Going for fashion, display tech and camera prowess, LG launches its G4 phone

It hard to stand out from the crowd of new smartphones. LG thinks it can do so with leather backing, better low-light camera performance and an improved display on the G4.

After leaking images and details over the past few weeks, LG finally launched its new G4 flagship phone on Tuesday at a press event in New York City.

The Android 5.1 smartphone is ready to challenge Apple, Samsung and others with a focus on the camera experience, improved display and fashionable design elements including an all-leather option.

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The 16-megapixel camera sensor and lens of the G4 are surely a main selling point. With a f/1.8 aperture, low light photos should be a snap. LG has revamped its camera software all well, now offering full DSLR-like controls for total control of ISO, shutter speed, white balance and more. Pictures can be saved in RAW file format, even on an optional microSD card. LG boosted the front-facing camera as well, using an 8-megapixel sensor for selfies and the like.

A laser auto-focus system, similar to the one in last year's model, is also present, focusing in 0.276 seconds, says LG. The G4 has optical image stabilization -- now with Z-axis support -- and a color spectrum sensor to assist with proper color reproduction for images.

Of course, you'll want to look at those photos and LG says it has best in class screen on the G4. The 5.5-inch display has the same high resolution as its predecessor -- 2560 x 1440 -- but uses Quantum IPS tech, allowing for more screen brightness and higher contrast. The color reproduction is excellent, says LG: It meets 98 percent of the Digital Cinema Initiative, compared to the iPhone 6 which measures in at 80 percent, LG has told CNET.

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Inside is a 1. 8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, an six-core system on a chip with improved call quality and an LTE radio capable of 450 Mbps download speeds. The removable battery has a 3,000 mAh capability, which ought to get most people through a full day of work and play. Internal storage is 32GB and the phone has 3GB of memory.

LG is clearly trying to set its new phone apart in the looks department. Buyers can choose one of three finishes: hammered metal, ceramic or all leather.

It's nice to see something besides a rectangular metal slab on the market; Motorola did the same in 2013 with its MotoMaker program. You can't customize a G4 as much as you can with Moto X, but it's a step forward in terms of overall design.

The company has also revamped its software which sits on top of Google Android. Notifications are smartly grouped while the calendar app got an overhaul and pulls in events from various sources such as email and messages. Google's productivity apps are pre-installed -- Docs, Sheets, and Drive, for example -- and the phone comes with 100GB of free Google Drive storage space for two years.

LG didn't announce pricing, which is generally left up to the carriers in the U.S. I'd expect all of them to start chiming in with their specific launch plans, dates and costs later this week, if not today.

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