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Tech Savvy: It's All in the (LG) Family

Hey there, Tech Savvy fans! This week we get to take a look at some cool devices courtesy of our friends at Verizon Wireless - the LG G4 and the LG GPad.

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Hey there, Tech Savvy fans! This week we get to take a look at some cool devices courtesy of our friends at Verizon Wireless - the LG G4 and the LG GPad.

LG has continued to be an often ignored player in the smartphone and tablet game. Companies like Motorola, Apple and Samsung sometimes dominate the conversation on items that should be hot or not. LG, for some reason, is overlooked, and they definitely deserve a second chance.

You may recall last year I had a chance to review the LG G3, obviously the G4's predecessor, and it really took me by surprise. It shouldn't have as LG has a long history in electronics and has emerged time and again with, actually, probably the most consistent delivery on its products compared to other major players. Perhaps what makes them the most unique is, in my opinion, they often offer the most well-rounded products and don't rely on a single standout feature to pitch their devices. This may also be the reason that they don't garner the same attention as others - other companies pack super-cameras, behemoth batteries, or other things into their devices, but often these singular upgrades will force a concession to be made in some other area.

LG, it seems, tries to balance their products a little more to offer the best features in the most efficient way they can.

So, without further ado, let's jump right in and start with the G4.

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Measuring in at just under 6 inches high and 3 inches wide, boasting a 5.5 inch screen, the G4 fits the common profile of many of the other phones out there. It's not the thinnest at 9.8 milimeters, but it is still thinner than my Droid Turbo. I'd compare it in the hand to a Note size device, or somewhere around the iPhone 6 Plus. Like the G3 the power button is located on the back side of the device and the volume rocker flanks it on either side. It takes some getting used to, but because of the phone's size, putting the buttons there makes an awful lot of sense, and makes the device usable for more people.

The shape of the phone also contributes to its usability- the back curves up from the center on all sides making it taper into your hand very nicely. Despite the added size it doesn't feel that much bigger than the Turbo in my hand.

Aesthetics aside, it's also packing quite a punch under the hood- a 3GB Snapdragon processor drives this ship very smoothly. It also has a 3000 mAh battery, which although it's not the biggest battery, it's right up there and will get you pretty far through your day.

Like the Droid Turbo, the G4 comes with a Quad HD display, and let me tell you, if you haven't seen this in person yet you should really check it out. The clarity is amazing, and you would think that on a screen that's only a few inches wide, you might not notice a difference, but it's incredible. Close up (macro style) pictures, videos, games, are all enhanced by this insanely clear screen.

The G4 runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop, the latest version - for now. In case you missed it the next version will be called Marshmallow, keeping with the sweet treat theme.

Like other Android devices, LG has also added their own flair to the OS - often referred to as UIs or Skins. For the most part the LG version is pretty stock (which means it hasn't been tinkered with too much), but one feature they do have, is the G Menu. I didn't really see it called that anywhere, but you access it by tapping a little "G" at the bottom of your home screen. Doing that takes you to an LG kind of version of Google Now - a hub of sorts that gives you tips, but can customize using their Smart Bulletin. It reminds me a little of the Android Setup Wizard... but it's something that continues to be useful after you've started.

The 16 MP camera takes great photos and the shutter response time was very quick. They also built in a really neat gesture control for the camera where you can use hand gestures to control the shutter when you are taking a selfie.

The camera also features laser guided autofocus, according to LG. There isn't a lot of detail on how this will improve your shot quality, but without a way to officially time focus acquisition it did seem snappy and accurate. Is it faster than my Turbo? Close, it might be. Is it faster than my old DNA? Yep.

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Like the other LG devices it also features a dual window option, which is another one of those things that you don't really know what you're missing until you have it. Especially when you combine this with the Advanced Calling features that Verizon rolled out earlier this year. You can now easily shift between apps or information and not miss a beat.

Another nice feature about the G4 is it has a removable battery. This used to be the norm, especially on Android devices, but as the iPhone gained popularity, many people decided they didn't need access to the back panel and no one (well not many) cried foul when Android devices started sealing the phones. There are a lot of good reasons to seal the back - you can utilize more of the space, can aid in adding water resistant qualities to the device, and other things like that, but I do miss being able to get to the back panel. Another reason this access is nice is that you can then swap out SD cards. Don't get me wrong, using a cloud service to back up photos is nice, but sometimes it's just simpler to swap out a card. This can also be beneficial if you need to read a card that isn't yours. Final thought on removable SD cards - it also gives you the ability to increase the size of your storage without having to buy a completely new phone.

The G4 is very lightweight - at least compared to my DNA and the Turbo - but it doesn't feel flimsy. Again, something LG is really good at, making their devices feel like a quality piece of gear.

Like all Android devices (and the rest of the world except Apple), the G4 uses micro-USB for charging. Also, like the norm, the headphone jack is located at the bottom of the phone. I'm still not one hundred percent sold on that and, secretly, it's one of the reasons the Turbo was so appealing to me. Android device makers, if you're reading this, please, please continue to make at least one top tier device with a normal headphone port location.

By now you're probably thinking to yourself, but weren't we going to talk about the LG GPad too? Well, it's a bigger version of the G4. The end.

Just kidding. We'll take a look at that next week as we wrap up these device reviews and get geared up for our next focus - the beginning of our disaster preparedness gear.

All in all the G4 is a completely solid offering from LG. They will probably always remain the underdog in the smartphone and tablet world, but they should definitely be on your radar if you're in the market for a new phone. The fact that they are such a well rounded device and high quality make them a serious contender.

Thanks again to our friends at Verizon Wireless for hooking us up, running on their 4G LTE network this phone just flies.

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