It's been a long time coming, but top-notch photography is finally making its way to Android phones.
Sure, we've had devices that are capable of taking decent photos for a while now. But recently, manufacturers have begun to make photography a primary focus of their phones — and have actually managed to deliver consistently superb imaging experiences.
For example, Samsung raised the bar this April with its Galaxy S6. The phone's photo quality leaves previous devices in the dust, while its simple interface makes it almost impossible to get a bad-looking picture. Now LG is stepping up to the plate with its LG G4, a flagship phone about which the company has made some bold photography promises.
LG is devoting lots of marketing muscle to the G4's 16-megapixel camera and the technology that accompanies it: an F1.8 aperture lens, an enhanced level of optical image stabilization and a Color Spectrum Sensor system that's said to achieve greater color accuracy than what was previously possible.
That all sounds impressive enough, but let's be honest: When it comes to smartphone photography, most of us just want to know that we can snap a good-looking picture quickly and without much effort. So fancy technology or not, is the G4 up to the task?
I've carried an international version of the phone with me for several days to find out.
Using the G4 camera
First and foremost, the G4 definitely makes it easy to open its Camera app and capture a photo, which is often half the battle. The phone features a quick-launch shortcut in which you just double-tap the volume-down button on the back of the unit to launch the camera whenever the screen is off. It isn't the fastest quick-launch out there — it typically takes about two seconds from the time I double-tap to the time the Camera app is open and ready to roll. However, it's certainly faster than turning on your phone's screen and fumbling around to find the right icon when you're in the midst of a photogenic moment.
There are two quirks related to the shortcut that warrant mentioning. First, by default, the phone not only opens the Camera app every time you double-tap the volume-down key but also automatically takes a photo. Trust me: You'll want to disable that right away. While it sounds nice in theory, it doesn't give you any time to look through the viewfinder and properly frame or focus your photo. I ended up with lots of lovely pics of my feet.
Second, the shortcut doesn't work while the phone's screen is on — so if you're in the midst of using your device and want to open the camera, you're out luck. This is a contrast to the camera shortcuts on devices like the Galaxy S6 and Moto X, and it's a bummer — because there are plenty of times when you might have your screen on and still want quick access to the camera without having to look for an icon.
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