Is bigger better? When it comes to the screens on our smartphones, yes. But when it comes to the body of the phone, not so much. The LG took this concerns seriously and launched its new flagship LG G6. It’s the phablet’s worst Alternative, because it puts a massive screen inside a truly compact body, redefining the genre and daring big-screen haters to get over their prejudices.
It’s also the follow-up to the LG G5, a phone that similarly attempted to redefine smartphones with its modular construction (but didn’t manage to do so). Not only does it have to prove itself after the average reception of last year’s G5, but its biggest rival Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S8 just a few weeks after the G6. With the huge popularity of Galaxy phones in users and the fact that this is Samsung’s first major phone announcement after its exploding Galaxy Note 7, it’d be difficult for most companies to outshine the Samsung for attention.
In the modern world of mobile technology, where you can get smartphones which can do almost what you want them at surprisingly affordable prices, just the powerful hardware is no longer reason enough to justify paying a premium for a flagship smartphone from a big-name brand. That’s why the bigger brands are increasingly focusing on routing devices with innovations that go much beyond than what normal users can think of in a phone. And one such name is LG.
From the curved G Flex to the secondary display-toting V10, LG has a lot of innovative smartphones in its yard. But not all of the company’s ‘innovative’ mobile devices have been as successful as it would have wanted them to be.
The G5 was a really bold move by LG, stepping into the current modularity concept. However, the smartphone failed to achieve the good profit to the company. It was also marred by issues such as subpar build quality and clunky implementation of the modular concept. The company Executive says that they made ‘mistakes with the G5’, and launched the V20 in the second half of 2016 to recoup some of its market shares.
Let’s find out, in our full review of the LG G6.
DESIGN & BUILD QUALITY
Smartphones are frequently chastised for their unsuitable shape components. The G6, then again, grasps its chunk like development and totally nails it in the design department. This is not a device that depends on fancy sticks to look out of the box. Rather, it takes the very fundamentals of smartphones design outline and culminates them.
The G6 is made up of two materials – Aluminium and Glass. The rear panel is made out of a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 5. While it undoubtedly looks good, it also makes the smartphone’s back a fingerprint and smudge magnet. At the center of the upper half of the rear panel is a rectangular module with rounded corners. It sits with the rest of the back and houses the dual-camera system of the G6, comprising two 13MP sensors – one standard (71-degree, f/1.8 aperture) and another one with wide-angle (125-degree, f/2.4 aperture). A dual-LED flash is situated vertically between the two camera lenses.
Just below the dual-camera is the circular fingerprint sensor, which also works as a power button. The lower end of the smartphone’s back panel has a shiny G6 logo printed in the center, with some safety/regulatory information and other details (such as the model number) below it. The rear panel is mostly flat, but curves slightly towards all four edges.
The sides of the LG G6 are all metal and have a smooth finish. The volume up/down buttons are located on the upper half of the left side and on the another side the hybrid dual-SIM/microSD card tray, located on the right side.
Up top, the G6 has a 3.5mm audio jack and a secondary noise-cancelling microphone on the right. Coming to the bottom of the phone, it has a USB Type-C port in the middle, accompanied by a microphone (on the left) and a speaker grille (on the right) with three big vents. The only breaks in the G6’s otherwise continuous side frame are provided by a couple of antenna lines – two on the top and one each on the left, right and bottom.
Coming to the front, it’s home to the G6’s biggest standout feature that is displayed. The display has minimal side bezels, and those on the top and bottom aren’t that substantial either. A 5MP (f/2.2 aperture) front-facing camera is located on the top left corner, above the display. At the center, there’s an earpiece, as well as the proximity and ambient light sensors. The chin bezel is bare, except for an LG logo stamped in the middle.
As for the display itself, we’ve got just one word for it — Awesome. The tall 5.7-inch ‘FullVision’ panel of the G6 is truly a magnificent move by LG. Being an IPS LCD one, it has flawless color reproduction and excellent viewing angles. It gets plenty bright as well, so sunlight won’t stop you to view the Screen. The ‘Dolby Vision’ support really makes a world of difference, and you just have to know where to look for the right HDR video content that can do justice to the G6’s gorgeous display. The rounded corners of the display look amazing too. As per LG’s claims, they help in minimizing the damage to the display in case of accidental falls. So that’s a plus as well.
With a resolution of 1440×2880 pixels and a pixel density of around 564ppi, the LG G6’s display renders everything from 4K videos to even web pages with striking detail. The tall display and it’s unusual 18:9 aspect ratio may take some time getting used to it, but it’s incredibly useful when you’re browsing the web or using apps like Facebook and Twitter. That’s because the big screen allows more content to be displayed on the screen as you scroll. The G6 lets you easily scale third-party apps/games (via Settings) and videos (via a button during video playback) to fit it’s 18:9 display. However, some apps and YouTube videos don’t support scaling (yet), leaving you no option but to bear with unsightly black bars on the sides. Also, not sure why but, LG used Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the display. This is especially weird, considering the back panel is secured by Gorilla Glass 5.
There’s another area where the G6’s tall display makes a huge difference – one-handed usage. And this is something that becomes apparent the moment you hold the phone in your hand. The LG G6 is a 5.7-inch smartphone but it feels much smaller than that. It’s perfectly usable with one hand. The only most used issue that potential users might be concerned about – pulling down the notification shade from the top – can be solved by adding a dedicated on-screen button for the same to the navigation bar. This can be done via Settings.
All said we found the LG G6 to be nicely engineered and well-designed piece of mobile hardware. Its design is understated yet classy, and it gives it a reassuring in hand feel.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 SoC is delivering processing power to the G6, comprising a quad-core CPU (two Kryo cores clocked at 2.35GHz and two Kryo cores clocked at 1.6GHz) and Adreno 530 GPU. This is complemented by 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, with support for microSD cards of up to 256GB capacity.
Much has been said and discussed LG’s decision of opting for last year’s silicon to power its 2017 flagship. In its defense, the company clarified that it couldn’t use this year’s top-tier Qualcomm chipset – Snapdragon 835 – because fellow South Korean rival Samsung hogged the entire initial production batch of the 835 for its own flagships – S8 and S8+. Numerous reports have mentioned the same as well, so it seems like LG didn’t really have a choice but to use the older 821 chipset for the G6.
Now, if you love having the latest hardware specifications in your smartphone and have already made up your mind that a Snapdragon 821 chipset in a 2017 flagship is simply not going to work, there’s no amount of reasoning that can convince you otherwise. And theoretically, the 835 is better than the 821, whether if it’s just a little.
But if you don’t care about model numbers and marketing speak, and just want a smartphone that works well, the Snapdragon 821-powered LG G6 is going to serve you just fine.
The bottom-line is, the Snapdragon 821 is all that the G6 needs. And the numbers back it up too. The smartphone scored 82257 in AnTuTu benchmark test, while GeekBench 4 scores were 1760 (single-core) and 4060 (multi-core).
However, the formidable hardware is just one aspect of the picture. A well-rounded Android smartphone also has to have the efficient software. To that end, the LG G6 runs Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box, with its own UX 6.0 layer on top.
As such, all Nougat-specific features like split-view multitasking, display scaling, enhanced notifications and better power management are included in the G6. But what truly makes the G6 shine is UX 6.0.
That’s because UX 6.0 isn’t just a fancy software skin, it’s a custom interface designed by LG itself to let users take full advantage of the G6’s 18:9 aspect ratio ‘Full Vision’ display.
The 1:1 UI management works wonderfully with Android 7.0 Nougat‘s split-view multitasking feature, allowing you to access two apps at the same time in separate perfect squares.
Other than that, UX 6.0 is a standard skin layer. Like its predecessor, it doesn’t come with an app drawer and all apps are arranged on multiple home screens. But don’t fret, you can easily download ‘Home & app drawer’ from the ‘SmartWorld’ store if you prefer a cleaner home screen layout.
Speaking of ‘SmartWorld‘, it is LG’s own Apps content store from where you can download anything from themes and wallpapers to ringtones and apps, and use them to customize the G6’s user interface to your heart’s desire.
APPS & SOFTWARES
LG G6 comes with Google Assistant, but it’s something that all smartphones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or above are going to get it eventually.
The G6 isn’t too heavy on bloatware, but does come with a few of LG’s own apps such as Smart Doctor (for optimizing the phone’s performance, checking battery usage and diagnosing hardware), Mobile Switch (for transferring data between two devices) and RemoteCall Service (for connecting with LG’s customer service). While the majority of these apps are useful, none can be uninstalled. Three third-party apps – Facebook, Twitter and Evernote – come preloaded too, with Facebook and Twitter being removable.
Some other features such as Bluelight filter and Double tap to sleep/wake are also thrown into the mix. Then there’s QSlide, which lets you run some system apps (e.g. E-mail, File Manager) in a small floating window on the home screen.
The rear-mounted fingerprint sensor on the G6 worked without any issues during our time with it. It supports 360-degree recognition and works with moist digits. Furthermore, the content saved in some apps (Gallery and QuickMemo+) can be secured with fingerprints.
Just like its predecessor, the LG G6 has a dual-camera setup at the back. It’s comprised of two 13MP modules – one standard (f/1.8) and one wide angle (f/2.4). While the former is optically stabilized and has phase detection auto focus, the latter lacks both. That sounds great on paper, but is the real-world imaging performance of the LG G6 any good? The answer, is a conclusive yes.
The rear dual-shooters of the G6 are capable of capturing some amazing-looking pictures, especially in favourable and well-lit conditions. The pictures have ample amount of resolved detail and are plenty sharp, with accurate colour reproduction. Night-time photos come out to be incredible (for a smartphone camera), and only show compression artefacts when zoomed in. The HDR mode makes the results look even better.
Even though the Auto is more than sufficient for all your shooting needs, the camera app offers a full-blown Manual mode (with options to change everything from ISO to EV) for those who want better control.
The secondary 13MP module of the LG G6’s dual rear camera system isn’t just there for fancy Bokeh effects. Instead, it consists of a wide-angle lens (125-degree) that lets you capture a lot more in a single frame. Typical of wide-angle lenses, there is a slight barrel distortion, but nothing to be worried about.
LG G6 Camera Samples - Credits CNET
LG G6 has a 3,300mAh non-removable battery. That’s not big enough to hold the phone full day long (more than 16 hours) by any means, but still more 300mAh more than that of the S8. So how’s the battery life on LG’s 2017 flagship?
For our testing, we used a fully-charged G6 for an hour of gaming, around two hours of voice calls and an hour each of streaming music and video playback, all while keeping Wi-Fi/Cellular data and push notifications enabled throughout the day. Under this use case, the G6’s battery lasted us a full workday, even if it struggled a bit in doing so. The smartphone is yet to get the battery optimizations included in Android 7.1.2, so we expect the battery life to get better once it does.
LG G6 supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology, so you can charge the battery up to 50% in just about half an hour.
There’s absolutely no question that the LG G6 is a great smartphone. From an elegant design to premium construction and from great audio quality to terrific camera experience, there are many things that LG’s 2017 flagship does right. And of course, the ‘Full Vision‘ display and Water Resistance is there as well.
But the thing is, the G6 has to compete against fellow Samsung’s Galaxy S8, which is near-universally considered to be the best Android smartphone out there.
The G6 is undoubtedly the best smartphone that LG has ever made. And if you’re willing to look past the ‘old’ Snapdragon 821, it’s every bit as flagship as it can get. Some may find the price tag of Rs 51,990 a bit too much, but the prices of LG’s smartphones almost always drop in a few months after launch.
So if you want an Android smartphone that is good in every department, go ahead and get the LG G6, you won’t be disappointed.
The LG G6 proves that big-screen phones can come in small packages. It’s the best Android phone you can buy and it's in everyone's budget.
- Compact, attractive body
- Large, beautiful screen
- Great pictures from the dual-lens camera
- Latest software with Google Assistant
- IP68 water resistant
- Audio can’t match the visuals
- Camera isn’t a huge improvement
- Gorilla Glass 3 on Display
- Older 821 chipset