LG G6 Review: Overshadowed by competition?

Almost as fly like a G6

In recent years, LG has closed the gap between itself and more popular smartphone manufacturers. However, it hasn’t found a way to attract a substantial audience. With this year’s LG G6, the push for a bigger consumer base is greater than ever… but has it worked?

Design and build

There is hardly any doubt in how good the LG G6 looks. It sports a modern, tall appearance to make the smartphone accessible with one hand. Material-wise, the LG G6 combines glass and metal for a premium feel. There a lot of things to like about the hardware, including the fingerprint scanner placement, the flush dual-camera sensor and the robust buttons.

In spite of the glass back, the phone is not slippery in the hand thanks to a thicker-than-average shell

Yet, something dumbfounding is the choice of material. LG has opted for Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 for the back, Gorilla Glass 4 for the camera and the four-year-old Gorilla Glass 3 for the display coating. This may present discrepancies in wear-and-tear over prolonged usage but the out-of-the-box plastic protection does well to limit this.

Multimedia

This is where things start to get interesting. The taller form factor of the LG G6 allows for an 18:9 screen on the front. It’s a 5.7-inch IPS LCD Quad HD+ panel, which means you benefit from great viewing angles and detail, though outdoor visibility is slightly poor. When combined with the near bezel-less front, the screen makes for some good-looking imagery with accurate colours and an immersive feeling.

The near bezel-less screen is very immersive, though the rounded corners take some time to get used to

However, the latter is only applicable when viewing Mobile HDR content. Currently, almost any video on the internet is uploaded at a native 16:9 aspect ratio. When viewing the same on the LG G6’s display, you experience black bars on the left and right side of the content. And while app scaling could be helpful to reduce this effect, unfortunately the YouTube application is not supported, where many people watch the most video content.

You will find the average sounding mono-speaker at the bottom alongside the USB-C port

This takes away from the consumption experience in my opinion especially when viewing a cinema-scope video. The additional black bars on the top and bottom in this case makes the 5.7-inch panel look more like a 5.0-inch one. That being said, it is only a matter of time before Mobile HDR content starts to catch on and the inconvenience at present is more due to the transition phase we are in.

Traditional 16:9 content will result in black bars on the left and right side of videos

That being said, the audio experience to accompany video content was also nothing more than average. The phone’s bottom firing mono-speaker doesn’t get too loud and is easily cupped because of its placement. Unfortunately, the LG G6 in the Middle East also omits Quad DAC support that would otherwise enhance the audio experience via the included headphones.

User experience

Right from the “Always-On” display, the software on the LG G6 is quite impressive. It delivers a rich way to customize the smartphone via themes and little things like the puzzle unlock alarm or the option to to have or not to have an app drawer make it better. And while the hardware fingerprint scanner compliments this, other hardware seems to be the limitation.

You will find LG’s native skin running on top of Android 7.0 Nougat on the smartphone

Inside, the phone is run by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB RAM. For the most part, the experience atop of Android 7.0 Nougat has been a bit lackluster. Transitions weren’t the smoothest and a noticeable stutter in performance was present even when running less intensive applications compared to other phones in the LG G6’s category. This may be due to the slightly older processing power on the chipset but thankfully, RAM management saw no troubles. The longer screen also makes the multi-window feature more useful and I found myself using it more on this phone.

I found myself using the multi-window mode more often due to the taller 18:9 screen aspect ratio

Even when gaming, the performance was above average. The Adreno 530 GPU handled 2D games such as Ballz well and for the most part, 3D games like Asphalt 8 also saw no noticeable frame drops even at the highest settings.

Graphic heavy games such as Asphalt 8 show no lag or frame drops

Over prolonged usage though, the glass back heated up a bit towards the camera region and inevitably caught fingerprints and smudges. Here, I found the IP68 certification of the smartphone to come in really handy. I found myself washing the phone under tap water to make it good as new and didn’t worry when taking it for a swim. The added dust resistance is also a real bonus given the sandstorms in Dubai.

Camera

Over the years, LG has experimented with the dual-camera setup however on the LG G6 was the first time I got to experience it. The primary 13MP sensor has an f/1.8 aperture while the secondary 13MP sensor has an f/2.2 one. Both these combine to provide some very nice pictures in all conditions.

The normal and wide angle 13MP cameras combine to produce one of the best camera experiences on a phone

During the day time, the pictures the camera managed were good however there was noticeable over-sharpening from the software post processing. The same aggressive processing was handy when taking macro images which had more of a vibrancy. However, the night time performance is where the LG G6 really shines. Many pictures came out noise and blur free and the camera can handle light exposure very well and preserves detail both in the foreground and background.

Personally though, the wider 13MP sensor blew me away. It effectively allows users to capture a significant amount of added detail from the exact same position. Pictures that seemed impossible on the normal lens were taken effortlessly on the wider lens camera and there wasn’t much deterioration in quality. The only drawback arose in a select few cases where pictures had a fish-eye look to them.

With regards to video recording, the phone is more than capable. The 4K videos it captures are nice with some accurate colors and reasonable sharpness with a loss of detail towards to corners. But the stabilization on footage isn’t the best. There is noticeable shaking and I think the optical image stabilization could have been refined further to eliminate this.

On the front side, you find the 5MP selfie snapper. Having a wide angle mode of its own, it is more than capable in the day for some true to life pictures. But the fall in quality in darker environments is quite large. Selfies on the go are definitely not recommended at night making for some blurry pictures.

Battery life

The LG G6 comes in a slightly thicker profile to accommodate the larger than usual 3300mAh cell. During my mixed usage on WiFi and cellular data, the phone clocked close to six hours of screen on time on an average. If you are a heavy user, expect to plug in the smartphone to the wall sometime during the late afternoon.

My typical usage resulted in around six hours of screen on time with Bluetooth turned on

In spite of the glass build, there is no wireless charging support on the Middle Eastern LG G6’s with that functionality staying exclusive to the United States. Nonetheless, fast charging via the USB-C port should get you from a completely depleted battery to full in just shy of two hours which is quite impressive.

Conclusion

Retailing for Dh2599 ($708), the LG G6 is available at a default 32GB of storage with support for micro-SD expansion up to 256GB if you don’t want to use the second SIM slot. For a package, the LG G6 is a very all rounded smartphone. Its highs are definitely the screen, design, camera and battery life. But that is not to take away from the below par software and hardware optimization.

The LG G6 is the jack of all trades but a master of few

With the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ in the market as well as the Huawei P10/P10+, the LG G6 does well to hold its ground. It can match up to a number of features offered by these competitors but unfortunately, it fails to gain the recognition it deserves. The LG G6 is suffering from an underwhelming demand rate because it isn’t marketed as aggressively as its competitors. The smartphone fails to incorporate the “wow factor” that is evident in the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+’s design language and sadly succumbs to the ill fate of being overshadowed by its rivals in spite of being a very promising device.