• My LG G4 Vigor review


    One of my favorite phones of 2015 is the LG G4. Itís a fantastic all-around package with no significant weaknesses. More importantly, the fact that Samsung removed some key features from the GS6 and then hiked the price makes the G4 a no-brainer.

    Still, while the G4ís price is reasonable, it still sports a flagship price tag. Fortunately, if you donít want to fork out too much dough, there are now more choices than ever when it comes to mid-range phones.

    Hereís the LG G4 Vigor, which possesses some of the G4ís qualities but comes with a much more palatable $350 CAN price tag.
    vs Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3:



    For the same money on Virgin, you can pick up an Idol 3. The Vigor has a slightly bigger 5.2Ē display, removable battery plus itís a more solid phone and you could argue that it also has a better badge. You also get a newer version of Android 5.1 vs 5.0 though if and when either device receives further updates remains to be seen.



    However, the Idol has a tremendous advantage in most other areas; most importantly, it has nearly 3x as much storage available when you first boot it up. While you have to do a bit of work to fill the Idol, the Vigor essentially comes with almost no free space.

    This reason alone is why the Vigor is going to lose out on almost any comparison. LG just set it up to fail.

    The Idol also has 2GB of RAM vs 1.5GB on the Vigor, much more powerful speakers and a much larger, albeit non-removable battery.

    vs Motorola Moto X Play:



    For $50 more, you can pick up a Moto X Play. Like the Idol, it has nearly 3x as much free space. That alone makes it a smarter buy.



    It also has a battery which is nearly 60% larger, a slightly larger display, better camera and comparable build quality. Motorola has also been very good about keeping their phones updated. You could say the same thing about LG but thatís more for their flagships only.

    The only thing the Vigor has going for it is a slightly lower price tag and a removable battery. You could mention the laser autofocus and colour sensor too but I donít find either feature makes a big difference.

    vs Motorola Moto X 2014:

    You can get last yearís Moto X unlocked for $50 more from Staples. While it may be last yearís model, its Snapdragon 801 SoC is quite a bit more powerful than the 615 in the Vigor.

    Its metal body is also quite a treat as is the powerful speaker.

    Most importantly, the X comes with a very usable 16GB of storage plus it will probably receive an Android 6.0 update eventually.

    The Vigor does have a removable battery and memory card.

    It may cost more but Iíd say itís worth the extra $50.

    vs Asus ZenFone 2 64GB:

    Add $30 and the ZenFone 2 becomes available. You know how Iíve been whining about how the the Vigor only comes with 3.5GB of free storage? Well the ZenFone 2 comes with around 55GB of free storage, thatís nearly 15x more.

    The camera is slightly better plus you get a much larger battery (3000 vs 2300) and its SoC is a bit more powerful. In also comes with a whopping 4GB of RAM - my calculator says thatís nearly 3x as much as the Vigor - ouch.

    I havenít even gotten to the SIM card yet or rather SIM cards. You get dual SIMs (one is 2G only) plus the Asus is also unlocked.

    Sadly, the only things the Vigor has going for it is a better badge, much higher build quality, a better speaker and a removable battery. It also currently comes with a more recent version of Android (5.1 vs 5.0).

    LG really needs to add more storage to the Vigor (bundle a memory card) and a price cut down to $220 ish.

    Specs:
    • 5.2Ē LCD
    • 1920x1080 resolution
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
    • 4 x 1.5Ghz ARM Cortex A53, 4 x 1Ghz ARM Cortex A53
    • 1.5GB RAM
    • 4GB storage (sadly not a typo)
    • MicroSD
    • 8 Megapixel camera
    • Laser Autofocus
    • LED flash
    • color sensor
    • LTE bands
    • MicroSIM
    • 2300mAh
    • 802.11n (2.4Ghz only)
    • 142.7 x 72.6 x 9.85
    • 155g
    • Android 5.1.1


    Body:



    The body is a dead ringer for the LG G4 (the ďregularĒ one).



    It looks exactly the same, has a curved display and the back has the same interesting pattern on it. The G4ís body may be plastic but itís a very solid and high quality one. The Vigor is no different so right off the bat, this is a key advantage over some of the competition.



    Like the G4, there is a MicroSD (common at this price point) and a removable battery (less common at all price points).



    The Vigor also gets the G4ís rear mounted volume and power buttons. This setups has its pros and cons; it does make the G4 very easy to handle but at the same time it can be inconvenient if youíre used to side mounted power and volume buttons. Then again, LG makes it so you can double tap the screen to turn the G4 on or double tap the top of the screen to turn it off.



    The back cover has the same diamond pattern/hammer metal finish that youíll find on the G4 though they left out the extra G4-esque leather back.



    Behind the back cover is a 2300mAh battery along with the MicroSD and Micro SIM slots.

    Itís hard to tell but the Vigor has a curved display - just like the G4. The curve is so slight, I never noticed it till I was editing pictures of it but itís definitely there.

    Itís a comfortable phone to use. The back is curved both up-and-down and side-to-side.

    Display:

    You get a 5.2Ē 1920x1080 curved LCD display. It looks great and is comparable to what youíd find on a flagship albeit with less pixels.

    Still, while there are less pixels, it doesnít look any less sharp than say its bigger brother the G4. While the G4 backs more pixels, there are so many that you wonít notice the difference so itís an advantage on paper only.

    Viewing angles are great, black levels are good and colour looks accurate. It also works well outdoors. Practically speaking, to my eyes the only difference between the Vigorís display and a flagship is that flagships are typically a tiny bit brighter.

    Overall, itís an excellent display and one of the Vigorís best features.

    Camera:

    Thereís an 8 megapixel camera on the back with a f/2.4 lens. It comes with LGís laser autofocus plus their color sensor. The laser autofocus sounds cool but Iíve found it has very limited range so I question what utility it brings to the table. Same with the color sensor, while Iím sure it helps the Vigorís white balance, I donít find it makes it any better than the competition.

    One treat is that the camera software includes the G4ís manual mode including:
    • white balance
    • manual focus
    • exposure
    • ISO
    • shutter speed
    • exposure lock


    The Vigor handles well, the shutter button is easy to press and it focuses fairly quickly.

    Image quality is okay. Thereís a bit too much noise reduction but I guess the flip side is that indoors pictures look quite clean though some fine detail is missing.

    video quality is also decent but the microphone sounds a bit muffled at times.

    Since the Vigor doesnít come with a lot of free space, it shoots video at 720p by default though there is a 1080p setting too.

    If youíre going to use the camera, make sure you get a MicroSD.

    Software:

    You get Android 5.1 along with LGís user interface layer. I donít usually mind manufacturer overlays but the Vigor doesnít come with a lot of storage so in this case, every MB counts.

    Still, itís pretty straight forward, the biggest changes are that thereís support for the double tap to turn on or off feature and the knock patterns to unlock your phone.

    I noticed two features on the regular G4 that are missing from the Vigor. First off, the split screen feature which lets you view certain apps 2 at the same time is missing. Kid mode, where you can set a custom knock code for your kids is also MIA.

    Otherwise itís a pretty straight forward overlay. You get the usual stuff like a custom gallery app, video player, etc. They didnít include tons of extra apps probably because there isnít any room for them.

    Performance:
    Performance is in line with what youíd expect from a Snapdragon 615. The fact that the Vigor only has 1.5GB while the competition has 2GB doesn't really make any difference to these tests. That said, the extra RAM comes into play if you multitask a lot and like to jump from app to app frequently.



    The 615 in the Moto X Play is clocked a little higher so its scores are correspondingly higher.



    The Zenfone 2 on the other hand has an Intel Z3560 SoC which has different cores and GPU both of which are substantially more powerful than the Vigorís. In fact, the ZenFoneís SoC compares favorably with Qualcommís Snapdragon 801.



    Yeah, the 801 is 2 years old now but thereís still a considerable gap between it and the 615.



    Practically speaking, the 615 does feel a bit slower than the Intel and the 801 but you need to use phones with each SoC to really appreciate the difference. Occasionally sometimes screen redraws stutter a tiny bit but most of the time the 615 feels snappy. Iíd say performance is more than adequate. I know this personally because I switch between a regular LG G4 and some Snapdragon 615 phones all the time and I rarely complain about the drop in performance.

    As a Phone:

    The maximum earpiece and speakerphone volumes are both average.

    RF performance is average.

    You get a 2300mAh battery, given the size of the screen itís slightly undersized. It will last the day for casual users but power users will probably need to top off halfway through the day. Then again, power users wonít be able to live with a phone with 4GB of storage so I guess that point is moot.

    Media Capabilities:

    The rear mounted speaker sounds decent but itís volume is merely adequate. Itís not ear splittingly powerful like its bigger brother the G4.

    I mentioned this many times but itís worth mentioning again, the Vigor only has 3.5GB of free space when you turn it on for the first time. Yes, 3.5GB, just like youíd expect from a no-name throwaway Android phone. If you plan on storing any sort of media on it you should do yourself a favour and pick up a MicroSD.

    When I first started using the Vigor, I was getting out of space messages about 30 minutes after - itís that bad.

    Conclusion:

    The Vigor has some really nice features - it brings a flagship level display and build quality to the table for under $350 CAN. However, all that is overshadowed by the fact that it comes with a bargain basement 3.5GB of free space. I mean its competitors ship with a minimum of 16GB (around 11GB free) and up to 64GB (around 57GB free).

    I often talk about how well rounded a phone is and unfortunately, the Vigor just has a big flaw.

    Why LG would handicap their phone like this is a total mystery.

    Still, even if it came with 8 or 16GB of storage, itís still a bit overpriced since it only comes with 1.5GB.

    In the end, the Vigor could have been a great device if LG didnít hold it back so much.

    3 Howies out of 5.

    Pros:
    • nice body
    • display


    Cons:
    • only 3.5GB of space
    • priced too high
    • no 5Ghz WiFi support
    • battery could be larger
    This article was originally published in forum thread: My LG G4 Vigor review started by howard View original post
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. HansCT's Avatar
      HansCT -
      Excellent review Howard, thanks so much for going into such detail and comparing with a range of other phones in the same ballpark. Yes it really is a shame LG is so insecure to protect the flagship by crippling the vigor in such a fundamentally important way. Give us a lousy camera 14 e speakers, make it appear cheap with lower quality materials externally, there must be plenty of ways to ensure candidates for the flagship wouldn't even consider a lower model, but for god sakes give us the storage that's just silly...
    1. mikethaler's Avatar
      mikethaler -
      T-Mobile dropped the price to $459 on the regular G4 a couple months ago. (I think that's what I paid. Incl. extra battery and extra leather back
    1. Plazmic Flame's Avatar
      Plazmic Flame -
      Great review! For some reason the screen looks so washed out though.