LG V30 review – LG V30 hands-on review – LG may have been one of the first smartphone manufacturers to release an edge-to-edge “bezel-less” phone in 2017, but the G6’s early release forced the company to use an older Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor. Nearly all other flagship phones utilize the superior Snapdragon 835 chip. Sales of the G6 haven’t been stellar, but the latest LG V30 smartphone may finally put the company on the right track. It features hardware specifications that match other high-end 2017 phones, and it continues the design trend of minimizing edges around the screen. In our LG V30 hands-on review, we found it to be a great phone all-around, with plenty of nifty features to love.
OLED DISPLAY, SKIMPIER BEZELS
The “bezel-less” trend companies like LG and Samsung are following offers more screen real-estate, while narrowing the edges around the screen. With a 6-inch screen, there’s no doubt the LG V30 is a large phone; but if you’re used to traditional 5.5-inch smartphones like the iPhone 7 Plus, you’ll hardly feel a difference.
On the front of the V30, there are tiny edges on the top, bottom, and sides of the phone. The screen’s corners are rounded, as are the phone’s frame. The front-facing camera and earpiece sits at the top, while there’s nothing on the bottom — not even an LG logo like on the G6. A USB Type-C charging port sits on the bottom of the phone, next to a single speaker grill.
The SIM card slot is on the right, and the volume rocker is on the left edge. In traditional LG style, the fingerprint sensor on the rear doubles as the power button. The dual-camera setup is at the top center, next to the flash, and below the fingerprint sensor is the V30 name and an LG logo.
The glass chrome rear is elegant and shiny, but the phone still feels cheap. It feels plasticky and too lightweight — a stark contrast from the heftier G6, which feels like a phone worth its price tag. This doesn’t cause any issues with the phone, but after handling the titanium and ceramic Essential Phone, the V30 doesn’t make us feel anything about its build quality. One of our V30 units also suffered a large crack on the rear after an incredibly low drop, around three feet; it’s the price of all-glass phones, and you will certainly want to put a case on it.
if you’re used to 5.5-inch smartphones like the iPhone 7 Plus, you’ll hardly feel a difference.
The OLED display is a different story. It features a 2,880 x 1,440-pixel resolution, with an 18:9 aspect ratio. OLED allows you to see inky, deep blacks, because the pixels are turned off when they’re not needed. The V30 won’t get as bright as an LED or LCD display, but we were satisfied with it in broad daylight. The screen is easy to see in all viewing angles; and the colors aren’t overly saturated, but still vibrant. One of the benefits of the OLED display is virtual reality: The V30 is now a Daydream-ready device, meaning you can use it to immerse yourself in Google’s mobile VR platform, provided you have the Daydream View VR headset already.
The 6-inch screen is excellent for media consumption. Shows such as Daredevil on Netflix look gorgeous because they utilize the full screen 18:9 aspect ratio, but not all content is supported. Many videos from YouTube, for example, will show black borders on the sides — it’s not bad by any means, but it won’t feel as immersive.
We did run into an issue: Movies and shows with dark elements, such as The Defenders on Netflix, were far too dark and barely visible on one of our V30 units. On our second V30 unit, we had zero issues; the same exact scenes were much brighter and more colorful. We’ve reached out to LG for comment, but haven’t heard back yet. We should note that these are not final release units.
TOP SPECS, HANDY SOFTWARE FEATURES
LG opted to release the G6 earlier than usual, so it couldn’t take advantage of the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, unlike every other 2017 flagship phone. That’s not the case with the V30. The 835 is an excellent processor and we’ve yet to run into any issues with performance on the V30. The 4GB of RAM certainly helps, and we’ll have to keep testing to see if the phone continues to perform well.
With the V30, you get the option to choose between 64 or 128GB of internal storage, and an added MicroSD card slot allows you to increase it any time you need more space. The phone is IP68 water- and dust-resistance, which means you can take it underwater up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes.
Last year’s LG V20 was the first Android smartphone to run Android 7.0 Nougat. Sadly, there’s no Android 8.0 Oreo on the V30. Instead, it runs Android 7.1.2, but LG said it’s already working on an update to bring the latest flavor of the Android mobile operating system to the V30.
Regardless, the LG Android skin, or theme, is one of the better ones we’ve seen. What we like especially is the amount of customizability to make the phone more personal. You can set different themes from the LG theme store — there’s even a system-wide dark mode; you can double tap the screen to turn the display on or off; and Smart settings allows the phone to automatically turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you leave your home and change your sound profile.
One of the latest additions is the Floating Bar, which is meant to replace the secondary display found on the LG V20. It’s a little expandable bar that sits on your screen at all times, and once you tap on it you can either access apps quickly, music controls, screen capture controls, or a handful of contacts. I’ve found it handy, but you can turn it off if you don’t think you need it. It’s fairly similar to the Edge Panel on the Galaxy S8 and Note 8.
There are also more ways to unlock your phone with the V30. Apart from the fingerprint sensor on the rear, the V30 lets you unlock your phone with your face. It works accurately and fairly reliably, even from the always-on display. It’s still faster and easier to use the fingerprint sensor on the V30, though. Then there’s Voice Print, which lets you use your own phrase to unlock the phone. We set our V30’s Voice Print to “OK Computer,” and it unlocked the phone reliably in low-noise environments — it’s not a feature we’d use in public.
A FOCUS ON VIDEO
The V30, like the G6, has a dual-camera setup on the rear. One camera takes wide-angle photos (13 megapixels, f/1.9 aperture), while the other is standard (16 megapixels, f/1.6 aperture). While most other smartphone manufacturers are opting for dual-camera set ups that add a “telephoto zoom” lens for portraits or a black and white sensor, LG went against the grain with a super wide-angle camera. We love it because it allows us to shoot distinct photos not many other smartphones can accomplish without third-party attachments.
Photos taken in broad daylight offer solid color accuracy, with great details. LG said the improved aperture on the wide-angle lens means there’s less distortion around the corners, and it means brighter images. Low-light isn’t as good as we’d have liked — the lack of optical image stabilization means photos look blurry unless you keep your hand extremely steady.
Cine Video mode essentially allows you to add filter-like themes to videos before filming.
But LG isn’t focusing much on stills for the V30. No, the spotlight is all on video. The V30 is targeting a younger audience, teens and kids that love to document their lives with video through their smartphone. It’s why the company has worked with color grading experts to offer a Cine Video mode. This mode essentially allows you to add filter-like themes to videos before filming anything, and the themes are all designed around movie genres. Classic, for example, will force you to shoot in black and white; Thriller adds a dark blue tint; Flashback offers sepia hues; and Romantic Comedy adds a warm color palette.
It’s a fun video mode that we’ve enjoyed using, but we love the Point and Zoom feature that’s available in this mode more. It’s a slider you can push up or down to zoom in or out of a video, but it utilizes object tracking technology. Instead of zooming in on the center of the screen, tap an object or person you want to zoom in on, and when you start zooming in the camera will automatically zoom in on that subject. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a handy feature we have already used a lot.
LG has worked with Google to integrate some of the phone’s core functions with Google Assistant, instead of making its own artificially-intelligent assistant like Samsung. For example, you can say “OK Google, record a Romantic Comedy video,” and the Assistant will open the camera app, switch to Cine Video, set Romantic Comedy as the theme, and start recording — all within the span of a second. These camera-centric commands are naturally exclusive to the V30.
The 5-megapixel front-facing camera utilizes a wide-angle lens, and it lets you swap between a close up photo for selfies, or a wider-angle for group photos.
PHENOMENAL BATTERY LIFE
Unexpectedly, the LG V30 has surprised us the most in battery life. It only has a 3,300mAh battery capacity — for reference, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus has a 3,500mAh battery. Regardless, this is the longest lasting flagship smartphone we have ever experienced, period. With medium usage, involving mostly browsing apps and social media, the battery ended slightly above 50 percent by 7 p.m.
With heavy camera use, running benchmark apps, even after watching YouTube videos and playing some games, the V30 finally got to 15 percent at 11:25 p.m. — that’s after taking it off the charger at 8 a.m. Battery life is phenomenal.
Better yet, the V30 supports wireless charging and fast-charging technology through USB Type-C. We’ll have to do more testing to see how it compares against the competition.
One point many people will be concerned about is the lack of a removable battery. Previously, LG touted the feature on its phones, poking fun at Samsung when it stopped offering removable batteries. Now, this is the second LG phone after the G6 without a removable battery, and it looks like it’s not coming back.
AVAILABILITY AND PRICE
LG has not confirmed the price or availability for the V30 just yet, but we’ll be updating this story when we learn more. Expect the device to cost upwards of $750, judging by the LG V20’s pricing last year.
Does the V30 justify the high price? From our initial impressions, yes — as much as any phone can. It has been a great phone all around in performance, video camera capabilities, and best of all it has left us awestruck at the amazing battery life.
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