LG has once again surprised us with a new direction with the LG G6. In the last 3 years, they’ve played with a fashionable phone, a modular phone and now an immersive display.
LG’s approach with the G6 is safe and exciting at the same time. Safe, because they abandoned the modular design and went back to the standard fare; and, exciting because they have moved on and gave us the more important things in a smartphone – bigger screen, water-resistance and wireless charging.
Design and Construction
From the modular LG G5, the LG G6 went back to basics and crafted an all-metal unibody design. There’s still some semblance of the G5 and the V20 here but it’s safe to say this new design is pointing at a different direction.
The first thing you will notice with the G6 is that super shiny, glossy back panel due to the sheet of glass layered on top of the metal frame. So yes, it’s going to be a fingerprint and smudge magnet.
The size of the G6 is just right, feels good on the hands and almost the same dimensions as the LG G5. While the G6 has a slightly curved back, the sides have sharp corners, unlike the G5 that’s slanting inwards.
There’s no physical buttons at the front and very sparse around the sides. Only the volume controls are placed on the left side. It can be confusing at first since there’s almost nothing in there but it makes more sense once you use the phone more.
The power button is found on the back and has been there since the LG G2, so we’re already used to the ergonomics. The circular home button also serves as the fingerprint scanner. The entire back panel is covered in Gorilla Glass 5 which slightly tapers toward the edges. It’s very glossy and easily attracts a lot of smudges.
The USB Type-C charging port is at the bottom end along with the lone speaker grills and primary microphone. The 3.5mm audio port is on top together with the noise-cancelling microphone. There are two antenna bands at the top and one at the bottom but they’re barely noticeable.
The metal frame with chamfered edges makes it easier to hold and while the size is just right, we still sometimes find it a bit slippery. Perhaps that glass and glass exterior for the front and back isn’t really ideal to give you a solid grip.
Nevertheless, the G6 looks good with a simple yet elegant design that’s miles better than the G5.
LG also finally went with an IP68 Rating for dust and water resistance, making the G6 the first flagship in their line-up to get the certification.
Display and Multimedia
One of the highlights of the G6 this year is the display. From the usual display sizes of 5.2 to 5.5 inches, the LG G6 pushed ahead and went for 5.7-inches. This puts the G6 in the same category as the LG V20 but despite that bump up in the display size, the LG G6 is still manageable with one hand.
LG V20 vs. LG G6: Same display size, different body type.
This was made possible by increasing the screen-to-body ratio and removing un-used space on the phone. This means the G6 has much narrower bezels especially on the top and bottom sections.
Also noticed that the corners of the display are rounded instead of a sharp right angle like the one in the G5 and V20. Been using the LG V20 for a while now so it’s also a huge difference to get the same screen size on the G6 with a much smaller body.
LG’s main differentiation is its 5.7-inch QHD+ FullVision display which has an unusual aspect ratio of 18:9 and a slightly higher resolution of 2880×1440 pixels (565ppi). The G6 also gets full Dolby Vision certification (for watching High Dynamic Range content from sources like Amazon and Netflix).
It is also interesting to note that LG used Gorilla Glass 3 to protect the display yet covered the back panel with a tougher Gorilla Glass 5. We’re not sure about this decision by LG as it could be due to the thickness of the glass or the cost of materials.
HDR is also a new feature that’s starting to invade mobile phone displays and LG did it ahead of everyone by partnering with Dolby.
Standard Dynamic Range vs. High Dynamic Range on the LG G6
Video streaming services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix are now incorporating HDR in a number of their titles and you can now enjoy these improved color quality in the LG G6.
Age-old features such as the double-tap to wake/sleep (KnockON) is present which is great since there are no physical buttons on the front. The AlwaysON display is also customizable to include your signature or custom text.
The G6 supports 32-bit/192kHz audio which is nice if you’re particular about sound quality. The speakers at the bottom end produce really good sound, very loud (registers up to 85dB in Sound Meter) at maximum volume though there’s not a lot of bass at the upper range. There’s no B&O Play certification compared to the V20 and while the G5 can match the quality in the low and mids, the V20 gets a little advantage in the highs.
Another old feature that’s no longer included is the IR blaster which you can use as a universal remote for your home appliances. There’s an FM radio tuner but in the age of Spotify, they’re not that needed much these days.
Since the G5 and V20, LG has been banking on their dual camera setup with one of the lenses having a wide (125-degrees, from 135-degrees in the G5) field of view. This allows the G6 to take wide angle shots that are useful in tight spots or scenic views.
At the rear is a dual 13-megapixel sensor — both cameras have the same 13MP maximum resolution but with different aperture and field of view (Sony IMX258, 1/3.06″, 1.12µm pixels). These are completely different sensors compared to the G5 (16MP+8MP) and the V20 (16MP+8MP).
The camera settings also offer the same 18:9 aspect ratio on top of the standard 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios normally found in other smartphones.
LG was one of the first ones to introduce a manual mode in their cameras and it has become our standard for a versatile camera. You can take long exposure shots at night and get stunning results like the one below.
Manual Mode at Night: ISO 50, f/2.4, 13 seconds.
In manual mode, you can set the ISO from 50-3200, the shutter speed from 1/4000 of a second to 30 seconds, and adjust the white balance from 2400K to 7400K.
Photos looked nice, balanced and fairly saturated. The G6 tends to sharpen the edges of the subject to make it look sharper and well-focused though in some cases it’s too obvious. Dynamic range is very good with wide contrast and no noticeable aberrations.
Switching to the wide-angle shot results in much wider field-of-view although the photos will obviously distort around the edges. Also note that while the normal camera has AF and image stabilization, the wide angle camera does not.
Video recording can go up to UHD (16:9) or full HD at the native 18:9 aspect ratio. We prefer the full HD 16:9 at 60fps. Focus tracking is only available at FHD and HD resolution.
Also note that while both cameras are 13MP, you will not get the same image quality since one has f/1.8 while the other has a f/2.4 aperture.
The front facing camera was changed to just 5MP with f/2.2, a move that seems to be a downgrade from the G5 (8MP f/2.0) and even the V20 (5MP f/1.9). This is because the G6 now prioritizes groufies instead of selfies by widening the field of view of the camera.
OS, Apps and UI
The G6 comes with Android 7.0 Nougat right out of the box with LGUX 6.0 as the custom skin. Google Assistant is baked into the system. It’s a simple, clean and flat UI that looks really close to the vanilla UI which we liked. There’s no app drawer but there’s an endless loop of home screens, which means you can just group your apps into folders for better organization.
Swiping the screen down calls up Google Search in your apps and the Smart Bulletin is disabled by default but you can easily add it to your home-screen from the settings
The LGUX comes with 5 default themes to choose from but you can just download more from the LG SmartWorld along with other LG-developed apps. A number of native LG apps are also pre-installed, most of which are management and services app. Evernote is the only 3rd-party app we saw that was pre-installed as well.
The navigation menu at the bottom of the home screen can be customized to accommodate up to 4 keys. With the LG UX, you can change the type and order of these keys to your liking.
There are a number of smart settings you can tinker with — like app resizing to fit them to the 18:9 aspect ratio, system optimization, and custom profiles.
The App Trash is a nice addition to the system. It gives you the option to move an app into the trash than completely delete it right away. The app will stay in the Trash for 24 hours. After which, it will be deleted permanently. There’s also the option to hide an app from the home screen.
Performance and Benchmarks
The G6 uses a Snapdragon 821 chip which has a 2.35GHz quad-core processor and Adreno 530 graphics. There was a lot of discussion about the G6 not running the recently announced Snapdragon 835 (used by the upcoming Xperia XZ Premium and the newly announced Galaxy S8/S8+) but the SD821 is still a very capable and powerful chipset.
Here are the benchmark scores we got:
Antutu Benchmark: 147,716
Quadrant Standard: 39,253
PCMark: 5,106 (Work 2.0), 5,317 (Work 1.0)
PCMark Storage: 4,008
Vellamo: 5,418 (Browser), 3,571 (Metal), 4,315 (Multi-core)
Geekbench 4.0: 1,804 (Single core), 4,220 (Multi-core)
Needless to say, the device can handle anything we threw at it — from multiple tasks to graphics intensive games like NBA2k17. It’s fast, snappy and responsive.
Call Quality, Connectivity and Battery Life
The G6 has all connectivity options available to the user — dual-SIM, LTE support, fast WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, and GPS. Unfortunately, there’s no more IR blaster here — a feature we really liked from the previous models like the V20.
Call quality is excellent — voice calls are loud and clear, SMS are sent and received quickly and signal strength for WiFi, GPS and mobile internet are good in most cases. The hybrid dual SIM support allows for two nano SIM cards or one SIM and a microSD card of up to 2TB. Both SIM slots are LTE-capable and support up to 12 bands, including the 700MHz band.
GPS is pretty good with an accuracy rate of about +/-12m based on our GPS tests. We’ve had some GPS problem with our G5 before (came up after several months) so we hope the one in the G6 will not have the same issue.
The LG G6 now comes with a higher 3,300mAh Li-Ion battery. This is way better than the 2,800mAh of the G5 and even slightly higher than the 3,200mAh of the bigger V20.
In our standard video loop test, the G6 lasted 13 hours and 40 minutes at 50% brightness and 0% volume. (PCMark Battery Test keeps on crashing so we’re not able to get scores from there).
With Quick Charge 3.0 support, the LG G6 can charge really quick and takes about 80 minutes from zero to full.
Big changes for LG this year but these are changes that made sense and pointing to a more concrete identity. They’ve been experimenting for the last three years and this time, we think they’ve got it right. We hope they stick to this philosophy and improve on them moving forward.
Nothing fancy. Nothing gimmicky. It’s a proper flagship — big, gorgeous display, great performance, very nice dual-camera setup, good battery performance — just the right amount of goodness peppered all over the G6.
Order now your LG G6 64GB at $269 Available colors in black and platinum.
LG G6 specs:
5.7-inch QHD+ FullVision display @ 2880 x 1440, 565ppi
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 2.4GHz quad-core processor
2 x 2.35GHz Kryo & 2 x 1.6GHz Kryo processors
Adreno 530 graphics
4GB LPDDR4 RAM
64GB UFS 2.0 storage
expandable via microSD up to 2TB
LTE-A 3 Band CA up to 600 Mbps
13MP f/1.8 and 13MP f/2.4 Wide-angle Rear cameras with Dual LED Flash
5MP f/2.2 Wide-angle front camera
Bluetooth 4.2 BLE
GPS with aGPS support
FM Radio tuner
IP68 Dust and Water resistance
32-bit HiFi Quad DAC Chip
USB Type-C 2.0
Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
Android 7 Nougat with LGUX 6.0
3,300mAh Li-Po battery (non-removable)
148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9mm (dimensions)
163 grams (weight)
Colors: Mystic White, Astro Black, Ice Platinum
What we liked about it:
* Beautiful design
* Gorgeous display
* Great performance
* Quad HiFi DAC
* Great battery life
* Very nice dual camera setup
What we did not like:
* No wireless charging for PH units
* More expensive than before