With the LG G6, the modular design of the LG G5 is gone in favor of a more traditional phone, one that takes multiple elements from the top handsets around, blended together to make a more prosaic (but still intriguing) handset.
The G6 is a much more conservative design than its predecessor, taking the form of a sealed unit that drops the removable battery, replacing it with a larger-capacity power pack and waterproof shell.
Surprisingly, this phone isn't using the latest chipset from Qualcomm, so you won't be getting the full grunt of the Snapdragon 835. However, LG maintains this was a decision to benefit the consumer – using a chip it had expertise with rather than an unknown entity it couldn't test fully.
Instead, it's going with a Snapdragon 821 option, which LG told us was a better option given it had more experience working with the chip and could thus extract more performance rather than using an untested engine.
The screen is, really, the only place where innovation is still present on the G6, with the longer 18:9 display giving more screen real estate to play with, and introducing some clever little changes to the user interface to exploit the extra pixels.
Beyond that, there's not a lot that marks out the LG G6 from the rest of the competition – and that's a pretty good thing.
Having used the LG G6 for a couple of weeks, it's easy to see that this is a 'grown-up' handset from the South Korean brand. It just feels nicer in the hand, more solid and refined, and we really haven't missed anything from the LG G5 at all.
Early prices were as high as $650/£649/AU$1000, but they're already starting to drop, and while it's still an expensive handset LG seems to have baked all the components together well, so at least you'll be getting a decent phone for the money.
It’s interesting that some reviews have called the LG G6 a 'return to form' – apart from perhaps the LG G2, the brand hasn’t had a stellar flagship device for years. Rather, it feels more like a ‘finally understanding what users actually want in a phone’.
(Update: The G6 isn't the only hot LG phone brought to market in 2017. We've recently reviewed the LG V30, which sits rather high up on our list of best Android phones. Unfortunately, it's so good that it has kicked the G6 right off the list. But who knows? Maybe the LG G7 will end up taking the V30's place.
We've added comparisons to the top phones the LG G6 is competing with, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, Sony Xperia XZ Premium and HTC U11, so you can get a clearer picture of how they differ and which is most worth your money.)
LG G6 price and release date
- Out now
- Costs around $550/£580/AU$1000 SIM free
OK – here's the curious thing about this phone. It's got a lower-spec in some areas, has prioritised things like design over an improved camera… and yet still costs far more money than we'd expect.
The LG G6 has an eye-watering £649 SIM free RRP in the UK, which is astronomical given we're used to seeing phones from this brand come in at almost half that cost after a few months of being on sale.
In fact, that might happen again, as many retailers have already dropped the price to a still-steep £580.
In terms of contract pricing, we're looking at around £38 per month minimum if you don't want to spend too much on the phone upfront, which again is rather high.
In the US, contract pricing is set at around $28 per month, which is in the region of Apple's iPhone 7 and the Google Pixel… both of which aren't considered cheap phones.
If you want to go for it SIM free in the North America, you're looking around $550 (down from a launch price of roughly $650), where it's AU$1,000 for those over in Australia.
For a limited time, you can trade in your old phone at Verizon to get the G6 for 50% off, which is a pretty tempting deal.
The LG G6 release date has already been and gone for most territories, with the UK one of the last to get its hands on the device – we're hoping that as it becomes more widespread, the cost of ownership continues to come down.
- An understated and sophisticated metal and glass build
- Impressively small bezels
- Water and dust resistance
The LG G6 is covered in a mix of glass and metal, with two sheets of Gorilla Glass (although weirdly it's Gorilla Glass 5 on the rear, but only the much older Gorilla Glass 3 on the front) framed with a rim of aluminum.
What's most impressive is how little bezel there is on this phone – we've now seen the same kind of design from Samsung on the Galaxy S8, but the narrow bezels have been shrunken top and bottom to create an impressive effect when you turn the phone on.
Anyone aware of the LG G5's design will be surprised by just how… normal this phone looks. Gone is the dull plastic back of the LG G3, the odd leather of the G4 or the come-apart design of last year’s phone – the LG G6 is smooth and classy all the way around.
That will disappoint those who like the way LG has taken things in a different direction in the past, but honestly, the G6 design is a smart move. It’s the most classically understated and sophisticated phone we’ve ever seen from LG, and it’s the perfect platform for letting the internals shine through.
And it's got the features that matter, like IP68 certification for water and dust resistance – a common flagship feature that was missing from the LG G5.
The rear of the phone is smooth, with no protruding camera bump – we’ll get onto the snapper in a moment, but LG told us it chose slimmer sensors rather than more advanced camera tech to make the design of the phone sleeker.
It's a gamble, but last year's camera was fine, and LG can probably just get away without another change.
There are two sensors on the rear of the phone, above the round fingerprint sensor, which also doubles as a power button.
The LG G6 is currently available in platinum, black and white, although it was strongly hinted to us that more colors will be popping up soon.
The platinum is the most alluring of the colors, with a metallic sheen under the glass that catches the light nicely. However, the white option, with two cameras and round fingerprint sensor below, makes the G6 look a bit like a surprised ghost.
At the bottom of the phone is the single speaker next to the USB-C connector – and LG has kept the headphone jack at the top, declining to bow to the industry trend of dropping the connector as it keeps more 'traditional' (read: everyone) music fans happy.
Some LG phone lovers will be distraught, however, to find that the battery is now sealed into the handset – LG has finally given up on the removable power pack in order to put in a more powerful and slimmer juice unit.
It’s been increased to 3,300mAh within the slimmer 7.9mm frame – and it’s the right move. The need for removable power packs is almost dead thanks to the proliferation of portable battery chargers, but its V-series phones (such as the LG V20 launched last year) keeps the option for now.
MicroSD support still exists, with the up-to-2TB expansion option thrust into the SIM tray, and complementing the 32GB of onboard storage; however, it's really annoying that you can't adopt the storage from the memory card and use it as internal memory like other phones allow you to do.
The design of the LG G6 is certainly more refined – it does feel a bit light and over time the glass back feels more like plastic. That creates slightly sweaty digits, and there have been times when the fingerprint sensor has needed a wipe to function correctly.
However, that sensor is in the right place – rarely was there a misplaced finger when trying to unlock the handset, and the ring on the outside was easy to hit.
- Super-wide 18:9 aspect ratio doesn't add much
- High resolution and supports HDR content
The 18:9 screen, (which is branded ‘FullVision’) is created by LG’s own screen division, LG Display. It extends the QHD resolution of its predecessor, making it ever more widescreen to boost the pixel count to 2880 x 1440 and uses LCD technology rather than OLED.
The corners are even curved to keep the aesthetic of the handset, rather than the sharp design most phones pack. It's an interesting move, but doesn't really add much more than novelty.
The lack of OLED is key as it means the LG G6 is not Daydream compatible, so Google's new VR headset won't work with the phone, which is a real shame.
There's not even a new VR offering from LG (although 2016's 360 VR headset was hardly a strong candidate for virtual reality experience of the year) so you'll be limited to Cardboard headsets if you're desperate to enter a virtual world.
While it lacks the colorful pop of the Samsung Galaxy S7, for instance, with its Super AMOLED screen, there's a vivacity that's well complemented by the longer display.
What is impressive is the addition of Dolby Vision / HDR 10 support for all manner of HDR content.
LG told TechRadar that it's been working with Netflix and Amazon to bring that content to the mobile app.
This means you'll get extra color and detail to your movies that are encoded in this format, bringing a superb experience to the mobile. However, we could only test this by watching the pre-installed Dolby Vision demonstration, which is always going to be impressive.
It's also worth noting that you'll need to be on the top-tier Netflix plan to access this quality – which is thoroughly not worth it if you're just going to be watching on a phone.
The screen on the LG G6 is impressive, but as suspected the larger dimensions are, largely, not much use in apps. What's surprising is some games work better in the larger format – when you open some titles you're presented with a little logo in the top right-hand side of the screen that lets you extend the contents a little further, and gaming seems to deal with this flawlessly.
Most other titles, those which aren't the inbuilt native apps, will just give you a white bar at the bottom where the home and back buttons pop up – it's not that useful, and, as suspected, video doesn't really stretch out that well.
The Always On Display is still a good move – it's something that's both useful and visually appealing on this phone. However, when you're in the dark it's clear to see that the LED lights at the bottom of the screen are illuminating it, with a slight flare protruding up the display.
Of course, it's not a massive problem, but at the same time it doesn't make the G6 look terribly premium.
It's still a curious decision by LG to use LCD over OLED for a number of reasons. Firstly, the contrast ratio (while good) is still not as deep as on Samsung's devices, with the blacks not as true as they could be (and using LCD rules out Daydream support, as previously mentioned).
LG is still using the pervasive display on the lock screen (known as the Always On Display on Samsung phones), so you can see the time without needing to turn on the phone.
Both South Korean brands claim the same battery life reduction for using this feature, but surely it would be more efficient on an OLED panel.
The reason this is so curious is because LG is such a big advocate of OLED panels, and the quality they bring, in the TV space, so believing in LCD technology here still is odd.
And then we get into the awkward mention of the Samsung Galaxy S8 – that's a phone which is all screen and doesn't cost that much more… and in our view, is a far more stunning device when all things are considered.
Not to say that LG hasn't pulled off a nice-looking device with an attractive screen… but it's unfair that Samsung has moved the goalposts so considerably when LG looked like it was just catching up.
New user interface
- LG's interface looks better than ever
- Multi-window mode isn't great
The new FullVision 18:9 display has given LG a few more pixels to work with, and now the display is essentially two squares stacked on top of one another. LG has embraced this idea and made the 'double square' a feature of the user interface throughout.
This means, for example, that in the contacts menu the contact image is larger, more settings are visible and you'll be able to see more Facebook on the screen without the need for scrolling through.
You can also rotate the phone and either have two apps running in multi-window or, for certain apps, have two different functions on the screen at once.
This latter trick is currently limited to the email and calendar though, and isn't really that new – plenty of phones have been able to do this for years, but just with a more squished preview window to see your messages and upcoming meetings.
LG's certainly made good use of the extra screen space it's managed to eke out – things like the weather app have been well thought through and look visually appealing.
The general interface doesn't seem like that much of an upgrade, but that's not a bad thing at all. It's all lightning quick under the finger, as you'd expect, and all the elements that Android 7 brings are present and correct.
One flaw that will hopefully be ironed out soon is Google Assistant – while it works pretty well, it's incredibly slow to wake from sleep if you're saying the words 'OK Google' to get it up.
The 'two square' interface isn't as useful as expected, as it's only in the square camera that you'll really notice it. The multi-window mode is still too fiddly on a phone to be a real must-have feature – although we used it from time to time, it wasn't noticeably better than on any previous LG or Samsung phones.
The icons on the home screen (which still comes without an app drawer by default) are tidied up too, with the rounded look applied throughout.
The ability to extend the screen out is nice, but the full-screen extension isn't as easy as on the Galaxy S8 – you need to pull down the notifications shade and it'll pop up… sometimes.
Ultimately, the longer screen hasn't really been used in a way that makes a massive difference here, but everything does feel a bit more immersive.
What LG has done, though, is to create a more refined and mature-looking interface compared to phones gone by – the apps drawer, icons and overall look of everything from the notifications shade to the menus just feel more premium.
It's what LG needed to do: ditching the cartoonish way things were put together and just making things looks decent in the places they're supposed to be.
- Camera quality isn't much better than on the G5
- Decent image quality but not a match for the best camera phones
The LG G6 camera is upgraded in a way, but also remains very similar to last year's in others. The same normal and wide-angle camera lenses are back, but they're now both 13MP.
However, the aperture hasn't improved, nor the pixel size; in short, you're not going to get better snaps day to day with the new G6 phone.
The reason for making them the same resolution is apparently to stop the judder when zooming in – when jumping from wide angle to the closer sensor there was previously a judder that saw the image quality change, and LG says it worked with Qualcomm to bring features from the Snapdragon 835 to the new phone and help fix this.
However, it's not worked, as the judder is still there and there's a tangible difference between the two sensor qualities. It's not a big deal though, as most of the time you'll just tap the icons at the top to choose between the two focal lengths.
The main image sensor packs optical image stabilization, and appears to have a warmer image quality about it, with a faster f/1.8 aperture. The other wide-angle sensor is f/2.4 and lacks the same stabilizer, so images can come out less sharp.
Overall image quality was clear enough, without being mind-blowing. It doesn't quite stack up to the quality of the iPhone 7 or Samsung Galaxy S8 in most situations, but if you catch the light right and get things in the right conditions it can look really great.
That's the case with many smartphone cameras though, and you'd have to say that LG didn't have a strong enough sensor from last year to not really add in any upgrades.
The new 18:9 screen size has given LG a chance to have two Instagram-friendly squares on the screen at once, and it's used them pretty well.
Our favorite is the large preview, where you can take pictures on one side and have the full-screen previews alongside, which you can scroll through while still snapping.
Alternatively, there's an option to use the same size camera viewfinder as found on the G5, with the extra pixels used to show a strip of recently-taken photos, which again makes it easy to multitask using the camera.
The LG G6 is an advanced phone with a strong camera, even if it's not the best out – there are plenty of new features to enjoy, although they're rather hard to find (the square mode picture options are hidden under myriad menus, or a separate app on another home screen).
LG will struggle to overcome the negative press of not really improving the camera from last year, but with new square features and decent performance, users probably won't mind too much.
As you'll see with some of the samples, you can take some sharp and attractive photos, but in night mode things are very slow and a little blurry around the edges – the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Google Pixel are better options for sure.
We're also not taken with the dual lenses – it seems that the closer lens is too close, and the wider option gets too much into the frame.
With this, it very much depends on what you like though. If you're a fan of taking pics of lots of people, then this is a great camera… the wide angle lens is sharp enough and brings in loads of detail.
The square interface hasn't offered anything other than novelty so far, but we've not explored it as a way to take great Instagram photos as yet – which is what the square viewfinder and preview window together would offer.
- 3,300mAh battery delivers average life
- Battery smarts keep it healthy for longer
The improvement of the battery from 2,800mAh to 3,300mAh should bring cheers from anyone who wants a phone with a long battery life – LG has historically been excellent at optimizing battery, so packing in more power is always going to be a welcome move.
This is where the inclusion of the Snapdragon 821 processor is going to have an effect too, according to LG, as its engineers have worked with the chipset for longer and have managed to extract more performance out of it, which leads to longer-lasting and less hot handsets.
Whether this is just an excuse remains to be seen – there are many efficiency advantages being touted by Qualcomm in its latest 835 chip – and LG could be just trying to deflect from the decision to use an older (and presumably cheaper) engine in its phone.
In terms of day to day use, the LG G6 is just, well, fine when it comes to battery performance. It's as good as most on the market, better than the iPhone 7 and about the equivalent of the Samsung Galaxy S8.
In our battery testing, we ran a 90 minute Full HD video with the brightness cranked up to the maximum, and the phone dropped 14% of its power in that time, which isn't the best we've seen, but it's better than average.
The iPhone 7 for comparison dropped 23% in this test, while the Lenovo P2 – which has a big 5,100mAh battery – dropped just 8%.
In real terms, that means you'll get to the end of the day with a little sweat on sometimes, as the power bar can be a little lower than we'd like come 5PM.
The LG G6 rarely ran out of battery, and when it was ensconced in a pocket the power drain was relatively minimal, but overall when in use the drop in battery life for the day was a little more than we'd have liked.
The ways you'll charge your new phone are varied, and a little hard to explain as there will be so many versions of the LG G6 throughout the world. In the US you'll be able to charge this phone wirelessly, with both PMA and WPC standards supported.
Simply put: if there's a wireless charging station around and you live in the United States, you'll be able to charge the G6 on it.
However, the rest of the world isn't getting such an option, in favor of QuickCharge 3.0 to help you juice your phone a little quicker.
(Also, South Korea is getting a Quad DAC amplifier inside, where the rest of the world is not – LG says it's trying to localize the phone more efficiently, but it seems like a lot of hassle).
There aren't many other new battery optimizations from LG here, but then again it probably didn't need them – with the more powerful and longer-lasting power pack on show users should be able to eke out longer between charges than ever before.
LG has put some smarts into the charging though, with the phone able to read the age and temperature of the battery to make sure the right amount of current goes into the power pack.
This means degradation will be slower and your G6 will last for longer. That's a Good Thing.
The LG G6 is a phone that takes things back to basics, and does so well. The sleek metal and glass fusion is attractive, and to anyone using the iPhone 7 Plus, the ratio of screen to body will be staggering. However, Samsung has now appeared with the Galaxy S8, and that's a phone that cranks the 'bezel-less' phone wars up a notch.
The larger display has been well used for the native apps, and thankfully worries about black bars appearing around the apps are unfounded. You'll need to work with them a little bit to make certain apps run in full-screen, but ultimately the experience is sound and isn't ruined by the new ratio.
Similarly, the Netflix and Amazon HDR content sound amazing, but it's too early for those to be must-have features, and you'll need to be on high-end plans to make them work properly in the case of Netflix.
What we worry most about is LG's past: it has a history of starting something and not following it through. VR content for 2016's headset? Not really. The Rolling Bot? Never made it out the gate. New modules for the G5? Never appeared… so how do we know that the company will work with app developers to improve their wares for its longer screen format?
LG might have signed a death warrant on the success of the G6 for one reason: the price.
The brand has been pretty clear that it made cost-cutting decisions throughout this phone – for instance, the lower-power chipset or the loss of certain features for certain regions – as it listened to what would actually enhance the consumer's experience and made design decisions accordingly.
Well, most brands say that. It would be dumb to just create a phone with a random set of features and hope that something sticks – but then again, LG has done that in the past, so it's good that the brand is taking things back to basics.
But then we see sky-high pricing that rivals the very top phones out there, without a key, unique feature to compete. The screen is good, but bested by Samsung. The iPhone is slicker. The Pixel has a better camera. People look for a reason to go for a phone, and nothing sticks out with the G6.
That doesn't mean the G6 isn't innovative – the screen looks great and there's raw power, from the camera to the battery to the general snappiness of the handset, rippling through this phone.
There's good reason to be hopeful though, as LG has traditionally lowered its prices quite quickly after launch, and that's already starting to happen in some regions, so even if this handset appears with an eye-watering price it should drop in most territories (although probably not the US, where the G5 has remained rather expensive).
Who's it for?
The LG G6 is a phone for those that like the look of the Samsung Galaxy S8 with its bezel-less (ish) screen, and don't want to pay quite as much. That's a niche audience, but we suspect LG isn't too bothered about riding Samsung's coat-tails here.
There's nothing wrong with this phone, and you'll enjoy the ergonomic way it's put together and the sheer amount of screen on offer.
The camera and general interface are quick to work and snappy to use, and while the battery life isn't great, in the US particularly you're not short of options to charge it.
It's also running the latest version of Android and has some cute usability tricks… if you're willing to make a bit of a change with your phone, the G6 could be a nice place to start.
Should I buy it?
This is a tricky question to answer, as the real problem we have with this phone is just how blooming expensive it is at launch. We can't see how LG is justifying this price when it's been on such a mission to reduce costs.
However, if you're an LG fan and like what's on offer here, you'll appreciate the longer interface and want to play with the dual-window camera. This is a good camera for social cuts, and if you put the work in you can take some fun snaps.
You'll also like the premium feel of the body, with the metal and glass working nicely together.
Is the LG G6 going to be a strong contender to the Galaxy S8 or iPhone 8? In all honesty, probably not.
But this is a phone that gives LG a platform to work from, showing it can make a handsome phone with good features; in short, if this is the direction LG is now taking with phone design, you should be already looking forward to the G7.
The LG G6 isn’t the only flagship worth your attention, or even the only all-screen one. Here are three alternatives that you might feel are more worth your money.
Samsung Galaxy S8
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is probably the single biggest threat to the LG G6, as not only is it the biggest name in Android, but it has a similarly wide 18.5:9 screen that’s even bigger at 5.8 inches.
It also has curves, which makes Samsung’s Infinity Display more striking than LG’s FullVision one, and thanks to its use of OLED, images are more vivid too.
The Galaxy S8 also has a better – though only single-lens – camera, and it’s packing the newer Snapdragon 835 chipset in the US, or Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 elsewhere.
All that tech doesn’t come cheap, as the Galaxy S8 is even more expensive than the LG G6, but in most ways it’s the better phone.
- Read our full Samsung Galaxy S8 review
Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Sony’s superphone doesn’t have an all-screen front or the most premium design, but it does have a 4K display, coming in at 807 pixels per inch.
That makes it sharper than the LG G6’s screen, and, well, sharper than any other phone’s screen too, with only its predecessor, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, coming close to matching it.
Like the LG G6, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium also supports HDR content, so the choice here really is between a larger 5.7-inch display on the G6 or a smaller but sharper 5.46-inch one on the XZ Premium.
The Xperia XZ Premium also benefits from a newer chipset than the LG G6, but the design isn’t quite as appealing, and it’s very expensive, as you’d expect.
- Read our full Sony Xperia XZ Premium review
The HTC U11’s screen isn’t as fancy as the G6’s or the phones above, but it’s still a strong 5.5-inch QHD option, and the U11 has highlights of its own, most notably sides that you can squeeze to launch apps and perform actions.
It’s also had a lot of thought put in to the design, with a shimmery glass body, and there’s more power here than most phones pack, with a Snapdragon 835 chipset and 6GB of RAM.
The HTC U11 also excels at audio and even comes with a surprisingly good set of earphones in the box.
It’s a very different proposition to the LG G6 other than both being high-end Android handsets, but one which may better fit your tastes.
- Read our hands on HTC U11 review
First reviewed: March 2017
About: Review Junkies
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