LG finally debuted their latest flagship, the G6, at Mobile World Congress last week in Barcelona, Spain. It wasn't a huge surprise, after all LG had confirmed that they would be announcing it ahead of time, and also announced some of its features. Which is typical for LG, it's their way of getting everyone excited for their new device, which can sometimes be a bit tough. But with the LG G6, there's a whole lot to be excited about. There's the larger display, in the same footprint as the LG G5, there's also the larger battery, the better build quality, and even Google Assistant, just to name a few. We've actually spent the past week or so with a pre-production unit of the LG G6, and while we can't give a full review, we can talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of LG's latest smartphone.
The overall size is probably the best thing about the LG G6. Users want a larger screen, but they don't want a device that is physically larger. This is because a lot of people still use their phone with one hand. Imagine trying to text someone that you're running late, while you're running to the subway, or walking through an airport. That's tough to do with a phone that has a 5.7-inch display normally. But because the LG G6 has that size display in the same sized body as their 5.2-inch LG G5, it makes it easy to use with one hand. That's largely due to the 18:9 aspect ratio as well. Now we won't call this display "bezel-less", because it really isn't, but it is nice to see a smartphone with bezels as small as what the LG G6 has. Now it does mean that there are no front-facing speakers, but that's not necessarily the end of the world. LG kept the resolution pretty high on this display, jumping to 2880x1440, since it is a 18:9 resolution, it did need to be a bit higher than the standard QHD resolution.
LG has improved battery life pretty drastically on the LG G6. In our briefing with them about the G6, they told us that they got rid of the ability to remove the battery, and opted for putting in a larger one. Of course, the real reason for no longer having a removable battery is because the phone is made of metal and glass. But the battery capacity is only about 500mAh larger than the LG G5's was, and it has a display that is half an inch larger. So we were a bit skeptical about the battery life here. But so far we've had a great experience. Of course, we do have to preface this by saying that the device we have in hand is not final software, and is a pre-production unit, so this may change when it comes to retail. But for the most part, it will last you all day long, and give you around 5-6 hours of on-screen time, which is pretty great for a flagship device these days.
Last year, LG went with an aluminum unibody design on the LG G5, although many people complained because the metal was actually painted. LG said they did this to hide the antenna lines. Well this year, they opted to stick with a metal frame and a glass back. A formula that is quite popular these days in flagship smartphones, and it seems to work for LG this time around. The G6 is a great looking phone, it feels great in the hand and it is a bit thicker than you probably would expect. This is for the larger battery (also heat pipes in there to keep the battery from getting too hot) and so that the camera is flush with the back of the device. So there's no more camera bumps here.
Overall, LG really just took a step back after the LG G5 didn't do as well as they had hoped, and spent a year creating a great smartphone. Typically, LG relies on a gimmick or two for their flagship devices, but with the LG G6, there really aren't any. It's a solid feeling phone, with pretty great battery life, slightly toned down software, and great cameras.
It's tough to find anything bad about this phone, but the first thing that comes to mind is pricing and availability. And that's because we have no idea when this phone is coming, nor how much it's going to cost. This is an issue that most phone manufacturers are running into these days. They announce their shiny new smartphone, get all of their customers excited about it and then you hear nothing about it for weeks. About 4-6 weeks later, it'll turn up at all of the usual carriers and retailers. But in the meantime, they've lost out on all of the momentum they had built leading up to their big announcement. And that's the case with the LG G6. While it's still fresh in everyone's mind, we still have no idea when we can buy the device. This is why Samsung and Apple are the top phone manufacturers, as they can announce a phone and have it on store shelves in the next two weeks.
LG has also decided to leave some features out in some regions and add some in others. For example, wireless charging is only available in the US. A bit strange, considering many studies have shown that users in other areas (like Europe) use wireless charging far more than the US. Another is the fact that the quad DAC is not in the US model. It actually appears to only be coming to Asian markets at this point. That's a big downer, especially for people hoping to get the same audio experience they got with the LG V20 that was launched last fall.
Now we kind of expected this, but the LG G6 does run on the Snapdragon 821. Currently it is the latest flagship silicon from Qualcomm, but it won't be in another month. Now it's obvious that LG was trying to beat Samsung to market with the LG G6, and Samsung does apparently have exclusivity on the Snapdragon 835 (they are manufacturing them for Qualcomm after all), but it's a bit unfortunate that before this device even hits store shelves, it'll be outdated. That doesn't mean that the Snapdragon 821 is a slouch, because it definitely is not. But it is going to be a tough sell for LG when there is the G6 on the shelf next to the Snapdragon 835-powered Galaxy S8 come late-April.
As much as Google has been pushing virtual reality lately, LG has not made the G6 compatible with Daydream, at least not yet. LG didn't give us a reason why it was not compatible with Daydream, but some are betting that it may be due to the aspect ratio that the display is using here. Seeing as Daydream is built for 16:9 aspect ratio displays and not 18:9 or even 2:1. As these displays are a bit taller or longer than a normal one, it means that you'll likely see some black letter-boxing while watching a video in virtual reality. Definitely not the best experience.
After the terrible sales of the LG G5 last year, the South Korean company had to find a way to turn things around in 2017, and it looks like they may have done just that. The LG G6 seems to be ticking all of the boxes so far, although it's still a bit early since this is pre-production software. But instead of relying on gimmicks to sell their smartphones. Now it'll be interesting to see how much better the LG G6 does compared to the LG G5, but for now it does seem to be a rather good upgrade from last year's flagship. One of the things we didn't touch on here was the cameras, and that's because they are mostly the same as last year's. Although instead of a 16-megapixel camera and a 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, it's two 13-megapixel cameras. The cameras still take great images, and LG has worked with Qualcomm to make switching between the two cameras even faster and more smooth.
Hopefully LG can make the G6 available in key markets in the next few weeks before the hype of this new device dies down. LG has an early contender for smartphone of the year right now, of course, there's only been a handful of smartphones announced so far in 2017, so there isn't much competition yet.
Update: The LG G6 is now available for Pre-Order at many carriers in the US, and will be launching on April 7th.