The viewing experience on smartphones is going to change forever. The 16:9 aspect ratio of mobile phone displays will be a thing of past in few months from now, at least in the flagship category.
The credit goes to LG G6- a new kind of smartphone that fills up way more screen in a compact phone body than you would expect and have experienced until now with the current generation of smartphones.
LG G6 does that with the help of its super thin bezels surrounding the 5.7-inch QHD+ display from four sides, which creates a taller screen delivering a never before aspect ratio of 18:9 on a mobile phone. Interestingly, the smartphone does that without compromising on practicality in real world usage.
Moreover, there's a sense of confidence that the user will experience while handling the LG G6, something you will find missing in its one and only direct rival- the Samsung Galaxy S8.
In addition to the unconventional bezel-less screen at front, LG G6 also improves on the imaging front by integrating a new dual rear wide angle camera module powered by Sony's IMX camera sensors.
The LG G6 has 4GB of RAM and is backed by the modest Snapdragon 821 chipset, which is not the fastest, but certainly not to be underestimated in any case whatsoever.
All of this and technically a lot more is crammed inside two pieces of glasses held together by a solid aluminum frame carrying the required buttons and ports. And yes, LG G6 is a non-modular smartphone leaving behind the G5 with its friends.
So is LG G6 "The best Flagship Smartphone" of the first quarter of the year 2017? Let's find out.
Design: LG G6 brings a modern bezel-less design without compromising on basics
Unlike the last year's LG G5, the new G6 is non-modular, which is good and bad at the same time. It is good because the standard design makes the LG G6 focus on basics such as a durable construction, water-dust resistivity, a non-removable but powerful battery and no extra investments from consumer's pockets in modular components or as LG calls it LG friends.
But then what makes it bad is the fact that I am losing hope from a leading brand that have always took bold steps and has been at the forefront of innovation. With the non-modular LG G6, I am forced to believe that LG has no plans to improve on the modular design approach, which in my belief is the real future of the mobile devices.
If not LG, someone else will improve on it, may be Motorola or in distant future, the Search engine giant Google itself, which gave the world the first glimpse of modular handsets with its Project Ara.
Having said that, LG G6 with the non-modular design is one of the toughest and the only practical Android handset with the new 18:9 aspect ratio Full Vision screen. As per company, the smartphone has managed to pass 14 different military-standard 810G tests for delivering on durability.
To take on Samsung's latest Galaxy devices, the LG G6 also comes equipped with IP68 rating to make it ready for non favorable conditions. The smartphone is dust and water resistant up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. The smartphone is sculpted from aluminum and glass, precisely Corning's latest Gorilla Glass 5 at rear and Glass 3 at front.
I accidentally dropped it on the carpet from a height of 5 feet and as expected, it handled the drop without any damages. Had it been the Samsung Galaxy S8 or the S8+, the outcome could have been catastrophic. The Samsung's flagships fail to give you a sense of confidence in everyday usage, which LG addresses beautifully even despite a bezel-less 18:9 ratio screen.
I believe the pay-off for a durable and a practical device is quite logical against the head turning curved design, which feels fragile in everyday use. However, I cannot deny the fact that the Galaxy S8 and the S8+ are undoubtedly gorgeous and the final decision rests on your personal choice.
Coming on some other aspects, LG G6 is very comfortable to use with one hand, despite sporting a large 5.7-inch display. It delivers a big screen multimedia experience in a compact form factor without causing any inconvenience. In a typical LG fashion, you get the fingerprint scanner integrated on the power button at the rear panel, just below the dual-camera module.
The volume buttons are placed on the right and an ejectable SIM card tray is positioned on the left spine. The top has the 3.5mm audio jack, while the bottom hosts the USB-Type C port. The upper bezel is minimized by rearranging the camera, sensor and speaker in a row on the front upper side. The smartphone's edges and the display have also given rounded corners to unify the design.
Overall, with slimmer bezels surrounding the eye-popping screen and the metal-glass build, the LG G6 looks stunning and is simply the best handset coming out from the LG factory.
Display: LG G6 is leading the way for a new kind of mobile experience
LG is leading the charge when it comes to display technologies, be it company's big screen TVs or the smartphone we are discussing today in this review. The new kind of screen on LG G6 with the unconventional 18:9 aspect ratio is much more fun to use and makes the regular 16:9 aspect ratio looks primitive.
LG calls it the FullVision display and it is bound to create a never seen cinematic viewing experience on a mobile device; however it will take a while.
This is because the content generators have to work around to create the viewable digital material for the new aspect ratio. This goes for almost everything- videos, games, apps, etc. To minimize the immediate effect of lack of content, LG has a solution. The display settings has something termed as 'App Scaling' that allows you to tweak the aspect ratio of the apps you install from the Google Play store.
You can adjust the screen size to run them in the format matching the 18:9 aspect ratio or in the standard format, which kills the purpose of having such an impressive new screen. But as I mentioned, the content is scarce and the apps might not function smoothly on the new aspect ratio.
Another thing that makes the LG G6 the ne of its kind smartphone is the support for Dolby vision technology. The 5.7-inch QHD+ display on LG G6 that comes with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 pixels is also the first mobile screen to support Dolby Vision technology with HDR 10, which is standard for High Dynamic Range (HDR).
What this means is better contrast, vivid colours and enhanced brightness while watching compatible content. And for compatible content, you would need Amazon Prime or Netflix. Netflix supports both Dolby vision and HDR 10 formats on Android and this makes LG G6 the only handset in the market with the ability to stream it.
You must be wondering that the new Galaxy S8 and S8+ also feature the HDR displays but Samsung is using Mobile HDR premium standard, which is not supported by Netflix at this point of time. Hence Checkmate situation for Samsung in the particular feature set.
In everyday usage, I did find LG G6's IPS screen offering deeper blacks as compared to other IPS displays in the market. It's also very bright and using the handset in outdoors will not be a problem.
The content looks amazingly crisp, thanks to the pixel density of ~565ppi. The colours on the LG G6's Full Vision display might not match the vibrant tones of the Galaxy S8's AMOLED screen, but they are just accurate and a delight to look at.
Overall, the 5.7-inch QHD screen on LG G6 is perfect for multimedia lovers. The 18:9 aspect ratio results in extra viewing space that allows users to comfortably view two apps side-by-side for better multitasking.
Camera: 13+13MP dual-rear camera with OIS, PDAF and 4k video recording
The wide-angle camera on LG G5 and the recently launched LG V20 is amazing but has one major issue; the image quality suffers a lot when you switch to wide-angle lens, which hampers the camera experience.
This is something LG has addressed with the new flagship that packs in two 13MP shooters, one for regular shots and other for wide-angle photography. However they cannot give you bokeh effects like the cameras on iPhone 7 Plus.
One of the 13MP cameras at rear, the standard one has an aperture size of f/1.8, covers 71 degree field of view and also supports Optical Image Stablization (OIS 2.0). The other 13MP camera has a wide-angle lens covering 125 degree range and has an aperture size of f/2.4. Unlike the G5's 8MP wide-angle lens, it does not reduce the image quality while you switch from the standard lens to capture wide-angle shots.
The results are astonishing. The lenses have zoom capability by upto 8X, also comes equipped with Phase detection Auto Focus (PDAF), tracking focus, and also captures images in RAW (JPEG+DNG) format. In short, a sheer delight for camera enthusiasts.
For selfies you have a 5MP front camera that covers a wide range of 100 degrees.
LG has also revamped the camera app and the new LG G6 has more feature rich and easy to use interface. You get your recent pictures on the side and there's also an exposure compensation slider to get the perfect shot.
The square camera app, which shows the full preview and the scene you re capturing at the same time, is fun and intuitive. The switching between the standard and wide-angle lens is seamless when you zoom in and zoom out or press the toggle button on the camera screen. The G6's camera also features a variety of modes and filters to let you experiment with the pictures you capture.
Talking about the image quality, the pictures you capture in daylight are nothing but impressive. They have ample detailing, amazing dynamic range and look super crisp on the QHD screen. And both the lenses capture natural colour tones. The camera also delivers on low-light photography; however the images have somewhat poster colour effect when you zoom in them to maximum levels.
This is something you will not notice in images captured by Apple iPhones in the same light conditions. The video quality is also good, especially when you record in 4K format. Besides, the panoramic image shooting experience is also great on the LG G6.
The selfie camera also gets the same treatment. You can capture standard self portraits and group selfies by switching to wide-angle mode that gives you a 100 degree field of view.
Overall, the camera experience on LG G6 won't let you down. The wide-angle lens on LG G6 gives it an edge over its competitors who cannot capture images with such wide range. If you love street and landscape photography, this is the camera smartphone you should buy beyond any shadow of doubt.
Hardware: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 CPU with 4GB of RAM
LG settled down with Snapdragon 821 chipset which makes it less capable in performance from the rival Samsung Galaxy S8; however just on papers and in benchmark scores. It's still the flagship CPU, just one generation older and paired with a 4GB of RAM. When combined with the latest Android flavor- the Android 7.0 Nougat, the smartphone delivers lag free performance no matter what app you are running on it.
Game lover will also not be disappointed as you can run pretty much every app on the Google Play Store. However, it is worth mentioning that the handset gets hot when you churn out the maximum performance and i.e. during graphical intensive games, navigation, continues video recording and long video playback. But heat also dissipates quickly.
For storage, the LG G6 comes with 32 or 64GB of memory on board, which can be further extended up to 2TB with the use of a microSD card.
The variant that LG is going to sell in the Indian market also comes equipped with 4 Hi-fi Quad DAC to enhance audio performance.
Software: LG's Android skin can be confusing at first, but it works like a charm
I am not quite a fan of non-stock Android UIs but LG G6 with the new UX 6.0 deployed on the latest Android 7.0 Nougat worked just fine. The new software skin feels uncluttered; however only to users who have used LG's Android devices in past. For someone making a shift to LG's ecosystem from iPhone, Nexus series and other Android skins, the UI can be a bit tricky at first.
The UX 6.0 is quite colorful, fun to use and efficiently utilizes the tall screen to enhance the user experience in everyday usage. For instance, the split screen feature works brilliantly on the taller display with the two apps divided in two square boxes for comfortable viewing.
You can also adjust the app window size as per your requirement. Most of the apps work in split screen mode and the ones don't support it can be made functional by enabling the feature from the developers mode. LG's always on display, the Knock on feature to activate the screen and the customizable lock screen brings useful information for easy access.
The user interface is smooth, is filled with nice looking animations and is quite well optimized to run all the apps without any performance issues. The default user interface is inspired from the iPhone with all apps placed on the homescreen; however LG also allows you to enable the standard Android interface with an app drawer from the settings panel. You just need to download the Home 4.0 launcher from the LG's app store.
LG G6 also comes preloaded with LG's stock apps including LG QSlide, Quick switch, a suite of everyday apps, etc. that might seem insignificant to some, but enhances the overall user experience in the longer run. Start using them and you will feel a difference in day to day mobile experience.
Last but not the least, LG G6 also comes with Google Assistant, which makes it future ready in the race of smart assistant equipped handsets.
Battery and Connectivity: Surprisingly good battery backup
It can be disappointing for consumers to find out that unlike LG G5 and some previous LG flagship handsets; the LG G6 is backed by a non-removable battery unit. But the payoff is quite logical when you get a phone equipped with IP68 water and dust resistivity.
The LG G6 is backed by a 3,350 mAh battery unit that also supports Quick Charge 3.0. In my everyday use, I found the battery backup surprisingly good even with a heavy dose of camera usage, gaming, music streaming, YouTube playback, calling, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. The smartphone can easily last a day and the battery also recharges to 45-50% from flat in over 30 minutes, which is pretty decent.
There's no compromise in connectivity department as the smartphone comes equipped with Wi-Fi 802.11, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, USB Type-C 2.0 (3.1 compatible) and GPS.
The LG G6 is a one of its kind smartphone. It gives a clear sneak peek of what the future mobile devices will look like while covering the basics, i.e. a robust design with water-dust resistivity, a capable camera, supreme audio and a good battery backup.
It brings the first ever taller display with the unconventional 18:9 aspect ratio, without compromising on basic design aesthetics. The new kind of screen brings a new kind of visual experience and makes the standard screen devices look dated.
Moreover, LG G6 also has an advantage over other smartphones as it is the world's first mobile device to support Dolby Vision and HDR 10 display technology for unmatchable viewing experience.
And the fact that LG has managed to do it and incorporate the same without making the device flimsy and non ergonomic, is truly amazing. LG G6, even with minimal bezels is rock solid and can easily manage accidental drops.
Besides, the wide angle camera on LG G6 is nothing like you will find anywhere else, not even on the rivals Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel devices. The cameras on these other two handsets have their own set of features and capability, but not the wide-angle expertise that LG G6 offers.
As far as processing power and multitasking is concerned, I don't mind a Snapdragon 821 chipset as it worked just fine on the LG G6, which handled everything I threw at it with an ease.
To sum up all, LG G6 delivers on everything that you would want from a premium flagship Android handset. Yes it does lack the wow factor that the Samsung's latest bezel-less devices tend to offer, but that comes at an extra price-point and fails to give the required confidence in everyday handling, which as per me is a basic design aspect.
If you can ignore the two factors, Galaxy S8 is for you; otherwise the LG G6 is the best Android handset you can buy in the market today.