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LG V30 Hands-on Review: A revamped G6 with a ‘Crystal Clear’ camera

Following the launch of the G6 earlier in 2017, LG has finally pulled back the curtain on the premium LG V30 smartphone at IFA 2017. Boasting a ‘Crystal Clear’ dual-lens camera, gorgeous OLED screen and LG’s own feature-packed UX 6.0+ software, the V30 is certainly one of the best mobiles revealed here in Berlin, and we’ve gone hands-on for this first look review.

We were big fans of the LG G6 when it launched back in March, as you can probably tell from the five-star review. LG’s latest flagship phone offers a unique look and feel as well as a smart dual-lens camera setup and an absolutely stunning Dolby Vision display, making it ideal for even highly demanding users.

The G6 is about to be succeeded by the fresh new V30, which just launched here at the IFA 2017 tech expo in Berlin. We’ve gone hands-on and already we like this premium mobile, which hits many of the same highs as LG’s flagship handset while adding its own unique styling. You can expect an improved dual-lens camera and the all-new ‘floating bar’ tool, as well as that feature-packed UX 6.0+ software which is even denser than usual.

The LG V30 will mark the first British release of a V-series handset, as the V10 and V20 never made it over to the UK. So should Brits consider signing up for the phone when pre-orders open up? Here’s all you need to know.

Read next: LG V30 vs LG V20, what’s new?

LG V30 hands-on review: Design

In 2017 we’ve seen some seriously good-looking mobile devices, including of course the gorgeous Samsung Galaxy S8 phones and the new Note 8. The LG V30 offers a similar finish to Samsung’s flagships (and of course the G6), with a display that almost entirely fills the front panel. Although the screen doesn’t curve around the edges in the same way as the S8 and Note 8 display, those bezels are impressively slender, especially above and below the panel.

While the V30 is a rather hefty handset, the 156g weight is noticeably lighter than rivals such as the Galaxy Note 8. This device actually seems quite slim too when compared with the chunky G6, at just over 7mm. That aluminium frame is coated in a Gorilla Glass 5 surfacing, offering a glossy finish as well as protecting LG’s new handset.

With MIL-STD-810G levels of ruggedness, the vital components should remain protected in a drop. You also get full IP68 water resistance, so a trip into a sink or toilet shouldn’t prove a problem.

LG V30 hands-on review: Screen and media

The LG G6 sported one of the best smartphone screens ever conceived, so it’s no real surprise that the V30 hasn’t shaken the pot. Once again you have an OLED ‘FullVision’ panel, with a stretched 18:9 aspect ratio that’s well suited to movie playback. You get the usual app scaling ability, so any apps that are designed for more traditional mobile displays will be zoomed and cropped to fit the V30’s panel.

The QHD+ resolution (2880×1440 pixels) makes for impressive detail, while vibrant colours are again the order of the day. As before on the G6, HDR10 video support is on-board the V30, so you can enjoy those impressive contrast levels and a wide colour gamut, for realistic and great-looking visuals.

While previous V-series phones rocked a secondary always-on display which fed you real-time information, LG has decided to ditch this feature for the V30. Instead, you get a ‘floating bar’ on this phone, which can be pulled out from the edge of the screen when needed or entirely ditched if you’re not a fan. This offers plenty of customisation options, including shortcuts to your favourite apps or contacts and the ability to control your music or shoot a screenshot.

Like the G6, this handset also offers an Always-On Glance mode. This displays information in a low-power mode when the phone is hibernating, so you can check the date and time without waking the device, as well as notifications and other essential bits.

LG has also paid close attention to audio, it seems. The Hi-Fi Quad DAC (Digital-to-Analogue) offers various filters and presets to help you get just the music output you want, so for instance you can feel as if you’re stood in the middle of a concert hall as your favourite band plays. Meanwhile a set of B&O PLAY earphones comes bundled with the V30, to help you get the most from your tunes.

LG V30 hands-on review: Features and OS

Android Nougat 7.1.2 was pre-installed on the LG V30 sample that we played with, although an update to Oreo will hopefully be in the pipeline.

Of course, Android is pretty much unrecognisable underneath the LG UX 6.0+ overlay, which completely changes the look and layout of Google’s mobile OS. You get plenty of bonus features packed in as well, some of which are pretty handy.

For instance, you get a wide selection of unlock techniques including LG’s classic Knock Code, the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and voice recognition, which is a first for an LG phone. This allows you to set your own wake phrase which the phone then listens out for, only unlocking if it’s said in your own golden tones. We didn’t get a chance to test this feature out in our hands-on V30 session, but we’ll be sure to cover it in our full review.

Alternatively the V30 offers face recognition support, with the front-facing camera scanning your mug even when the phone is hibernating.

The LG V30 also supports Google’s Daydream VR platform, so you can enjoy virtual reality games and experiences on your handset. Not many other phones offer Daydream right now, so that’s a nifty bonus. That FullVision display should offer a crisp and colourful gateway into VR titles. We haven’t had a chance to test this out yet, so stay tuned for our in-depth review.

At the V30 launch, Google took the opportunity to announce that Daydream will be coming to Japan and Korea soon, so more users can get involved with virtual reality.

Want to carry around a massive media collection and tons of apps? The good news is that the V30 has 64GB of storage packed inside, expandable up to a whopping 2TB via the microSD memory card slot.

LG V30 hands-on review: Performance and battery life

Sadly the LG G6 was released a little too early to feature Qualcomm’s super-powered Snapdragon 835 chipset, instead offering the slightly older 821 platform from 2016. This still made for silky smooth everyday performance of course, yet it’s good to see the 835 housed in the new V30 as this offers a boost in power, energy efficiency and connectivity.

The V30 certainly doesn’t disappoint from our hands-on session. Apps load up in no time at all and you can expect games to run with a perfect frame rate – even VR titles. This is helped along by the 4GB of on-board RAM.

As for battery life, you get a 3300mAh cell with full wireless charging support and Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 for wired charging. This should hopefully provide at least a day of life between charges and then power up quick when plugged in. LG has added some bonus power saver modes too, for stripping back on non-essential features when you’re desperate for extra life.

LG V30 hands-on review: Cameras

We’ve long enjoyed using LG’s mobile camera tech, with the company offering feature-packed dual-lens snappers on the last couple of flagship phones. The LG V30 keeps up this tradition and improves on past efforts – at least, it seems to in our hands-on session.

You get a standard f/1.6 wide-aperture ‘Crystal Clear’ lens, which beats even the excellent Galaxy S8 and HTC U11 when it comes to sucking in light. That’s backed up by a wide-angle shooter which can be used for capturing gorgeous vistas and larger scenes in their entirety.

That Crystal Clear lens offers laser detection autofocus to quickly snap onto your subject, as well as a combination of Optical Image Stabilisation and Digital Image Stabilisation to prevent blur in your photos when moving as you snap.

Meanwhile the wide-angle lens cuts down on distortion around the edges of your photos, so you get a more uniform shot when snapping landscapes and the rest.

The LG V30 also has plenty of bonus video modes, which can help you to capture a very specific kind of home movie. For instance, the Cine Effect feature offers various movie-based filters to tweak the colour balance, including ‘noir’, ‘classic’, ‘thriller’ and so on, to get a specific effect with your movies.

Point Zoom allows you to zoom into any area on the screen, with a pleasingly smooth transition so your audience don’t feel sick. Definitely an improvement on the standard central zoom on other phones, which is often a jerky experience. Rather than pinching in, you tap where you’d like to zoom and then push an on-screen slider, and this method certainly seems to work well. The only issue being that you have to manually select this feature before you can use it, rather than simply jumping straight into it from the normal video mode.

Audio capture is also supposed to be improved when shooting videos, with the earpiece used as another mic to capture sounds up to 142 decibels with clear results. Certainly our voice seemed to get picked up fine when recording a quick clip, even with a lot of background noise.

Finally there’s a full manual camera mode, which allows you to tweak the likes of ISO levels and white balance. This is boosted by the new Graphy assist feature, which offers some pre-set levels and can advise when you’re using incompatible settings. It’s a handy way to learn the basics of the manual controls, to get the hang of which settings suit a particular scene.

LG V30 hands-on video review

Here’s our full hands-on review of the LG V30 from IFA 2017, in video form!