Last year LG released an entirely new concept for a phone onto the world stage, bringing with it an incredibly strong build, amazing cameras and creative video making software that was second to none. This year they’re following up the V10 with an appropriately named sequel, the V20, and judging by the hands-on time we got with LG this one looks to be yet another winner in LG’s books. Packing some powerful specs worthy of a 2016 flagship, the LG V20 is powered by a Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, 64GB of UFS2.0+ speed internal storage and support for microSD cards up to 2TB. On the front sits a 5.7-inch Quad-HD IPS LCD display with a 24-character second screen above it. This is an improvement over the v10, which only had a screen large enough to fit 14 characters total. It’s also an improvement in brightness of the second screen, with a maximum brightness of 68 nits on the V20 versus 35 nits on the V10.
The build has seen some significant upgrades too, and it’s not just in the looks department either. The V20 is made entirely of aluminum and glass, aside from a pair of polycarbonate bumpers that LG created at the top and bottom of the phone for extra drop protection. The LG V20 is rated MIL-STD-810G for drop resistance and can withstand quite a bit of abuse thanks to the AL 6013 aluminum chassis and Gorilla Glass 4 on the front. The metal back is actually a detachable plate too, giving users the ability to remove the 3,200mAh battery underneath. Overall measurements put it in at a little more narrow than the V10 and a little thinner too, with a weight that’s 15 grams lighter than the V10, weighing in at 177 grams. LG will be shipping the V20 in similar colors to the G5, including that darker Titan color, a lighter metallic silver and a more elegant pink. The phone has a really solid feel in the hand and this metal back plate feels incredibly solid and quality built, with a great spring loaded mechanism for popping it off too.
One of the defining features of the V series is the second screen above the main one, and in this case LG has expanded that screen to almost the entire width of the main screen. As before users can make a custom signature that stays on here for any number of reasons, but what’s cool this time around is that LG has put a little more customization into this process. When a signature is made users have the ability to set a wallpaper using the first letter in the signature, which is layered over a background image. The second screen also now has the ability to display recently used apps to act as an even quicker way to switch back and forth between apps, and plenty of other panels from the V10 as well.
But the V20 isn’t just refined to cute little gimmicky features like this, it’s a media powerhouse, and that’s truly where LG’s selling point for the phone lies. Packing in four Digital-Analog Converters (DAC), the LG V20 is designed to provide the best possible audio experience possible on a smartphone through its 3.5mm audio jack. These DACs work in tandem to eliminate as much noise as possible, and LG is saying that the V20 produces 50% less white noise than the V10 did, all while providing ultra high quality 24-bit/192KHz support. It’s got an HD audio recorder built in utilizing the lossless FLAC codec, and even videos recorded on the camera can be toggled with this lossless audio recording too. The recording tools from Samsung also allow for directional audio recording, something we saw on the V10 but makes its way to the V20 with even higher quality audio.
The camera here is very similar to what we saw on the LG G5, including a 16-megapixel camera on the back with a 75-degree angle lens and f.1.8 aperture, alongside an 8-megapixel camera with a 135-degree angle lens and f/2.4 aperture. What’s different here is that the front-facing camera also features a similar setup, with dual 5-megapixel cameras featuring an 83-degree angle lens and a 120-degree angle lens, both with f/1.9 aperture. The camera software is as powerful as ever too, bringing all those crazy amazing manual controls from the V10 to the software side of the house with a few tweaks and feature additions, notably live filters for video now instead of just photos. Be sure to check out our camera hands-on article and video to see more of the LG V20's camera in action!
Lastly it’s important to note that the V20 is going to be the first phone to launch with Android 7.0 Nougat installed out of the box. This is an incredibly important statistic for LG and one that brings the latest features aboard, although unfortunately it doesn’t feature any significant overhaul to the skin that LG has mostly been rocking for years. Everything looked more or less identical to the G5, and as a whole the UX design was probably the only disappointing factor in our hands on. So far this seems like an incredible device that’s designed to fit everything in a single package instead of trying to get users to buy as many add-ons as possible. We’ll know soon enough just how well all these features come together, but for now it’s an overwhelmingly positive outlook.