Remember LG's last flagship phone? Most people probably don't, since the G5 was more or less a disaster. The G5 was a modular phone with modules that weren't really compelling; the "metal" body had a thick plastic coating on the outside; and the device had tons of build quality issues, like seams that didn't line up, an uneven display backlight, and sharp edges. Even LG has admitted the G5 was a disappointment—the company lost nearly $400 million in Q3 2016, which it blamed on "weak sales of [the] G5."
In response, the LG G6 is all new and much improved. The modular system has been scrapped in exchange for a solid phone with no removable parts. That means the battery isn't removable anymore, but you do get IP68 dust and water resistance in exchange. There are no build quality issues to be had here, and the front has a slick design with slim bezels. LG has done an outstanding job fixing the things people didn't like about the G5, but is a "personal best" from LG good enough in the cutthroat smartphone market?
The LG G6 seems to be launching in the US at the worst possible time. The phone uses Qualcomm's 2016 SoC—the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821—in 2017, making it already seem dated. The G6 is also launching right as Samsung's hype machine for the Galaxy S8 is revving up. G6 will hit store shelves one week after the Galaxy S8 launch event, which is sure to steal some customers away. Is there any reason to pick up a G6 when the Galaxy S8 is looking like one of the best Samsung smartphones in years?
After the Xiaomi Mi Mix, the LG G6 is the latest in a line of slim-bezel smartphone designs. The top and bottom bezels have been shrunk from their usual size, leaving much more room for the 5.7-inch display. Rather than just go with a bigger 16:9 display, which would make the phone wider, LG is using a taller display—the aspect ratio is 18:9 or 2:1, with a resolution of 2880x1440.
As a result, we've got a 5.7-inch display that doesn't feel like the 5.7-inch devices that have come before it. Holding the G6 feels much more like holding a compact phone rather than the usual 5.7-inch behemoths like the Galaxy Note line. Width is what makes a phone feel "big." If we keep using Samsung as an example, the 71.9mm width of the LG G6 is closer to the 69.6mm-wide Galaxy S7 (with a 5.2-inch display) than the 76.1mm width of the Galaxy Note 5.
I'm a fan of the taller display. You get to see more list items, which means more e-mails, more messages, and more webpages, all without increasing the width of the phone and making it harder to hold. The tiny bezels make the phone look very modern, and the G6 blows away traditional smartphone designs like the Google Pixel or iPhone 7.
The display has rounded corners, a trivial design choice that seems like it's just aimed at making the phone look different. If you're a detail-oriented person, though, you'll quickly notice LG's rounded-over corners aren't executed very well. The transition from the straight edge to the curve isn't smooth, leaving pointy shoulders at the beginning and end of the curve. It's not particularly good looking, which is tough for a feature designed to do nothing other than look good.
The back of the LG G6 is glass, which is a disappointment. The expectation at this price point ($700+) is metal, which you can get from Apple, Huawei, Google (sort of), or from even cheaper manufacturers like OnePlus. A metal body is harder for the manufacturer to implement—all sorts of considerations need to be made for getting radio signals in and out of the metal box. A metal back is better for the consumer, though, and results in a more premium, durable device. With the glass back, one drop and something on the LG G6 will probably crack.
LG equipped the G6 with a rear fingerprint reader, which is definitely the fastest option for unlocking a phone by pulling it out of your pocket. A rear fingerprint reader does have some weaknesses, though, mainly when the phone is sitting on a table—you can't unlock the device with your finger unless you pick up the phone. Luckily, LG chose to keep Google Smart Lock around, a feature that allows you to set a ton of conditions about when the phone will automatically unlock.
You can have the phone stay unlocked when it is connected to a "trusted" Bluetooth device you own. You can also set geofencing zones when the phone will stay unlocked. This is useful for home or some workplaces—the place where your phone will most likely be on a table. The rear fingerprint reader is kind of a pain to use if you have to use it every time, but Smart Lock does a great job of mitigating the awkwardness of a rear fingerprint reader. You get the best of both worlds—a fingerprint reader that is speedy to use out-of-pocket, and a phone that easily handles home and work desktop scenarios.
LG went with a much more conservative design than what Xiaomi was able to come up with. Despite the slim bezels, all the usual components are in their normal place. The earpiece, camera, and sensors all live above the display, while the bottom is reserved for the LG logo. The sides have a chamfered metal band interrupted by the occasional antenna line. Overall, the G6 feels great, and while I'd rather not have a glass back, the exterior design is definitely the high point of this phone.Read More...
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