That was the same week LG’s largest Android phone competitors – Samsung and Huawei – launched their own flagship phones: the Galaxy S8/S8+ and P10/P10 PLUS respectively. One came equipped with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor while the other forges ahead with a camera that it co-branded with Leica.
If LG is rattled by the competition, they are certainly not showing it. This despite the fact that the heat is on for the company to produce a smashing one hit wonder to make up for the time/marketshare it lost with the previous modular flagship phone – the G5.
In the hour long interaction, LG took the time to explain several design decisions it has taken with the G6 (“Why doesn’t it have the Snapdragon 835?”, “Why did they use 2 different versions on Corning Gorilla glass?”) and demo-ed several key features in aid of this review. I was then provided with a Korean unit of the LG G6 (with English UI thankfully) to give an unbiased review of the phone. The Korean G6 is very similar to the Singapore version except that it only supports a single SIM card and comes pre-loaded with an array of Korean apps.
Below is my take of the LG G6.
LG G6 – The big screen that fits in your hand
There are many things to be said of LG as a phone manufacturer but one thing that can’t be said of the company is that it doesn’t try. If branding is about being consistent in an area, LG has successfully positioned itself as an innovator in the mobile arena.
With each iteration of its G-series, LG has always introduced purposeful and differentiated features that reinvented the wheel in some ways. We saw the first 1440p display and infrared hybrid autofocus in the G3, the hand-crafted leather back casing and wideangle lens on the G4 and finally, the modularity of the G5. While arguably each had varied degree of success, it’s safe to say that LG’s flagship phones are always one that is widely anticipated by the Android community.
With the latest G6, LG has gone back to basics to what it does best: building a solid Android phone, this time without the frills we have seens in the other G-series phone. LG said that the G6 was a re-think of the smartphone and the result of a study they have done with smartphone users on what people are looking for in a phone.
See more, hold less
Holding the G6, the first thing that strikes me was how small the phone is despite the larger screen size. At 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm, the phone is about the same size as the iphone 7 or Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge but with a bigger screen (5.7″ vs 5.5″). That itself is an amazing feat. Basically you’re getting a screen that is larger than the iphone 7 Plus’ in a form factor that fits right into the palm of your hands. Switching from the iphone 7 plus for this review, I have to emphasize on how liberating it is to be able to operate the smartphone with just one hand.
The display is also super immersive. The 5.7″ Quad HD+ IPS LCD screen has a resolution of 1440 x 2880 pixels with rounded corners and is almost bezel-less. Instead of the usual 16:9 screen aspect that are used in most phones, the LG G6 as a 18:9 screen ratio that gives you a larger display in a small device with an 80% body to screen ratio. As not many apps or videos are filmed natively in 18:9 format, LG does provide an app scaling function under the display settings for you to upscale apps like Netflix, Spotify and GoPro’s Capture app to utilize the additional screen real estate.
While the LG G6 does not pack a 4K screen, it is the first smartphone in the world to support Dolby Vision HDR. This new standard promises vibrant cinematic display right on the screen of your mobile devices. There are not many Dolby Vision content available now, but Netflix and Amazon have committed to content supporting Dolby Vision HDR moving forward.
Everyone I showed the LG G6 to commented on how bright and vibrant the display is. The rounded corners are a nice touch that really grows on you and once you are accustomed to the bazel-less design, its hard to use a phone with one.
Internally, the G6 is powered by the Snapdragon 821 processor – an upgraded version of the chipset that was used in LG’s previous G5 smartphone which was launched a year ago. Many have taken issue with the company for using an older chipset in its newest smartphone especially when the Galaxy S8 and S8+ would ship with a Snapdragon 835.
While rumor has it that Samsung has hoarded the initial supply of Snapdragon 835 (which would have delayed the launch of the G6 by several months later), LG said that it already have intensive knowledge of implementing and optimising the 821 processor in its smartphone and was confident that the G6 will perform as well or even better than any other flagship Android smartphones.
LG could very well be right. I have used the G6 for the past few weeks intensively and never was performance the issue. Camera was snappy, there wasn’t any lag when switch between apps and the phone stayed cool even when running multiple apps in the background. Like most Android phones, the LG G6 also has a pre-installed Smart Doctor in its menu to optimise the phone and battery performance so that your phone stays in tip top condition.
Built for life’s adventures
The G6 is also LG’s first smartphone that is water and dust resistant with an IP68 rating. This means that you can submerge the phone underwater to a depth of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. The front of the displayed is covered by a layer of Gorilla Glass 3 while the back is protected by the latest Gorilla Glass 5. LG says that the back of a phone is more prone to scratches and thus using a stronger glass in the G6 while most screen would already be protected by a screen protector or cover.
Being water-resistant also meant that LG had to replace the removable battery that we have seen in our G-series phone with a 3,300 mAh non-removable one. I know many LG fans would be disappointed by this change but seriously, it’s just like the ex we all thought we can’t live without and eventually did. The removable battery moved on and so should we. (If it’s any consolation, at least the microSD expansion slot is still included.)
To make this change a little more bearable, the G6 supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 standard that promises half a day’s usage with just 30 minutes of charging. The caveat is that you have to utilize the quick charge USB adapter that comes with the phone. Based on my own test, the LG G6 goes from 0% to 49% with a 30-min charge – which is pretty decent for those last minute charges before heading out.
Personally, I would consider myself a heavy smartphone user – constantly switching between the various social media and messaging apps to even watching YouTube and Netflix. Overall, the LG G6’s battery last around 12.5 hours on a single charge. While I’m sure i will be able to squeeze more juice out of the phone by dimming the screen (I usually have it on at 60%) but what’s the point of having a great looking screen and not maximizing it?
Capture the big picture
With the G6, LG has continued its heritage of packing dual rear cameras with wide-angle lens. The cameras and flash are now flushed completely to the body with the fingerprint scanner/power button just below it.
The dual rear cameras consist of a 13MP 71 degrees standard angle lens (f/1.8 with optical image stabilisation and phase detection auto focus and optical zoom), another 13MP 125 degrees wide-angle lens (f/2.4) that lets you capture more in a single shot. If you’re into recording your own vlog or holiday videos, the camera records up to 3840 x 2160 4K ultra HD videos and Steady Record 2.0 for smoother, clearer videos on the move.
On the front is a 5MP, 82 degrees wide-angle lens (f/2.2) that is capable of recording full HD 1080p videos. Besides some nifty new camera features like the the selfie light, beauty shot and gesture view (which shows you a preview mode when phone is lowered), LG also kept most of the useful functions we saw previously in the G5 like the gesture and auto shot. Simply make a fist to have your selfie taken or twice to have it taken four times.
True to the G-series tagline of “Life’s good when you play more”, LG has included a fun square camera options that comes with four camera modes: Snap shot, Grid shot, Match shot, Guide shot. LG says that this makes the G6 an “instagram-friendly” phone but i’m not sure if it would be such a deal breaker for consumers considering the fact that Instagram has already moved on beyond the square format.
But having tried it myself, I guess I could see the appeal in the square camera. Imagine 4 x selfies instead of one or 4 x food shots instead of one or damn it, a perfectly aligned GIF of the dishes at last night’s dinner!
Snap shot shows you a preview of the photo that you have just taken without leaving the camera mode, really useful for those multiple shots images (previously taken shot on the right).
Guide shot lets you create great composition with an overlay on top of your camera’s live view to allow you to perfectly frame your image for those creative GIF images (yes, the phone has a built-in GIF creator).
Match Shot combine two photos allowing you to create some creative snapshot (which according to the pictures below, i have totally no creativity).
Will LG’s latest smartphone fly like a G6?
With the G6, LG is playing it safe with its flagship device of the year … which really isn’t a bad thing. Considering that its previous bets on innovations haven’t paid off as handsomely as it hoped for, the G6 is basically the accumulation of everything the company has done right in its previous smartphones and more.
The LG G6 is the best looking smartphone that the company has ever produced, one that makes switching over to Android a very attractive one. With its large bezel-less screen, water-resistant body and high performance camera, it seemed that LG has finally uncovered what modern phone users really want. It’s arguably one of the best Android phone in the market for entertainment (18:9 Quad HD screen and Quad DAC) and social media (wide-angle lens, 4k video and square camera).
While some might call it boring, to me, the G6 is LG’s coming of age as a progressive smartphone manufacturer. After years of living life on the wild side, it has finally produced a phone that appeals to the masses, is feature-rich and efficient – a phone that perhaps we all want to settle down with eventually.
The LG G6 will be available in Singapore on 14 April 2017 at all major telcos. Every purchase of the LG G6 from an authorised LG reseller will receive a free flip case worth S$58 and also an extended 12-month warranty.
Additional telco deals:
|Get a Free LG 43" 4K UHD TV worth S$1388 when you complete your Singtel Circle with a LG G6 purchase (Combo 3 & above) and recontract or subscribe to Singtel Fibre Broadband or TV||Sign up for a 2-year HomeHub Go 1Gbps plan with LG G6 and receive a FREE LG 43” 4K UHD TV worth S$1388.||Enjoy up to S$200 off LG G6 when you sign up for selected Fibre broadband and mobile plans at the same time.|
Special thanks to LG Mobile Singapore for the review unit.