Thumbnail via LG.com
I’d like to preface this by saying that I consider myself a tech enthusiast, but am by no means a professional reviewer when it comes to smartphones. Because of this, I won’t be going into any in-depth analysis on the color gamut of this phone’s screen or specifics on camera technology but will provide my own analysis on technical components of which I am knowledgeable as well as my genuine opinions. With that out of the way, I present to you my impressions and review of LG’s G6, released earlier this year.
The LG G6 is one of LG’s most recent flagship offerings, and while the G lineup of phones has been overtaken by LG’s own V series, the G6 is compelling in its own right and holds up well against other available offerings, especially when taking the price of it into consideration.
I’ve owned this phone for a few weeks now, and have come to embrace any inherent issues as well as come to adore what makes this a solid daily driver. I’ll be breaking this review down into a few different categories along with their respective ratings, and although I encourage you to take more than an arbitrary number system into account, my numeric rating should suffice in presenting how I feel about this device overall.
A Quick Look:
- Hearty specs to tackle various applications in a snappy fashion
- Great design and feel in the hand
- Premium materials such as Gorilla Glass and an aluminum frame
- Thin bezels
- Expandable storage (In 2017?!?! Preposterous!)
- Solid camera with super wide angle and manual control
- An improved and useful LG skin
- 18:9 aspect ratio is a treat when properly supported
- IP68 water resistance
- Wireless charging
- Good display. Unfortunately, doesn’t take advantage of technologies such as AMOLED
- Film over camera glass absorbs heavy scratches (no permanent damage, but is ugly)
- USB-C port is sensitive and collects dust/lint easily (can prevent charging if unclean by triggering the moisture detection)
- Default launcher comes with app drawer disabled and features less than aesthetically pleasing icons
- Needs to be wiped clean often as the back glass is a fingerprint magnet and will show off any grease it captures
Hardware (Design, Display) [ 7/10 ]
(Hardware score reduced to a 7 from an 8 due to newfound annoyances in regards to the USB-C port)
High-end phones have always been a delight to look at, and 2017 trends have caused smartphone manufacturers to produce some of the most visually appealing handheld devices I have ever seen. With that said, the G6 is no slouch in the cosmetics department. It bears a sturdy aluminum frame with a respectable thickness that allows sleek looks while also ensuring stability. Each side of the phone is covered in Gorilla Glass 5 which offers modern enhancements in regards to scratch resistance and durability. This phone isn’t unwieldy either, as an 18:9 display framed with thin bezels allows ample screen real estate while also maintaining a slender footprint. All of these aspects come together to form some gorgeous and nice-feeling hardware.
I have large hands, and in use, the LG G6 is comfortable in one hand most of the time, in part due to the skinny horizontal width. While someone with smaller hands may struggle to reach the top of the display, it is very easy to grip despite being covered in glass. While there is an inherent slickness to it, the metal frame and compact body are generous in allowing a tight grip. Also, since this phone does come in a fairly compact body, the added bulk of a case wouldn’t be as overbearing as it would be with wider phones if you are so inclined to put one on. With worries of dropping the G6 are greatly reduced due to its great handling, there is more room to appreciate the feel of the device. While a glass back does result in accumulation of grease and fingerprints, this is easily remedied by a skin or casual wipe to keep it looking fresh. The real star of the show, however, is the metal. A solid metal frame that is cold to the touch simply proclaims itself premium upon the first impression and during use reminds you that you are wielding a high-end piece of technology. The buttons present around the frame also feel firm and responsive, and the fingerprint sensor/power button embedded in the phone’s backside melts into the glass panel while also giving an apt indication of its presence and location. A cutout for the speaker, sturdy USB-C port, and 3.5mm headphone jack complete this slender tank of a frame.
An impressive design job doesn’t end at the exterior, though, so the inclusion of IP68 water resistance keeping the logic board and embedded battery safe from the elements is much appreciated.
The display is, expectedly, a splendor to consume content on. The combination of an 18:9 aspect ratio, 1440p resolution, HDR support, and rounded corners give an overall impressive visual. It does not offer the same vibrancy as other displays and being an LCD also doesn’t offer the deep blacks and contrast of an AMOLED, however, though it is still nice to look at and does give you some juicy color and sharp edges, especially when at full brightness. Overall the screen is a bit dim, in my opinion, so the higher the brightness the better off you are. The 18:9 aspect ratio isn’t supported by all apps, even YouTube restricts you to a 16:9 view with pillar boxes, but when it is natively supported it lets the image smoothly spread across most of the phone’s face. It should also be noted that while not all apps fully support 18:9, there is an option in most fullscreen apps to stretch the app to fit 18:9, even if that app may have to cut off some slivers of content. It isn’t necessarily needed but is much appreciated.
There are minor cosmetic blemishes visible thus far, though I do have a complaint in regards to the glass over the camera lenses, which will be addressed in a later section of this review.
Edit: A flaw I have recently discovered lies with the USB-C port. It collects dust easily but can be tricky to clean if dirtiness goes unnoticed, and buildup of dust or lint falsely triggers the moisture sensor, preventing charging. This is not permanent and can be remedied by careful and thorough cleaning, but is a major inconvenience to anyone who doesn’t keep their gadgets well maintained and doesn’t know how to clean the port out to fix this error.
Camera(s) [ 8/10 ]
The G6 offers dual identical 13MP sensors on the rear, with a super wide angle lens in front of one of them. The front-facing camera is 5MP and also offers super wide angle shots. While these aren’t the best smartphone cameras out there, LG has been generous in its stock camera software.
For the rear cameras, typical features such as HDR, grid view, filters, and locking auto adjustment are all present, but the stock camera app takes it a step further by offering a manual shooting mode that allows adjustment of shutter speed, ISO, zoom, focus, and a few other tweaks. Anyone who knows their way around a camera will appreciate the level of control that is available from LG and should be able to shoot sufficient imagery on the go. Remember, this is LG software, so for anyone looking for an even better built-in shooter can move up to a more recent offering such as the V30 to for a bit of an upgrade while maintaining the available features. The G6 takes photos in a fairly quick fashion, though does slow down a bit with HDR enabled. In auto mode, switching between cameras is seamless as reaching a certain level of zoom will transfer the preview to the other camera with the required lens to achieve that zoom. Manually switching between them is smooth as well, with a quick tap on the clearly separated icons representing each.
Taking selfies on this device should be fine for some casual Snapchat and other social media interaction, but 5mp doesn’t offer much wiggle room in terms of cropping afterward and maintaining a sharp image. The front shooter here also suffers heavily in low-light situations, though this is common for front-facing cameras. Being able to utilize a wide-angle mode is wonderful, however, and allows you more space in the frame to fit a group of friends in a single selfie.
One issue I have found with how these cameras are set up, which was also prevalent on older phones such as LG’s G2, is the protective film embedded onto the glass that covers both lenses. Some users complain that the glass scratches easily, but it is a very thin yet very adhesive film over the glass. Mine has suffered heavy scratches from touching even the softest materials but hasn’t affected photo quality. Overall this is a cosmetic blemish that doesn’t affect performance but does look quite ugly. I presume this film will remove itself naturally after extended use, but there are ways to manually remove it through very careful use of tools. I recommend you do so if you have a steady hand and patience, but the utmost precaution is advised. While the glass under the film is sturdy and can withstand many hard materials, an accidental etch into this part will be permanent while the many scratches in the outer film layer are not. If you don’t feel comfortable with forcing the film off for a matter of aesthetics, just accept that it will look scratchy for a while and enjoy that the cameras are still clear and functional even so.
Software [ 9/10 ]
Out of the box, you get Android 7.0 Nougat with LG’s skin on top. LG has improved their OEM skin greatly in the last few years, and now offers added features on top of the Nougat goodies and does it in a much more subtle fashion. While their menus and icons are heavily stylized and may clash with the material design present throughout Android, it is much less jarring than in previous iterations and offers clean, colorful menus without being cartoony. With flagship specs backing it up, the G6 does fine multitasking, sliding through menus, and consuming all kinds of content. While I personally don’t like LG’s default home screen, being iOS-like and excluding the app drawer, Android allows you to swap out the stock launcher for an alternative such as Nova Launcher, which is my personal favorite. Options aren’t excluded, however, and LG includes a way to switch to an alternate layout of their stock launcher with a more typical Android layout, app drawer and all.
While on the topic of launchers, LG’s isn’t awful but should be replaced if inconveniences become too overbearing. While functional, there have been reports of some slowdown involving icons being slow to render when returning home. The default themed icons aren’t great to look at, either and should be replaced per user preference.
While most of these OEM skins offer gimmicky features to fill out a spec sheet, much of what is on display here is either useful or has potential to be useful. There aren’t any intrusive tutorials forcing a user to utilize some of the more niche features while still making available a straightforward process to enable them. These days, even stock Android offers a selection of useful and modern features that will please any type of user. From NFC for payment to Bluetooth LE for file transfer, you shouldn’t be hard-pressed for any feature required in modern life.
Overall, you’ll enjoy this phone if you enjoy recent versions of Android.
Audio [ 8/10 ]
While this device doesn’t feature the same quad DAC available in the V30 or the G6+, it does support headphones well. Audiophiles will probably notice small differences, but for my needs, it provides a nice level of volume control with a solid balance of frequencies that is enjoyable to listen to. While the speaker is bottom-firing, it is louder than other phones I’ve owned and projects a wide range much more clearly. Even at loud volumes it is manageable and avoids the tinniness present in other phone speakers. While it doesn’t compare to a set of stereo front-facing speakers, the audio experience has been a joy and there aren’t any major complaints to be had. Again, anyone who is a hardcore audiophile may have something else to say, but for casual listening and the occasional speaker use the audio experience is more than sufficient.
Overall Score [ 8/10 ]
This is definitely a flagship. By ditching experimental features present in the modular G5 and other gimmicks present in some of LG’s handsets, the focus was retrained on crafting a solid, useable flagship with all of the expected modern bells and whistles. Powerful specs drive a respectable and refined skin over Android 7.0 and while the display is shaped into a modern form factor despite lacking in technology. From taking photos to watching videos, the LG G6 is both snappy and fun to use. Common ailments in regards to this phone’s design or Android, in general, are easily remedied with some quick research and once put aside don’t detract from the overall experience and enjoyment gained from this phone.