LG is scripting a comeback in the Indian smartphone market with its W series. And if my experience for the past week with the LG W30 priced at Rs 9,999 is anything to go by, then LG has a strong chance of turning things around. Indians have begun spending more on their smartphones than before. The most exciting aspect of Indian smartphone users is the fact that they don’t restrict themselves to one brand. Consumers are picking devices that offer true value over anything else.
We have seen that with Xiaomi, which dethroned Samsung to become the leading player. Now, we are seeing that again with Realme, which is growing at the expense of rivals like Oppo and Vivo. LG, a household name in terms of its appliances, does not want to be left behind. Its comeback devices – W10, W30 and W30 Pro – are inspired by Samsung’s Galaxy M-Series. There is entry level W10 followed by W30 and W30 Pro. The question is not whether W30 is any good but rather is it good enough to put LG back on consumer wishlist. Read our review to find out.
Design and Display
A key metric in India’s smartphone market was performance. Now, that metric has become design. Xiaomi faced a lot of criticism for its generic design on all smartphones. With W30, LG is not making that mistake. The W30 features a premium feel to it. It does not have a glass sandwich design but a number of my friends ended up thinking it’s glass back. LG, like Realme, is using glossy material, to give the feeling of glass. Our Platinum Grey review unit may lack the appeal of other gradient finish but it’s charming in its own sense. The surface of the back panel has dotted micro abrasion that gives it the feel of art.
There is a vertically mounted triple rear camera setup on the top left corner followed by an LED flash. One of the camera sensors has red accents around it, giving it a unique touch. There is a circular fingerprint sensor at the top and LG logo at the bottom. On the right side, you will find the power button and volume rocker. The left is home to dual SIM card tray. The micro USB charging port and speaker grille is at the bottom. The top houses the 3.5mm audio jack. The sides of the device seem like metal and have a good weight to it. The W30 has a well rounded design that is neither flashy nor unwieldy.
LG has equipped the W30 with a 6.26-inch HD+ LCD display. The display outputs a resolution of 1520 x 720 pixels with 19:9 aspect ratio. There is nothing much to write home about this display. It is an average quality panel that offers decent brightness. One of my problems was the adaptive brightness feature, which never quite made the screen adequately bright when I moved from darker room to a brightly lit environment. I believe most users buying the W30 will notice this issue. But, it can be fixed with an OTA update. The color accuracy or sharpness is not off the charts but at this price, no device does that. Can you live with this display? Yes.
The display also has a cutout at the top, which can be changed into three different forms. Users can customize it between U-shaped notch, V-shaped notch or a no notch 18:9 display. I tried it once but eventually settled on the default. The default is the U-shaped notch that offers full screen experience by cutting a small portion of the display.
Performance and Battery Life
LG has equipped the W30 with a MediaTek Helio P22 mobile processor. The processor is fabricated using power efficient 12nm process and has max clock frequency of 2.0GHz. There is 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage and PowerVR GE8320. The smartphone works reliably when you do basic things like texting on WhatsApp, posting photos on Instagram or updating Facebook status. I also had no issues at all while making video calls on Google Duo. The smartphone worked reliably with zero lag or drop off.
But the minute you push the device, the LG W30 starts to lose its cool. For instance, I opened a Google Docs file on the app with 336 pages and 1,72,887 words. Now, when I started typing on the first page, there was a noticeable delay in registering my entry. The above line would appear like “Now (delay) , (delay) when (delay) I (delay)”. It shows how MediaTek‘s processor cannot handle even a heavy word processing file. When it comes to gaming, the experience is mixed bag as well.
If you try playing PUBG Mobile then the resolution is set to lowest by default. Honestly, that is not a problem. The real issue is with PowerVR GE8320, which cannot keep the frame rates intact. I died even before I could press the trigger multiple times in the arcade setup. The Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, on the other hand, worked really well. Those buying the W30 are thus limited to casual games such as Candy Crush, Temple Run, Subway Surfers, etc. Just don’t hope to join your friend’s PUBG Mobile team and start crushing the zombies.
LG makes up for that lack of performance with an excellent battery life. With a mixed use that involved dying multiple times in PUBG Mobile, casting a couple of spells in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, talking to family on Google Duo, chatting on WhatsApp, office communication on Slack, the W30 did not die. I got a screen on time equivalent to four and a half hours and five hours for the above use. It is important to note that the battery life mentioned above is while I was on 4G all the time. With Wi-Fi and usage restricted to browsing the web, WhatsApp and social media, the W30’s 4,000mAh battery can get past a day and even last second day with ease.
Camera makes or breaks a smartphone and on the LG W30, the experience is far from good. The LG W30 has a triple rear camera setup. The primary camera is a 12-megapixel shooter with phase detect autofocus. It is paired with a second 13-megapixel camera that acts as wide-angle lens. The third 2-megapixel sensor is meant for aid in capturing depth of your subject.
The wide-angle camera is definitely the most impressive of the three cameras here. It not only gives you a wider field of view but also produces fine details. The composition of images with the wide-angle camera seemed more natural than the standard camera. The standard camera, on the other hand, struggled with lighting and color accuracy. Every time, I tried to capture a yellow flower in the backyard, W30 made it green. It seemed as if the sensor is capturing entire lighting rather than just the subject.
The phase detect autofocus also seemed slower than rival devices. Every time I clicked with the W30, I kept thinking the ISP is not working with the image sensor. Don’t get me wrong, the camera setup here is not bad but it is not good either. It sits in the border area where your judgement of good and bad will depend on what other devices you have used. Xiaomi, Samsung and Realme in this price segment have improved their cameras in a big way. In comparison, LG’s attempt seems to have fallen short.
If you are someone who likes to take wide-angle shots then you should absolutely get this W30. The wide-angle shots, as you can see in the above gallery, have a nice feel to it. The colors are also vivid and sharp enough to post on Instagram without getting caught. LG has also done a good job with the camera UI, which is easy to use and understand. There is the main camera mode and then you can toggle between video and depth modes. You can tap on an icon at the right corner of your viewfinder to switch between standard and wide modes.
For selfies, there is a 16-megapixel camera placed inside that waterdrop. The selfies shot with the W30 are nice with distinct character to it. They don’t over brighten your skin tone like some Chinese smartphone makers and offer solid texture. The overall experience with the camera is far from pleasant but LG could fix some of the issues noted here with software update.
That brings us to the software. The W30 runs Android Pie and it runs the cleanest version possible. LG has made wise choice of not using its own UX on top of stock Android. It also sticks with Google Pixel like experience by using a pill-shaped navigation drawer. There is also support for Pie features like adaptive brightness and gesture navigation. The software, according to me, is the real sweet spot here. The only big changes made by LG seems to be in the form of camera app and a setting for notch shape.
The customization at the OEM end seem so minimal that it could get Android Q update sooner than rivals. LG’s record with software update is not the most glowing one but with W series, it could change that position. It runs May security patch and should be getting newer security updates in the coming weeks. Smartphone makers are increasingly focusing on stock Android and timely software update. Asus has championed this with the Zenfone Max Pro M1, which has not only received Pie update but also security updates on time.
While buying your next smartphone, you should not only focus on hardware but also the software. Android is getting more powerful with every new iteration. There are new privacy focused features that will be available only on newer version. If the OEM cannot update the device on time then it makes little sense to go with them. If LG promises software updates like HMD Global then this W30 might be a good all round device.
LG W30 is an attempt to make a comeback in the Indian smartphone market. After using it for one week, I am convinced that LG has done a good job. The Korean company seems to have kept its laurels aside and built a phone to compete. The W30 has a very good design and a software that makes you believe that it will get updates. The overall look and feel of the device seems good enough to compete with Xiaomi and Realme of this world. It does have issues but none of them seem like a deal breaker.
The performance is not quite in the level of Xiaomi Redmi Y3 or Realme 3. The camera also leaves a lot to be desired. But when you look at it as a package, LG seems to have gotten a few things right. The price tag of Rs 9,999 seems fair for what W30 offers and it arrives without any baggage. I would not recommend anyone to buy the W30 in its current form unless they want to experience a wide-angle camera in this price point. However, I will be looking forward to next device in this series, which will fix the first generation issues.
|Features||Realme 3||Xiaomi Redmi Y3||LG W30|
|Chipset||MediaTek Helio P70||Snapdragon 632 SoC||MediaTek Helio P22|
|OS||Android 9 Pie||Android 9 Pie||Android 9 Pie|
|Display||6.3-inch HD+, 19:9 aspect ratio-1520×720 pixels||6.26-inch, HD+-1520x720pixels||6.26-inch 19:9 HD+|
|Internal Memory||3GB RAM with 32GB storage||3GB RAM with 32GB storage||3GB RAM + 32GB storage|
|Rear Camera||Dual – 13MP + 2MP||Dual – 12MP + 2MP||Triple – 12MP + 13MP + 2MP|