If you didn’t know that LG was releasing its G6 flagship smartphone at Mobile World Congress, you must have not had Internet service for most of 2017. LG itself has been releasing bits of information about its newest smartphone for weeks, and a steady stream of leaks and spy shots have conspired to elucidate pretty much every aspect of the phone thus far.
Well, now the G6 is finally here, and with an extra-tall display and Google Assistant built into the OS, it’s every bit the flagship it was promised to be. Even without any surprises—and even with a soon-to-be-outdated processor—the G6 is a beast that puts LG back on the Android map.
Why this matters: LG needs a hit. Last year’s modular G5 swung and missed big time with its series of attachments, and the V20 failed to capitalize on the Note7 recall. On paper, the G6 ticks off all the right boxes, bringing a sleek, modern design with a big battery, giant screen, and excellent camera. But it remains to be seen whether LG’s 18:9 aspect ratio display is enough to lure buyers, especially with the Galaxy S8 launch looming on the horizon.
Screen to spare
As expected, the G6 brings a (deep breath) 5.7-inch, 18:9 Quad HD+, 2880×1440 FullVision LCD display that takes up much of the front of the device. It’s not entirely bezel-less like its marketing campaign would have you believe, but LG has managed to cram a lot of screen into its 5.9-inch by 2.8-inch body. Along with its generous size, the display supports Dolby Vision and HDR10, so compatible movies can be viewed in all of their billion-color glory.
Another unique display feature: rounded edges rather than corners with traditional right angles. LG says this was done to improve durability, as rounded corners are able to absorb impact better than square ones, resulting in reduced likelihood of cracks upon dropping. A copper pipe built into the body to dissipate heat also adds to reliability.
Powering all those pixels is a Snapdragon 821 processor (as expected, Samsung snatched up the first batch of 835s) and a 3,300mAh battery, which, for the first time, isn’t removable. Some LG diehards may gripe about the loss of a swappable battery, but the tradeoff brings IP68 water resistance and wireless charging, which even works when the phone is wet.
Of course, LG has also upgraded its cameras. The rear of the phone sports dual cameras like previous LG models, but this time around both are 13MP. And, surprisingly, LG is sticking with a wide-angle secondary rear camera rather than going for a system for faking a bokeh effects, a la Apple’s approach. The wide-angle rear shooter allows a 125-degree field of view, while the front 5MP camera spans 100 degrees.
The camera app also allows for 360-degree panorama shots, and the interface has been tuned to take advantage of the 18:9 screen. For example, you can divide the screen into two perfect squares for perfectly sized Instagram shots, while a new Guide Shot mode lets you overlay what you see over a previous image to help with composition. Furthermore, there’s also a 2x optical zoom with electronic image stabilization to keep shakiness to a minimum when filming videos.
The square motif can be seen all over LG’s UX 6.0, which has been updated for Android 7 Nougat. You can stitch multiple photos together in a collage for a lock screen wallpaper, or run two apps side-by-side for full-sized multitasking. For example, when you’re in the calendar app, you can put the G6 in landscape mode to display the calendar on the left and a more detailed schedule on the right.
And even though it is based on Android 7.0 rather than 7.1, the G6 is still the first non-Google phone to include support for Google Assistant, which can be summoned by saying OK Google or by long-pressing the virtual home button. And, perhaps most importantly, LG has resisted the temptation to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack, though unfortunately the U.S. version of the phone won’t get the quad DAC experience that’s on the model bound for Korea and other Asian markets.
U.S. buyers will also have to settle for 32GB of storage, though there is a microSD card slot to help make up for it. Pricing and availability for the G6 hasn’t been announced.