LG G6

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LG G6 Hands-on
  • LG G6 Hands-on
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Summary

Key Features

  • 18:9 quad-HD display
  • HDR10 and Dolby Vision
  • Android 7.0
  • 2 x 13-megapixel rear cameras
  • Very thin bezel
  • Snapdragon 821, 4GB RAM
  • 32GB storage, microSD
  • 3,300mAh battery, USB-C
  • Wireless charging (US-only)
  • Quad-DAC (Korea-only)
  • Dual-SIM (select Eastern European countries)
  • Manufacturer: LG
  • Review Price: to be confirmed

LG G6 review in progress: This is the LG phone we wanted to see

• LG G6 Release Date: March 2017 (Korea) April 2017 (US, UK and Europe)


• LG G6 Price: £/$TBA


Note: I’ve been using the LG G6 for a couple of weeks now, and it’s great. Normally I'd be ready to give my final verdict, but the unit I’m testing is pre-production and running unfinished software, and as such I feel it would be unfair to judge it in this form. I'll be receiving a proper UK version in the coming weeks, after which I'll add my final verdict and rating.

What is the LG G6?

LG’s flagship phones have, for the last few years, pinned their success on standout features. The LG G3 introduced quad-HD displays, the G4 shipped with quirky leather backs, and last year’s G5 went with a modular design. For the G6, LG is focusing on cramming a large display in a small body.

And from my first impressions, it appears that the LG G6 is likely to be far more successful than those failed modules.

The first thing you’ll notice about the LG G6 is its peculiar display. Like the Xiaomi Mi Mix – a China-only phone released in late 2016 – the screen is stretched to nearly every corner of the device.

LG G6 – Display

Rather than the typical 16:9 aspect ratio seen on almost every other smartphone, LG opts for an 18:9 ratio display (basically 2:1) that provides a taller display in a smaller body.

The 5.7-inch display – a sizeable increase from the 5.2-inch panel of the G5 – sits inside a shell that's barely bigger than its predecessor and noticeably smaller than the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

One side effect of cramming a bigger screen into a shell of this size is that the corners of the panel are now rounded, rather than right angles. While a little odd at first, but I quickly became used to it. It matches the overall curviness of the phone; but it looks best on the black model. On my white review unit, the black border between the panel and bezel is fairly prominent, and the corner curves aren’t perfectly circular. It’s a small issue, but once you've noticed it, it’s hard to forget.

To match the stretched display, the resolution here sits at 2,880 x 1,440 – and it’s a lovely panel. Even though it isn't AMOLED, it delivers vivid colours and deep blacks. It’s the first phone with Dolby Vision support and, like the dearly departed Note 7, it’s HDR10-enabled too.

Blacks aren’t quite as deep as AMOLED panels, though – and with LG’s huge AMOLED business, it seems odd for the company not to utilise its expertise here. Being an IPS LCD also stops it from being compatible with Google’s Daydream VR platform, something that I enjoy immensely on the Pixel.

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There were a few demo HDR (high dynamic range) videos on my review sample; content looked noticeably brighter and darker scenes were more detailed too. LG says that HDR content from Amazon and Netflix will work, but it will follow an app update. LG hasn’t said when they'll be available, but I'll update this article when I know more.

Remember when Apple switched the iPhone from a 4-inch to a 5-inch screen? It led to months (maybe years) of apps not fitting the display properly; many required thick black bars at the top and bottom to work. Something similar is happening here, but not to quite the same level of annoyance.

For instance, videos from YouTube, which are almost universally 16:9, have black bars on either side. Media from Amazon’s Prime app has one large bar at the bottom. Some software trickery lets you stretch video in certain apps – Netflix, for example – so films take up most of the screen.

Related: What is HDR?

Regular apps are fine, thanks to Android’s native rescaling features, but games will either need to be updated or played with black bars at the bottom. It’s annoying, but not too distracting. The software layer used for videos is present here, so you can stretch games out to fill the entire screen. It works well, and in titles such as Alto’s Adventure or Horizon Chase, I didn't notice the difference.

All of LG’s own apps have been updated; and since the aspect ratio is 2:1, the design theme for the UI is two squares on top of each other. This helps Android 7’s native split-screen multi-tasking, providing more space for each app.

LG’s UI design is far from the best, though. It's a little like iOS mashed with Huawei’s EMUI, with a dash of TouchWiz thrown in. It does have the Google Assistant, though – the first phone to do so aside from the Pixel.

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The software does have some nice little additions that make up for the less than amazing design. A swipe down on the homescreen brings up a search that can look inside apps, and the lack of an app drawer is something I actually really like.

LG G6 – Design

For the first time I can remember, LG has crafted a phone that looks "nice". The lack of a thick bezel instantly draws the eye, and LG has also ditched that horrid metal-sprayed plastic that caused so much controversy on the G5.

There’s a slab of Gorillas Glass 5 on the rear (interestingly, it’s only Gorilla Glass 3 on the front), and a metal rim running around the sides, which LG claims adds some much-needed rigidity that's lost with the unorthodox screen.

The standby switch, with a fingerprint pad tucked inside, can still be found on the rear of the handset. However, unlike many phones that use capacitive pads, this switch actually depresses and offers decent feedback. Just below the camera is the perfect place for a fingerprint sensor, simply because it’s where my finger naturally rests when I pick up a phone. A major concern I have with the rumoured Samsung Galaxy S8 is the strange placement of the fingerprint scanner, beneath the glass and thereby eliminating the Home button entirely.

My biggest issue with the fingerprint scanner on the LG G6 is actually its speed and sensitivity. Since it’s basically flush to the rear, accidental touches are an issue. Even when the handset is in my pocket, it seems to randomly think I'm pressing the scanner when it’s brushing against my leg.

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So the LG G6 is an attractive phone, once you get over the screen – but once it becomes more common, which I'm sure it will this year, it doesn't feature much else to help it stand out from the crowd.

The black, white and silvery-blue colours lack imagination, and the glass-backed design with metal sides has become almost cliché. You’ll find it on everything from budget Honor and Alcatel phones to higher-end devices.

Basically, it looks great from the front but a little dull elsewhere.

LG G6 – Performance

Considering my review unit is a pre-production unit, I'll benchmark the G6's performance in more detail once I've had a play with a European retain unit.

This handset hasn't seen the same level of improvement on the inside as the G5, but it remains a very fast phone indeed; and even on the pre-production software, I haven’t encountered any issues.

As was heavily rumoured, the LG G6 uses last year’s Snapdragon 821 CPU – looks like Samsung did snap up those initial runs of the 835 – with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of basic storage. There's a microSD slot, but I'd have much preferred to see 64GB as the starting point.

The 821 is a great processor, with plenty of oomph and good efficiency. We don’t really yet know all the benefits of the 835 in day-to-day use, but it’s still a shame not to see the latest silicon here, especially if this phone is going to retail at the same price as the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Related: What is the Snapdragon 835?

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LG G6 – Camera

The cameras haven’t seen a huge improvement either, but there have been a few tweaks to the already impressive setup.

Just like the G5, the G6 has two sensors sitting next to each on the rear of the device. One is your typical camera; 13 megapixels, OIS, f/1.8 aperture; the other has a much wider field of view.

The latter offers that GoPro-like wide-angle shot that looks great. Surprisingly, LG told me that it has found that almost 50% of people tend to use just the wide-angle camera, so it’s bumped that from an 8-megapixel sensor to a 13-megapixel version.

It lacks OIS, though, and has a much narrower f/2.4 aperture, so low-light snaps won’t be quite as good. It doesn’t have auto-focus, either – but since that focal point is so wide, it shouldn’t make a difference.

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 results in a much smoother process when switching sensors, giving the feel of a single camera. It works, too, although there remains a noticeable change in colour temperature when you switch. The wider-view camera is also much worse in low light, leaving you with very noisy photos.

I’m quite impressed with the LG G6's cameras, but there are a couple of issues. While picture detail is decent, on occasion colours can look a bit drab and the dynamic range just isn’t on a par with other high-end Android phones. Pictures often lack depth – but then this can be seen with almost all smartphones when you’re coming from the Pixel.

The Pixel remains ahead of the G6, not only in terms of picture quality, but with regards to ease of use, too. I’ll cut LG some slack since this is early software – but the time it takes to open the app, focus and snap a picture are currently just too long.

pic There's plenty of detail

p Colours can look a bit drab

pic Well-lit shots look great

pp The wide-angle sensor is much better than on previous models

ppp This is a colourful low-light shot with barely any noise

Low-light images are free of noise, however, and if the light is bright you can get some really fantastic shots.

There’s a fairly standard 5-megapixel camera for selfies – and, of course, 4K video recording is supported as well.

Related: What is IP68?

LG G6 – Battery Life and Sound

If you live in Europe, then prepare to get annoyed. The European and UK version of the LG G6 is missing some handy features from which other folks will benefit.

There's no wireless charging – that’s exclusive to the US – and nor will Quad Hi-Fi DAC feature for improved sound quality. Sadly, the latter is available only on the Korean model. My review unit is of US origin, so has the wireless charging support and it matches the S7 for recharge speed when docked without wires.

Neither feature is vital, but they’re rare extras that would have been a decent addition. LG couldn’t offer a reason they're lacking – but, apparently, it doesn’t add any extra weight or thickness to the handset to include either of these features.

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Also likely to annoy is the fact that the battery is no longer removable. Instead, it’s a fixed 3,300mAh cell stuck behind the glass. This is hardly a surprise, given that the removable battery had such a negative impact on the overall look of the G5. It also means the G6 is finally water-resistant – in my opinion, a far more useful feature than a swappable battery – and has the same IP68 rating as the Samsung Galaxy S7.

I’ll save my final thoughts on battery life for when I've used a retail version, since there are some notable quirks in the stamina department with my unit. Hopefully, these will ironed out, though.

Initial Verdict

Ditching the modular design was the correct move by LG. It was handled poorly, miscommunicated and failed miserably. With the G6, LG has a phone that I can see being much more successful.

It has all the parts from the G5 that I liked – basically, that ace camera setup – but finally it now looks good and the near-bezel-free design is quite eye-catching. Will the 18:9 (2:1) aspect ratio catch on? I really don’t see why not, and if Samsung follows suit then I'm sure it will become the norm come 2018.

There are still a few niggles that stop me from believing the LG G6 is the "Phone of the Year" quite yet. Couldn’t it have waited for the Snapdragon 835? I know a CPU isn’t everything, but it instantly puts the G6 on the back foot. The same goes for those missing features in the European model; surely it wouldn’t have been so hard to add in wireless charging and the Quad DAC?

I believe this to be LG’s best phone in years, but with the competition improving too, it’s a tough call as to whether or not this will stand up against the upcoming iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy S8. Price will be a big factor, and if this comes in cheaper than those models then LG could have a winner on its hands.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Bill

February 26, 2017, 12:36 pm

Looks very nice - the screen & camera spec. in particular.
I'm an LG fan & have been using their phones for a while now. BUT...
Why did they ditch the volume controls on the back? Also, in a market where it's so difficult to differentiate your product why didn't they stick with the leather options available on the G4. I really miss both these features, but particularly the rear buttons, because apart from being 'LG's thing' they just worked better from a purely design point of view.
LG needs to have the courage of its convictions a little bit more because its instincts are pretty good.

toboev

February 26, 2017, 12:47 pm

"LG has switched to an 18:9 ratio display (basically 2:1) that gives you more screen in a smaller body."
Eh? How does that make sense? The further you depart from a 1:1 (square) ratio the more you increase the ratio of the perimeter to the area. For a given screen area and bezel width, the longer the perimeter the greater the area taken up by the bezel.

Sebastian

February 26, 2017, 12:58 pm

Massive fail for me. The two features most important to me are a removable battery and a hifi dac and this in the European market at least has neither. The fact the core spec is only very marginally superior to the G5 (820 vs 821, both with 4gb ram) doesn't help. Waterproofing and a large screen are both great but not at the expense of a removable battery and other features.

Bugblatter

February 26, 2017, 1:40 pm

Removable battery not very important? Maybe if you change your phone every year; if you hold onto them longer then the battery life will significantly degrade.

Bugblatter

February 26, 2017, 1:41 pm

It basically means that some of what's usually wasted space at the top and bottom of most phones is actually screen on this phone.

I'd rather they'd made the phone shorter but that might have been a trickier trick.

Phil

February 26, 2017, 2:02 pm

So a glass back that's prone to breaking, only GG3 on the front (surely this should be the other way round as the back cracking is not fatal whereas the front is), lacking two differentiating features for the EU market (the sound upgrade was why I was interested in this phone) and then this non standard screen size which won't be supported by most games (who is going to recode their game for one phone from one manufacturer with a tiny market share?).

I also think that, whilst I understand why the battery isn't replaceable with ease, they could have made it a feature that the battery can be replaced with appropriate tools and skill (ie by a phone repair shop or an appropriately equipped nerd) without needing it to be sent off to LG. This would mean the battery can be replaced when it begins to degrade whilst keeping the waterproofing (although I'm sure they'd say unless they do it the waterproofing can no longer be guaranteed, but that would be fine).

Also, no OIS on the wide angle camera is a killer for me as I shake like mad. I made the mistake of buying an M9 without OIS and it really makes pictures difficult.

LukeHere

February 26, 2017, 4:26 pm

I've stuck with LG phones for the past few years, G4 and G5, because I could swap the battery, and didn't need to worry about running out of juice.

The G6 is just like every other phone, it's stand out feature, being able to display two apps side by side I categorically do NOT WANT. It was a feature present from G4 onwards, but it just makes an already wee screen (compared to a laptop) even wee'er.

Being able to swap the battery was a stand out feature for LG, I don't know how many LG customers were attracted to that feature, LG will be hoping not too many.

I don't know what phone I'll be changing to this year but, regrettably, I know it won't be an LG.

Sebastian

February 26, 2017, 8:29 pm

I would like to see someone release a slightly thicker phone with thicker screen glass that doesn't break the first time you drop it. The extra thickness could also benefit in other areas such as a bigger batttery. Can't see it happening though.

evcharger

February 26, 2017, 9:47 pm

LG G6 is now just a clone of Samsung S8 or iphone 8. No interest at all. For me, LG G4 was the killer phone which was great with very good camera, excellent screen, easy to swap batteries, unique back button design, easy to disassemble/repair design, which very few phones have these days. Too bad LG will not be my phone in the future

Doc Gonzo

February 27, 2017, 12:41 pm

Glad I didn't wait for the G6 and bought the G5 last month. The phone is the same as any other now. Even if they wanted to ditch the modular part, at least make it so you can change the battery still.

Split screen.. meh, had that on my previous phone and can say it didn't get used much at all.

CyrryMaster3000

February 27, 2017, 1:39 pm

Aleayd loved the lg removeable battery.. Now they come out with this flop its gonna have to be samsung for me.. They could have maybe been clever and had 128gb as standard but otherwise the samsung is such an obvious winner its a no brainer. I think this phone will flop so hard lg will have to really pull it out the bag next time

hocobo

February 28, 2017, 9:57 pm

The iPhone 5 was the first to use a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Tom_Mann

March 1, 2017, 10:28 am

So what will be, bearing in mind all of the other manufacturers have gone the same way?

Tom_Mann

March 1, 2017, 10:33 am

I genuinely like the idea of a 18:9 aspect ratio. On a FHD screen, that gives an extra 240 pixels for, say, a movie player's control bar to be brought up whilst a film is playing without overlaying on the film itself, and really nice for the new-ish Android dual screening of apps. Possible next phone right here.

A Hole

March 1, 2017, 9:19 pm

How is the G6 a clone of 2 other phones that aren't even announced yet?

AStarbucks

March 2, 2017, 9:24 am

LG is the dumbest smartphone company around.

They had a good thing in the G2. Small bezels = Big screen in small phone. They
continued this winning idea with the LG G3 by making an industry
defining 5.5 inch screen with tiny bezels AND adding a big capacity (at
the time) removable 3,000 mAh battery (at the perfect time when Samsung
gave that up) for knowledgeable users who know that batteries die at the
12 to 18 month mark.

Then they screwed it all up completely. The G4 had a slightly smaller screen but bigger bezels so 72% vs 75% display to body ratio. Reliability problems. Who wants that?

Then they made the G5 with an even smaller screen, even bigger bezels and even smaller battery capacity. The modularity aside (great idea, sub-par execution), even if nobody wanted modularity, consumers would have bought it if the screen size was bigger (5.5 inches proved to be the market's favourite) since the battery was REMOVABLE still. But who wants a smaller screen after being used to 5.5 inches?

Now that they finally woke up and realised that people want 5.5" and above screen phones with minimal bezel as the mainstream daily driver, they want to introduce the G6 with last year's Snapdragon 820/821 ?!?!

Worse, they made a glass back? Copying the iPhone 4? Why? To let us see through something at the back? No? Then? So that silly consumers can have twice the likelihood of breaking their phone on both sides?

Worst of all they killed the removable battery, which is its sole differentiator in an industry where all other manufacturers screw customers with sealed batteries.

Who would want to buy LG G6 if it is just like everybody elses and worse? Samsung S8 is round the corner with the same water proofing & tiny bezels but Snapdragon 835.

Sealed battery phones are everywhere. Its cheaper/better value to buy from top quality Chinese brands too like Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo. Many of them have 2 year warranties as standard as opposed to LG's 1 year. Huawei & Xiaomi also have their own custom SoCs, so potentially the savings in royalties paid to Qualcomm can be passed on to consumers like us while giving us better features.

Why would I choose LG? If LG V30 retains the V20's removable battery while having a proper flagship SoC, perhaps. Else forget it.

Also it appears that they have a breakthrough foldable screen. However, instead of putting it in their own new LG phone product, it appeaers that they want to be a low margin component supplier to their phone rivals instead. If LG is so incompetent in the phone business, they deserve to lose money and die already.

Nun Ya Bizness

March 2, 2017, 10:05 am

I watched and supported what LG was doing and since I have officially sworn off all Samsung devices for reasons beknown to me and likely many others, I waited for LG to find their way because I believed they had the potential to rival top contenders. But when you find your one strength that sets you apart from other phone makers, (QUAD DAC) and it's a good thing that resinates with users both fans and newcomers alike, you don't exclude that feature from ANY variant the flagship level. If LG didn't make it available on the G6 ANYWHERE in the world, it would not look like the stupididty of decision makers run amuck. They are fools for not incorporating Quad Dac in the USA version of the G6. Absolute stupidity. Enough to piss off alot of people. And enough to even push me back to Samsung

steve crowder

March 2, 2017, 10:35 am

18:9 does not provide more screen area in a smaller body, it provides a larger diagonal dimension in a smaller body.

steve crowder

March 2, 2017, 10:39 am

moto x force?

Hector Guzman

March 2, 2017, 3:39 pm

I used to own iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones, then moved to LG.
LG phones are far better than Samsung phones, it's really well built and screen is far more solid than Samsung phones.

I dropped LG so many times and not even a scratch, but most important thing is that Samsung phones are really useless for outdoor usage, especially during the sunny days, you can hardly see anything.

Hector Guzman

March 2, 2017, 3:42 pm

Oh i didnt see that, no removable battery ? CRAP.
That's a complete turn down !. Damn it. What LG is thinking ? becoming like Samsung ?

apolloa

March 5, 2017, 4:24 pm

The G6 is actually only 0.6mm thicker then the iPhone 7 Plus, hardly enough for it to be considered a 'chunky monkey', and this is the ONLY website I've seen claim it's not a premium feeling phone. Then again you weren't handling a retail unit but a pre-production unit.

Squeaky_1

March 6, 2017, 10:02 am

Why on God's green earth, would anyone want to risk using just ONE hand? What's the deal with reviewers placing such an emphasis on this intrinsically risky activity. God gave you two hands as HE knew we would need them when smartphones arrived. I can't ever recall wanting, let alone needing, to use one hand. The first part of the review reminded me of all the guru reviewers bleating that phablets were just a phase and couldn't help themselves but splutter through the reviews denigrating Gal Notes and other phablets as comically too big. Where are those reviewers (AND nasty negative commenters these days? Hmm?) The trend is most assuredly UP in size. Two hands is the go, otherwise - get your hand off it ;-). Looks to be a great phone BTW, good on ya LG.

Squeaky_1

March 6, 2017, 10:08 am

Yeah, I missed that point too. No removable battery means no sale for me. Keep my Note 3 thanks. Maybe upgrade to a Note 4 methinks. I won't ask "What is LG/Samsung thinking" as I KNOW what they're thinking and it stinks - obsolescence - replace the whole phone in 2 years and they make more money. Stinks. Don't give me the 'waterproofing needs a sealed battery' because it doesn't. Look at the LifeProof phone cases, rated to IP68 and openable. Such a shame LG, I thought you were out to be a better manufacturer, not just a better Samsung! Disgusting how LG, Samsung et al are forcing a repurchase every few years with this underhanded ploy. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Squeaky_1

March 6, 2017, 10:16 am

Good analysis 'Astarbucks' - thank you! I disagree slightly with only one point. I believe the sweet spot is 5.7" screen size - as in Galaxy Note size. I've used one since 2013, have average size hands (sorry Trump!) and find it is absolutely perfect in size. I've had MANY around me try the phone and agree. Anecdotal evidence, to be sure, however the opinion of some phone-savvy users I can tell you. Not too far from your suggested 5.5" but a little bump up which does help a lot. Funny, the GalNote 1 was 5.5 and they jumped it up to 5.7" and it seems to have found the sweet spot.
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Interesting these strong rumours about 6.2" and 6.4" in the GalNote v8 model. Bigger is better - we shall see! Oh, lastly, if Samsung persists with this ridiculously exploitive and underhanded tactic of non-removable batteries, my next new phone will be a Gal Note 4 (yeas, FOUR). A great phone, last of the removable Sammy batteries (so last HONEST phone by Sammy) and arguably better than the 5. We'll see what the v8 arrives with!

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