Last year LG made the G5 – an all-metal phone, with an improved screen and a dual rear camera. But the year since proved that it was an ambitious bet that did not quite pay off.
The device could just never live up to its potential, and it must have certainly caused LG a lot of heartache to admit that the phone was a step in the wrong direction. To give them 100% of the credit – they didn’t blog this or whisper it unintelligibly either – they out and said it at a Mobile World Congress press conference!
Kudos to them for something else too – they decided to pause and listen and then create their next flagship. Indeed, it seems to have paid off. They’ve done much, much better with this year’s G6.
The primary change that LG made was that they gave up on trying to redefine phone usage – instead making a slightly conservative device that plays to fulfil people’s desires of what they want in their device. The LG G6 is thus a sensible flagship for LG, which might not get oodles of limelight and oohs-and-aahs. But that’s also because the competition this year is fiercer than ever.
While this is certainly one of the better smartphones LG has made, it’s rivals haven’t been sitting idle either, with each fiercly laying claim to the lion’s share of the smartphone pie.
So, does the LG G6 stand a chance? Read on, to find out!
Instead of the typical 16:9 aspect ratio, the LG G6 comes with an 18:9 ratio which results in a taller display panel in a smaller body. The phablet has a 5.7 inch display, which is bigger than it’s predecessor’s 5.3 inch screen, but the shell this appreciably-larger screen sits in is almost the same size as the LG G5’s!
Surprisingly the shell is also smaller than that of the iPhone 7 plus and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.
One side effect of cramming such a big screen into a considerably smaller-width panel is that the edges of the display are rounded instead of being at a right angles. This might feel odd for the first few days, but it is an easy thing to get accustomed to.
Another issue might be that of the black bars.
Since LG has changed the screen ratio, the display usually shows black bars – for most apps and videos – on both the sides.This happens because their display ratio is different from that of the device.
This is not an unknown phenomena – and it gets resolved as soon as apps issue updates.
To match the stretched display, LG has also upped the resolution to 2880×1440 pixels which translates into an exorbitant 564 pixels per inch. So you witness exceptional clarity when you use this device – text, images and media content, all shine with pristine clarity!
Even though the display isn’t AMOLED, it delivers vivid colours and deep blacks.
There’s even more to this display – it is the first phone with Dolby Vision support, and is also HDR 10-enabled. This makes the content look noticeably brighter while ensuring darker scenes are more detailed too.
Now here’s a reality check – while this combination does sound jazzy, you might not notice much of a difference, like you would on a bigger screen like that of a television.
When it comes to LG’s hardware choices from last year, a lot has changed, and for the better.
While the constraints of the design choices on the LG G5 required some design sacrifices, the G6 has a sleeker design with a sturdy frame, which feels much more worthy of being a flagship.
The predecessor’s plastic body is gone, replaced with Gorilla Glass 5 on the back to provide it some “class” while being more durable than earlier.
Interestingly though, the device only has Gorilla Glass 3 on the front, and the glass sits between thin metal rims – so, for me, durability might be a little suspect.
The device is rated at IP68 which makes it dust- and water-resistant, which is nice.
This is what I meant about the LG G6’s improved design facilitating a better device overall – as water protection was impossible on last year’s G5 given its slide-out battery mechanism.
The dual camera is still on the device, but this time it sits flush with the body of the phone. RIght below the camera is the sleep and wake button of the phone – a circle that also has the fingerprint sensor embedded in it. LG made the decision to place the fingerprint sensor on the back of it’s devices years ago, and it seems to be sticking with the same.
However, there are issues with the sensitivity of the fingerprint scanner on the G6 – when pressed, it takes a little too long to react, and at times it reacts without a touch, times like when it is in the pocket and brushing up against something.
The call quality on the phone is sharp, and the mic does a good job of canceling external noise.
In addition, the phone is available in Black, White and Silver-Blue colours – which are quite standard colours on most phones these days. LG had the opportunity to be innovative (since glass is easier to dye than metal), but it seems to have overlooked it.
The glass on the back might feel good, but at this point when you’ll find glass on most devices – from budget Honor and Alcatel handsets to higher-end devices, it seems more like a last minute ‘me-too’, instead of a conscious design choice.
The LG G6 comes in a black box. Along with the phone, the box carries a charger, that should be QuickCharge 3.0 compliant. The charger has a Type-A USB port on one end, and Type-C on the other. The box also comes with a pair of earphones, and a SIM ejector, specially created for this device.
The first thing you will notice as such about the phone’s specs is that it comes with last year’s Snapdragon 821 processor, when most flagships this year have Snapdragon 835.
First things first, there is nothing wrong with a phone having Snapdragon 821. The chipset is amazingly powerful, in fact, it powers the fastest Android phone in the market (basis everyday-use metrics) – the Google Pixel.
There are no noticeable lags or such on the G6 either, even with high powered games, and graphic intensive activity.
But the thing is if LG wants to charge you top-tier price for a phone in today’s market, it needs to be giving you possible best out there, and the best possible is the Snapdragon 835. It is faster, and more efficient, with support for future-proofing features such as Gigabit LTE and Quick Charge 4.0. Given that the battery that they have on the phone isn’t making any heads turn, the extra efficiency is something that we could all have done with.
The phone comes with 4 GB RAM, which is more than good. Yes, there are brands putting in 6 GB in flagships this year, but truth be told, the extra RAM is only a psychological benefit, and you won’t really see much of a difference in your everyday usage. However, the phone only has 32 GB internal storage, which in a world where phones are offering 64 GB on average, is a little bit of an umm decision on the part of LG. Thankfully you can add upto 2 TB via a microSD card, but that means you’re going to have to forever balance what you store on your phone’s memory and off it.
Another downer about the LG G5 had been the LG UI, which was quite far from the best overlay in the market at the time.
However, with the LG G6, the company seems to have added more value and less headaches. What you’ll find running on the phone is still far from the stock Android, but its bearable tweak time around.
This year’s interface is a little like iOS mashed with Huawei’s EMUI, with a dash of TouchWiz thrown in. You also have Google Assistant.
LG has added a few other tricks too, that are quite nice. You’ll be able to turn on the screen with a double-tap, rearrange your navigation keys or ditch the traditional Android app launcher in favor of an iOS-style app free-for-all.
In other cool things, you’ll notice, the calendar and contact list look normal otherwise. But when you when you turn the phone on its side, it reveals another view that displays extra information in two side-by-side square panels.
Another cool thing also was that G6 was briefly the only phone this year, other than Pixel devices, to have Google’s voice-enabled virtual assistant. But Google was fast to change that by rolling the assistant out to other compatible devices. The assistant on the LG G6 and that on the Google Pixel devices are very similar.
Overall, the OS is fairly decent. While there might be a bit of sluggishness that you’ll notice here and there, in the initial days (as the device learns about you), it’ll catch on fast.
LG was one of the first companies to make a dual camera on the back of the phone viable. It started with last year’s G5, which combined an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera with a 16-megapixel main camera for more-flexible shooting. That was definitely a very good first attempt. But, what this year’s camera might be a more sensible one.
The wide angle and the normal camera, this year both are at 13 megapixels units. They both turn out crisp, detailed images without much fiddling. The main camera has a f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization and phase-detection autofocus, all of which the wide-angle camera lacks.
All that this means is that you should probably steer clear of the wide angle shots at night. In regular daylight, both cameras catch a lot of detail, and colors.
LG has worked with Qualcomm to pluck some of the dual-camera smarts from the 835 CPU to implement them here in the 821. This makes the switching between the two cameras much easier, giving the feel of using a single one instead.
However, the camera setup also has few issues. There are times the pictures are a little drab, and the dynamic range of the camera is just not at par with the higher end Android phones. While the picture detail is decent, the pictures seem to lack a little depth at times.
Since the Pixel is pegged at the same price at the LG G6 and is the current benchmark for camera quality on a phone, it would be not be incorrect to compare these two devices.
Truth be told, the Pixel doesn’t just give you better pictures, it also gives you more ease of access; opening up the camera on the Pixel is much easier and faster, whereas on this one, there is a noticeable lag between double-tapping the volume to open the camera and it actually accepting the command.
All in all the cameras haven’t seen a huge improvement over those found on the predecessor, but the tweaks that have happened are all significant ones. It might not be as good as Pixel, but it should easily stand up to the Huawei P10 and iPhone 7, which makes it ready enough for the market.
As far as the front camera is concerned, it is a fairly standard 5-megapixel camera for selfies. There is nothing special about it.
The screen on the LG G6 is very nice. It’s sharp, it’s deep and the contrast ratios are just perfect. There’s no real abnormality to nit-pick about the screen, save for the quirky aspect ratio.
As I’ve said earlier, the black bars at the edge of the screen are a bit of a downer though, as there’s so much more real estate that videos could’ve used, however given that most content is created for universal appeal, and 18:9 is not really a standardised aspect ratio, you’ll just have to put up with the bars.
That said, the bars themselves are not be as annoying as they sound and you get used to them over time.
The downward-facing speaker is loud, surprisingly so, and fine for podcasts and audiobooks but not much more. Videos could have done with better support for their audio tracks. If you’re looking for a better music experience, you could also check out LG’s own V20. It has a small, sometimes useful second screen above the big one.
Given that the aspect ratio of the LG G6 is now is 2:1, the overall design theme for the device now is equitable to two squares – one on top of another. This helps the LG G6 leverage and maximise Android 7’s native split-screen multi-tasking, and provides more space for both apps.
Business capability wise the G6 is just as capable as any other contemporary Android phone – leveraging Android’s inherent features rather than recreating the wheel; same for security features.
There are a few highlight features on the LG G6:
The first one would be it’s dual camera setup, and the second the Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back.
The choice of Type-C connector and Quick Charge 3.0 follow closely behind.
Type-C connectors are something that most flagships have started to include now, but at the moment, it is still a novelty worth mentioning. The same is true for the Quick Charge – we expect phones to have it, but it is a highlight nonetheless.
The latest LG UX 6.0 UI is a definite highlight. This is LG’s own skin on top of their Android operating system on the phone. The interface is a little like iOS mashed with Huawei’s EMUI, with a dash of TouchWiz thrown in, and it is fairly decent.