To prove that you can’t get enough of a good thing, LG have increased the G4 family by two with the addition of the LG G4 Beat and LG G4 Stylus. Only one question remains: Are they as good as their all-conquering flagship sibling? In a word, no. It’s a classic situation of manufacturers making the premium device more accessible by offering a product that’s neither premium nor desirable, addition by subtraction, if you will. But that’s not the full story.
The LG G4 Beat is to the G4 what the S4 Mini is to Samsung’s twice removed “flagship” (Galaxy S isn’t actually Samsung’s flagship line, Galaxy Note is) Galaxy S4. And it’s this ambition to replicate the runaway success LG’s local rivals had with those devices that further underlines my theory that LG as a mobile manufacturer is where Samsung was two years ago. G2 was a critically acclaimed device and built the foundation for the truly excellent Nexus 5, then came the G3 which ignited the 2K screen wars and the current G4 which upped the camera ante quite significantly.
To build a mini version to echo the gains of the flagship LG had to deliver unparalleled optics to the midrange and it didn’t. While some markets are getting a 13 MP offering (suspected to be pinched off of the G3), we’re stuck with 8MP. There’s a silver lining in the form of the laser autofocus and colour spectrum sensors, but the experience at launch wasn’t that great. Upside is that there’s full manual control, so you’ll really be able to dial in those settings.
Besides for the added value of market segment leading optical assist sensors, the LG G4 Beat comes packaged with both a plastic and leather back and you get 100GB free Google Drive storage for 24 months. At a R4 899 price point the handset is equipped with segment standard 1,5GB RAM and Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor, putting it squarely in the sights of Sony’s M4 Aqua which runs eerily similar internals separated only by the M4’s 13MP camera and 2GB RAM. A 1080p 5,2-inch screen with a subtle curve rounds out the G4 Beat’s spec sheet.
Move on to the G4 Stylus and things start getting out of hand for the family tree.
LG say that the G4 Stylus is a reaction to customers who would jump to Samsung for the stylus experience, but that’s really underselling the awesomeness of the S-Pen. You now get a 5,7-inch screen, capacitive stylus, entry-level Snapdragon 410 processor and 1GB RAM. It’s more a 2015 refresh for the G Pro Lite than a Galaxy Note killer and doesn’t really carry the lineage very well. Mind you, the G Pro Lite was a fantastic little device and deserved to have a stand-alone follow up.
While LG have made some important strides in the mobile world, it’s hard to see the company winning midrange Samsung, Sony and Huawei users over. There are however whispers of a massive November launch circulating about a device that LG have proven very good at making… Yes, it looks like the Nexus is officially coming back to South African shores.