We're getting into the thick of it now with the new LG G4 — yes, we're hard at work on a complete LG G4 review — but it's also a good time to take a step back and look at the broad strokes. There's a lot going on with LG's latest. Some familiar, some new, but all important.

And so these are the first things you need to know about the LG G4.

Click here for the first things to know about the LG G4

The buttons are on the back

LG G4 buttons

OK, so for a good many of us this will be old hat. LG's had the buttons on the rear of the phone for a few years now. But if you're looking at an LG phone for the first time, know this: It's crazy, but it works.

LG has taken that natural resting place for your fingers and made it useful. You've got the volume buttons surrounding the power button on the rear of the phone, easily within reach. No twisting your hand to reach them. No fumbling to figure which one is power and which makes things louder. It's one of the more revolutionary design changes in the past few years, and it's a good one.

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Plus, it's a handy way to quickly launch the camera app — press volume-down twice.

More: Check out our hands-on with the LG G4

Leather: Love it or leave it

LG G4 in leather

LG continues to use a removable battery cover. New in the G4, however, is a wide array of options. The metallic gray has a nice three-dimensional texture to it, and the ceramic white is stunning. (There's also a gold option, if that's how you roll.)

But leather, folks. That's where it's at. We've been using this the light-brown material. It's thin, but solidly attached to that removable back. It doesn't feel cheap in the slightest. And if you didn't know that you could take it off any time you want, chances are you wouldn't even notice. The stitching is a nice touch, too. And there are other colors and textures available in leather as well.

The big question, however, is pricing and availability. We simply don't know how the backs will be sold.

In pictures: The colorful backs of the LG G4{.cta .large}

It keeps the removable battery and microSD card

LG G4 SD card

This one's a big deal for a lot of folks. LG has kept two features that are extremely important to a lot of people. The G4 continues to have a removable battery (and it's 3,000 mAh, at that), and microSD card support for expanded storage. And that's important because other manufacturers have done away with one or both of those features, most notably in the Samsung Galaxy S6.

So you'll be able to have a spare battery on hand, and a microSD card for more pictures and music and other stuff.

The camera is good

LG G4 camera

We've been using the LG G4 for a week now, and this much is clear: The camera is pretty much as good (if not better) as anything else out there. And that's high praise given how good we've found the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 to be.

LG is quick to heap praise on the G4 camera's f/1.8 aperture, larger sensor and the ability to show in the RAW format with full manual mode. But we'll add in that it's also really good in automatic, so you don't have to be a professional photographer to get great results. But if you do go all out with the settings, you can do some really fun stuff.

Showdown! Check out the LG G4 vs. the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6!

LG continues to improve its software

LG G4 software

We've largely had good things to say about LG's high-end hardware the past few years, even though it took a little while to get its footing here in the U.S. The software, meanwhile, has been slower to improve, though it's not stopped evolving. And It's gotten better with the G4.

You'll see ever more flat design, more "Material Design" references, and less skeuomorphism. (Remember when LG made its toggle buttons actually look like toggle buttons?) It's not perfect, but it's gotten a lot better over the years.


We're just getting started with the LG G4, which won't be available in the U.S. and other regions for a few more weeks still. For even more discussion, be sure to hit up our LG G4 forums!