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In recent years LG has always tried to equip it’s smartphones with a feature that will attract attention. But if some things have become standard over time, such as high definition displays, dual camera, optical image stabilizer or laser auto focus, many others have fallen into the abyss.
Perhaps the new 18:9 format of the new LG G6 falls into this category or maybe not, but the feeling after a few days of use is that despite lacking some functions of the next top smartphone and not offering a more powerful hardware platform than the V20, is nevertheless a much more solid and concrete product.
At first glance the LG G6 looks partly familiar. The 5.8 inch device is smaller than you think. The screen is more extended than ever before, and the top and bottom bezels are small. Aesthetically, despite the glass cover, it does not resemble the Samsung Galaxy family and offers a subtle design, also enhanced by the metal insert that runs along the entire perimeter.
The choice was also dictated by the desire to avoid the classic solution with 2.5D front glass which represents a structural weakness in case of accidental falls. The glass on the back is curved but is covered in the latest and durable Gorilla Glass 5, while the screen is protected by Gorilla Glass 3.
The battery is no longer removable, but sealed in the shell. The smartphone also looks more solid in hand, although we’re not talking about a device characterized by a particular shock certification. The metal waist band also helps to provide a good design with a solid grip. The smartphone is not extra thin like the newest competing models (the thickness is 7.9mm), but in reality this contributes to the feeling of solidity and reliability of the smartphone.
Although the G6 looks very well made, it is worth remembering that, like all devices with glass covers, it is bound to accumulate scratches. On the other hand, the G6 is waterproof according to IP68 standards.
The hardware platform offers top-of-the-range features of early 2017, with SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM. Unfortunately, only the version with 32GB of internal memory is available in Europe, although it is expandable via microSD cards with a maximum capacity of up to 2TB.
Some of the other major features of the LG G6 will unfortunately not be available anywhere. The Quad DAC – an updated version of the previous one used in the V20 – will be available only in Korea and in some other Asian countries. Even the 64 GB version will only come to some countries in Asia and Eastern Europe.
The screen is always one of the most important parts of a smartphone and this is especially true for the G6 which has a new 18:9 screen. This is a 5.5-inch IPS panel with a resolution of 2880 x 1440 pixels, basically a normal QHD but with about 300 pixels more at the top. LG states that the panel can reach a brightness of 600 nit so it can be clearly readable even outdoors, which we can confirm after a few days of use. The display also supports Dolby Vision and HDR 10, so it will be ready for new content coming soon on mobile platforms such as Netflix.
The speaker is just OK. The volume is reasonably high, but lacks the clarity and bass of some competitors.
The G6 marks the return of the dual rear camera with a 13 Mpixel sensor combined with a 71° angle lens and a 125° wide angle, the latter with fixed focus. The main lens also has an f/1.8 aperture and an optical stabilizer, absent on the other lens, with an aperture of f/2.4.
It’s not much different from the one on the LG V20. Sure, now there’s Android 7.0 Nougat on board, but for the rest we find the same color scheme, square icons with beveled corners and the still absent drawer app. LG did at least try to make it even cleaner than the previous version, working on its evolution.
The new 18:9 display ratio also helped LG decrease the density of information, spread it over more space and introduce some interesting features. Most apps like Music, Contacts, and Calendar are now divided into two square sections with complex visual effects at the top and useful information at the bottom. Of course, a screen with a higher height is also perfect for multi-window display, allowing you to see more content. However few other applications benefit from the new aspect ratio of the screen.
The Knock On function (double tap to turn on the display) is now more useful since the power button and the fingerprint sensor are on the back. However, those who hoped LG would imitate Google by introducing the shortcut with the swipe down motion on the fingerprint sensor that quickly accesses notifications will be disappointed, because gestures are absent, although would have been particularly comfortable in a device this size, where the top of the screen might be difficult to reach with one hand.
The LG G6 has the honor of being the first non Google produced Android-based smartphone to be equipped with the Google Assistant, the same digital assistant seen on the new Pixels. This is very handy, but it doesn’t look like it’s the app that Googled pledged, although it’s getting a lot better since first launch.
The choices made by LG regarding the rear camera of the G6 are destined to cause a debate, at first glance it might seem like a downgrade.
While the G5 had a 16 Mpixel main camera flanked by an 8 Mpixel wide angle, the G6 has two 13 Mpixel cameras, the first combined with a wide-angle lens of 125° and f/2.4 aperture and the other with an f/1.8 lens with a more traditional angle of 71°, which is also equipped with an optical stabilizer. The sensors chosen are also the classic ones with 1.12 micron pixels that usually do not behave well in low light conditions. The G6 camera doesn’t look like anything special on paper, but thanks to a very luminous lens, the optical stabilizer and the great software tuning implemented by LG is better than that of the Galaxy S7, measuring itself on equal terms with that of the Google Pixel. Although the 8 Mpixel wide angle can be noisy in the absence of a good light source, it is still much more valid than the V20’s and G5’s implementations. It is an excellent solution, able to capture the finest details and equipped with a wide dynamic range and saturated but always credible colors.
As the focal length has also changed, a greater distance from the object is required to capture the same image or the captured scene will be narrower. It depends on your use pattern, for some it will be better, for others worse, but details and quality are not debatable.
On the front we find a 5 Mpixel camera with a 100° angle, it can switch from a narrower shot to a wider shot where you can also include your friends. Of course, performance in poorly lit environments, as you can imagine, is not impressive, but still more than enough to share your shots on social media.
For videos, the rear camera behaves especially well, thanks to the performance of the lens and the stabilizer. All in all, the results achieved with Google Pixels look even better, but the difference is minimal.
Abandoning the modularity and the removable battery has allowed LG to integrate into the G6 a bit larger battery and in fact we find a 3300mAh model that is equipped with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology. 3300mAh are not a lot for a 5.7 inch smartphone, but this doesn’t stop the G6 from getting good results anyway. Using 4G and Wi-Fi and taking many pictures during the day, I found an autonomy of about 14 hours, from 8am to 10pm with 15% remaining at the end of the day.
Compared to the last few years LG has focused on building a solid and well balanced smartphone instead of creating something “different”. The user experience offered is therefore of the highest level, with a successful design, high quality screen, high performance and good autonomy, plus a camera capable of excellent performance, especially in low brightness. The LG G6 does not excel in any particular area but is a reliable device in any situation.