QHD screen resolution is a necessary spec these days, but for both our contenders it's more than just marketing. The LG G4 fills a roomy 5.5" screen with 2,560 x 1,440px resolution, at that diagonal 1080p is slightly less than perfect and nothing less than perfect will do for flagships.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 has a smaller screen, 5.1", but the Super AMOLED display has a PenTile matrix so the extra resolution goes towards keeping the sub-pixel sharpness up to par.
The G3 screen impressed with its size and resolution last year, but the contrast and color rendering were fairly disappointing. The new Quantum Dot display addresses both of those concerns and the phone now displays vivid colors. LG collaborated with DCI (which normally works with Hollywood) and achieved 98% coverage of their standard.
LG also hints that Super AMOLED's ability to go over 100% causes oversaturation, but Samsung left that as a choice to the user - the AMOLED photo mode aims for perfect, while other modes offer richer (if less accurate) colors.
Viewing angles on both screens are perfect, with no noticeable color shift from any vantage point.
Color aside, LG pushed the screen contrast ratio above 1,200:1, which is pretty great for an LCD and a massive improvement over the sub-800:1 of the G3. It shows too, combined with the better color rendering the LG G4 offers a much more vivid picture than its predecessor.
LG couldn't fix the maximum brightness though, it still hovers around 550nits. That's not all that much and the brightness slider isn't very helpful for fine tuning. When it's at the 50% position the screen only does 110nits, which is nearly unusable. This leaves you the other 50% to go the rest of the 400+ nits.
The Super AMOLED on the Samsung Galaxy S6 tops out at under 500nits if you want to set brightness manually, but it's best to leave the Auto toggle on. It conserves battery by reducing the brightness, but it can push it all the way up to 750nits if needed. That's beyond what you get from the manual setting or from the LG G4 for that matter.
Super AMOLED screens used to be darker than most LCDs so well done Samsung. Contrast is infinite, not accounting for ambient light reflections.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
The LG G3 screen was quite reflective so reading off it was difficult in direct sunlight. Even though LG didn't improve the brightness, it cut down some of the reflectivity making the screen noticeably easier to read.
It's still nowhere near the Galaxy S6 display though, which is much easier to use in broad daylight. Note that the S6 score was done with brightness set manually, if you leave it on Auto it will stay legible in even more difficult conditions.
For protection, the Galaxy S6 uses Gorilla Glass 4 (also used for the back glass panel), while the LG G3 is on Gorilla Glass 3. Corning advertised GG4 as better at surviving drops, but LG has its own trick up its sleeve - the concave curve of the screen means the glass - at least the center, certainly not the edges - is kept away from the surface when the phone falls on its face.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S6. While smaller, the Super AMOLED offers the better viewing experience - the performance outdoor is much better and images are generally slightly punchier (or not, if you choose so).
The LG G4 could have done more to increase brightness and sunlight legibility, though the contrast and colors are great. If you're looking for screen real estate, the G4 is closer to the Galaxy Note 4 than the S6. It still remains one of the most compact phones with a 5.5-inch screen so if you absolutely want the biggest screen on a phone that you can still fit inside your pocket, the G4 might as well be the better choice.
Qualcomm traditionally had the upper hand when it comes to connectivity, but Samsung's Exynos line has since caught up. This leaves the Galaxy S6 and LG G4 pretty evenly matched on connectivity, but there are some key differences.
Let's start with the basics, if you can call 400Mbps Cat. 6 LTE that. Both phones have it and fall back to 42Mbps HSPA+ if there's no LTE around. Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is also supported, as is HD Voice (both features need support from your carrier).
At home you can make use of the latest Wi-Fi routers with 802.11ac support. Other local connections are handled over Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX for better quality if you use Bluetooth speakers. The Galaxy S6 also has ANT+, which is used in some sport sensors.
Wired connectivity is handled by the USB 2.0 port at the bottom of both phones, but the LG G4 has the upper hand thanks to SlimPort 4K. It allows you to control a UHD TV from your G4 via the wired HDMI connection. The Galaxy S6 lacks even basic MHL support, so only wireless video streaming would work for it.
LG has also kept the FM radio receiver on board, while Samsung did not.
For positioning both phones can rely on GPS, GLONASS and Beidou, with a barometer to help in dense urban environments.
Winner: LG G4. The 4K wired TV out is a big deal even if most 4K TVs are smart enough to stream the file over DLNA. The FM radio is nice thing to have too.
The Galaxy S6 is well-stocked aside from those two use cases. It has ANT+ too, which might come in handy if you have some compatible sports sensors lying around.
While we pointed out the thickness of the LG G4 we should be fair and note that it has the bigger battery too - 3,000mAh. That capacity hasn't changed since the LG G2 though, so some movement on this front would have been welcome.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 actually went back compared to its predecessor, 50mAh but still it's a clear sign that the company is looking to its more efficient chipset and the screen to use less power.
And that strategy proved effective. The 14nm manufacturing process of the Exynos 6 chipset is a great advantage, the Super AMOLED screen advancements help too. Note that we run the tests with the brightness slider at 50% where the Galaxy S6 puts out nearly double the brightness compared to the LG G4.
Even without that the Galaxy S6 scores a very definitive victory, enough to last you three days of casual usage rather than the two you'll get from the G4. The S6 wins in all three individual tests, with crushing victories in the Web and Video tests.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 lasts 3 hours more browsing the web, 5 hours more playing video. If that wasn't enough, it lasts 3 hours longer in the call test too.
Basically any use pattern you may have, the S6 will last longer. The LG G4 would have depleted its battery even faster if the test was done at even brightness.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy S6. With better brightness and longer battery life, this was a strong victory for the Samsung.
LG G4 endurance degraded compared to the G3. Maybe Qualcomm deserves some of the blame, but either way it's not what you want to hear about a new flagship - "almost as good as the old one."