LG G6 review: LG’s first big flagship phone of 2017 is a media beast, delivering gorgeous visuals complete with Dolby Vision support for a future-proof experience. But what about the performance, battery life and the rest of the user experience?
The LG G6 was one of our favourite smartphones launched at MWC 2017, thanks to its innovative design and killer features. Like most flagship mobiles, you can of course expect premium specs. But what really drew us to this 5.7-inch handset was how much it catered to media lovers. As consumers of Netflix and YouTube video on the go, we were blown away by that stunning and spacious screen, which was somehow packed inside a surprisingly compact device.
After using the LG G6 as my full-time mobile, here’s my in-depth review.
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LG G6 Review: Design
The first time we picked up the LG G6 and held it in our hands, we immediately fell in love. After hearing about the mighty 5.7-inch display, we were ready for a behemoth demanding two hands to operate at all times. But in reality, the G6 is usable with just a single mitt. This mobile is by no means compact and it’s certainly one of the chunkier handsets we’ve fondled recently, but LG has done a marvellous job of trimming down those bezels surrounding the screen. This is particularly true above and below the display, so you can just about stretch a thumb to the very top.
That display is rounded in the corners, a measure to help protect it from damage if the G6 suffers an undignified plummet to the floor. Of course, these rounded corners have the bonus side-effect of looking pretty kick-arse. In our impromptu drop tests, LG’s craftsmanship certainly seemed to do the job. Combined with the Gorilla Glass covering, this is one suitably rugged panel.
You also get a Gorilla Glass coating around the back of the LG G6, which envelopes the metal surface. Again, this staves off damage effectively. The camera lenses are flush with the surface too, giving a clean finish and again helping to prevent any possible damage if the phone is dropped.
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Sandwiched between those two glass layers is the metal edging, which neatly breaks up the glossy effect. The whole lot fits together smartly, although unlike last year’s LG G5, the G6’s innards can’t be accessed. That battery is buried away inside and completely untouchable.
One of the reasons for this change is to provide full water resistance, at an IP68 rating. You can dunk the G6 in fresh water for an extended period (half an hour is the typically quoted value) and it’ll need no more attention than a quick towelling off. Particularly handy if you like browsing the web or destressing with cuddly cat videos while soaking in the tub.
You can pick up the G6 in silver, black and white finishes and they all look slick, although the white model is our personal favourite. Does it look quite as full-on gorgeous as the freshly launched Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus? No, but then nothing does. But for the record, this is the best-looking LG flagship handset to date (in our humble opinion) and one of the most desirable smartphones we’ve reviewed in a good, long while.
LG G6 Review: Screen and media
One of the biggest reasons to choose the LG G6 over rival mobiles is that stunning 5.7-inch ‘FullVision’ display. This easily rivals the attractive visuals pumped out by the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Samsung Galaxy S7 and other mobiles with top-end displays.
Contrast levels are unbeatable, with a wide colour gamut and sharp QHD+ resolution helping to craft impressively realistic images. In contrast to the punchy, vibrant visuals of the Galaxy S8, you can expect accuracy and attention to detail from the G6. However, like the S8, this LG blower sports a ‘stretched’ aspect ratio – in other words, it’s longer than most mobile screens, which makes it well suited to playback of widescreen movies.
Of course only a selection of apps currently support the new 18:9 aspect ratio. But with the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 phones sporting that similar widescreen display, we’d be surprised if most developers didn’t jump on it as soon as possible. In the meantime, non-compatible apps simply play as usual, with a black border down each side to fill that extra space.
LG has also included an ‘app scaling’ mode, which can be used to zoom in and fill the whole display – although this crops the edges, so won’t work for every app. Check out our LG G6 tips and tricks guide for more information.
So far so good, but what really elevates the LG G6 above the rest of the smartphone crowd is its HDR support. This phone can display Dolby Vision video in all of its glory, which means incredible detail and lifelike images. And as Dolby Vision displays are able to play HDR10 video too, that means the G6 is fully compatible with future streaming updates from video services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Check out our full feature about the LG G6’s Dolby Vision display for everything you need to know, including how it works and full compatibility info.
Our only complaint is that the LG G6’s Eye Comfort Mode (which filters blue light for more comfortable evening viewing) can’t be scheduled. This means you have to manually tap it on every evening, which is a minor but still pretty irritating first world problem.
LG G6 Review: Features
As a premium Android smartphone, the LG G6 of course comes packing the latest version of Google’s mobile OS. Android Nougat runs beautifully here and delivers all of the features you’d expect, including the ability to run two apps side-by-side with the Splitscreen mode. This is of course particularly suited to the G6’s stretched display, allowing for effortless multitasking.
LG has tweaked and fiddled with Android to add plenty of its own little tools. Lots of legacy features such as Knock Code are still present and correct, although a lot less relevant now we have fingerprint sensors as standard. Likewise, you still have the LG Health app for tracking your daily steps and mini workouts, if you can’t be bothered with a proper fitness tracker. And QuickMemo+ can be used to jot down little notes, with handy shortcuts to scribble on demand when the phone’s hibernating or during a phone call.
Resource management is also available on demand, via the Smart Doctor. This can help to speed up the G6 or clear some storage space, not that you’ll need to do either for quite some time. LG’s blower is pleasingly nippy (check out the next section) and you get a respectable 64GB of storage built in. That’s expandable via microSD too.
Struggling to use the LG G6 one-handed despite its impressive narrow build? Not a problem. LG gives you the option of adding a button to the virtual toolbar at the bottom of the screen, to pull down the notifications bar with just a tap. We’d have preferred further measures such as fingerprint sensor gestures and desktop shrinking, as you’ll find on the Huawei P10, but hey ho.
For more information on all of these features, check out our complete LG G6 tips and tricks guide.
LG G6 Review: Performance and battery life
With Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 processor packed inside, the LG G6 is certainly a strong performer no matter what you’re up to. Games play with a perfect frame rate and apps load the instant you tap them.
It’s a shame that LG couldn’t squeeze in the fresher Snapdragon 835 chipset, which boasts improved data connectivity and lots of other performance improvements, but that would have meant a further wait. We’ll have to hang on until Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium hits to fully test that one. And in the meantime, we’d be surprised to see any speed issues from the G6 in the coming year or two.
For any benchmark enthusiasts out there, our AnTuTu testing gave an average score of 142k. That’s not as strong as the OnePlus 3T, which boasts more RAM, but just as capable as other flagships like the Galaxy S7 Edge, Huawei’s P10 and so on.
LG has apparently installed copper ‘heat pipes’ inside of its G6 handsets too, which help to stream heat out of the device. Despite this, the G6 definitely got rather toasty at times. Gaming is a major culprit, causing both the screen and rear plate to warm up – although definitely not to a troublesome degree.
As for battery life, the G6 is thankfully once again a winner. That 3300mAh cell happily gives 36 hours of regular use between charges, meaning you can get from the morning of day one to bedtime of day two without plugging it in. Even if you absolutely hammer the phone with non-stop audio and video streaming, camera use and so on, you should make it through a full day without employing the battery saver mode.
The G6 also charges quite quickly, using Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 tech. Half an hour at the plug gives you a good few hours of operation, while an extra hour charges the phone to full.
LG G6 Review: Cameras
Like last year’s LG G5 and the iPhone 7 Plus, the G6 sports a dual-lens rear camera. Those 13-megapixel lenses work independently, providing very different viewpoints (as well as optics) to each other. You get plenty of bonus camera modes as well as video modes, with the ability to shoot up to 4K resolution video.
For our full analysis as well as photo and video samples, check out our LG G6 camera review.
LG G6 video review
Check out our full video review of the G6 below, to see this gorgeous slab of hot mobile tech in action.
LG G6 Review: Verdict
The LG G6 is the first essential flagship phone of 2017. This time around LG has concentrated hard on the features that demanding users expect, delivering unique abilities such as the Dolby Vision support to rise the G6 above the competition. In every other area it succeeds just as strongly, offering dependable battery life, solid camera tech and a rather enticing design.