LG V30+

The LG V30 stands out from the competition enough to be considered LG’s true flagship phone for 2017, not the LG G6, its impressive, albeit instantly outmatched smartphone from six months ago. 

That’s an unexpected relief because the LG V20 came onto the scene last year and its rivals frankly picked apart everything unique it had going for it. The HTC U Ultra lifted the second screen for notifications, and just about every flagship phone now utilizes a dual-lens camera. 

So how has LG’s experimental smartphone branch move forward? By focusing on the subtleties, ditching the divisive design, and producing its most bold, feature-packed device yet. 

But making all of the right moves comes at a high cost. At AED 3,049 for the LG V30+ which is the only model this region will be served.

That amount of money will basically get you any flagship phone on the market, or at least most of one if you’re on the hunt for the iPhone X. And for some, LG took far too long following the V30’s late August announcement to bring it to market. But even with this stellar year for Android smartphones, LG’s nearly bezel-free device easily makes its case for the cash.

We’ve now spent more than enough time with the review unit and have worked to scoop through the many features found within LG’s latest smartphone.

LG V30 price and release date

  • Available now in UAE
  • AED 3,049 in the UAE

LG’s latest retails for AED 3,049 in the UAE and the phone landed at store shelves during the second week of December. It's available in two colors: Aurora Black and Cloud Silver.

Compared to the V30 released in other parts of the world, the V30+ has 128GB built-in along with microSD storage or dual SIM slots- whichever you prefer.

Design

  • Understated design lets the screen stand out
  • Feels very light considering all of the tech inside
  • Waterproofing and military-grade toughness are always welcome

Instead of straying from the pack, the LG V30+ blends in with this year’s fleet of flagships. But that’s not such a bad thing. It even takes cues from the LG G6, evolving that design ID ever so slightly, all while steering itself in a few new directions, too.

Starting on the front, LG’s FullVision 18:9 aspect ratio tech is on display here, complete with a 6-inch OLED display tuned at 2,880 x 1,440. While there are still bezels at the ends and the sides of the V30+, the presentation renders them to be quite understated, letting the screen stand at the center of the stage. In fact, we really appreciate having just a little bezel on the sides, as it lessens accidental presses while typing or playing a game.

LG’s latest measures in at 151.7 x 75.4 x 7.3mm and weighs 158 grams making it a great fit  in your hand. Interestingly, it’s just a bit wider than the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, though the rest of its dimensions pale in comparison.

Around its glossy steel siding, you’ll find a tactile volume rocker to the left, and a SIM and microSD tray on the right. Down below, there’s a bottom-firing speaker grill next to the V30+’s USB-C charging port. Up top, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is your one-stop shop for experiencing the phone’s Hi-Fi audio capabilities. LG has never been one to let us down in this department.

Flipped over on its slightly curved glass back, the phone’s fingerprint sensor, which doubly works as its power button, sits right in the middle – a more ergonomic location than Samsung’s choice with the Galaxy S8 and Note 8.

Glancing upward has us stumbling upon the V30+’s center aligned dual-camera system. This isn’t LG’s first foray into the technology – the LG V10 was released in 2015. But this phone’s duo of lenses puts them to the best use yet. We’ll dive into that more below.

Lastly, LG has done the V30+ a solid by implementing wireless charging as well as making it both water and dustproof with IP68 resistance. It also meets military spec standards, meaning it’s very durable. While this doesn’t ensure that its glass won’t break, the tough frame works to prevent bending. And for such a pretty phone, that’s a very good thing.

Where's the second screen?

Unique to the V experience, up until now at least, was the second screen display. The V30+ changes that staple hardware feature into a software touch called Floating Bar that looks reminiscent of Samsung’s Edge feature, but operates a bit differently.

The second screen might be gone, but it’s still here in spirit. When activated, it’s tucked away into the side of the screen. A simple tap opens the bar and holding on the icon lets you move it wherever you’d like. 

In addition to letting you customize what sort of app or command goes into the bar slots, the feature also focuses on surfacing some of the phone’s more hidden abilities, like QuickMemo+ note-taking and capturing a picture or GIF of the screen.

Interface and reliability

  • Loaded with Android Nougat and LGUX
  • Android Oreo is coming soons
  • Built-in apps are mostly useful

The LG V20 was the first non-Google phone to come with Android Nougat out of the box last year. And to celebrate the occasion, Google bestowed it with the then-new In-App search function, which operates much like the drag-down-to-search ability in iOS.

You might be thinking that LG has raced to be the first with Android Oreo, but that’s not the case. The V30+ launches with Nougat which is a bit of a shame. That being said, there are a few firsts for LG with the V30+.

Its OLED display brings the sought-after Google Daydream VR ability to an LG phone for the first time. You’ll also be treated to In-App search, split-window multitasking and, based on what we’ve heard from Google, the phone is being primed for the Oreo update as we speak.

The visual interface is LG’s own laid over Android Nougat 7.1.2 and if you’re used to stock Android, there will be a bit (but not much) of an adjustment process. LG has included its usual batch of pre-installed apps. There’s LG Health, an FM radio application, QuickMemo+, amongst a few other small additions. If you have a preferred alternative to these, like Google Keep or Google Fit, you’ll probably install it without a second thought, but what’s here is totally usable.

Moving on, you might not notice on first glance, but the settings menu is bursting at the seams with interesting modes and features at your disposal. A few highlights include an IFTTT-like “Smart Settings” mode that automatically boots certain apps and toggles settings when you, say, walk into your home or plug headphones in. It’s a swell quality of life touch that makes things just a bit easier for those who like to get more done with less effort.

Obviously, the Floating Bar feature gets a shout-out here. It replaces the second screen hardware found in previous V-series phones with just a simple interface overlay. You’ll have to switch it on, but once you do, you’ll have contacts, quick actions and app launching just a few clicks away.

Movies and gaming

  • OLED screen looks good but shifts colour when tilted slightly
  • microSD support extends storage past its 128GB default

LG’s V-series smartphones are traditionally very savvy in the multimedia arena. The V30+ is no exception and it ups the ante compared to previous devices in the line.

The 2K OLED display supports HDR with vibrant colors that are rich and perfect for watching movies. The overall contrast offers great levels of depth that are more than what a traditional display is capable of. 

However, shifting the viewing angle slightly resulted in a noticeable blue tint on the screen that is more apparent on apps that use a lot of white space such as GMail or the built-in dialer/messaging apps. 

For gaming, the V30+ is one of the year’s best places to get down to business. Thanks in equal part to its display, the Quad DAC built into the 3.5mm headphone jack and the powerful Snapdragon 835 processor, playing any game whatsoever is a breeze from a performance perspective and a generally good time.

As of right now, the taller aspect ratio doesn’t work seamlessly with most games. However, LG has inserted a few toggles that appear in the corner of the screen to give you more than enough viewing modes to have the best experience. Fire Emblem Heroes, for instance, doesn’t take full advantage of the 18:9 aspect ratio, but if stretched, it will fill in the bezels with a slick design. 

Music

  • 3.5mm headphone jack is here
  • MQA streaming shows that LG is ahead of the wireless curve
  • Quad DAC takes sound quality to new, tweakable heights

We usually bundle the music section in with movies and gaming, but given the V30+'s knack for audio, it's best to talk in depth about it.

Listening to music is fun on just about any phone, but LG’s V30+ takes it to a new level of enjoyment. It gets not one thunderous round of applause, but two for including the 3.5mm headphone jack and supplementing it with an awesome Quad DAC (digital to analog converter) and clever software to squeeze more use out of it.

The V30+ can intelligently decipher between your average set of headphones and some high-quality cans to deliver the right sound to you. New to the V30+ is the ability to tweak the sound profile delivered by the Quad DAC, even individually tweaking the decibel level of each ear speaker when switched on. It’s such a treat. And of course, the audio benefits extend into your time with movies and games.

If wired headphones aren’t your thing, the V30+ is also one of the first smartphones, if not the very first globally-available, to support the MQA wireless audio codec. 

This CD-quality format is said to be compressed in a rather small file size, which goes against the idea that high-fidelity tunes have to take up a lot of space. Of course, you’ll need the best headphones available to properly enjoy it.

LG’s melding of innovation on both the wired and wireless fronts shows that you can honor the past while plowing ahead. Compared to Apple’s headphone jack-less iPhone 8 and Google Pixel 2, this is courage.

Additionally, once Android Oreo arrives, we’ll likely see the V30+ supporting the fleet of high-quality audio codecs, like aptX HD, LDAC and more.

Specs, performance and benchmark

  • Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM hum along without a hitch

Inside of the V30+, LG has opted to check just about every box required to stand up against the latest and greatest competition.

You’ll find the Snapdragon 835, which is making its LG debut here, paired with 4GB of RAM. Our time with the V30+ has seen zero lag while switching between apps and multitasking – even when loading up intensive games or the camera app’s unique and new abilities.

Combining the latest tech with a pixel-dense OLED display was the right move here for LG. Not only does it put the V30+ in line with the competition, it’s finally primed for the Google Daydream View virtual reality headset. In our experience, this worked just as well as the Samsung Galaxy S8 – one of the other Snapdragon 835-equipped Daydream-ready phones. 

Battery life

  • 3,300mAh capacity easily achieves day-plus battery life
  • Battery is sealed in now because of waterproofing
  • Wireless charging is slow, but a nice feature to have

Another longstanding fold in the V-series DNA has been great battery performance. And that’s not just limited to how the battery inside can withstand the rigors of the day, but also that up until now, they’ve been removable and thus, performance is everlasting given that you own an extra battery.

As you might have suspected from the design, the V30+ has sealed in the battery – a necessary, but nevertheless slightly unfortunate move to ensure that waterproofing works.

Either way, we’ve been delighted by the 3,300mAh battery which is the same size as the cell found with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Getting an all-day battery life was an easy goal for this phone to meet.

When we watched a 90-minute movie file in 1080p, the V30+ only dropped down to 87% once it was finished. Most phones drop down at least 20% during this test, so we’re pleased with this discovery.

When it comes to recharging the phone, the phone can go from 0% to 30% in about 15 minutes, up to 67% after a half hour, and 100% in just under two hours. The final 20% is always the slowest, but for most, an hour of charging will easily get them through the day.

Camera

  • Packed with unique features
  • Point Focus and Cine Video color grading are awesome perks
  • Low-light results are good at times, but generally not superb

LG has put a lot of effort in bringing some new, noteworthy hardware and software features to make its dual-lens cameras stand out from the rest. 

Billed as a device for creators, the LG V30+’s main rear-facing camera is 16MP and boasts an impressive f/1.6 aperture that, on paper, should put it above the competition when it comes to low-light photography. However, it’s not industry-best at illuminating a dark scene. That award still goes to the S8. Also lacking on the V30+ is a portrait mode found on the S8, the iPhone and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

Pro mode indicates what’s in focus with a green outline

LG states that the lens on the V30+ is covered in glass, not plastic, which boosts the transmittance of light and details. The other lens takes care of the wide-angle shots and is improved to 13MP and a f/1.9 aperture, both of which build upon the V20’s lesser 8MP wide-angle lens that had an aperture value of f/2.4.

Flipped over on its front, the small 5MP selfie camera disappointed. While the lighting and colors look fine for the most part, photos are blurry. It's definitely serviceable and fun to use thanks to LG's many camera software features, though it doesn't seem able to quickly snap a brilliant photo like many of this year's flagship phones.

Of the many extra goodies offered by the V30, it packs in professional color grading to give each video and picture the right kind of contrast, lighting and saturation to fit each scene. For power users who want to shoot footage with the V30+ and export to say, Adobe Premiere, you can export the Cine Log, which retains the metadata during post-production. If you’d rather edit video on the phone, LG is including an app that can let you do just that.

Taking the pro-level use cases a step further, LG has partnered with Graphy to teach users how to become comfortable with the capable manual photography mode. Photographers can post their photos and share the settings and techniques put to use when capturing the piece. LG has done an awesome job focusing on the little things for the V30+.

Another new addition to the camera software is Point Zoom. Activated within the Cine Video mode in the camera app, this new feature smoothly zooms in on wherever you tap to, remedying the sudden, jagged zoom effect we’re all accustomed to. It might not sound like much, but it’s one of those small things that will likely make a big difference moving forward. If anything, you can film your own Parks and Recreation-style comedy with it.

Although LG took its time (perhaps, too long) to bring the V30+ to market following its announcement, the company has taken advantage of its opportunity to make good on the learnings from the LG V20 and LG G6. You're no longer restricted to features based on the regions.

The price is on-par with other phablets in its class, meaning that it’s high, but the V30+ earns its stars with an impressive design and lot of power. The OLED screen could use some more tuning by not shifting colors with slight tilts.

While the rear-facing camera’s low-light performance doesn’t quite live up to expectations and lacks a portrait mode, there’s a lot of fun to be had with its numerous features, like Point Zoom for dramatic close-ups and Cine Video color grading.

Who's it for?

The LG V30+ is for the Android fan who’s been looking for a phone that looks forward while respecting the past. The 18:9 aspect ratio looks especially nice on LG’s slightly curved glass design and while it’s thin, it doesn’t shed useful hardware like the headphone jack or the dual cameras on the rear.

Additionally, it packs more than enough power to last you the next few years and with features like HDR and Google Daydream support, you’ll actually want to use this phone moving forward.

Should you buy it?

If you’ve been holding out for a smartphone that doesn’t put the squeeze on useful features, but does the opposite, filling it to the brim with utilities, you might have thought you’d be waiting an eternity. But actually, the LG V30+ is that very phone.

Sitting next to each of this year’s exciting flagships, the V30+ holds its own thanks to a dollop of power, expandable storage and a capable camera that’s loaded with things to do.

Abbas Jaffar Ali,Cameron Faulkner
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