Review: Don’t buy an iPhone until you’ve considered the LG G6

Review: Don’t buy an iPhone until you’ve considered the LG G6

LGis going toe-to-toe against its biggest rivals with the G6, abandoning a number of unique features that helped its predecessors stand out from the competition. Gone is the modular design of the G5 and the removable battery of past flagships. In its place is a device that feels a lot more like a traditional smartphoneone that will surely be compared tothe likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7. But has LG finally created a phone good enough to convince Samsung and Apple loyalists to give them a shot?

LG G6 design

The first thing youll notice about the G6 is how its 5.7-inch display appears to take up the entire front of the device. Anyone who has owned an LG G-series phone might not be struck by its effect, but youll be in for a real treatcoming from the iPhone or Google Pixel.

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The G6 feels more premium than any of its leather or primer-covered predecessors. The front and back are covered in Gorilla Glass, while the frame is built out of aluminum. Despite those improved materials, the device issurprisingly lightweight, coming in at just 5.75 ounces. For comparison, the iPhone 7 Plus, which has a smaller 5.5-inch screen, is much heavier at 6.63 ounces.

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LGs decision to drop the G5s modularity allowed it to add IP68 dust and water resistance. The few design cues LG kept are the G6’s rear fingerprint sensor and dual cameras. It moved the volume buttons from the back of the phone to the side.

About that water resistance, G6’s IP68 rating means that it can be submerged in water for 30 minutes at a depth of up to five feet, which means you don’t have to worry about it falling in your pool (or your French press).

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LG G6 display

The G6s 2880×1440, 5.7-inch display is one of the best around. That shouldnt come as a surprise given the companys pedigree for producing gorgeous 4K TVs. LG yet again opted for LCD technology, which means you still wont get the unrivaled black levels and extremely vibrant colors found on AMOLED displays, but I cant imagine anyone complaining about the G6s HDR-enabled panel.

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I watched several movie trailers and random clips of animals shot with 4K cameras, and each time I was greeted with a flurry of vibrant colors and exceptionally crisp detail. I even preferred the G6s display to the one found on the iPhone 7 Plus because of its slightly cooler white balance, which allowed the colors to standout a bit more. Aside from the white balance, both displays exhibited similar characteristics, including impressive screen brightness at well over 500 nits,a common measurement for smartphones and TV that measures theamount of light that gets sent to your eye in a given area. In short, the G6gets as bright as the iPhone 7 Plus and is clearly visible even on the brightest days.

If you think the device looks a bit like a baguette, its because LG went with a 2:1 aspect ratio, which means its a lot longer than it is wide. This makes it much easier to hold the phone with one handand should be a big benefit for anyone with smaller hands who would otherwise struggle to reach their thumb to the opposite edge of the display.

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Youll also notice the corners of the display are curved. LG says this mimics the exterior of the phone and adds durability. I couldnt help but notice it every time I picked up the G6. Its not necessary a bad thing, but it might take some getting used to.

LG G6 software

The G6 comes out-of-the-box running Android Nougat, the latest operating system from Google. Its not pure Android, but LG has at least included a third-party skin that offers a solid experience overall. The South Korean company appears to have learned a lesson in restraint, and its latest spin on Android allows Googles streamlined interface to rise to the surface instead of being hidden bybloatware.

LG faithful will be happy to know the company kept what many argue are its bestfeatures in Knock Code and manual camera controls. Knock Code lets you turn your display on by simply tapping the screen, and manual camera controls allow photography enthusiasts to adjust settings like ISO, shutter speed, and focus depth. Its a big perk for people who are serious about photography, and it makes Androids stock camera interface look downright childish.

LG G6 performance

The LG G6 performed admirably out of the box, despite being powered by last years Snapdragon 821 processor. You might have been disappointed to find out that LGs newest flagship wouldnt include the Snapdragon 835 found in the Samsung Galaxy S8, but rest assured: The 821 is no slouch. In fact, its the same processor powering the Google Pixel, one of last years highest-praised devices. Playing graphic-intensive games, running multiple apps, and navigatingthe OS didnt seem to impactthe G6’s swift performance.

LG G6 cameras

LG has been quietly releasing excellent smartphone cameras over the past few years, but they’ve been largely overshadowed by Samsung and Apple’s offerings. This time around, LG opted for two 13-megapixel rear-facing lenses to replace the G5s 16MP primary and 8MP wide-angle lens.

The results are impressivebut short of remarkable. I took the G6 on a photo shoot with the Google Pixel and iPhone 7 Plus, a few of last years very best camera phones. The G6 kept pace, outdoing its rivals in certain conditions butfalling short in others. I was impressed by the amount of detail the G6 was able to capture, and its extremely close macro distance bested its rivals. Unfortunately, it didn’t do as well with low-light shots, and its images weren’t as pleasantly saturated as those on the Pixel or iPhone.

Here are a few photos that show what the G6 is capable of:

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The G6 excels at macro photography.

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Point. Shoot. Upload to Instagram.

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The G6’s HDR feature did a good on this shot. The river and sky retained their colors against a bright sun.

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The colors at this graffiti park weren’t as saturated as those on the Pixel or iPhone.

Here’s a comparison between the standard 13-megapixel lens and the 13-megapixel wide-angle lens.

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LG G6 speakers

LG ditched one my favorite features on the G5 and V20: the quad DAC for enhanced audio output. It still has a headphone jack, but that boost in wired audio quality found on previous LG devices madea big difference when using headphones that require a bit of extra juice.

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The bottom-firing speakers got loud but sounded thin and tinny, especially when compared to the iPhone and Pixel. The unfortunate location of the speaker is a result of using the entire front of the device for thedisplaya trade-off I was more than happy to accept.

LG G6 battery life

The G6s battery life isnt great, and thats a shame considering its the first LG flagship in a long time to not feature a removable battery. Its not all bad. I was able to get through a day on a single charge with low-to-medium use. The duration of the phones 3,300mAh battery will depend a lot on how bright you keep its display throughout the day. At peak brightness, the phone will only get a few hours of battery life. Drop the brightness down to 50 percent and you should easily make it through your day without having to charge back up.

The G6 can be charged wirelesslyand is compatible with Qualcomms Quick Charge 3.0 technology.

Should you buy the LG G6?

The G6 is a return to form for LG after last years failed G5 experiment, and it is easily one of the best smartphones on the market. The edge-to-edge display with its 18:9 aspect ratio is a sight to behold, and the phones glass and aluminum build make it feel more premium than any of its predecessors. LG has even improved its software by lettingAndroid take center stage.

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We would have liked the battery to last an hour or two longer, and its a shame the G6 doesnt ship with the latest Snapdragon processorif only for added assurance that things wont slow to a crawl years down the roadbut those are minor gripes when you look at the whole package.

Starting at$700, the G6 is an excellent device that I easily recommend to anyone looking for a compact, high-end alternative to Samsungs Galaxy line or Apple’s iPhone. But with the competition continuing to evolve, the question still remains: What can LG do to stop being an alternative and start producing a must-have device?

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