Smartphone head to head: Lumia 950 vs LG G4

Published by at

Having pitched these two smartphones head to head in terms of imaging (spoiler: the 950 wins by quite a way, though with some caveats), I wanted to pitch them against each other across the board, function for function. The LG G4 is a flagship from earlier in 2015 that's now an absolute steal at £320, while the Lumia 950 is... well, you know, you're reading AAWP after all! See my 950 review here.

LG G4 and Lumia 950

There are a huge number of similarities between these two smartphones, from their flexibility to chipsets to imaging pretensions. Can I find a winner? As usual, I've shaded in green an obvious 'win' for either device...

[By the way, if you're viewing this feature on an older Windows Phone then the table may well cause you problems. Try viewing in landscape mode? Failing that, go view this on a laptop or tablet and then roll on Windows 10 Mobile across the board on all the older phones!]

  Microsoft Lumia 950 LG G4
Date first available December 2015 April 2015
Current price, availability £420 (SIM-free in the UK, inc VAT, via Amazon UK), though will be £350-ish by Spring 2016. £320 (SIM-free in the UK, inc VAT) for version with ceramic back
Dimensions 145 x 73 x 8mm, feels quite light, thanks to all the plastic... 149 x 75 x 9mm, also felt slender-edged and light, considering what's in it...
Form factor, weight Gorilla Glass 3. Polycarbonate, replaceable back/sides (hosting NFC and Qi coils). Weight is 150g Plastic body, Gorilla Glass 3, Ceramic or leather coatings on removeable plastic back, 155g
Operating system, interface Windows 10 Mobile, (dismissable) virtual controls
Android 5.1 and LG's UX 4.0 skin over the top. No surprises for an Android user - quite a few LG additions, but you don't have to use them. Permanent virtual controls, though they minimise in some apps.
Display  5.2" AMOLED with ClearBlack Display polarisers, QHD resolution, Glance screen 5.5" LCD QHD resolution, good contrast outdoors thanks to 'Quantum' technology - but it doesn't quite match Nokia's CBD.
Connectivity Up to LTE, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, integral wifi tethering, nanoSIM, Continuum connectivity to use external displays as secondary screen, independent of the phone display (with full universal aapplication resolution handling) Up to LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, integral wifi tethering, microSIM
Processor, performance Snapdragon 808 chipset, 3GB RAM, pretty fast for many operations, though transitions and general Windows 10 interface cruft/refreshes do get in the way sometimes. Snapdragon 808, 3GB RAM, very fast, as Android typically is, with minimal transitions. Have to give the win here on speed.
Capacity 32GB plus microSD up to 2TB 32GB internal storage, plus microSD up to 2TB
Imaging (stills)

20MP PureView f/1.9 1/2.4" BSI sensor, dedicated camera shutter button and launch key, genuine 2x lossless digital zoom (in 8MP oversampled mode), OIS. 'Rich Capture' produces customisable HDR shots and 'dynamic flash'. See here for my imaging comparison with the G4. Outstanding shots in most light conditions, with just focussing issues in low light.

8MP stills also possible (using the built-in Plug-in) from 4K video bursts from a long press on the shutter button.

5MP front camera

16MP f/1.8 1/2.6" BSI sensor, OIS and with shutter controls mapped to volume keys on back if needed.  Laser auto-focus helps a lot in low light, but the G4 can't match the Lumia 950 for everyday shots.

8MP front camera

Imaging (video) 4K, digitally and optically stabilised, with 'Best photo' 8MP grabbing built-in, plus Rich Recording and quad HAAC microphones. 4K video capture, with OIS and stereo audio, though can't cope with rock-level live music.
Music and Multimedia Decent mono speaker, 3.5mm headphones (not included in the box), A2DP, DLNA Decent mono speaker, 3.5mm headphones (included), A2DP, DLNA
Navigation  Windows 10 Maps includes most of the best of HERE Maps/Drive, uses the same data, adds a degree of live traffic awareness, plus public transport. Includes full offline maps with automatic updates.

Google Maps and navigation is excellent, with better offline capabilities in the last few months, and with great traffic integration. There's also HERE Maps now, if the user knows to go look for it. Honours even overall.

Cortana/Voice Cortana is now mature and well integrated, and with a surprising degree of 'assistance'. Google Now and voice queries are good and on a par with Cortana overall. See my round-up feature. A little too ready to pass things off to Google search queries, if I'm being picky.
Battery, life  Removable 3000mAh battery, easily gets through a day (for me), plus USB Type C and Qi wireless charging built-in. Removable 3000mAh battery, easily gets through a day. Charging via Qi (though only with optional dedicated cover) or microUSB.
Cloud aids Windows Photos syncs across all signed-in devices, though free space for these is scheduled to only be 5GB, so you'll need to join Office 365 or live within the paid-for 50GB tier. Google Photos syncs across all Android devices, genuinely unlimited storage (with an allowance for recompression/optimisation by Google)
Applications and ecosystem  Windows Phone now has just about every mainstream app covered, aside from Snapchat. Niche/boutique apps are often an issue, though... Also anything to do with Google services! Fully covered, from A-Z, these days. Any application of any significance in the mobile world is available for Android.
Upgrades and future Windows 10 Mobile will be updated through daily Store updates, plus occasional base firmware updates through 2016/2017. Future proof, if LG is willing - should see updates through 2016.



So... we have a 4-4 draw, which sounds inconclusive, and it is. Essentially the Lumia 950 just wins out on imaging and hardware generally, but the G4 then pulls back with Android's apps and ecosystem. Of course, the latter is likely to be much more important to many people, so I guess my table cells should be weighted somehow!

Back in the real world, no one's going to switch from a previous Android or iOS smartphone to the Lumia 950 and Windows 10 Mobile, so this generation of Lumia is very much playing to the existing userbase of Windows Phone users... and maybe to a few Windows 10-using smartphone first timers.

Two great, functional and flexible smartphones though - I doubt anyone would mind getting either for Christmas....!

G4 and 950