LG G6 Review

Back to Basics in a Sleek Package

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Last year LG did their best to make a modular device in the form of their flagship the G5, let’s just say it wasn’t well received. This year, the company went back to what they know and simply made a nice, premium smartphone to compete with what other manufacturers were going to be unveiling instead of trying to push too far forward. This year, we’re presented with the LG G6, and it’s undoubtedly the best device LG has presented to date, but does it stand up to the other flagships of today and is it even worth your money? Let’s take a closer look.



Hardware

Before we take a look at the design that the G6 sports, let’s take a look at all of what LG packed inside.

  • Processor – Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 821 Processor
  • Display – 5.7-inch 18:9 QHD+ FullVision® Display (2880 x 1440 / 564ppi)
  • Storage – 32GB UFS 2.0 & MicroSD (up to 2TB)
  • RAM – 4GB LPDDR4
  • Cameras
    • Rear Dual: 13MP Wide (F2.4 / 125°) / 13MP Standard OIS 2.0 (F1.8 / 71°)
    • Front 5MP Wide (F2.2 / 100°)
  • Battery – 3,300mAh
  • Software – Android 7.0 Nougat
  • USB – Type-C 2.0 (3.1 compatible)
  • Water Resistance – IP68
  • Other –  UX 6.0 / Dolby Vision™ / HDR10 / 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC* (*not in US)
  • Colors – Ice Platinum / Mystic White / Astro Black

As you can see, LG didn’t skimp on too much of the tech inside the G6. There is an older processor included than what we’re seeing on other flagships, and the battery and internal could be increased but those seem to be superfluous specs if you ask me. Everything else is right on track for what we’re seeing and expecting for a flagship in 2017, all while not trying to push the envelope too much in that area. Honestly, the main specs I’ll be addressing in this review are related to display and camera, which if we look into LG’s past, are their main strong suits.

Design

Now, onto one of the biggest assets about the LG G6, its design. I was lucky enough to receive the phone in black, which I think helps accentuate the display a bit more, but it also make the phone seem sleeker and stealthy, by it being just a ‘compact’ black, metal, slab. The front and back are both glass, while the sides are metal, helping the premium feeling of the phone. Nothing is poking out of the phone, no random windowed sections in materials, no camera bump, just sleek from top to bottom. The power button/fingerprint sensor is in a convenient location on the back (looking at you S8…), which makes the phone more left-handed in my eyes, but overall everything is just simple and subtle.

Now that’s not to say the design is perfect, but there’s just something about only glass and metal on a phone that makes it just feel so nice. Some drawbacks to expect though are the extreme fingerprint and smudge magnet that is the G6’s back which are especially present on the black model. It also seems to be prone to small nicks and scratches which could be annoying over time.

The front of the device is just as sleek as the rest, without any gimmicks of curved displays or anything fancy. Small bezels and rounded corners are what the G6 boasts, which, at least with the former, can help with the immersion of using the phone. The rounded corners mean absolutely nothing to me, but LG does actually use them to conceal corners that are cut off, adding to the phone’s durability. Above the display is the front camera and receiver, both of which are very discreet on the black model. Below is LG’s branding which is almost fully transparent. Overall the front is just a simple smooth slab which looks great.

Display

Naturally, the display is one of the most talked about features of the LG G6. It was the first device of the year to mostly ditch the bezels, beating Samsung to the bunch. Here you’re looking at a QHD display with a ratio of 18:9, so the length is exactly double the width. Most phones opt for 16:9, similar to TVs, but since the G6 has a bigger display in a smaller body, this ratio was a necessary change. The quality of the screen is pretty much what you’d expect with an LCD display. The colors are nice and the blacks are black, but the screen doesn’t pop as much as you may like. It’s by no means a bad display, but sometimes I prefer the oversaturated look of AMOLED panels.

The 18:9 aspect ratio also allows for more usability on the screen with more information shown at once and less scrolling. While some apps are fully compatible with the different ratio, others such as Snapchat run into problems. Some may require button presses near the top or bottom which may be a bit off. Videos not optimized for the ratio (hint: most videos) will have black bars on the left and right side of the display. It’s not as annoying as you may think, but it does take away from the immersion. Other than that the only issue I have with the display comes from the software, where LG has a tendency to over-dim the display when using auto-brightness. I found myself having to turn off the auto-brightness setting at times.

Software & Performance

Speaking of software, you’re stuck with LG’s UX 6.0 on top of Android 7.0. A couple of things to note here, first of all, this may be the worst skin from the major US manufacturers in my opinion. I had to almost immediately download a 3rd-party launcher when using the phone (Action Launcher FTW!) as the standard home screen just didn’t provide enough features for my use. Also, while you have the ability to now add an app drawer button, it isn’t enabled by default, which baffled me to no end.

Some LG specific features are very useful, mainly the lock screen Knock On features and Capture+, which allows you to screenshot and immediately write on the picture. Theming would be better if the themes were able to work with more than the first-party apps without a mask. Also, I don’t know why LG still hasn’t updated the G6 to 7.1, but all of the main Nougat features are baked into the device and work just fine: split screen, doze, new notifications, etc. You won’t necessarily be wowed by just using the device straight out of the box, but it’s not the worst thing on Android.

Even though LG decided to include last year’s Snapdragon 821 paired with 4GB of RAM that doesn’t mean the G6 suffered at all when it comes to performance. While there are a couple stutters here and there that I noticed, the system as a whole was smooth and everything reacted in as timely a manner as I could comprehend. The stutters only really appear in the camera at times and naturally in some animations here and there. Hopefully you numbers guys, who only praise a phone with the most this and or the biggest and highest that, don’t get turned off with this processor, because it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day.

Camera

Besides the display, the next biggest thing about the LG G6 is the camera, and I can’t say enough good things about it …that is to say, it isn’t perfect. We get two cameras on the back, a 13MP wide angle alongside a 13MP standard, paired with a 5MP standard front shooter. Ever since last year’s G5, I’ve really appreciated having two rear shooters, even if I don’t use the wide-angle that much. You’ll get great shots with both, but let’s dive into the whole experience.

The camera UI is pretty simple, but definitely feature packed. You have your settings, filters, etc on the left and your shutter and video buttons on the right — be aware that the buttons automatically do their actions, you can’t switch to video and then just wait before shooting. Also, sometimes the first shot upon pulling up the camera may take a little long but I’ve noticed that with other phones as well, just let it load.

The standard sensor seems to crop and zoom into the image a bit when shooting, but I found that to be better for macro shots and simple focusing on a target. The wide angle will definitely bend the image a bit, this mode is way more useful with landscapes without super-defined lines, but you’ll likely stay in standard most of the time.

The images produced are a lot cooler and natural in color quality than devices of other manufacturers, which I find to be better. Again with pictures, I like a more natural, reproduce-what-i-see-with-my-eyes type of shot, more than something that looks like it’s coming from a movie. Think closer to what you’d see from a Pixel than a Galaxy. All detail is there though regardless of color reproduction, so you’ll be able to see fine information in any shot.

LG has also jam-packed the camera is with features like manual mode, square shot (for the Instagram cropped type of shot), time lapse, panorama, 360 panoramas, filters, and more. Most of those I find pretty gimmicky, but things like grid shots and manual photo and video modes will be helpful for the more advanced photogs. Most, if not all, photo samples you see in this review were just auto mode shots.

All in all, the camera is great and anyone who just picks up the phone will be able to take great shots without having to fiddle around with countless settings or having to wait for the perfect moment.

Battery, Audio and, Extras

An area that I’ve seen a lot of debate come in is in the battery department, with the G6 having a 3300mAh non-removable battery to power the 821 and that 18:9 QHD display. It did amazingly in my time with the device. I got hours of screen on time, an excellent amount of standby time (which is just as important), and was able to go over a day of regular to heavy use no problem. Plus, you have the ability to use Quick charge 3.0, so recharging the battery in a flash is also no issue.

The last LG device I used was the LG V20 which had a 32-bit quad DAC inside, the LG G6 doesn’t, at least not in the US — baffling. I was looking into testing the 32-bit DAC in the G6 but sadly I’m not overseas. The mono, bottom firing speaker on the phone is also not the best but not the worst. It is loud, though, so that helps.

Some other things to note about the LG G6 include, for one that it’s IP68 rated against water and dust. Call people from the shower, take pictures in the rain, drop your phone in sawdust, whatever you want. You can wireless charge the phone as well, for convenience. You have expandable storage to hold all the music and movies you’ll be enjoying through your wired headphones, thanks to keeping the headphone jack.

I had the Verizon variant of the phone, which made all my calls crystal clear and I was never not in service (except partly for that one time during hiking). Also, Verizon bloat is prevalent, but easy to hide or disable through your settings. Pretty basic Verizon experience.

Availability and Conclusion

Speaking of which, this phone is available on all major US carriers for around $650, which is pretty aggressive pricing when looking at the Pixel XL, HTC U Ultra, and S8/+. Some carriers even throw in pretty nice bonuses, such as Verizon giving a new TV and Google Home, and AT&T cutting a pretty great deal if purchasing the LG Watch Sport alongside the G6. Unfortunately, you can’t buy the phone from LG directly just yet.

Overall, the LG G6 is a great and safe phone from the company. It’s sleek, has a great display and camera, and performs very well. They didn’t add too many outstanding features or try to start the new standard with modularity. It’s just an overall nice and competitive package when looking at flagships right now. I suggest everyone go at least try out the G6 in store if you want a sleek phone that will have all the basics covered and isn’t more subtle than flashy. This is your best, LG.

Buy the LG G6