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REVIEW: LG G6 Goes Back To Basics But Has It Got It, To Take On The Samsung S8?

By David Richards | Sunday | 16/04/2017

For the last four weeks, I've been using the new LG G6 as my principle smartphone, instead of diving straight into a review like many journalists, I prefer to put a device to everyday use for a period, to get a real feel for how a device stacks up.

What is seriously refreshing about this device is that LG, after a series of bells and whistles experiments including leather backed phones and modular designs has seriously gone back to delivering the basics, which I believe it will pay off for the Korean phone maker, who has a reputation for good smartphones but unfortunately haven't quite worked out that they must spend money up front to market their devices.

In this market, there is a real risk that this device could be nobbled due to a lack of investment in marketing their device.


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Samsung for example is already investing millions in a marketing campaign for their new S8 and it's not on sale yet. They know that they must invest up front in building anticipation, creating curiosity and desire that will drive people into stores.

LG's idea of a marketing campaign is to give away a free TV for four weeks via Telstra before the device goes on sale in JB Hi Fi stores. They are relying on the big carrier to market this device instead of taking Samsung head on with a device that could easily give Samsung a run for their money.

This is not the sort of marketing that this device deserves because it is seriously up there when it comes to smartphones.

It not only makes the Apple iPhone 7 look like yesterday's technology it delivers capabilities that are essential in today's smartphone.

You are also not paying a premium for half-baked technology such as Samsung's Bixby.

What you will find is that the new Samsung Galaxy phones boast a new button on the left-hand side, positioned beneath the volume rocker, dedicated entirely to Bixby.

Bixby is the company's new voice-controlled assistant, which it hopes will rival the likes of Amazon Alexa, Cortana, and Siri.

That might be the case one day, but for now, Bixby is limited with the Australian version delivering no Bixby voice activation.

What the G6 has is Google Assistant and it works perfectly.

for me this come in particularly handy when I am driving and I want to pull up phone numbers or information without taking my eyes off the road.

Retailing for around $1,000 Vs the $1,349 for the S8 the G6 is still a tad pricey considering that they are using the older Snapdragon 821 chipset rather than the latest 835.


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All the premium smartphones released 2017 will be powered by the 835, so it feels like LG in their rush to be out in market ahead of Samsung has made a big mistake not buying into the new Qualcomm processor.

Though I have to admit the older processor does not under perform, in fact it is fast, you will also find that with the Qualcomm 821 processor which is used in the $1,100 Google Pixel it does everything that one expects of a top end smartphone.

The 4GB of RAM is ample but if I am outlaying a grand on a new smartphone I would like more than 32GB of internal storage.

What I did was insert a 64GB microSD card which is the same as what is shipping with most new top end smartphones.

The glass-backed design with metal sides feels a tad "Chinese" It's the same design you will find on sub $500 phones from the likes of Oppo, Huawei or Alcatel, what's missing is that "Wow" design factor that the likes of Apple and Samsung have built their reputation on.

On the back is Gorillas Glass 5 interestingly, it's only Gorilla Glass 3 on the front, which appears to be more about cost saving that functionality.

The metal rim running around the sides, adds some much-needed rigidity that's lost with the traditional unorthodox screen.

the G6's 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm chassis feels really good in the hand and I for one love the button on the back of the G6. LG was one of the first smartphone manufacturers to adopt this approach and the G6 is a vast improvement on previous model especially when using their fingerprint security technology which works efficiently.

Unlike many phones that use capacitive pads, this switch depresses and feels highly responsive when pressed.

I also like the fact that the on off button is just below the camera is the perfect place for a fingerprint sensor.

A major concern I have with the Samsung Galaxy S8 is the strange placement of the fingerprint scanner right next to the camera which often has one rubbing your finger over the lens of the S8 camera to find the fingerprint sensor.

With the G6 there's no rear camera bump, like past models however the Gorilla Glass back has already scratched on my G6 due to it being in the same pocket as keys or money.

The first thing I noticed about the G6 was the display, it was clear sharp and consistently bright without sucking heaps of juice out of the 3300mAh battery which constantly delivered a full day of heavy use.

Rather than the typical 16:9 aspect ratio seen in most smartphone, LG has opted for an 18:9 ratio display that provides a taller panel in a smaller body.

While still delivering a 5.7" display LG it's still smaller than the current iPhone 7 or the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

You will also notice that not only is the corners of the case rounded so is the inner display screen which despite the newness of the design process it does not impact a viewing experience.

I strongly suggest that you buy a black version of the G6 because against the grey silver version that I tested the curved edges were noticeable.

One annoying feature is the use of black bars when viewing a video or YouTube content.

The content from YouTube - which are almost universally 16:9 - have black bars on either side and with the G6 anyone playing games is going to have to get use to the black bars at the bottom or get a game that accommodates the new screen size.

LG is predicting that both Apple and Samsung will switch to 18:9 ratio on their phones this year.

I don't know why LG has opted to change the aspect ratio of the display. Rather than the 16:9 that's currently most popular, the G6 is the first smartphone to use an 18:9 panel.

The 5.7-inch panel runs at 2,880 x 1,440 Quad HD resolution, which LG has dubbed FullVision, the new screen delivers vivid colours and deep blacks. It's the first phone with Dolby Vision and it is also HDR10.


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With HDR, content looks noticeably brighter and darker scenes are more detailed. While this is not as good that found in the latest LG OLED TV it does deliver a significant improvement when watching Netflix on your G6 however you will need an update to experience this.

All of LG's own apps have been updated, and since the aspect ratio is 2:1, the design theme for the UI is two squares on top of each other.

Unlike the modular G5 battery the absence of a removable battery in the G6 is a plus because it has allowed LG to make the G6 waterproof.

Rated for IP68, means you can submerge it under 1.5m of water for 30 minutes.

For Australians LG has gone the extra mile and made sure the smartphone can handle seawater as well as pure water that the IP68 usually accounts for.

Another big plus is that the G6 actual has a 3.5mm headphone jack which is designed to also handle saltwater.

What I did find out that the device is not shower friendly. While in Hong Kong I took it into the shower at my hotel only to discover that the water hitting the screen set off apps and opened apps.

The G6 also has wireless charging however this feature is not available in Australia, by using Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0, LG has been able to deliver a 15-percent charge, in 10 minutes and 50% charge in 30 minutes.

It also supports both Qi and PowerMat standards, and you can charge it while it's wet.

What really annoyed me with the new LG G6 is the fact that several features found in the award-winning LG V20 are missing, one of them is the seriously useful  Q Remote app.

I constantly used this app to take control of TV's set top boxes and audio devices. One of my favourite tricks is to take control of a TV in a bar and switch the sport show to one that most people want to watch.

There's also no Quad Hi-Fi DAC which was in the V20.

At the G6 launch LG Australia management said that they would come back to us as to why these features had been removed, we are still waiting four weeks later.

Neither of these features are vital, but they're rare extras that would have been a decent addition.

G6 Camera

I have always believed LG delivers one of the best smartphone cameras especially when it comes to wide angle shots.

Their new model G6 has two sensors sitting next to each on the rear of the device. One is your typical camera with 13 megapixels, optical image stabilisation (OIS), f/1.8 aperture; the other has a much wider field of view.

LG claims that almost 50% of people tend to use just the wide-angle camera, so it's bumped that from an 8-megapixel sensor to a 13-megapixel version.


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Image shot with G6 strong detail despite night shot.


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Image shot with G6


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Image shot with G6 has colour inbalance


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G6 Image shot shot at Balmoral Beach as black & white excellent contrast


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G6 shot of Mercedes team at Melbourne Grand Prix


The new G6 lacks OIS, though, and has a much narrower f/2.4 aperture, so low-light snaps won't be quite as good. It doesn't have auto-focus, either - but since that focal point is so wide, it doesn't really make a difference.

Under the bonnet are several dual-camera smarts that comes from the 835 CPU.

This results in a much smoother process when switching sensors. With the G6 colour saturation is okay but there are problems with the dynamic range when you compare it with the S8 and other top end Android models.

The wide f/1.7 aperture is okay when shooting in low-light, even though the pixels themselves are no bigger than they were on the G5. 

What LG has a problem with is that cameras like the Huawei P10 Plus and the Google Pixel are delivering equally good if not better camera capabilities.

Conclusion

For a brand that is coming from a long way behind several other Android phones the LG G6 represents the best smartphone to come out of LG.

It's seriously up there with the Companies V20 which was a corker of a smartphone.

The big question is whether the G6 is good enough to take on the samsung S8 or the new iPhone 8 due later this year. I seriously doubt it because there are elements of the G6 that are seriously lacking if this this is where they want to compete.

It's akin to a formula one team using last year's engine in an effort to compete up against a new generation of technology.

This should have been a DAC 24-bit smartphone, it should have had the Snapdragon 835 processor not because it needed it but because it added to the brand aura that surrounds the S8.

I suspect this device will sell better that devices from Huawei, Oppo and several other Android brands including the Google Pixel of which I am not a big fan as it is seriously overpriced.

I suspect that LG's effort will not be appreciated simply because other companies are better marketers both pre-and post the launch of a new model.

Even with the failure of the Note 7 LG has not been able to capitalise on the problems associated with the Samsung device.

The G6 definitely, deserves consideration particularly if all you want is a solid performer, that looks and feels good and above all delivers just about everything you want in an Android smartphone.

What I fear is that if this device does not deliver profits for LG the Korean Company could pull the plug on the sale of LG smartphones in Australia resulting in a great smartphone brand disappearing from the market.

But don't let this deter you from buying a G6.

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