There isn’t much room for debate that LG and Samsung lead the pack when it comes to the best Android smartphones in 2015. The LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6 are not only great devices, but they both dictate market trends and push mobile technology development. In addition to being two of the most convincing and attractive Android smartphones on the market, they feature greater advancements over previous iterations than what rival manufactures managed to produce.
Curved and large, with an optional leather backing, the LG G4 sits in contrast with the relatively smaller, yet more elegant, Samsung Galaxy S6 and its glass build. Both excel in terms of craftsmanship and design, as well as camera advancements.
So, which is the best Android smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S6 or the LG G4?
Build & Design
Samsung finally ditched the plastic and embraced premium materials (a mandatory component of flagship smartphones these days) with the S6, constructing it out of glass surrounded by a slick metal edge.
Now this gives the Galaxy S6 plenty of credibility, though some of it is sacrificed by a lack of originality. Simply put, it looks a lot like an iPhone. To be specific, the bottom side, which includes the microUSB hub as well as the 3.5mm audio jack and speaker perforations, is almost identical to that of iPhone 6.
Despite this, Galaxy S6 remains the most attractive Samsung smartphone to date, and one of the best looking around. Unfortunately, some function had to be sacrificed to attain such style. Unlike with previous Galaxy S smartphones, the S6 does not feature a removable back panel, nor does it sport a user-replaceable battery. The Galaxy S6 is also not water resistant like its predecessor.
The LG G4 features either a plastic battery cover with a metal finish or a leather back cover. It is also slightly curved. Looking at design, the LG G4 has a touch more of originality that Samsung Galaxy S6 does, while maintaining the same premium feel.
The LG G4 is thicker that Samsung’s flagship (.38 compared to .26 inches), as well as heavier (.34 compared to .3 pounds), but its battery is user-replaceable. Sacrificing such minimal style for increased function makes the LG G4 the better device in this department.
Despite the fact that both devices deliver excellent visuals, Samsung definitively wins. While both the G4 and S6 feature QHD resolution (1400 x 2560 pixels), Samsung’s has a greater pixel density (577 compared to 538 pixels per inch), because it has a smaller screen, 5.1 versus 5.5 inches.
Of course, some people prefer a larger display, and Samsung’s superior quality is actually due to its manufacturing technology.
Samsung has just about perfected Super AMOLED smartphone displays, and the S6 features superb brightness, contrast, and color saturation. It’s almost unnatural.
The LG G4 features an almost equally-convincing IPS matrix. But its color reproduction is less surreal and suffers from inferior contrast, which is most noticeable when its exposed to direct and bright sunlight. The brightness controls are also not as precise as they could be, which we found frustrating in our full review.
To be clear, this is a battle of the best display and a very good display, with Samsung coming out on top.
Samsung played it safe by selecting a homemade octacore Exynos 7420 chipset as the hardware base for Galaxy S6. With a Mali-T760MP8 graphic chip, 3 GB of RAM and 32, 64, or 128GB capacity options, Samsung’s flagship performs exceptionally well and rivals anything else in the mobile market. Unfortunately, Samsung nixed the microSD card slot featured in previous iterations, but the storage options do a bit to alleviate any issues caused by the omission. Furthermore, Samsung turned to some of its exceptional SSD hardware technology for the storage, and it actually proves several times faster than the more common standard found on other smartphones.
The LG G4 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, which is not the most powerful Snapdragon, but is actually the second in line behind the 810 (rumor has it that overheating issues with the 810 caused LG to go with the 808). The 808 consists of six cores and an Adreno 418 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of data storage. There are no other capacities offered, but the G4 does have a microSD card slot with support for up to 128GB.
The LG G4 doesn’t top the synthetic benchmark charts and it sometimes overheats more than expected (this is less evident with the leather version). That aside, it is still a very fluid phone that never glitched during our time with it.
Once again, this is a case of good (G4) versus better (S6).
Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4 have two of the best back-facing cameras of any Android OS smartphone. Both shoot 16-megapixel stills, but this is where the similarities stop. When technical features are concerned, LG G4 promises a tad bit more in the back-facing camera department than Samsung Galaxy S6.
The camera on the LG model comes with 3-axis optical image stabilization (instead of 2-axis stabilization featured on Samsung’s model) and f/1.8 (compared to Samsung’s f/1.9). The LG camera also introduces the so-called laser autofocus and the option of saving images as RAW files.
In practice and in almost all situations, the images taken with these two devices are the same. The images are exceptionally good for a smartphone: sharp, properly exposed and saturated with a great level of detail and minimal noise. Still, on rare occasions where there is a difference (we noticed it when tracking moving objects in low light), the LG G4 images are slightly better owing to its slightly more impressive spec sheet.
The LG G4 has the best camera of any smartphone on the market. The Galaxy S6 has a great camera. The difference is slight, but it’s real. The LG G4 is the better of the two.
Software, Battery Life, Innovations…
LG reigned in its Android skin a few years ago, while Samsung finally scaled things back just recently. Both are closer to pure Android Lollipop out of the box, and both are better for it.
In terms of the LG’s hardware, it has the volume rocker and power key centered on the upper portion of the back panel, and the display can be unlocked with a double-tap.
The S6’s additions boil down to a few that offer trendy benefits to users, like health and fitness apps based on built-in hardware sensors and a fingerprint reader.
Finally, when it comes to battery capacity, the phones are on par with one another. Even though LG G4 has a battery with declared capacity of 3000mAh and Samsung a more humble capacity of 2550mAh, there is no clear difference in overall use.
Diving in more specifically, Samsung’s chipset controls the distribution of resources with a bit more complexity between the processor cores. So an S6 balancing time spent between phone calls, internet browsing, and multimedia consumption will likely outpace an LG G4 doing the same. However, the G4 will likely outlast an S6 in time spent almost exclusively browsing the web and media streaming.
LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S6 are two fantastic smartphones that have raised the bar this year for the competition. Looking at both in detail reveals that one is not really better than the other, but one may be better than the other depending on the user.
The LG G4 is bigger and has a slightly better camera. It also has a removable battery and expandable storage.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 has slightly better performance with the best display going.
Take your pick. Either way, you win.