Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. LG G2: Neighbor squabble
Samsung is living the dream. The Galaxy line of phones is becoming synonymous with Android for some people, thanks to quality being consistently delivered, but strong marketing too. LG's volumes are lower but it takes one hero device to act as an awareness-raiser and that doesn't get much better than the LG G2.
Many people are looking at it as the foundation for the upcoming Nexus 5 (like the Nexus 4 was based on the Optimus G) and we can see why - it's hard to find a fault with the device. Individual elements can be criticized (e.g. plastic unibody instead of aluminum) but the overall package shapes up to be as the leader in the Android market.
LG secured a hardware edge for the G2 over the Galaxy S4 by launching half a year later, but Samsung has already sold millions of this generation and is probably already looking towards the S5 now that the Note III is out of the way.
The LG G2 scored tie on most of our head-to-head tests an in the few test it actually won, it won by a respectable margin - these include the performance tests and the battery life score. And even if Samsung comes up with an international Snapdragon 800 powered Galaxy S4 refresh, it would still only be able to match the G2 scores and hardly beat them. But don't get this wrong, even the mere fact that the G2 scored mostly tie to the Samsung's flagship already means a victory for LG, which has been somewhat of an underdog in the smartphone segment after years of successful business in the general phone segment.
We are glad to see it back on its feet, aiming high.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 however has been around for some time now and it already has a slight pricing advantage in the 16GB segment. But 16GB is really limiting for a high-end smartphone such as the G2 and without a microSD card slot, the 32GB version is almost a mandatory choice. But a 32GB G2 costs much more than the Galaxy S4 16GB with an extra 16GB card.
Then there is the question about software support, which has an increasing importance in the Android world where each new iteration of Android brings much intriguing new features. Samsung already has a good track record of providing software updates, while LG's reputation on the other hand, is just the opposite. Going for the G2 would require a leap of faith on this matter, but that would be betting on a company, which has done a lot of legwork to return to its past glory, so it might not be much of a risk. On the other hand, you never know.
Other than that, in terms of hardware, the G2 is all but secured for the year ahead. The Snapdragon 800 chipset is the most likely candidate to power 2014's flagships (unless Samsung does something amazing with Exynos) and Optical Image Stabilization looks like it's about to explode in popularity. With great battery life, the one potential hurdle the G2 faces in the coming years is the limited storage if you go for the 16GB version.
Without a microSD card slot, the G2 only makes sense in its 32GB variety and at the current price levels, it's really hard to recommend it over the S4. LG charges a premium of 100 euro for the 32GB version and they don't have Apple's cult brand following to get away with this easily.
Even now, getting a Galaxy S4 remains the most sensible Android purchase choice between the two - in most of our tests it came about tie to the G2, but it costs less and it's the only choice if you are after things such as expandable storage or a replaceable battery.
If display size is not an issue, you might want to look at the Galaxy Note III for your next flagship purchase as well or wait to see if Samsung would eventually release internationally a Snapdragon 800 powered S4 refresh. A new Nexus 5 seems to be just around the corner too, not to mention we have yet to really put the just arrived Sony Xperia Z1 through its paces. It seems this holiday season the shopping choice won't be as clear-cut as last year's so make sure you grab a front-row seat at our homepage. The flagship reviews will keep on coming as soon as we get them ready for you.