When it comes to Android phones, software has always been a hit or miss game. Some devices ship with software experiences that are polished, refined and honed to near perfection. Others can come with software that leaves us shocked that anyone approved it. With flagships, the software becomes as important as the hardware, as customers expect a high-quality experience in both areas.
The LG G4 has top-notch hardware, but its software is surprisingly average. I hesitate to call it bad, because it’s not. The software of the G4 is fast, fluid and quite complete. Yet it’s not something that leaves you with a feeling of having used great software. Instead, it feels like software that would be more at home on a good mid-range device.
In the past, LG has always placed a heavy emphasis on animations and having plenty of options for them. That approach hasn’t changed with the G4. The UI is still heavy on animations, feeling almost gaudy at times. While animations are a very good thing when used properly, LG has taken the great animations from stock Android Lollipop and added onto them with their own animations that don’t mesh well.
Blending is large part of the problem with the LG G4′s software. LG has worked to incorporate elements of Android’s material design but has also placed its own fairly heavy skin on top. Together, the two create a lukewarm experience that feels unsure of itself. The notification tray, for example, features the same second swipe down for quick settings, yet the selection tray for quick settings looks like it’s straight out of LG’s KitKat UI on the G3.
The app menu is another area that feels stuck in the past, with LG still incorporating the widget menu as a tab in the app menu, something that was noticeably dropped in Lollipop. Many of LG’s apps feature elements of material design, such as the floating action button, but they’ve been tweaked in a way that makes them extremely middle of the road, not leaning too far towards being custom or stock.
Middle of the road is a good way to describe the software on the G4. When LG created it, it seems as though the company was split on how to advance the design from KitKat to Lollipop. That in mind, it drew elements from both and put them together into a software that doesn’t quite feel new, but isn’t polished enough to pull off that classic feel that other UIs like HTC Sense have.
LG played it safe with the software on the G4, which turned out to be the wrong move. With last year’s G3, LG completely revamped its software to create something that was far better than its past attempts. To keep its momentum up, LG needs to keep experimenting. It needs to keep taking risks. A functional software only counts for so much if its looks are lacking.
Check out some screenshots below.