When it comes to premium smartphones, LG is not the brand that easily makes it to the top of the list. The company’s latest flagship smartphone ‘G6’ tries to change that as it competes with the likes of Samsung Galaxy S8, Google Pixel and Apple’s iPhone 7 among others. Successor to last year’s G5, the all new LG G6 sees a drastic change in terms of design, display technology, cameras and more.
While the Google Pixel and the Apple iPhone 7 are relatively old, the main competition is new between the LG G6 and Galaxy S8. Both smartphones feature taller displays with new aspect ratio, better cameras, water and dust resistant features, and Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box. Last year’s G5 with the semi-modular concept didn’t quite work in LG’s favor, and the South Korean giant will be looking forward to put it behind its back, and carry on with the G6. But has LG done enough to ensure that the G6 can come on top of its competitors? After using the G6 for a week, here’s my detailed review.
LG G6: Design
The G6 represents a big change in LG’s strategy after the G5 failed to appeal the masses. Not that the semi-modular concept was wrong, but the problem was with modules. The modules are expensive, they do not add overall value to product, and don’t even create a need among buyers. Putting it all behind, the G6 appears to be LG’s clean slate protocol.
The LG G6 sports a premium design with metal frame and glass back, it clearly doesn’t look that appealing when placed besides the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+. The front is dominated with a 5.7-inch display fitted in a body of a 5.2-inch phone. In short, you get a tall display with larger screen real estate in a compact form factor. It is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection. Unlike the Galaxy S8 that has curved edges on both sides, resulting in near bezel-less display, the G6 does have thin bezels. Also, unlike other smartphones the top and bottom bezels are bare minimal resulting in a larger screen-to-body ratio. ALSO READ: Samsung Galaxy S8+ Review: It’s glorious, but with some caveats
The chassis is made from metal with chamfered edges, and it is sandwiched between front and rear glass. When you first look at the back, you can see a layer of brushed aluminium, giving you an impression of being a metal, but it is only when you hold it, you realize that the metal is under the glass. The surprising bit here is LG’s use of Gorilla Glass 5 protection at the back, rather than using it at the front.
The antenna bands can be seen on the top and side edges. Talking about ports, the 3.5mm audio jack is placed on the top, whereas the USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer is placed at the bottom. The volume buttons are placed on the left edge, whereas the SIM card tray is placed on the right. The power / sleep button which also works as a fingerprint sensor is placed at the back, just below the dual camera module. The sensor is accurate and unlocks the smartphone in seconds.
LG G6: FullVision Display
Until now, the battle was about the screen size and resolution, but since the launch of Xiaomi Mi MIX, the while complexion has changed. Now, manufacturers are looking forward to pack larger, taller displays in the compact form factor. They do this by trimming down the top and bottom, and side bezels. LG G6 packs a 5.7-inch QHD+ FullVision display running at a resolution of 2880×1440pixels and a new aspect ratio of 18:9.
It is an IPS LCD panel with pixel density of 564ppi. The display is bright enough to offer good legibility, even under harsh sunlight. Viewing angles are good and colors look punchy too, but not as good as AMOLED displays. Support for Dolby Vision and HDR10 is a good addition, unfortunately, there isn’t enough HDR content yet. I had some HDR demo clips to play, and the screen just looked great. Now when I switch back to my phone with a full HD display, it just feels like a big downgrade. The ‘Always On’ display which we saw on the G5 is also present here, and information such as time, day and date, notifications and alarms.
The new, tall display is good, but there is one minor problem for now. While you can enjoy watching movies and music videos in 18:9 aspect ratio, apps on the Play Store aren’t well optimized to scale to this ratio. Yes, LG has added an option under Settings > Display > App Scaling, where you can manually select apps and run them in compatibility mode, standard and full resolution. It is a software based tweak that zooms the app screen, but most often you’ll notice black bands along the top and bottom. ALSO READ: Ok Google, your Pixel smartphones are impressive
LG G6: Specifications
At the heart of LG G6 runs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 quad-core SoC, which is now over eight months old. Some users may criticize LG for using an older chipset when newer smartphones such as the Galaxy S8 and Xiaomi Mi 6 are powered by Snapdragon 835 octa-core SoC that is built on 10nm fabrication process. Not that the Snapdragon 821 SoC built on 14nm process is bad, it is the flagship chipset from last year that is powering the likes of OnePlus 3T, Google Pixel and Pixel XL among others. However, using an older chipset that has already become obsolete may seem like a bummer for some.
The chipset is paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB on-board storage. The G6 supports dual SIM card functionality with a hybrid card tray, allowing you to use two nano SIM cards or a SIM card and a microSD card. Connectivity options on the smartphone include Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, GPS, 4G along with support for VoLTE.
LG G6: UI
The smartphone ships with Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box, along with LG’s full-screen UX running on top. You get all the goodies of Nougat such as split-screen multi-window mode, bundled notifications, the ability to reply right from notifications and more. Unlike the earlier custom UI skins that we have seen on LG smartphones, the one on the G6 is very neat and clean.
The UI is well optimized for smooth performance, and throughout my usage, I never came across any lag. There is one thing though, unlike the previous iterations, this time, LG has chosen to go with a single layer interface, meaning there is no app drawer and all the installed apps appear on the home screens. Sliding to right from left on the home screen reveals LG’s Smart Bulletin where you have data from LG Health App, Calendar alerts, music player shortcut and a quick shortcut for Evernote app.
Talking about pre-installed apps, you get all the Google apps suite such as Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Goggle Drive, Play Music, Duo video calling app, Google Photos, Docs, Sheets and Slides. Besides these, you also get Facebook, Instagram and Evernote pre-installed.
LG has also included an app called Smart Doctor where you get information related to internal storage, memory used (RAM), battery usage and more. You can also test hardware components if they are working properly and a ‘diagnose’ option where it looks for apps that are draining the battery and give you an option to stop them right away.
LG G6: Performance
The G6 is a powerhouse performer, and I didn’t face any issues during day-to-day use. Be it multitasking between more than five apps, playing games or browsing on Chrome with about 10 tabs open, the G6 never ran into any hiccups. Casual games such as Temple Run and Subway Surfers run smoothly, and the same goes with graphics intense games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne, N.O.V.A and more. However, after playing games for about 10 minutes at a stretch, the back of the device tends to get a little warm.
LG has also worked on the audio chops with built-in support for a 32-bit Quad DAC for superior audio performance when listening to music on Hi-Fi headphones. The bundled headphones sound good with crisp, clear audio and medium base. On using slightly better and expensive monitoring headphones, the audio sounds even better, but it is not something that could please the audiophiles. LG has also included equalizer presets for those who want to tweak the audio experience, and it works pretty well. What’s more, the LG G6 also comes with APT-X codec for compatible Bluetooth headphones. I used the Moto Buds and LG Tone Active+ Bluetooth headphones, and the audio quality on both phones was simply amazing.
LG G6: Cameras
The camera is an important aspect of smartphones today, and companies are now adding dual lenses to get the most. Just like the G5, the LG G6 also comes with dual rear cameras, one for taking standard photos and the other for taking wide angle photos. Both cameras are 13-megapixel sensors – one is a wide-angle lens with field of view of 125-degrees, and the other is standard lens with field of view of 71-degrees, aperture f/1.8 and support for OIS.
The camera app is pretty neat and clean, when holding in portrait mode, the left edge has quick toggles for modes, filters, flash and to switch between front and rear cameras. LG has also added some interesting modes to the camera app, such as a food mode, grid shot, and a 360-degree panorama mode.
I tested the camera in different lighting conditions and the quality is on par with what you would expect from a flagship smartphones. It may not the best smartphone camera, but it surely offers good results. Colors look nice and the dynamic range is also pretty good. Low light photos are also decent and there is nothing to complain here. Below are some sample shots taken in standard mode.
One problem I had with last year’s G5 was that the secondary wide-angle camera has low resolution compared to the main camera. Due to this, the standard photo looked good, but the wide-angle photos looked grainy and dull. The same is not the case this time around, thanks to using a high-resolution camera. Below are some samples of the same photos from above, but shot in wide-angle mode.
The close-up shots also look nice with accurate color capture and nice depth of field effect. Food shots also look good, with ample amount of details. Check out the samples below.
For selfie lovers, a 5-megapixel front-facing snapper of aperture f/2.2 is also present. Daylight selfies look in ample sunlight look good with accurate skin tones.
The ones shot indoors under well-lit conditions, look decent, but with minor graininess. LG has also included standard and wide-angle mode with field of view of 100-degree, and it works quite well too. Low light selfies look just bearable. Below are some standard and wide-angle selfies captured on the G6.
LG G6: Battery Life
To keep things ticking, the LG G6 is armed with a 3,300mAh battery with support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology that can fully charge the smartphone in about an-hour-and-forty minutes. Now, as the smartphone has a 5.7-inch QHD display with support for HDR10, I was worried about the battery life. But surprisingly, the battery life turned out to be pretty good, even with the ‘Always On’ display turned on all the time.
With moderate usage, the battery would last the entire working day with screen-on-time of a little over four hours. Typical usage included some social networking, 4G / Wi-Fi connected throughout, phone calls for over an hour-and-a-half, listening to music over Bluetooth headset for three hours and a smartwatch connected all the time. On a more controlled usage, I charged the device on Friday night, and by the end of Sunday night, the phone had about five percent battery still left.
The G6 is clearly LG’s one of the best Android smartphones till date, at least compared to the G2, G3, G5 and G-Flex that I have reviewed before. It comes with a good premium design, but falls flat in front of the Galaxy S8. The tall FullVision display with HDR10 and Dolby Vision is a good addition. Things like water and dust resistance, good camera performance, DAC for superior audio performance and battery life are clearly things going in its favor.
However, the use of older chipset will be a turn off for many prospective buyers. The fact that the Galaxy S8 costs just six thousand more, looks gorgeous and comes with slightly better hardware Is likely to get more people inclined to it. There are other premium options like the iPhone 7 and Google Pixel to choose from too. Overall, the LG G6 is not a bad phone at all, it’s just that it is likely to get overshadowed by the Galaxy S8.