Sep 8th, 2016

With Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 launch seemingly going up in flames (literally), LG now finds themselves in an almost perfect position to win over smartphones buyers with their latest big-phone. I’ve been spending the past few days with the LG V20 and have to admit, I’m actually quite impressed with its top-notch hardware specs and software features. Whether you’re looking for a solid Galaxy Note 7 alternative or just ready to upgrade that old Android phone, here are 8 big reasons why you should make the LG V20 your next smartphone.

The software

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The LG V20 is actually the first smartphone to come out of the box with Android 7.0 Nougat. That’s kind of a big deal, especially considering the update only recently began rolling out to Nexus devices. For Android enthusiasts who really care about this sort of thing, the LG V20 has a clear lead from most of the competition out there. If history has taught us anything, it can be several months before existing devices — like the Galaxy S7 Edge or Note 7 — will see the same update rollout on carrier devices. In theory, LG could already be onto the next big Android maintenance release (7.1) by that time.

Of course, it’s still up to LG to stay on top of Android updates and while they’re off to a great start, they’ll need to make sure they aren’t dragging their feet if they want to keep their lead. Even with LG’s new UX 5.0+ skin and Google’s new “In Apps” feature, the LG V20 doesn’t feel like it’s trying to hide the fact it’s running Android, it wholly embraces it. That’s a good thing.

It’s a giant phone with an extra screen

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There aren’t too many options for people who love big smartphones — aka “phablets” — but with a large 5.7-inch Quad HD display, the LG V20 is as big as they come. The best part about the phone is the overall footprint of the phone itself is still reasonable. In fact, the V20 only measures a few millimeters larger than the iPhone 6S Plus (despite having a much larger display and added Second Screen).

Speaking of the always-on Second Screen, LG says it’s now 50% brighter than last year’s V10, with a bigger, easier to read font size. The Second Screen gives users the ability to activate quick settings, app shortcuts, and have constant access to the time and notifications. It looks a little odd at first, but after spending a few days with the device, it’s become one of my favorite features. It’s a big convenience and dare I say… luxury?

It’s metal and durable

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Unlike the LG G5, the V20 doesn’t hide its metal exterior under thick paint, instead the “aircraft-grade” aluminum back feels like just that — metal. Apparently LG has figured out some way to mix aluminum and silicon and while the top and bottom are still Silicone Polycarbonate (aka: plastic), LG says the phone still conforms to US military standards for durability.

Apparently the V20 should withstand multiple drops from 4-feet in height — whether it’s on the back, front, sides, or corners — without any hardware failures, but we’ll just have to take their word on it. In either case, it sounds like the phone is just as durable as last year’s model, which should give some peace of mind to those of you with butterfingers.

It’s a premium phone with a removable battery

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Even with a premium feeling metal back, the LG V20 still features a removable battery. This is pretty much you’re only option if you’re looking for this feature in a smartphone of this size. This hardware feature is quickly going the way of the dinosaur, but we’re glad LG is sticking by it. Being able to swap out batteries is a must for some folks and after a few years of natural battery life degradation, swapping out the battery for a fresh one will be a breeze.

The best video recording experience on a smartphone

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By far, the video recording experience on the LG V20 is the best offered on a smartphone to date. And it’s not just the ability to fine tune video using a variety of manual controls. The V20 also features “Steady Record 2.0” that uses Qualcomm’s gyro-based electronic image stabilization (EIS) 3.0, rock-solid video recording. This is complemented by digital image stabilization (DIS) that further improves video quality in post-processing, making for video that’s extremely stable with less distortion and motion blur.

But video quality is only half of it. The V20 also features Hi-Fi video recording that captures audio using 24-bit / 48 kHz Linear Pulse Code Modulation (LPCM). There’s also a Low Cut Filter (LCF) that removes unwanted background noise and Limiter (LMT) that sets recording distance, these are all features you’d typically find in professional video equipment, only now it’s on a phone. Whether you’re recording your child’s dance recital, concert, or wedding — video on the V20 not only looks great, but sounds even better.

Best audio experience using the headphones you already own

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Last year’s LG V10 was one of the best audio-experiences you could find on a smartphone and this year’s LG V20 only tops that with ESS Technology’s Hi-Fi Quad DAC — the world’s first on a smartphone. The 32-bit Quad DAC helps minimize distortion and ambient noise by up to 50% and supports a variety of lossless music formats. Long story short, plug any high-end headphones into the included 3.5mm headphone jack and prepare yourself for an eargasm.

But it’s not just output, the HD Audio Recorder is capable of capturing “studio quality” audio using the phone’s 3 AOP microphones. There’s even an included Studio Mode that features a robust set of manual controls and although most of it is lost on me, creative types who like to record music and publish online will have a field day with this.

More cameras, more fun

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The LG G5 was one of the world’s first smartphones to feature dual camera lenses done right. Sure HTC used something similar, but for depth sensing/auto focus, while Huawei’s implementation improved image quality by combining two images into one. But with the LG G5 — and now the LG V20 — LG is taking a different route. It’s actually much closer to the dual-camera system found on the upcoming iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

The V20 uses a standard 16MP f/1.8 camera for normal shots, and a 135-degree 8MP wide angle lens when you want to zoom out and capture more of the scene (versus the zoom lens on the new iPhones). Like the G5 and G4 before it, LG camera software is some of the best in the biz. With full manual controls, OIS, and Hybrid auto-focus which uses Laser Detection, Phase Detection, and Contrast AF — the LG V20 is capable of some of the best mobile photography around.

It wont explode

Note 7 burn 4

(Sorry, I just had to).

*****

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LG says with the LG V20 they’re giving customers more of what they love and less of what they don’t. It certainly sounds like they’ve built one of the most well-rounded smartphones out there, but we’ll have to wait until the final review before making judgement. Anyone considering a new (large) smartphone, the LG V20 is definitely worth your consideration. Stay tuned to Phandroid for more.

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