LG didn’t do so hot in 2016. The LG G5 was supposed to be a cool modular phone, but the modular aspect never panned out, and the reviews were pretty negative. I didn’t think the G5 was as bad as everyone else thought, but it was clearly not LG’s best work.
The G5 can be seen as a microcosm for LG’s flagship phones. They always seem to have a lot of promise at the start, but small issues hold them back. Ultimately, LG is stuck playing second fiddle to Samsung. This year, LG tries to change that narrative with the LG G6.
LG ditched gimmicky features like the modular design and added necessary things like waterproofing. Instead of trying to do too much, LG set out to check all the boxes of what a smartphone needs to be in 2017. But is a “good” phone good enough anymore? Can the LG G6 be the best flagship of the year? Let’s find out.
Design & Hardware
The design of the LG G6 is a huge step up from the G5. They replaced the weird painted metal with glossy glass. The glass panel on the back is slightly curved around the edges, but the front panel is completely flat. I’m not really a fan of curved displays, so the flat display is perfectly fine for me. LG says the flat display is less prone to cracking, for what it’s worth.
As the reviewer cliche goes, the G6 “feels great in the hand.” I really mean it. There’s something about the size, shape, weight, and materials that make this phone super ergonomic. It’s big without feeling too big. The small bezels obviously play a big part in that. Speaking of weight, the G6 feels lighter than it should, but unlike some LG phones, it doesn’t feel cheap.
Adding to the premium design and build is IP68 waterproofing. You might not think this is an important feature, but if you’re paying nearly $700 for a phone, it should be able to survive a quick dip. As someone who has lost a phone to a watery death, I’m very happy to have waterproofing.
Once again, LG has put the power button and fingerprint scanner on the back of the device. I’m a big fan of this set-up. The double-tap to unlock feature means you rarely have to use the power button, and I prefer rear fingerprint scanners. This one may be a little small, but it’s still very fast and accurate.
The single speaker on the bottom is surprisingly loud. It’s a little tinny when you crank it up all the way, but I’ll take that for the added volume. When you’re trying to play some music for a group of friends, the volume is all you’re going to care about. I should also note that the G6 has a headphone jack. Papa bless.
Note: Some models of the G6 have Hi-Fi Quad DAC for audio. Our AT&T model does not have this feature.
Overall, the G6 feels great and looks great. It has a premium design and build quality. Some people thought the G5 was ugly, but I don’t think anyone would say the same about the G6. It comes in white, black, and silver (our model). Go for the black to get the best bezel-less effect and you’ve got a phone straight out of a Sci-Fi movie.
The display on the G6 has a lot more going on than your typical smartphone. First, let’s get the basics out of the way. The display is 5.7-inches with 2880 x 1440 resolution. It’s an LCD panel that gets really bright, but it’s not great in direct sunlight. The display has sort of a blue-ish tint to it, but you can make it warmer with the ComfortView feature.
This display is taller than your typical smartphone display. The G6 display has an 18:9 aspect ratio. Most displays are 16:9. You can see the difference when comparing screen resolution. The G6 has 2880 vertical pixels, whereas a 16:9 display would have 2560. The result is a bigger display without making the phone wider.
A common complaint with phones that have virtual nav buttons is the nav bar takes up screen real estate. They have a 16:9 display, but since the nav bar takes up some of that space, apps can’t use the full screen. The G6 is more like a phone with hardware buttons. You get a full 16:9 area above the nav bar. Altogether, it equals 18:9.
By default, apps are displayed in 16.7:9, but you can adjust that to 16:9 for misbehaving apps. Only full-screen apps can take advantage of the entire 18:9 display. I haven’t found any apps that don’t play nice with the aspect ratio. Sometimes information will be cut off on the sides if you force an app to be in 18:9, but the default setting works great.
I really like this display. The colors look great, viewing angles are excellent, and I’m sold on the 18:9 aspect ratio. I prefer the absolute black on AMOLED displays, but I can’t complain about LG’s LCD panels. They knocked it out of the park.
If there’s one area where the G6 tries to be a little different it’s the camera. Just like the G5 and LG V20, the G6 has dual cameras on the back. However, the G6 has an important improvement. On previous devices, the wide-angle camera had fewer megapixels than the regular camera. This time both cameras are 13MP. One has a 70-degree view, the other is 125-degrees.
The camera quality is right on par with other flagship phones, but it does lack the “wow” factor that you might find with the Pixel or the latest Samsung Galaxy. LG does a lot of processing on the photos. You’ll notice they lose considerable detail when you zoom in or crop. HDR Auto is enabled by default. It works pretty well, but it can be a bit aggressive sometimes.
See More: LG G6 Camera Sample Gallery
Wide-angle photos do look better than they did on previous models. There is still distortion around the edges, but that’s natural with a wide-angle lens. The front camera also has a wide-angle lens. It’s only 5MP, but having the wide-angle lens on the front is arguably more useful. Taking group selfies has never been easier.
One new feature of the camera is a “Square” mode. This feature takes advantage of the 18:9 aspect ratio by putting a square viewfinder on the top and a review area at the bottom. It’s kinda fun to take photos in this mode, but I never used it for more than messing around.
Video quality is very good. By default, the camera captures video in 18:9 aspect ratio to match the display. These videos look great on the phone, but you’ll see black bars on the top and bottom when viewing on a 16:9 device. To shoot in 4K, you have to switch to 16:9. I was especially impressed with the audio quality from the videos, as you can hear in the sample video.
All in all, the camera is good. It lacks some of the pizzazz of other smartphones, but most people will be perfectly happy with this camera.
The best thing I can say about LG’s software is it’s not annoying. I mean that in the nicest way possible. It’s not the prettiest UI, but it can be easily improved and, most importantly, it doesn’t get in the way. The worst thing LG did is get rid of the app drawer in the default launcher, but that can be fixed. Basically, Android works like Android should. That seems obvious, but it’s not always the case. *cough* Huawei *cough* LeEco *cough*
The G6 comes with Android 7.0 (not 7.1) Nougat and most of the Nougat features you’ve come to expect. Quick Settings that can be customized, bundled notifications, multi-window, etc. There are a couple of small things that make me scratch my head. ComfortView, which makes the display easier on your eyes at night, can’t be set up to be automatically enabled at certain times. System UI Tuner has been removed for no apparent reason.
As I mentioned, LG’s UI can be easily improved. You can download themes from the Play Store (this Pixel theme is nice) and customize the navigation bar. Once you install a 3rd party launcher and keyboard, LG’s UI is pretty much gone.
One software feature to note is Google Assistant. The G6 is the first non-Pixel phone to launch with Google’s new virtual assistant. Just like the Pixel, Assistant is launched by long-pressing the home button. Every time you press the home button you’ll see the 4 colored dots spring to life. Check out our articles about Google Assistant to see what it can do.
Battery & Performance
Battery life on the G6 has been a mixed bag. It’s packing a 3300 mAh battery, which is an improvement over the V20 and G5. Battery life is pretty average compared to other devices in the same size range. I can make it about 15 hours with around 4 hours of screen-on time. Usually, Battery Saver kicks in at 15% right around the time I go to bed. If I have plans to stay out late I need to charge up a bit before going out.
Quick Charge 3.0 allows you to get some extra juice quickly. If you live in the U.S. you can also take advantage of wireless charging. The truth is battery life isn’t that impressive, but the sad truth is it’s not that impressive on most phones. This is the current state of battery life. Unless you get a phablet with a beefy battery, you’re going to be wishing for more.
Read More: LG G6 Battery Life (first 24 hours)
The LG G6 is powered by the Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM. No, that is not the newest processor on the block. The Samsung Galaxy S8 has the Snapdragon 835. I’m here to tell you that those numbers don’t matter. The Pixel is powered by the same Snapdragon 821 and no one has ever called that phone “slow.” The G6 is a speedy device despite having a processor from last year. Technology, right?
This may sound like a Sprint commercial, but it’s 2017 and all processors are good now. Okay, maybe not all. We’ve been very impressed with the Snapdragon 675 in budget devices. If the Snapdragon 821 was good enough for the best phones just a couple of months ago, it’s still good enough today. Performance on the G6 has been very good. I haven’t noticed any considerable lag or jitteriness. I don’t expect it to deteriorate over time like some devices.
At first glance, this review may seem a little short, but that’s the story of the G6. It’s easy to add a million features to a phone and hope one sticks. It’s harder to show restraint. Sometimes a short story is better than a novel. LG pulled back a lot of gimmicky stuff and built a simple phone.
Instead of trying to do things that nobody wants, LG nailed the things that a smartphone in 2017 needs to have. Big display in a compact body, attractive design, premium build quality, good cameras, waterproofing, respectable battery life, and top notch performance. It even has a few useful extras, such as dual cameras and wireless charging.
What would I improve to make the phone even better? I’d like a slightly bigger battery and I would also prefer AMOLED over LCD, but that’s just a personal preference. Other than that, there’s really not much I would change. The G6 is a solid phone. In a world of fancy marketing names and over-hyped features that no one will use, the G6 takes a stand on being bland. And that’s fine by me. In short, yes, the G6 is fly like a G6. I know you were asking.
LG G6 Rating: star_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_fullstar_75 (4.8 / 5)
- 18:9 display is cool and functional
- Excellent screen to body ratio
- Glass design feels premium
- Great performance
- Wide-angle camera is useful
- Battery life could be better
- Photos lose quality when cropped
The Bottom Line
The LG G6 is a super solid phone. It’s not trying to do too much, but what it does do it does very well. The 18:9 display is great and it makes for a very compact device. If you’re looking for a great all-around Android device with an excellent display, it’s hard to go wrong with the LG G6.