery app lets users scroll fast through thousands of pictures and view them on a timeline. The "Memories" feature automatically organizes photos and videos into event albums based on the time and place they were taken, without having to upload them to the cloud. Another feature is "Event Pocket," which lets users create one, unified calendar by dragging and dropping appointments and activities from multiple calendars and social media sites. After the initial setup, there's no need to log into multiple calendars, LG said. G4 owners will also receive an additional 100 GB of Google Drive storage free for two years.

For more:
- see this LG release
- see these two separate Engadget articles
- see this The Verge article
- see this CNET article

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