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The LG G6 is a fabulous phone

June 18, 2017 08:00 IST

The G6 steals a march over other main contenders like the Samsung Galaxy S8 duo and HTC U11, says Himanshu Juneja

LG G6

LG has largely been able to keep the consumer's interest aroused in the premium mobile phone segment. What started with the LG's own G series, culminated with the acclaimed LG V20. This has definitely been an achievement as the other manufacturers have been trying to innovate, with the exception of Samsung, without too much success.

It has not been a smooth ride to innovation for LG either. Last year's LG G5 was a major blip.

Not only did the concept of modular approach failed to take off, the faux metal built was a source of major embarrassment for the Korean manufacturer. This left LG with a very little error margin for their next blockbuster release.

When the LG G6 was announced with previous generation innards, eyebrows were raised again. Thankfully, LG had done the needful.

Instead of trying too many things, LG decided to do the basics right.

As a result, the LG G6 doesn't try to do anything outrageous and comes across as a polished product, complete with features the users have grown fond of.

Just exactly how much of a chance does LG's 2017 flagship carry when its closest rival decided to jettison some of the iconic features? We find out.

Construction

Ditching the faux metal construction of the last year, the LG G6 has been rendered in glass and aluminium. The phone measures 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm and weighs a good 163 gms, giving the phone a confident feel when held and while not being overtly bulky.

LG seems to have taken special care with the G6. The handset carries MIL-STD 810G shock protection. It can also survive not only the awkward tumbles, but even withstand instances of exposure to extreme humidity, steam, cold etc.

It is also IP68 certified, which bring resistance towards dust and moisture. The rounded corners have been done so to minimise the damage when the unfortunate accidental drop occurs.

The back panel is where most of the action is.

The largely flat back panel curves towards the edges to assist with the gripping. One finds the dual camera setup sitting right at the top portion, with the dual LED flash situated bang in the middle of the two lenses.

It was heartening to see no camera bumps here. Oh, and the finger print scanner cum power button are situated right beneath the camera module, and can be accessed without any discomfort.

The backpanel has been provided with a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection, and yes, it does attract fingerprint smudges like a magnet.

The bezels have been kept small, making this tall handset more manageable than a regular phablet. The edges are metal built, with antenna lines blending nicely here and there to give a good aesthetic touch to this glass and metal slab.

While one would appreciate the inclusion of 3.5 mm jack at the top, the easily reachable fingerprint scanner button, and absence of any gimmicky buttons a la Samsung's finger print scanner and Bixby button, the missing notification LED definitely rankles.

Similar sentiment was observed due to the presence of a hybrid dual SIM slot which is situated on the right edge. Opting for dedicated slots would have helped the case here immensely.

Still, the handset looks very premium and the sturdy built makes for a confidence exuding product.

Display

LG G6

A 5.7-inch LCD panel is what is adorning the LG's G6. It is a Quad HD panel, so the 1440 x 2880p resolution delivers an overwhelming 564 ppi pixel density. While the saturation and contrast levels of Samsung are not there, the natural tone and reduced chances of a burn in will be appreciated.

LG decided to supply rounded corner display to go along with the screen's rounded corners. There are jagged edges if one squints and looks closely. Hopefully, this will be addressed soon.

The viewing angles were great, and using the handset under direct sunlight was a non issue.

There is a high chance that users will take note of the taller aspect ratio featured on this display. The new 18:9 (essentially 2:1) ratio looks tailor made for split screen multitasking.

There is also the advantage of filling up the screen with text, thumbnails, and even videos, the latter by a mere press of a button to get a more immersive experience.

The screen supports HDR+ technology, which basically is shaping up to be the next big thing for crisp content viewing. Netflix and Amazon videos are yet to scale the content, or support the HDR+ feature, but these are well on their way.

The screen has the 'Always On' display, and while it is useful, it is not as subtly realised as it is usually on an AMOLED panel. It also becomes a source for a little more battery drain, powering all the pixels explicitly.

Oddly enough, the screen only gets Gorilla Glass 3 protection. These are still minor irritants, and do not change the fact that the display definitely is flagship class.

Specifications

LG's latest comes powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC. The Quad core CPU has two Kryo cores working at 2.35 Ghz, and another set of two Kryo cores operating at 1.6Ghz.

Adreno 530 may not be the latest, but is more than acceptable GPU for a flagship even in the year 2017.

The handset comes with 4GB of RAM, and 64 GB worth of onboard storage should prove to be adequate for most users. This can be further increased by another 256GB via microSD card slot.

The Asian variant gets a high quality DAC while losing out on wireless charging.

Connectivity

LG G6

The hybrid SIM slot definitely goes against LG G6, as it is indeed a choice which shouldn't have been passed on to the users. Apart from that the 4G enabled handset supports technologies like VoLTE, Wi-Fi (802.11ac), Bluetooth (v 4.2), and GPS.

USB C lends future proofing aspect, while the presence of FM radio and NFC will win more prospective buyers over.

Software

LG did well to release the handset with Android 7.0 (Nougat) running on it out of the box. We do not see an app drawer initially, but the users can get it via LG's SmartWorld, or via a third party launcher. Nothing to worry on that front.

We have Google Assistant supplied, and there is truckloads of other softwares onboard as well. And yes, there is bloatware too.

LG's UX 6.0 custom skin felt smooth and had nothing much to complain. It definitely could have avoided apps like Facebook (a known resource hog), Evernote, Twitter, Instagram etc.

Not all of these are uninstallable either. LG has its own apps too, like system tools to boost performance, file manager, SOS app, Quick Help, a customer care based app.

Mobile Switch allows for transferring of data between devices, while Q-Slide app is to summon floating window for system apps. There is also 'Smart Bulletin' on the left most screen to bring up curated content from calendar entries, health app, music controls, Evernote app etc.

Swipe down anywhere on the screen and one can summon the search option, while also quickly bringing up the commonly used contacts, apps, websites and even photos.

The one to stand out is the screen knocking gesture, allowing the users to double tap the screen to lock or wake the screen. Those prefering the home button on the front can manage things without having to flip the phone over when the device is lying on a desk.

Another good addition is the HD recorder app, which is quite detailed in functionality, ranging from mic controls to selecting the recording format according to the user's preference.

Theming options have been provided to jazz up the handset. There is also the option to choose the type of icons from within the settings itself.

Users can add a couple of more onscreen navigation buttons, and can swap the default navigation button placements.

Performance

LG G6

Nor the previous generation's SoC, and neither the GPU proved to be a stumbling block in the ways of LG G6's performance. The Nougat loaded handset felt zippy, and went about the drills without breaking a sweat.

Multitasking, animations, or playing the HD content, there were no hiccups. There was some warming of the handset observed, but nothing to hit the panic button.

The fingerprint scanner was fast and accurate, and there were no issues in reaching out for the designated area on the backpanel.

Talking about the DAC supplied, the sound came out rich and impressive. The trade-off for the wireless charging feature seems to be pretty good.

Even the single speaker is quite loud and while not very rich, it doesn't disappoint. The bundled headphones are nothing extraordinary though.

Camera

LG G6

The handset comes with a dual camera setup. The regular camera is accompanied by a wide angle lens, and both have 13MP sensors.

The former has an aperture of f/1.8, while the latter comes with f/2.4 stops. Apart from the dual LED flash, we also get Optical Image Stabilisation and phase detection auto focus features, but these are only meant for the regular lens.

The wide angle lens should come in handy for the tricky situations like when the photographer just cannot go back any further to allow for a better viewing field. The 125 degree lens (as opposed to the 71 degrees of the regular) comes to the rescue and allows the viewfinder to be filled with those extra elements which may save the day, especially while on an outing, or that much awaited holiday trip.

There was loss of sharpness, but that is understandable due to the very nature of the wide angle lens.

As for the images capture via regular lens, the images taken during the day came out sharp and crisp.

The colour were rich and impressive, leaving really nothing to complain about. The result during low light conditions did come up with noise, but things do not go out of hands.

The details do not take a major hit, and the results were still good.

The 4K recording max out at 30 fps, and the results again impressed. OIS on the main camera greatly helps the cause while shooting videos.

The switching of lens is possible here too, and it makes a noticeable difference during tighter situations.

The front facing camera is a 5 MP variant, and also comes with a wide angle feature. The selfies were again pretty good in ample lights, while being fairly decent during low light conditions.

Battery

We see a non-removable 3300 mAh battery pack coming with the LG G6. There is the support for QuickCharge 3.0, and the variant for India/Asia will not get the wireless charging feature.

The handset lasts easily for a day with a normal to heavy usage pattern, and the users can juice up the battery completely within an hour and another fifty minutes.

While the quick charging will come in handy, we have seen faster charging times. But majorly, there are no real complaints here.

Users can turn off the 'Always On' display to save some crucial charge bits.

Conclusion

The LG G6 is a fabulous phone and has a lot of things going for itself.

The 821 SoC is still very much relevant in the year 2017, and its presence may just tilt the balance towards the LG phone.

The manufacturers may not price the flagship anywhere near the all 'futuristic' and 'latest' Samsung Galaxy S8 duo, or even the upcoming HTC U11. So the cost effectiveness adds more sheen to the already attractive LG phone.

The G6 provides a gorgeous, regular 'flat' display panel, and comes with a 3.5mm audio jack. The Samsung S8 lacks the former, while the upcoming HTC U11 is not carrying the latter.

LG's move to include MIL-STD-810G standard is a major win, as it allows the G6 to steal a march over both the other main contenders.

Last but not the least, the dual camera set up's wide angle lens will make the users realise what they had been missing out on a true flagship till now. All these are not mere advantages, these are key feature points which the other big phones will not be able to match.

Launched initially with a price tag of Rs 51,990, the phone has been retailing for a cool 10k discounted price since quite sometime now. Keeping this in mind and the features on offer, LG G6 becomes an automatic choice for people who especially care about the traditional display, the durable audio jack, and the dual camera advantage.

Himanshu Juneja