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LG V30+ First Impressions: The audiophile’s smartphone of choice

The LG V30+ might be the by-product of LG’s manufacturing tie-up with Google for the Pixel 2 XL, but it sticks to the formula that has made the V-range successful.

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Highlights

  • The LG V30+ is priced at Rs 44,990.

  • It comes with an 18:9 QHD+ screen, and Snapdragon 835 SoC.

  • It appeals to audiophiles with its 32-bit quad DAC and 3.5mm jack.

LG’s flagship smartphone strategy has been incredibly confusing over the last few years. From betting big on modular devices in 2016 with the G5 only to ditch the concept within months, to having the parallel V range that’s a bit more flagship than the typical flagship. There’s really no telling what LG will do next. The V range itself has seen radical changes in the three generations of its existence, and the newly launched V30+ is radically different from its predecessors.

While the LG V10 and V20 had secondary ‘ticker’ screens right above the primary display, the Rs 44,990 V30+ is more typical of the biggest trend in smartphones today – the 18:9 screen. It appears that the LG V30+ takes a lot of inspiration from the Google Pixel 2 XL, which was incidentally manufactured for Google by LG itself. Is this just an LG-branded Pixel 2 XL then? Or is there more to it? We’ve had a chance to play around with the phone, and here’s what we think.

It’s light

Before we get into the specifics, let me just clear out the naming convention here. While the phone might be marketed as the LG V30 in some markets, the version in India is the V30+. That is to say, you’re getting the variant with 128GB of internal storage instead of 64GB, while RAM remains the same at 4GB. That difference aside, the LG V30+ and the V30 are the same smartphone.

Moving on to design, there are some striking similarities to the Google Pixel 2 XL at the front. This includes the thick borders around the screen, the rounded corners and edges and of course, the LG-developed 6-inch QHD+ P-OLED screen that is common to the V30+ and the Pixel 2 XL. The LG V30+ does actually manage to trim the non-screen space a bit better though, and you get a higher screen-to-body ratio as a result. The screen is great on the face of it, but the infamous blue tint issue that’s associated with the P-OLED screen makes a comeback.

The phone is also incredibly light for a large-screen smartphone, weighing 158 grams. This is thanks to the use of glass at the back, while only the frame is light-weight aluminum. The back of the phone is radically different from the Pixel 2 XL, and here’s where you see the trademark LG touches in play. LG’s dual-camera setup is at the back just above the fingerprint sensor, with the flash and laser auto-focus emitters alongside.

Another signature touch is the power button doubling up as the fingerprint sensor. It’s confusing and a bit inconvenient to have the power button at the back when the phone is laying on a surface, but it’s convenient when you’re pulling your phone out of your pocket or holding it. You can of course double-tap to wake the screen as well.

Just like on the Apple iPhone X and OnePlus 5T, the LG V30+ sees face unlock as a security feature. As is the case with the OnePlus 5T, it isn’t quite as well-developed and capable as Face ID on the iPhone X, but it does work in most conditions and is quick and accurate enough. You can, of course, use the fingerprint sensor as well.

Quad DAC for audiophiles

LG’s flagship smartphones have for some time now touted enhanced audio capabilities, and a tie-up with Bang and Olufsen shows that LG wants to woo buyers who are looking for superior audio output from their phones. And while an alarming number of smartphone makers are dropping the 3.5mm jack, LG continues to not only retain it, but promote and enhance it with technology.

The LG V30+ comes with a 32-bit/384kHz-compatible high-resolution quad digital-analogue converter (DAC) built into the phone. The 3.5mm jack is at the top, and when you plug wired headphones in, you can activate and control the DAC and tweak the sound as you like. This includes negative sensitivity tweaks to the balance, a digital filter that modifies the sonic signature, and presets for boosting detail, bass, and more. You can deactivate it even while headphones are plugged in. However, in the short time I’ve used the phone, I’ve found sound to be significantly better with the sonic tweaks, and the quality of the DAC itself does make a difference to the quality of the sound from the phone.

Camera

One of the touted features of the LG V30+ is its camera. While we haven’t comprehensively tested it yet, initial results are positive. Images are detailed, with good color and excellent focus and composure. You also get the wide-angle camera setup that LG has used on its flagship smartphones for the last couple of years. This lets you shoot interesting wide shots by making use of both cameras.

(Camera samples shot on the LG V30+, including a wide-angle shot compared to a similar shot without wide-angle on)

You don’t get optical zoom or portrait mode as is the case with dual-camera setups on other phones, but you do get some interesting tweaks, including manual controls for video and 360-degree panorama. The wide-angle mode itself is as good as it’s always been, and it seems that LG has benefited from its work with Google to develop a camera that can potentially be among the better ones we’ve seen on a flagship this year.

Final thoughts

The LG V30+ looks and feels like a Pixel 2 XL, but costs significantly less. It’s got the same level of power and capability, and smart pricing means that it can be a strong competitor in the premium space. There’s promise on a couple of fronts as well, with the camera and audio output definitely among the better results we’ve seen. Even if the V30+ doesn’t do too well, it certainly has what it takes to be a niche champion in these segments. We will be bringing you the full review of the LG V30+ in the coming days, so stay tuned.

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  • Published Date: December 13, 2017 12:56 PM IST