The modular concept from last year's LG G5 was definitely innovative, but it didn't have much success on the market, to put it lightly. Now, the South Korean company is starting out fresh in the hopes of a more successful year with the all-new flagship, the LG G6. The company says it checked off the wish list of things that users want to see in a smartphone, bringing us the largest display in the most compact device - and it seems to be paying off in South Korea, where 20,000 units were sold on the first day (the LG G5 sold 15,000 on its launch day). Here is our full review.
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- ✓Wide angle camera
- ✕Small internal memory (32 GB)
- ✕No Daydream
- ✕Large price tag
LG G6 release date and price
The LG G6 was first presented at the Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona. The device is available now for between $672 to $729 in the US, and in two color variants: Black and Ice Platinum. All major carriers have the G6, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and U.S. Cellular.
LG G6 design and build quality
The G5 was a big change in the style and design of what had been up to that point quite a successful smartphone generation. With the G6, LG is reinventing itself by specifically targeting user priorities and preferences. As a result, the LG G6 has a large screen in a rather small body, and is the first flagship of the brand that is waterproof thanks to IP68 certification. The dimensions of the device are 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm and it weighs 163 g.
What is striking about its appearance is its novel design, which is more elongated and narrower than what the rest of the industry has made us become accustomed to. Its frame is metallic with curved corners. In contact with the screen and the back, the metal has a small bevel to improve the change of curvature. In some respects, the frame reminds us quite a lot of the Samsung Galaxy S6. The back of the device is brushed metal covered in glass, and it's a fingerprint magnet.
The LG G6 says goodbye to the friends of the G5, its famous modules, and has focused instead on developing a well-rounded device without any external features. The frames are quite thin, just as they were on the LG G4, and take up almost the entire screen.
The bottom of the frame is very similar to the one we see on the V20, especially the slots for the main speaker. In the center, there is a USB Type-C jack and on the other side, a microphone. At the top of the frame we find, thankfully, the mini-jack for headphones and a second microphone for noise cancellation.
On the back, we find the manufacturer logo and the power button is still on the back under the fingerprint sensor. On top of this, there is the camera module which has two lenses, one on each side and in the center, the flash and a laser focus sensor.
The build quality of the LG G6 is excellent, but the whole surface of the device is a fingerprint magnet, especially the black model. On the white and silver models, it isn't as bad.
LG G6 display
The display is one of the most unique points on the LG G6. It has a very special format that we have never seen before. Specifically, its IPS LCD screen has a diagonal of 5.7-inches, resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 ppi QHD+, which is somewhat longer than a normal QHD. This means that the format is 18:9, which provides two perfect 1:1 squares when viewing two apps in multi-window mode side-by-side.
The G6 is the first smartphone on Earth to have the Dolby Vision color standard, which improves the viewing experience by improving sharpness and enriching colors. This technology is already found in many movies and videos; and, both Amazon and Netflix have already begun distributing videos in Dolby Vision for smartphones.
The screen's corners are curved just like the corners of the device, which is a unique touch. This serves three purposes: to improve the aesthetics, to avoid unnecessary touching of the screen when picking the device up by the corners and to provide better drop protection. The funny thing is that the corners aren't perfectly round, as you can see below.
To better see this detail, we used the app Cornerfly, which is able to highlight extra pixels in red. These show a deviation of 20 pixels from a perfectly round shape. At first glance, this isn't very visible anyway, but Cornerfly can color the pixels black to perfect the shape so it doesn't get on your nerves as much over time.
Otherwise, the display is great. The viewing angles are good, and the colors are true to life and well balanced. It closes the distance in quality between IPS and AMOLED displays. The new HDR mode, however, isn't that noticeable, and more providers need to offer movies and other content in the format anyway.
In comfort mode, the screen is more enjoyable at night since it eliminates blue light. The mode can be adjusted from three levels of intensity to black and white. There is no way to set the mode to turn itself on or off automatically, but you can turn it on or off from the quick settings.
LG G6 special features
18:9 display (2:1)
Without a doubt, the screen of the LG G6 is something special. It has an aspect ratio of 18:9, which is equivalent to 2:1. It has a resolution of 1,440 x 2,880, and so its longest side has a few more pixels than the standard 16:9 (1,440 x 2650). In film, this format is known as Univisium, which is hailed by some as the future of cinema.
LG has given the device a 5.7-inch display, but the device's body is narrow and tight thanks to this unique ratio. When browsing and messaging with the smartphone, the display offers a superior experience, as there is more space to display content. To enjoy it to the fullest, I suggest reducing the font size and icon size so you can fit even more content on the screen.
In landscape format, more is displayed than usual thanks to the unique ratio. You can adjust the size of apps between full screen, 16.7:9 or 16:9 - leaving unfortunate black borders, but allowing apps to not lose parts of the screen, which is necessary for gaming.
LG G6 software
The LG G6 on Android 7.0 Nougat brings a new layer of customization with LG UX 6.0, which is smooth and minimalist. With this new version of the interface, the screen with this special 18:9 format and the versatility of Nougat, the LG G6 is an ideal multitasking tool. This means square camera modules and more room for split screen apps. The rounded display corners match the rounded corners of the UI icons, which looks neat.
For pre-installed apps, we find the Play Store, 13 Google apps, and a few basic apps from LG: FM radio, an app to switch from your old phone to your new one, LG SmartWorld (for wallpapers, themes and apps) and an app for managing memory and battery usage. In addition, there are some third-party apps: Evernote, Instagram and Facebook.
In total, the system occupies 11 GB of the internal storage, leaving about 20 GB free for your apps and data. Luckily, it has a slot for a microSD card. LG disabled the option to format it as internal memory, but surprisingly, it's still possible to store and launch apps from it, though it's a little slower.
By default, there's no app drawer but that can be changed in the Settings under the home screen section. You can select from the default, "Home", "Easy Home" and "Home and app drawer".
The navigation buttons are on-screen and holding down the center home button will call up Google Assistant. There are some other interesting features like: tethering, scaling apps to take advantage of the full screen, adjusting the DPI, the always-on display and an app bin where deleted apps are held for 24 hours in case we regret getting rid of them.
LG G6 performance
The processor that was finally chosen for the LG G6 is the Snapdragon 821. We don't know if Samsung had something to do with this decision, as apparently it had dibs on the production of the new Snapdragon 835 until at least spring. LG hasn't always brought the latest processor for its flagship devices, as we saw with the LG G4, which included Snapdragon 808 instead of 810 (due to its temperature problems) and proved to be an excellent performer.
For the RAM, there is 4 GB and the device comes equipped with 32 GB of internal memory, which can also be extended with a microSD card up to 2 GB. There is a 64 GB version, but it's only available in South Korea for now.
So, the LG G6 is arriving as a high-end device in 2017, with 2016 specs. Despite this, performance is great in everyday use and with games. Don't forget: Snapdragon 821 has great performance. Everything works smoothly and quickly. The animations to open apps and unlock the device are a bit slow, but that seems to be caused by the animation design, not a lack of power.
The G6 doesn't support Daydream, so you're limited to Cardboard for VR.
Despite how the screen format complicates gaming, there's not much to complain about. The processor and GPU pack enough power to run the most demanding games. LG gives the option to adjust the maximum frame rate and resolution for games. To be honest, if you play a game in Full HD resolution instead, the difference isn't that noticeable and the performance is improved. You can achieve this optimization in the Battery section of the Settings.
In some benchmarks, the LG G6 meets our expectations of the Snapdragon 821. Apparently, the software was optimized by LG to make the most of the processor.
Should the G6 have had the Snapdragon 835? It could have, but it might not have added much improvement over the benefits the 821 brings anyway.
LG G6 benchmark results
|3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.1||3D Mark Sling Shot ES 3.0||3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited ES 2.0||Geekbench CPU - single core||Geekbench CPU - multicore||PC Mark Work Performance 2.0||PC Mark Storage 2.0||Google Octane 2.0|
|Huawei Mate 9||2093||2308||25392||1930||5604||7675||7106||10935|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge||1977||2362||30310||2018||6248||5077||4607||10292|
|LG G6 (US version)||2175||3080||28830||1794||4174||5104||3843||9408|
LG G6 audio
At the time of launch, LG said that only the Korean model of the G6 would have a Hi-Fi 32-bit Sabre32 Quad DAC ES9018S chip, which was disappointing for those of us in other countries since we would miss out on the elevated audio quality it offers. But, there's a glimmer of hope now, as LG has confirmed that Australia will be getting Quad DAC next. The device will come with Dual SIM, 64 GB of storage and the Quad DAC - which justifiably bumps the price up to $1,199 AUD, $191 AUD more than the price of the normal device.
Even without the Quad DAC, the audio quality of both the US and European models of the LG G6 are acceptable.
The main speaker is a mono speaker, but nevertheless has good sound quality. At high volume, not much clarity is lost and there isn't much metallic noise to be heard. The position of the speaker is its worst attribute, since it can too easily be covered by the hand - especially when in landscape mode to play games or watch video, for example. Covering the speaker almost completely cancels out the sound, as it doesn't travel through the other holes in the device due to its impermeability.
The call quality is clear and has good volume, and the noise cancelling is very good.
Contrary to the global market trend, it's nice to see that the G6 still has a standard headphone jack, which is located at the top of the device. Through the native music app, the sound can be equalized manually or through 5 preset profiles.
LG G6 camera
The main camera of the G6 is dual, just like the G5 and V20. In this case, the two 13 MP sensors have a pixel size of 1.12 μm and phase detection autofocus (PDAF), giving a maximum resolution in a 4:3 photo format. They are also capable of recording video in 4K. The dual camera has two lenses: a wide angle lens capable of capturing 125° with a f / 2.4 aperture, and a 71° lens with f / 1.8 aperture plus optical and electronic image stabilization.
The front camera is 5 MP with an aperture of f / 2.2, 1.12 μm pixel size and electronic stabilization. It enjoys an angle of up to 100°, making it perfect for group selfies.
The LG G6 is conservative when it comes to noise reduction. This leaves noise in the image, but allows for a better representation of details, and especially in low light conditions, the colors are more true.
With the G6, there is visible noise at ISO 800 (the typical indoor or artificial light setting), even without magnifying the image. With ISO 400, images are fairly clear. The white balance left a good impression. Just after sunset, images have a bluish tone, but the overall quality is good.
The automatic HDR works well in high contrast situations. With the HDR mode disabled, you can see the typical problem of smartphone sensors with the dynamic range under-highlighting the details, though. The G6's automatic HDR does a good job of delivering brilliant, beautiful images.
In short, LG has chosen to keep a little noise in low-light pictures in favor of greater detail. As for selfies, the automatic mode does a good job adjusting the brightness so that the face is appropriately bright.
Except for some details, the interface closely resembles that presented by the LG G5. We have four modes: Auto, Square, Manual Photo and Manual Video. In the Automatic mode, we can choose more options: Panorama, 360 Panorama, Food, Slo-mo, Time-lapse, Pop-out and Snap. In Square mode, we can make collages in 2:1 format. Square camera snapshots will work perfectly for Instagram, and the special "grid shot" will contain multiple squares to show off more photos at once.
In both Automatic and Manual mode, we can choose from eight color filters to add a creative touch to our shots. In Manual mode (both photo and video), we can adjust the white balance, focus, ISO, aperture and exposure.
With the front camera, we can apply a good amount of filters as well as adjust the brightness and skin tone. There is also a small drop down menu to quickly share a selfie on your social networks.
LG G6 battery
Since the release of the LG G2, we haven't seen an LG flagship without a removable battery. The extraction method for the G5 was quite ingenious, but the model didn't measure up in terms of its design when compared to its competitors. LG has finally decided to succumb to the market trend and has eliminated the removable battery, but extended its capacity to up to 3,300 mAh. Quite a successful step, seeing as the battery life is what seems concern users most.
Charging is done via a USB Type-C port that supports Quick Charge 3.0. Thanks to Type-C, the G6 can supply power to another smartphone. Only the US version of the LG G6 will enjoy wireless charging capability. We have been able to test it, and it charges faster with a cable.
After trying both the US and European variants of the G6, we can say that they are both quite good and last through a demanding day of use easily. Like all high end smartphones, though, the powerful processor will cost you some battery life.
It is possible for the phone to last through two days of normal use, only needing to be charged by the second night. With a very demanding day, battery life will drop to between 6 to 10 hours with intense use - meaning, a morning of calls, emails and podcasts, followed by an afternoon of games and videos. In the end, we got 15 hours of use, with 5 hours of display time (as you can see below). The US version of the LG G6 scored five hours and 26 minutes on the PC Mark Battery Work 1.0 benchmark test.
LG G6 technical specifications
|Dimensions:||148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm|
|Battery size:||3300 mAh|
|Screen size:||5.7 in|
|Screen:||2880 x 1440 pixels (564 ppi)|
|Front camera:||5 megapixels|
|Rear camera:||13 megapixels|
|Android version:||7.0 - Nougat|
|User interface:||LG UX|
|Internal storage:||32 GB|
|Chipset:||Qualcomm Snapdragon 821|
|Number of cores:||4|
|Max. clock speed:||2.4 GHz|
|Connectivity:||HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2|
LG has had to withstand two strong blows with its last flagships. As we know the LG G5 has been far from a success, ending the good reputation the company had come to rely on since releasing the G3 or the G4. With the LG G6, its plain to see that the South Korean manufacturer is seeking to regain user confidence, by hopefully delivering everything one would want in a smartphone.
The LG G6 has left a very good impression on us. It has a few key points that you can boast about, such as its display (with the unique ratio), audio quality (even without Quad DAC) and battery (with wireless charging in the US). The design and water resistance make it a even more attractive choice. It has some criticisms, though, like only 32 GB of internal storage and no removable battery.
Although it's a good smartphone, it doesn't have the latest processor and still carries a high-end price tag. In any case, the price of LG smartphones usually falls after a few months anyway, so that's when it will be the best value.
This review was also made possible by the contributions of Hans-Georg Kluge, Brittany McGhee and Stefan Möllenhoff.