For now, LG’s modular plans are on hold. This was one of the major takeaways when the South Korean manufacturer debuted the LG G6 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year. It was a fairly divisive decision, especially for those who shelled out the cash to buy the modular G5 and the accessories (Friends) it was compatible with, as the follow doesn't cater to many of the latter.
In the long run, it may prove the right call, particularly as Motorola is the only manufacturer pursuing modular smartphones with interest. It’s also a good move in our books as the G5 was a little hit and miss, proving intriguing from afar, but a little less polished up close. As such, perhaps pressing pause and taking one’s time for the second attempt is not a bad thing.
Not your usual G
When the South Korean manufacturer unveiled their 2017 flagship, we were left a little puzzled - this was not the LG we’re familiar with. There weren’t any specs (LG G3) that blew the competition out the water. There wasn’t a leather or ceramic back cover (LG G4), or indeed a design that few other manufacturers were replicating (LG G5). By all accounts, the LG G6 was a little boring… but that isn’t a bad thing.
Stick with us for a moment. When it comes to flagship smartphones, you’re not necessarily looking for something quirky. You want a phone that can do everything well, while delivering a premium feel and experience. By that measure then, the G6 is the best G-series device since 2014’s G3, which is high praise indeed.
One of the first things you notice about the G6, besides its longer body and display which we’ll touch on shortly, is the painstaking efforts that LG has gone to in putting this device together. The aluminium frame for example is smooth and flawless, complemented by a Gorilla Glass 3 coated back cover that cradles the hand well. This is a significant aspect, as the G5 we reviewed last year didn’t feel as well manufactured, and even began flaking in certain spots. After nearly two weeks of use, the G6 shows absolutely no signs of wear and tear, nor does it feel like it will.
As much as we appreciate the design of the G6, there is one issue that we’ve identified - the lack of power button on the frame of the phone, which instead is found on the back cover just below the dual lens camera. This button also doubles as a highly sensitive fingerprint reader. Its absence might not present an issue when trying to unlock the phone when placed on a flat surface, with a quick double tap on the screen and pattern input bringing up the home screen.
But what about turning off the phone once again? You’d have to lift it up and press the power button/fingerprint reader or wait for it to turn off automatically. You may think we’re splitting hairs, but given the fine margins between the current batch of Android flagships, it’s an annoyance that could have been avoided.
Looking at the screen, is it simply coincidence that both South Korean manufacturers debuted flagship smartphones with 18:9 displays, and not the standard 16:9? Perhaps that’s a question for another time, but the fact that they sport longer screens will mean the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8 will be compared to one another in yet another category.
LG’s version is nicknamed Full Vision, with the 5.7” screen bright and crisp as it delivers 1440x2880 resolution and 564 ppi pixel density. The new dimensions make the G6 appear longer, with less of the width associated with 5.7” screens. In fact, compared to the 5.7” G6 the 5.3” LG G5 is 2 mm wider.
In terms of image quality, there is very little the G6 cannot display in nuanced and detailed fashion. For users that enjoy their mobile games, or watching videos and movies, the G6 is a great option to consider.
Furthermore, the Full Vision display has been optimised for the UX 6.0 UI, which is layered atop Android 7.0 (Nougat). It means that things are bit more spread out, and scaled accordingly when browsing through app screens and menus.
LG has also put to use aspects like the Square Camera mode, which allows the viewfinder to take up the top half of the screen, and quick preview of the image captured appearing below. Added to this is the ability to compose collage-type photos, as well as contact images and reply options displaying on the same 18:9 screen when receiving or making calls.
Is the 18:9 ratio the sole reason to get your hands on the G6? No, but it shows at the very least that LG has put the increased screen real estate to good use, and not simply integrated it as part of a sales gimmick.
Efficiently set up
So the display is longer, but what about the internal specs, we hear you ask. Indeed, the G6 is no shrinking violet in that regard. Predecessors of this iteration have also been well specced, but it is worth noting that the G6 does not sport Qualcomm’s most powerful CPU of the moment, the Snapdragon 835, instead opting for the Snapdragon 821.
Housing a pair of dual-core processors that yield a speed of 2.35 GHz and 1.6 GHz respectively, they’re combined with 4 GB of RAM to deliver a more than capable multitasking experience. In terms of benchmarking, this resulted in a 137 637 score on AnTuTu (v6.2.7), which is only bested by the Huawei P10’s 143 668, among phones we’ve reviewed to date.
Shifting to the camera setup, a dual lens is once again present as were on the G5. The improvements, however, come in the form of megapixels, with a 13 MP primary and 13 MP wide angle lens. It’s the latter that proves most impressive, as it also did in the G5. The ability to capture more content is welcome, and with the 18:9 screen is a good compliment.
We did have a few troubles with the camera when using the primary lens, as the White Balance and Brightness toggles popping up on-screen at odd times. For a user that simply wants to point and shoot then, the G6 may rove a bit too finicky for their liking. If, however, you do enjoy playing around with the settings of the camera to produce interesting shots, the G6 comes recommended.
Images taken with the LG G6.
We must admit that when we first encountered the G6 at MWC, it did not immediately strike us as noteworthy. While reviewing it, however, that opinion has changed, with this flagship winning us over by delivering all the essential elements of a great smartphone experience.
For the first time since the G3, it appears as if LG is keeping things simple and focusing on ensuring all the key elements are top notch. When you factor in the G6 (Ice Platinum only) is retailing for a recommended R12 099 locally - a solid R3k less than some of its competitors - it becomes even more appealing. If you’re in the market for a high-spec, no-fuss flagship, the LG G6 is it.