The LG V30+ is priced at Rs 44,990.
The smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC and has a 6-inch QHD+ P-OLED screen.
The quad DAC in the phone ensures excellent audio output with wired headphones.
Smartphones have taken big leaps forward in 2017, with brands such as Apple, Samsung, OnePlus and Xiaomi leading the way in terms of innovation and improvements. One brand that hasn’t had a very good year would be LG. While the LG G6 was a good phone, it couldn’t quite compete with the sheer quality on offer from the competition. Multiple price cuts later, the LG G6 still can’t compete with the likes of OnePlus, Honor and others.
However, LG has followed a system of two flagship smartphones a year for a couple of years now, similar to how Samsung has both the ‘S’ series and Note series. For LG, the second flagship is the ‘V’ series, and this year’s variant is the V30+. Launched in India at Rs 44,990, the LG V30+ borrows a lot of inspiration from the Google Pixel 2 XL, thanks to LG’s manufacturing agreement for the larger Google flagship. We review to find out if the LG V30+ has what it takes to bring LG back to the flagship game.
LG V30+ Design
The biggest common factor between the LG V30+ and the Google Pixel 2 XL is the screen. Both phones use the same display, which is the LG-developed 6-inch QHD+ P-OLED screen. With distinctly rounded corners, and relatively thick borders around the screen, this ensures that the LG V30+ looks a lot like the Google Pixel 2 XL at the front. However, while the Pixel 2 XL has notably thicker non-screen space at the top and bottom, the V30+ slims this to barely anything. As a result, I’m of the opinion that it’s an excellent looking phone at the front.
The screen itself is good for the most part, and is arguably a bit better than the Google Pixel 2 XL when it comes to punch and brightness. While the color tuning on the Pixel is geared towards accuracy, the LG V30+ offers a more punchy and vibrant outlook, taking better advantage of the OLED screen. The tones can be tweaked as well, but I found the ordinary tuning to be fine. Unfortunately, the notorious blue tint that is associated with P-OLED screens is still plainly visible and bothersome.
There are some display tweaks possible, all of which are useful and a welcome addition to the software. Apart from the blue-light filter, you can also tweak the display resolution, app scaling and icon display size. You also get the always-on display mode, which gives you some useful information on the screen without needing to wake or unlock the phone.
The back of the phone is radically different from the Pixel 2 XL, thanks to the liberal use of glass. While the device’s frame is metal, the rear panel has a shiny coating of glass, while the logos, camera module and general look is unmistakably LG. The fingerprint sensor at the back is built into the power button, so you won’t find that at its more typical position on the right or at the top. It’s a decent looking phone on the whole, and is also incredibly light for a flagship smartphone with this form factor.
I’m not really a fan of the power button’s positioning, since it means you must lift the phone everytime you want to use it. Waking the phone is easy enough with a double-tap or lift-to-wake gesture, but I’d still prefer a traditional power button positioning. The volume buttons are on the left, the SIM tray is on the right, the USB Type-C port and speaker grille are at the bottom and the 3.5mm jack is at the top. The LG V30+ is IP68 water resistant and has a hybrid dual-SIM slot, both of which will go a long way in establishing and boosting the phone’s flagship credentials.
While other top manufacturers are trying to and succeeding at doing away with the 3.5mm jack, LG continues to sport it proudly. The LG V30+ is targeted at audiophiles and headphone enthusiasts, thanks to its quad-DAC and audio tuning features built into the software. The promise of this is to boost the quality of audio from your phone to your headphones, and the 3.5mm jack is an integral part of this setup. I’ve spoken in detail about audio performance further down in this review.
LG V30+ Specifications
The LG G6 was a good phone with good specifications, but its biggest shortcoming was in its SoC. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 while launching in 2017 was perhaps the worst decision a flagship smartphone maker could make. Sure, supply of the Snapdragon 835 wasn’t enough when the G6 was launched, but then perhaps April wasn’t the best time to launch the LG G6. The LG V30+ doesn’t make the same mistakes.
Worth noting at this point is that there are two variants of the phone, but the only difference is the internal storage, and the variant with more storage has been launched in India. The LG V30 comes with 64GB of internal storage, while the V30+ comes with 128GB. Apart from the adequate internal storage, the phone comes with 4GB of RAM and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC. There’s also a 3,300mAh battery with support for fast charging. The only disappointing part of the spec-sheet is that the phone has been launched with Android Nougat out of the box. LG isn’t known for its quick software updates, but the V30+ will likely be the first smartphone from LG to receive Android Oreo when it does.
As with the trend started with the Apple iPhone X and OnePlus 5T, the LG V30+ comes with face unlock. You can, of course, choose to use the fingerprint sensor for biometric security, but face unlock adds to your ability to securely unlock your phone. The face unlock model must be trained once, but can be retrained when conditions change, such as a change of facial hair or wearing prescription eyeglasses.
However, the retraining model can also be used to feed in a new face entirely, and the phone will unlock if it sees that face. It’s a bothersome flaw, admittedly, but it can also be used to allow a trusted person to input biometric details, similar to feeding in fingerprint details. Face unlock is incredibly quick though, as is unlocking the phone with the fingerprint sensor. Face unlock will let you directly go to the home screen with a double-tap or pressing the power button, while the phone can see your face. Activating lift-to-wake can make this even quicker, doing away with the need to knock to wake the device. It works quickly enough in good light, but low-light situations where the camera can’t clearly see your face will need you to revert to the fingerprint sensor.
LG V30+ Software and Audio
As mentioned, the LG V30+ comes with Android Nougat out of the box. The LG V20 launched last year with Android Nougat and was one of the first devices to sport the new version of Android, giving it a significant advantage over the competition. This year, LG has been unable to have the phone ready with Android Oreo at launch, which is disappointing to say the least.
LG’s user interface has undergone small tweaks, but is still unfortunately among the less intuitive of the manufacturer options available today. While the welcome option to switch between a single-layered and dual-layered interface remains, the general look and feel still feels a bit overcooked. There are customisations for the sake of customizing, rather than to offer users any real advantage. The settings menu is cluttered, the quick settings bar doesn’t offer too much in the form of customization and feels cluttered as well, and you simply can’t eliminate elements that you may not want or use. Most system widgets and apps are also average at best when it comes to design and features.
There are customisations for the sake of customizing, rather than to offer users any real advantage
While the LG V10 and V20 had the distinct secondary ‘ticker’ display right above the main screen, the 18:9 aspect ratio and design of the V30+ means that the ticker has gone. This isn’t something I’m the slightest bit upset about; I’ve always considered the ticker a gimmick. But because LG needs to look back to some of its poorer decisions, the ‘ticker’ returns as a software feature. Called the ‘floating bar’ you can activate this through the settings and configure shortcuts screen capture settings, contacts and music controls here. You would still need to unlock the phone to use it, but it’s an interesting enough software feature that could be useful to a lot of users.
Perhaps the only good system app is the music player. As an audio-centric smartphone, the LG V30+ and its music player support a variety of high-resolution audio formats, including DSD, FLAC and more, over and above regular compressed audio formats such as MP3. With a pair of headphones connected into the headphone jack, you also get direct access to the Hi-Fi DAC settings through the music player app itself. Tracks are sorted by songs, artists, albums and genres, and the DSD format gets special treatment with distinct badges.
The DAC settings give you a decent amount of control over the audio, including balance settings, a digital filter, sound presets to tweak the sonic signature and a direct volume control. The quad DAC can only be used when headphones are connected; when sound is playing through the phone’s speaker, you don’t have control over these settings. With Bluetooth audio, you would be bypassing the DAC altogether of course.
Audio output from the LG V30+ to wired headphones is audibly better than what I’ve heard on other smartphones. I used the 1More Triple Driver headphones with the phone during the review, and I was impressed with the sound, as well as the ability of the quad DAC to tweak the sound to your requirements without you needing to fiddle around with equalizer settings. If you listen to a lot of music on your smartphone or have a lot of headphones that you like to use in rotation, investing in the LG V30+ could well be worth it for you.
LG V30+ Performance and Battery
With the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 under the hood, the LG V30+ is a capable performer. Just like on other flagship smartphones such as the OnePlus 5T, performance and battery life are at absolutely optimal levels. During my time with the phone, I found everything to function exactly as a top-end phone should. However, while the 4GB of RAM is adequate for now, in the long run it could prove to fall short. But when I say long run, I mean a matter of two years or more. So for the time being, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
Whether it’s gaming, videos, multi-tasking or web surfing with multiple tabs open, the LG V30+ doesn’t disappoint. It’s a powerful phone that performs as it should. Battery life is decent as well, easily running for a full day on a single charge. Gaming, multi-tasking and intensive tasks don’t impact the battery too heavily, with the phone able to properly prioritize battery usage.
LG V30+ Camera
Dual-camera setups on smartphones are all the rage right now, and LG has the distinct advantage of having been in the game since 2016 with the LG G5. However, while most smartphone makers use dual-camera setups to offer portrait mode or lossless zoom, LG has used its second camera sensor to offer wide-angle shots. I’ve quite enjoyed having the ability to shoot wide-angle shots, as it gives you a larger framing area. While wide-angle shots typically also include the warping at the edges, it isn’t too bad on the V30+.
The actual camera setup uses a 16-megapixel primary sensor and 13-megapixel secondary sensor for wide-angle shooting. The primary sensor boasts of an aperture of f/1.6, which should theoretically allow for more light to enter the sensor. Realistically, low-light shots were on par with what we’ve seen on the OnePlus 5T. The Google Pixel 2 duo, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and 2017’s Apple iPhones still do a better job with low-light photography. The phone can record video at up to 4K resolution, while the front camera is a 5-megapixel shooter. You also get 3-axis OIS for the 16-megapixel sensor and hybrid autofocus for pictures taken with the rear-camera setup.
(Camera samples shot with the LG V30+)
There are also some interesting software-based photography modes, which let you take pictures and videos that are a bit different. There is a mode that allows manual settings even while recording video, which isn’t offered by any of the other mainstream flagships right now. You also get modes that let you shoot gifs, images that incorporate both the front and back camera, pop-out shots and more. If you use the camera a lot for posting on social media, you’ll find these features useful.
While it’s hard to compare the quality of pictures with those taken on the Google Pixel 2 XL or Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the LG V30+ is still a competent shooter for the most part. Pictures are detailed enough, with decent composure and clean colors. In low light settings, the aperture does allow for a decent amount of detail and light, but it does also tend to get oversaturated at times. As is the case with the OnePlus 5T, the camera has a tendency to generate artistic effects in the images, which is essentially the difference between this and the best camera phones around today. However, with the price tag of Rs 44,990 in mind, the V30+ does a decent enough job with photography.
The camera has a tendency to generate artistic effects in the images
(Camera samples shot with the LG V30+)
The LG V30+ may not be a flagship smartphone on the lines of the Google Pixel 2 XL, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or Apple iPhone X, but that doesn’t make it any less of a flagship. After years of competing with the big guns, it seems LG has opted for a new approach with its pricing and positioning. At Rs 44,990, the LG V30+ is priced competitively, and gives strong competition to the OnePlus 5T. The V30+ is no average smartphone either; it looks good, has a decent screen, performs up to the mark and has the added USP of being an audio-centric smartphone.
And building on that last point, if audio quality is what you need then the LG V30+ is the ideal smartphone for you, particularly if you have a good pair of wired headphones you want to pair with it. While camera quality isn’t quite as great as it was expected to be, the wide-angle mode is a useful feature that you’ll find yourself using often. On the whole, the LG V30+ is more on the lines of the ‘flagship killer’ positioning, and is a decent alternative to the OnePlus 5T.