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New models complement existing pure touch edition of the LG G4

As usual, when it came to the unveiling of the LG G4 -- the fourth generation G Series flagship smartphone -- South Korea's LG Electronics Inc. (KRX:066570)(KRX:066575) opted for a late-spring unveil of its flagship smartphone in the Apr.-May window.  The later launch is wise as it allows LG to avoid going head to head with domestic rival Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935) and Taiwan's HTC Corp. (TPE:2498), who typically vie for attention with Android flagship launches in the Feb.-Mar. window.

I. LG G4 Rollout Roadmap -- June Will Likely Bring EU, U.S. Launches

While the timing may be well planned and the hardware upgrade modestly impressive, the buzz for the LG G4's rollout is a bit more sedate.  That's due to one factor outside the company's control -- Samsung's hot flagship models, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.  Much as last year's lacksadaisical Galaxy S5 fueled buzz to grow around the LG G3, the reverse holds true this year -- the ambitious, bold redesign of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are putting a dampener on the launch of the LG G4.

But more choice is always better, and for better or worse the LG G4 soldiers forth this week into the international marketplace.  In a Monday press release the phonemaker laid out a rough schedule of the rollout, commenting:

LG G4 will begin rolling out this week to consumers in key markets around the world, continuing throughout the month into June and beyond as more retailers and operators see what LG G4 has to offer their customers. Starting in Hong Kong, the G4 will follow with rollouts in Turkey, Russia and Singapore, eventually including most of Europe, North America, CIS, Southeast Asia, Middle East/Africa and South/Central America. Approximately 180 carriers and retails are already on board as G4 partners.

For North American and European customers, this means that you can expect shipments to arrive by mid-June (roughly).

LG G4
The LG G4 should arrive in the U.S. by mid-June.

One key selling point of the LG G4 is the inclusion of swappable batteries and a microSD external memory slot -- two Android staples that were controversially cut from the Galaxy S6.  If you want those features, for many customers the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge for all their technical and design merits will be out of the picture.  For those customers the competition may come down to the G4 versus HTC's new One M9.  The One M9 has microSD, but no swappable battery.  Thus for some, the LG G4 may be the best option in its flexibility.

II. Filling in The Mid-Range: The G4 Stylus and G4c Trot Out

To add a bit of a wrinkle to the equation, LG also announced two more upcoming models -- the LG G4c and G4 Stylus.  While the name may suggest these are close siblings of the flagship model, they're actually budget models, analogous to Samsung's Galaxy A Series.  The spec are seen below, courtesy of LG's press release:

G4 Stylus Key Specifications:
  • Chipset: 1.2GHz Quad-Core (LTE) / 1.4GHz Octa-Core (3G)
  • Display: 5.7-inch HD IPS (258ppi)
  • Memory: 1GB RAM / 8GB ROM (sic) (8 GB NAND Flash)/ microSD
  • Camera: Rear 13MP (LTE) or 8MP (3G) / Front 5MP
  • Battery: 3,000mAh (removable)
  • Operating System: Android 5.0 Lollipop 
  • Size: 154.3 x 79.2 x 9.6mm
  • Weight: 163g
  • Network: LTE / 3G
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n / Bluetooth 4.1 / NFC / A-GPS / Glonass / USB 2.0
  • Colors: Metallic Silver / Floral White
  • Other: Stylus Pen / Laser Auto Focus / Gesture Shot / Glance View / Knock Code™
LG G4
The LG G4 Stylus

G4c Key Specifications:
  • Chipset: 1.2GHz Quad-Core
  • Display: 5.0-inch HD IPS (294ppi)
  • Memory: 1GB RAM / 8GM ROM (sic) (8 GB NAND Flash) / microSD
  • Camera: Rear 8MP / Front 5MP
  • Battery: 2,540mAh (removable)
  • Operating System: Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Size: 139.7 x 69.8 x 10.2mm
  • Weight: 136g
  • Network: LTE
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b, g, n / Bluetooth 4.1 / NFC / A-GPS / Glonass / USB 2.0
  • Colors: Metallic Gray / Ceramic White / Shiny Gold
  • Other: Gesture Shot / Glance View / Knock Code™
LG G4c
The LG G4c

The G4 Stylus is effectively a slightly larger stylus-equipped competitor to the Samsung Galaxy A7.  It's bulkier, packs a lower resolution screen (720p/HD vs. full HD (FHD)/1080p on the A7), has half the storage/memory, and has a slower system-on-a-chip (SoC).  On the plus side the camera resolution stays the same, the battery is actually slightly beefier (3000 mAh vs. 2600 mAh in the A7), and the price point will almost assuredly be lower.

The LG G4c is very close the Samsung Galaxy A5 in spec.  It has shalf the memory and storage and a slightly lower resolution camera.  But otherwise is nearly identical with the same screen resolution and the same core speed.

The G4 Stylus and the G4c aren't the flashiest models out there, but they have the bare necessities of a 2015 smartphone.  The key question will be where they fall price-wise versus the Galaxy A Series and the deluge of cheap alternatives from China.

LG's Mobile CEO Juno Cho hints that his company will price the models aggressively, stating:

The G4 Stylus and G4c are perfect examples of what we mean by a premium smartphone experience without a premium price.  We are committed to offering consumers in fast-growing markets LG devices that not only deliver performance, but also look good while doing so. Both the G4 Stylus and G4c will surpass customers’ expectations of what an LG phone should be.

If there's one knock on these models it's that the decision to brand them as derivatives of the "G4" brand name muddles their niche somewhat.  By contrast Samsung offers a clear dilineation reserving the S Series for its premium models and A Series for its budget and midrange models.

Sources: LG Electronics [press release -- G4c/G4 Stylus], [press release -- G4 release schedule]





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