It doesn't matter which phone from which manufacturer, without fail there's going to be something shiny and new that comes along a year later as you try to cling to your wallet while you're asking yourself whether you should upgrade.
LG's latest, the G4, is likely putting a fair few G3 owners in that very position right about now. It's got the newest hardware, the latest software, some pretty nifty camera improvements, and a healthy dose of leather if that's your thing.
So, if you're wondering, let's see if we can help out a little bit.
Plastic or plastic or leather
There are aspects of the G4 that remain very much similar to the G3. The screen is the same size and the same resolution, 5.5-inches at QHD resolution, and once again the power and volume buttons are around the back.
It's a refreshing change that "bigger and better" doesn't actually mean bigger
It's a refreshing change that "bigger and better" doesn't actually mean bigger. Add to the mix that the G4 has the slightest of curves and you're left with with something that's surprisingly comfortable to use for a large screen size.
Of course, that's nothing new for LG. From the G2 onwards there's been a trend of big screen, small body, and that's in part to having those buttons on the back. It's a formula that works on both the G3 and the G4.
One of the biggest consumer facing new features of the G4 is the leather backs. Sure, you could get it in a plastic finish that's about the same as you'd find on the G3. But with the G4 leather is where it's at.
Performance and battery
Inside things are of a yearly upgrade measure. The CPU in the G4 is the Snapdragon 808 compared to last years 801. So you'll get slightly better performance. But, will most of the people notice any of that most of the time? We've noticed that the G4 does run all-round a little smoother than the G3, so it's possible. But it's nothing massively improved upon.
As Alex Dobie puts in his review:
"But the biggest improvement isn't one you'll find heavily promoted by the manufacturer. It's not a new app or feature, or any kind of visual enhancement. Instead it's the streamlined performance that puts an end to the intermittent stutters we've witnessed on phones like the G3 and G Flex 2."
That was one of the things we didn't like so much about the G3. Whether it was related to the display resolution, the internals, or just poor software, there were too many instances of things getting janky.
As for the battery, the 3000mAh block in the back of the G4 is larger than the G4s biggest competition, the Galaxy S6. It's also removable, just as it is on the G3, so you can at least pack a spare instead of carrying a charger.
However, despite the increase in internals, we've found that the G4 is actually less thirsty than its predecessor. LG has made the G4 more efficient, and as such you might not need an extra battery as much as you may have done with the G3.
One final thing worth noting is the lack of wireless charging on the G4. If you're on a G3 and you simply can't go back to not having this, then you'll need to stay where you are.
Software and features
While the G3 is likely running Android Lollipop by now where you are (though not everywhere), the G4 comes, as you'd expect, with the latest and greatest. It runs LG UX v4.0 based on Android 5.1 and while it's not massively different to what you'll find on the G3, it is a little more refined.
And bright. It has some bright colors.
But it's undeniably still LG. It's more Material design inspired, sure, but it's not a far cry from the G3. It's more refined.
It's undeniably still LG
There are still a whole bunch of LG exclusive features on board, too, such as Smart Notice and Smart Bulletin, and those will do a little more for you on the G4 than on the G3.
The good stuff, such as KnockOn and KnockCode are still here, and as conveniently awesome as ever. But, while the software is undoubtedly an improvement on that from the G3, it's not far enough to convince alone that it'd be worth an upgrade. It looks a little nicer, performs a little better and has some feature improvements, but alone it's probably not enough to make the leap.
What'd be swell is if LG pushed out the updated UX to the G3.
The camera on the LG G3 was one of our favorites of 2014. And the camera on the G4 is even better.
Need more? OK.
For the enthusiast photographers out there one of the big new features the G4 brings with its camera is support for shooting in RAW. This gives you greater flexibility if you're going to edit your photos later on in something like Adobe Lightroom.
The 16MP shooter with OIS 2.0 technology retains the 'laser auto-focus' feature from the G3, but all around it's just more impressive. It's certainly one of the very best cameras on an Android phone right now, and alongside the likes of the Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6 it's up there as the very best you can buy, on any platform.
So, if the camera is one of the main selling points on a smartphone for you, it's tough not to recommend the G4. The G3 has a great camera, but the G4 is even better.
An edited RAW shot from the LG G4
The bottom line
It's a tough one. Unlike the Galaxy S6, where Samsung made significant improvements across the board from its predecessor, the G4 is less clear cut. It's more of an iteration than a replacement, where all the good stuff has been made a little bit better.
There are things that stand out as a clear reason to make the upgrade, and the camera is one of those things. If you're an enthusiastic mobile photographer there's no denying you're going to be more satisfied with the G4.
The best thing of all is that you're getting a great Android phone
But elsewhere there's less that screams "buy me" if you're already holding a G3 dearly. The G4 is no bigger, and while the quality of the display is better, it's no higher resolution. Battery life is a little better, the software is still definitely LG, but less irritating, and the sum of its parts makes it one of the best phones we'll see this year.
But the G3 was certainly one of the best phones of 2014, too. And while your heart may scream "upgrade," it's your wallet which will have the final say. Most of the people will probably be just fine hanging on to the G3 a little while longer. It's still a great phone. If you're coming from the G2 and you're out of a 2-year upgrade cycle, the decision is much easier. Buy it.
Our advice might be to wait a little and see how the prices begin to drop. LG phones have a habit of seeing good discounts a few months or more in to their lifecycle, and if you're using a G3 right now it might be the most sensible option to upgrade.
But the best thing of all is that you're getting a great Android phone. Whether you stick or get the new one. And we like that a lot.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.