They say timing is everything. You can release a mediocre product at the right time and it can turn out hugely successful. On the flip side, release a good product at the wrong time and you get the opposite effect. That pretty much describes the LG G6 that dares to go on sale at the same time as the Samsung Galaxy S8. I’ve been playing with the G6 for a few days and even though it’s a decent phone, it just won’t be able to survive the marketing blizzard that the S8 will bring with it. I still need to do my job on evaluating the phone, so let’s get on with it.
The LG G6 comes packaged with all the usual accessories you expect. Included in the box is a USB charger that’s capable of Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology, a USB cable with a Type C connector and a pair of premium looking earphones that look like the ones packaged with the LG V20. A SIM tray tool is also included and I’ve been told that the retail boxes will come with a 64GB microSD card.
Measuring 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm and weighing 163 g, the LG G6 fits well in your hand though it's a bit on the chunky side. It’s IP68 certified which means that it’s dust/water proof. LG is releasing the phone in three colours in the UAE: Astro Black, Ice Platinum and Mystic White. I received the Platinum version of the phone for review which has small grey bezels on the front and a glossy brushed aluminium finish on the back.
The frame that makes the sides of the phone is constructed from aluminium and the back side of the phone nicely curves into this frame making the design look seamless. LG puts the antenna lines on the top and bottom of the frame and although they blend with the design, their positioning is unconventional. What is thankfully normal is the positioning of the volume keys which is a departure from previous G-series phones that had the along with the fingerprint sensor on the back. I'm also glad that LG retained the 3.5mm audio jack which sits on top while the USB Type-C connector sits are the bottom with a speaker.
On the specs side, the LG G6 is equipped with the Snapdragon 821 processor which is still the highest-end offering that Qualcomm is shipping. For all intents and purposes, the Snapdragon 821 is quite fast, especially when coupled with 4GB RAM and Android 7.0, both of which are present on the LG G6. Where I think LG falters is bundling 32GB of built-in storage when other flagships such as the HTC U Ultra and Samsung Galaxy S8 come with 64GB.
What does stand out on the LG G6 is the 18:9 (or, 2:1) aspect ratio screen that sets the tone for what most phones will look like. Samsung is going for a similar look on its upcoming S8 and it’s widely anticipated that Apple’s next iPhone will follow a similar design. However, LG can claim to be the first to market with such a design.
The 5.7-inch screen is an IPS panel produces good colours and is readable even under direct sunlight. The tall aspect ratio has a resolution of 1440 x 2880 which sounds unconventional but works well and allows you to see more content on web pages, social networks or message lists. It also reduces black borders when consuming media in landscape mode- speaking of which, the screen supports HDR+ and Dolby Vision HDR.
You can also split the screen into two equal parts allowing you to run two apps next to each other in a square mode. This works especially well with LG's camera app where half of the screen shows a live view while the other half shows you the last picture taken allowing for quick preview and posting of images on social networks. Even with the 16:9 camera mode, you can still see thumbnails of recent photos.
Coming to the camera hardware, LG continues to use a similar dual camera setup like the G5 which includes one regular and one wide-angle camera. For the G6, LG has upped the quality and now, both the cameras have a 13MP sensor. The primary camera is f/1.8 with OIS while the wide angle is f/2.4 without AutoFocus. The primary camera is capable of taking decent shots while the wide angle allows you to get creative with your frames.
Unfortunately, I found the cameras to be a bit on the slower side- both in terms of firing up as well as taking a shot. At times, I would have to wait four seconds for the camera to fire up making me miss the shot entirely. Also, zooming in to take pictures makes very pixelated shots even under good lighting conditions. The following gallery shows pictures taken using the G6.
What I am not a fan of, and haven’t been for the last couple of iterations, is LG’s custom Android UI. With the G6, LX is introducing UX 6.0 which tries to clean up the overall UI but I think LG needs a total redesign. It feels boring and lifeless and makes the phone slow and complicated. For example, the setting screen has multiple tabs and in that, sometimes you can swipe between tabs and other times you can’t. Also, things like swiping up to dismiss text notifications don't work. Both the HTC U Ultra and the Google Pixel feel a lot faster and zippy with identical hardware so LG really needs to step up with UI development if they want to compete on the higher end.
Wrapping up, LG equips the G6 with a 3300mAh battery which should last you all day. I used the phone for a week and during my days of heavy LTE and camera usage, the battery dropped to single digits by the time I hit the bed but it never completely depleted. Just for reference, I usually take the phone off the charger around 7:00 AM and am back in bed around 11:00 PM so you’re looking at 16 hours of battery life.
LG has a Battery Saver mode built-in and enabling that should pull you through longer days. The G6 also supports Quick Charge 3.0 specs so the phone charges quickly though I am disappointed that the Middle Eastern model of the phone doesn’t support Wireless Charging which the US version does. It’s a shame when manufacturers pull features out of a device for different markets.
Overall, the LG G6 is a good phone but the only feature that makes it stand out is the tall 18:9 screen. I'm not a big fan of the wide angle lens and the slow camera performance didn't really excite me much. Other than these two features, there really isn't much else that differentiates the G6 with other phones. And that won't help LG- especially when the Samsung Galaxy S8 is right around the corner.