LG's handsets have long been solid devices, and they've put out another impressive smartphone with the LG G4. It stands as a marked difference to the iPhone 6. Where Apple goes for rounded edges, LG goes for corners. The iPhone has a cold aluminum body, the G4's a warm plastic or an even warmer leather. They're both smartphones, for sure, but their differences are quite substantial.

Compared to the iPhone 6 versus the Samsung Galaxy S6, the LG G4 and iPhone 6 couldn't be more different. We only had a brief time with the LG G4 in our hands-on, but even in that time we found in our hands two smartphones with very different design philosophies at work.

The most obvious is, of course, the layout of the device. The front of the G4 is a clean, flat, black slab of glass, with a 5.5-inch QHD 1440x2560 Quantum IPS framed by minimal bezels on the top and bottom. The iPhone 6, on the other hand, features a 4.7-inch 750x1336 IPS LCD under a glass sheet that curves off towards the edges, bounded by tall bezels housing the speaker at the top and the large round Touch ID fingerprint sensor at the bottom.

Now you might be asking why we're comparing the 5.5-inch G4 to the iPhone 6 with its 4.7-inch display? Because the disparity in their screen sizes is nearly made up for in the disparity in their bezel sizes. The iPhone 6 is 138.1 mm tall while the G4 is 148.9mm — and the iPhone 6 Plus with a size-matching 5.5-inch display is a whopping 158.1mm from top to bottom. Of course, the smaller display does mean that the iPhone 6 is considerably narrower, and Apple's put significant emphasis on making the iPhone a slim device — 7.1mm compared to the 9.8mm of the G4.

There's a different design philosophy at work here, in case that wasn't obvious. Where the iPhone 6 features clean lines and flat surfaces, the G4 curves and offers a variety of textures. There's a carbon-fiber-like pattern under the display bezel, the quilted-like brushed metallic finish on the back, the dimpled texture of the rear buttons, and light-catching concentric rings around the camera lens. The iPhone is plain aluminum and unfussy glass. Opposite schools of thought here, and that'll appeal to different tastes.

Speaking of the camera, while the iPhone 6 sports an 8MP rear camera, the G4 brings a 16MP optically-stabilized sensor to the party (while Apple only offers OIS on the larger iPhone 6 Plus). Additionally, LG's touting a color spectrum sensor at work for the G4 that's meant to get better-balanced photos depending on the color of light received, but we've yet to really get a chance to try out the camera. The LG G3 had a solid camera, and the Samsung Galaxy S6 was stood up as possibly the best Android smartphone camera we've seen yet, one that even rivals the iPhone 6 in photo quality. Considering how much LG's been comparing the G4's camera to the S6's, we imagine we'll have another awesome choice when it comes to mobile photography.

The last thing to really note here is the software. With the introduction of iOS 7, Apple went for a flatter design aesthetic. It's something that matches up with modern design trends, including the hyper-flat Windows UI and Google's Material Design. With the introduction of Android 5.0 Lollipop, LG took that new design direction to heart. We saw it first on the LG G Flex 2, and now we're getting even more refinement on the idea with the G4. It's telling that the UI has somewhat converged with the metaphors and layout of Samsung's over the past year — not that they're copying each other, but that Google's laid a solid visual foundation with Material Design.

Of course, there are notable differences in the way iOS and Android work. But there's a lot that's surprisingly similar given how far apart the two platforms started. Multitasking apps are presented in a scrolling list that you swipe apps out of to close, the design language in general favors flatness and solid colors over 3D skeuomorphism and textures and gradients, notifications come in from a drawer on the top, and so on. But LG's design goes for a bit more bluntness: app icons are solid squares, for instance, while Apple's basically maintained the rounded corner app icon for seven years.

It was just a few short years ago that Apple practically stood alone in manufacturing phones that were predominantly metal and glass. Things have changed rapidly, with just about every top-tier smartphone manufacturer's flagship smartphones moving to metal. Even Samsung, long-maligned as masters of cheap-feeling plastic, switched to metal and glass for the Galaxy S6. LG now stands alone in their commitment to plastics, and they're making plastic phones that feel and look great.

Apple just yesterday announced a monster quarter: more than 60 million iPhones sold. LG's a company that's on solid financial footing, but it's hard to compete against something like that no matter what sort war chest you have. But that's not stopping LG from coming out swinging with a phone that takes on Apple, Samsung, and all the others on multiple fronts. Only time will tell if that's enough.

All about the LG G4


Newer model: LG G5