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LG hits the G-round running

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Korean electronics manufacturer LG has spent the last two years proving its high-tech credentials as a smartphone technology leader. With the release of the G4, it is ready for more, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

When the LG G4 smartphone arrives in South African stores in mid-June, it won’t dazzle the market with the latest in technology breakthroughs. That would be so, like, yesterday, for a brand that has already shown its technology smarts, with advances ranging from 3D visuals several years ago to curved  screens over the past year.

This time round, LG wants to impress the market with something more basic: market share.

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While specific sales figures for South Africa have not been released, LG says the G3 sold double the number of the G2, and the target for the G4 is to double up again on the G2. To put that in context, the most recent market research from World Wide Worx and GeoPoll shows that LG has about 2,7 per cent market share in South Africa, almost exactly on a par with Sony. While other LG models contribute to that share, doubling G3 sales with the G4 will contribute significantly.

LG has something of a hill to climb, though, as the intended next purchase of South African consumers, revealed in the same study, shows it dropping a percentage point and Sony rising substantially.

For this reason, the timing of a phone like the G4 could not be better. The latest G-round comes across as a culmination of several years of development, fine-tuning and learning from the customer.

On the most basic level, LG has repaired a flaw in its previous devices, namely an overtight SIM slot, which tended to shred SIM cards when they were swopped to other devices. It still has an old-style slide-in wire-frame SIM slot, but the fit is more comfortable, and not designed to prevent one from ever removing it. On such basic foundations are positive experiences built.

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It’s the first phone I’ve used where the switching process from one device has worked seamlessly, as advertised. Using NFC (Near Field Communications) on the phone, one holds it to another phone also running NFC to capture all settings, files and profile of installed apps.  Aside from a few prompts and logging into an e-mail account on the new device, it all happens automatically.

So far so similar to Samsung and HTC. The difference is that, once logged into Gmail or the Play Store, it begins automatically downloading all apps installed on the previous phone. With other devices, most have to be selected individually, and accepted one by one. The saving in time and energy can be enormous.

The user interface is also simpler and more satisfying than on most Android phones, thanks to an avoidance of “bloatware”, as proprietary software add-ons are known.

On the hardware side, the phone naturally also outdoes its predecessors but, more important, much of the competition.

Most noticeably, the battery is removable, and it has giant-sized 3000mAh capacity – allowing for full-day usage despite the large screen – in what has the appearance of a standard-sized battery.

The camera is especially impressive, and a quick test against the iPhone 6 Plus and MTN One M9 give it a clear edge. At F1.8, it has the widest aperture lens on a major brand phone in this market – edging out the F1.9 aperture of the Samsung Galaxy S6 – which means it lets in more light and allows for more precise focus. Unlike many comparisons between phone camera lenses, the difference here is obvious even to the untrained eye.

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The display dazzlingly sharp, in an environment where there is no longer such a thing as a screen that is NOT sharp. This is largely thanks to Quad HD resolution (four times high-definition, or 2,560 x 1,440 pixels) of its 5.5-inch display, and something called IPS Quantum Display, which allows for better control of the liquid crystals that make up the screen. More light is emitted, contrasts are sharper, and blacks are deeper, allowing for a richer, more defined colour.

Deon Prinsloo, General Manager LG Mobile, summed up the marketing position of the G4 like this: “We wanted to give consumers a truly human-centric device that combined the analog sensibilities with technologies that delivered real world performance. From the design to the camera to the display to the user interface, this is the most ambitious phone we’ve ever created.”

Hand-in-hand with LG’s highest ambitions yet for market presence, it takes the concept of “flagship phone” into a new category we can call the “standard-bearer phone”.

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The Specifications of the G4, as supplied by LG, are:

• Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 808 Processor

• Display: 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum Display (2560 x 1440, 538ppi)

• Memory: 32GB eMMC ROM, 3GB LPDDR3 RAM / microSD slot

• Camera: Rear 16MP with F1.8 Aperture / OIS 2.0 / Front 8MP with F2.0 Aperture

• Battery: 3,000mAh (removable)

• Operating System: Android 5.1 Lollipop

• Size: 148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3 – 9.8 mm

• Weight: 155g

• Network: 4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21 Mbps (3G)

• Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac / Bluetooth 4.1LE / NFC / USB 2.0

• Colours: (Ceramic) Metallic Gray / Ceramic White / Shiny Gold /

(Genuine Leather) Black / Brown / Red / Sky Blue / Beige / Yellow

• Other: Manual Mode / Gesture Interval Shot / Quick Shot

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee, and subscribe to his YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/GGadgets

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Smash hits the Nintendo Switch

Super Smash Bros. delivers what the fans wanted in the latest “Ultimate” instalment, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the latest addition to the popular Nintendo Smash series, has landed on the Nintendo Switch with a bang, selling 5-million copies in the first week of its release. The game has been long-anticipated since the console’s release, as many fans consider iy to be a Nintendo staple. And the wait was well worth it.

It features 74 playable fighters, 108 stages, almost 1300 Spirit characters to collect while playing, and a single-player Adventure mode that took about three days (or 28 hours) of gameplay to complete. The game offers far more gameplay than its predecessors, making it the Smash game that gives its players the best bang for their buck.

For those new to the game, the goal is to fight opponents and build up their damage score (draining their health) to knock them off the stage eventually. This makes the game seem chaotic, as many players jump around the platforms as if they were on quicksand, in order to avoid being hit by the other players.

It also services two kinds of players: the competitive and the casual.

Competitive players can be matched on the online service by skill ranking to enjoy playing with similarly high-skilled opponents. This is especially important in e-sports training for the game, and for players wanting to master combos against other human players. The casual gamer is also catered for, with eight-player chaos and button-mashing to see who comes out luckiest. This segment is also important for those wanting to learn how to play.

Training mode is also a place to go for those learning to play. It offers “CPU” players that are graded by intensity to train as a single player to learn a character’s moves, combos and general fighting style. More challenging CPU players can also be used by competitive players to train when there isn’t a Wi-Fi connection available.

Direct Play features in this game, allowing two players with two Switch consoles to play against each other over a direct connection – no Wi-Fi needed. This is especially useful to those who want to have a social gaming element on the go, similar to that of the cable connector of the Gameboy.

Click here to read Bryan Turner review of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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Win Funko Fortnite in Vinyl

Gadget and Gammatek have nine Funko Fortnite figurines to give away.

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A Funko Pop figurine based on a character set is indicative of reaching the heights of pop culture. It is no surprise, then, that the world’s biggest online game, Fortnite, has its own line of Funko Pop figurines. The Funkos are modeled on the characters in game, including Drift, Ragnarok, Dark Vanguard, Volar, Tracera Ops, and Sparkle Specialist.

Now, local Funko distributor Gammatek has released the Fortnite figurines in South Africa. To celebrate, Gadget and Gammatek are giving away a set of three Funko Fortnite figurines to each of three readers (9 figurines in total). To enter, first click on your favourite Funko Pop on the next page and post the Tweet that appears. Then, follow Gadget on Twitter.

You can put the tweet in your own words, but entries must have the competition’s hashtag (#FunkoFortnite) and mention @GadgetZA to be considered valid.

Click here to select the Funko Fortnite character you want to tweet.

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