The LG G6: how LG got its groove back
It’s still early days for the LG G6. I’ve only just started using mine, having only just completed reviewing the Huawei P10, but what I’ve seen so far is very encouraging. I skipped the LG G5 entirely, saying at last year’s MWC when it was announced alongside the Galaxy S7 that LG had brought a knife to a gunfight. But times have changed and LG looks like it just might have a winner up its sleeve.
For starters, while there’s nothing terribly revolutionary going on with the design of the phone – barring that screen, which I’ll come back to in a minute – the G6 is a very nice looking phone with no unnecessary flourishes, modular or otherwise. It’s thick enough to pack a decent sized battery, heavy enough to feel solid in the hand, comfortable and small enough to not feel awkward: you get the picture.
While Samsung and others are going all in on the curved display trip, I’ve never really seen the appeal. Dual screen curves look nice, I’ll give Samsung that much, but as a functional aspect of a phone I just never quite got it. Perhaps the increasingly sharp curve we’ve seen ever since the original Note Edge shows no one else really did either.
Regardless, LG has decided not to follow that trend and instead has returned to the G series’ roots with the tiny bezels found on the LG G2. As anyone with a social media account would know, about the only thing all smartphone fans can agree on is that large bezels are less good than small bezels. Except when they’re housing stereo front facing speakers, which the LG G6 sadly does not.
But the G6 does have an IP68 dustproof and water-resistant rating, another feature no one has ever complained about having. Again, except where speaker quality is concerned. LG has also tidied up its interface to a large degree, offering a whitewashed UI with very little to get upset about. Plus there’s wireless charging (at least in the US), a great finger scanner and microSD expansion too, another crowd favorite.
From what I can see so far, the camera on the G6 is very competitive too. Perhaps not quite rivaling the Google Pixel, but coming very close indeed. LG has been putting excellent cameras on its G series phones for several years now, and dual cameras since the G5, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. But its still good to see LG not the drop the ball on something so essential while it was busy fixing up some other areas.
Performance is another area where the LG G6 defies expectations. Ever since it became apparent that the G6 would be sticking with the tried-and-true Snapdragon 821 rather than the new Snapdragon 835, a lot of folks wrote this phone off as dead in the water. But the G6 has already shown that the chipset inside is only one small piece of the puzzle where performance is concerned. We’ll see how the G6 stacks up over time, but for now I doubt there’s anyone complaining about a lack of power.
Of course, the Galaxy S8 and other phones packing the 835 this year will likely blow the G6 out of the water where performance is concerned. But for now LG has a very good example on its hands for making the point that the specs race is largely over. We’ll always get more RAM and faster chipsets and better this and that in smartphones, that’s the nature of the game. But the G6 proves that sometimes, just sometimes, last year’s chipset is still perfectly sufficient.
Of course, the G6 isn’t perfect, just like any phone. For some, the absence of the latest Qualcomm chipset is a deal breaker, while for others it’ll be the demise of the removable battery. The speaker is pretty poor, US models don’t get the excellent Quad DAC many had come to love in the LG V20 and all that glass makes the G6 more prone to collecting fingerprints and scratches.
The awkwardness of the 18:9 screen now when a large number of apps don’t yet support it is admittedly weird, but that compatibility will come with time. The truncated corners of the G6 display will apparently make it less prone to cracks when dropped and the metal chassis of the phone is made with an I-beam cross section to make it sturdier than most.
What I’m trying to get at here is that LG got its groove back by going back to basics. With an impressive screen in terms of color and contrast combined with tiny bezels, a solid camera and battery, expandable storage, water-resistance and both wireless and fast charging support, the G6 hits a lot of nails on the head. For those it misses, at the very least we can be happy that the list is a lot shorter than it was last year with the LG G5. And with the Galaxy S8 right around the corner, this is exactly what LG needed.