LG V30

While not as gim­micky as the V20, the V30 is still packed with clever fea­tures, writes MICHAEL SI­MON

Android Advisor - - Contents -

The V30 isn’t the typ­i­cal fall flag­ship from LG. While the V20 was a boun­ti­ful bag of tricks for hard­core An­droid nerds, the V30 is more sub­tle and re­fined – LG’s bid to make a premium An­droid phone that ap­peals to a wider au­di­ence.

The phi­los­o­phy shift starts with ditch­ing two novel fea­tures that were unique to the pre­vi­ous V phones: the re­mov­able bat­tery and the second screen. While their use­ful­ness was de­bat­able, they def­i­nitely gave the

ear­lier V phones some iden­tity, and there will cer­tainly be a fac­tion of LG fans who rage-tweet about the loss.

But for ev­ery­one else, the V30 could be the best phone of the year. The com­pe­ti­tion is fierce with the Note8 and Pixel 2, not to men­tion the iPhone 8 if we’re talk­ing about the en­tire phone uni­verse. But LG has built a com­pelling phone that looks good, runs fast, and still man­ages to de­liver fea­tures you won’t find on any other smart­phone.

De­sign

To look at it, you wouldn’t know the V30 is a fol­low-up to the V20. It takes most of its de­sign cues from the G6, with thin bezels all around, and rounded cor­ners on the dis­play. Its chin is so thin, in fact, LG had to put its logo on the back for the first time (not that I’m com­plain­ing).

At six inches, its screen is big­ger than the 5.7in screens on both the V20 and G6, but it’s not just the

size that’s changed. The 2880x1440, 18:9 dis­play that LG pi­o­neered with the G6 makes its way over to the V30, and for the first time, LG is us­ing its P-OLED tech in a ma­jor smart­phone. Put the V30 side by side with the G6, and the dif­fer­ence is un­mis­tak­able. The V30 de­liv­ers deeper blacks and bet­ter con­trast than the LEDs phones that came be­fore, as well as a nice de­sign touch with 2.5D curved edges on the glass.

But even with the larger screen, the V30 is quite a bit smaller than the V20 – 151.7x75.4mm ver­sus the V20’s 159.7x78.1mm di­men­sions. For this, we can thank the V30’s 18:9 as­pect ra­tio and slim­mer bezels. It’s easy to hold and op­er­ate with one hand, and strikes a nice sweet spot (size-wise) be­tween the 5.8in Gal­axy S8 and 6.3in Note8. The V30’s sides are a bit more rounded than the G6’s, but oth­er­wise, it’s quite sim­i­lar, with iden­ti­cal port, but­ton, and speaker place­ment.

Around the back, LG’s rear power but­ton/ fin­ger­print sen­sor re­mains, as does the dual cam­era, though the cam­era as­sem­bly is much smaller and the bump on the V30 is far less pro­nounced than on the V20. And while the V30 doesn’t have a re­mov­able panel to swap out the bat­tery, the con­so­la­tion prizes of IP68 water re­sis­tance and wire­less charg­ing are ac­cept­able trade-offs.

Hard­ware

The in­side of the V30 is just as im­pres­sive as the out­side. There’s a top-of-the-line Snap­dragon 835 chip, 4GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of stor­age, and a 3,300mAh bat­tery. Like the V20, you also get 32-bit quad DAC for true hi-fi stream­ing, along with a pair of

high-per­for­mance mi­cro­phones. The up­graded DAC is more cus­tom­iz­a­ble with four sound pre­sets, and if you sub­scribe to a ser­vice that streams mas­ter qual­ity au­then­ti­cated (MQA) sound files, the V30 will ac­tu­ally be able to play them.

And then there are the cam­eras. LG’s V phones have al­ways de­liv­ered ex­cel­lent cam­era fea­tures – the V10 had op­ti­cal im­age sta­bi­liza­tion (OIS) and dual lenses long be­fore other ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ers jumped on the band­wagon – and the V30 con­tin­ues this tra­di­tion. The main cam­era clocks in with 16Mp and an f/1.6 aper­ture (the fastest ever on a smart­phone), and boasts a ‘crys­tal clear’ glass lens rather than a tra­di­tional plas­tic lens. The wide-an­gle cam­era, mean­while, gives you 13Mp and an f/1.9 aper­ture.

There’s also a new photo ser­vice called Gra­phy that lets you see how stel­lar images are shot, and then bor­row their set­tings for your own pho­tos. For ex­am­ple, if you’re try­ing to pho­to­graph a sun­set, you can select one in the Gra­phy gallery right in the cam­era app, and it will au­to­mat­i­cally im­port the same ISO, white bal­ance, and ex­po­sure set­tings into your cam­era.

The V30 re­ally ups its game when it comes to video, too. Along with OIS and a wide-an­gle lens with 30 per­cent less dis­tor­tion, LG is in­tro­duc­ing a se­ries of ‘cine ef­fects’ that ap­ply pre­set colour grades while shoot­ing. The ef­fects are sub­tle and artis­tic – and much more ap­peal­ing than some of the messy, one­hue-fits-all fil­ters you’ll find in other cam­era apps.

And the video tricks don’t end there. With Point Zoom, you can lock in on a sub­ject, and the video

cam­era will stay fo­cused and steady on the sub­ject as you zoom in on it. Once you’re done shoot­ing, you can stay right on your phone to fin­ish your project. LG’s new Quick Video Ed­i­tor brings the ease of Ap­ple’s iMovie to An­droid, let­ting you com­bine pho­tos and videos, trim clips, ap­ply themes, and add text and mu­sic to your project right on the V30.

Soft­ware

The pre-pro­duc­tion unit I got to play with was run­ning An­droid 7.1.2. It’s the lat­est ver­sion of Nougat and is newer than the 7.0 ver­sion that’s still on the G6. How­ever, last year’s V20 was the first Nougat phone in the wild (it ar­rived even be­fore

the Pixel), so it’s a bum­mer that the V30 won’t be run­ning Oreo out of the box.

UX 6.0+ has un­der­gone quite a few visual changes – some good and some bad, but I’ll re­serve judge­ment un­til LG is­sues the fi­nal V30 build. But the most in­ter­est­ing tweak is a float­ing bar on the screen that aims to repli­cate the phys­i­cal second screen on the V10 and V20.

V se­ries en­thu­si­asts may see the float­ing bar as a cheap im­i­ta­tion, but it does well to de­liver the same func­tion­al­ity – app short­cuts, mu­sic con­trols, favourite con­tacts – in a less-ob­tru­sive way. Like Sam­sung’s Edge Panel, it hangs out on the side of the screen, and you can eas­ily move it where you’d like or dis­able it all to­gether.

There are also new bio­met­ric meth­ods for unlocking the phone: vo­cal and fa­cial recog­ni­tion (though LG ac­tu­ally warns about their se­cu­rity in the set­tings). Vo­cal recog­ni­tion is a cool con­cept, and is unique to V30: Much like with Google As­sis­tant, you train the phone to rec­og­nize a per­sonal wake word that will trig­ger the un­lock.

But should you ever ut­ter your wake word in pub­lic? What’s to stop you from unlocking some­one else’s V30 by play­ing a sim­ple au­dio record­ing of their wake word from an­other phone? So un­less LG is pre­par­ing some se­ri­ous se­cu­rity en­hance­ments for the fi­nal re­lease, it could be more gim­micky than le­git.

Else­where, LG has en­hanced its al­ways-on dis­play to show colour images. And once again, the com­pany has teamed up with Google to of­fer a few ex­clu­sive As­sis­tant com­mands. You can ask it to record a video or open the cam­era in man­ual mode, and there are even a cou­ple of V30-spe­cific prompts, like record­ing a Cine video. They’re nifty fea­tures and work well, but the last time LG had As­sis­tant ex­clu­siv­ity, it didn’t take long for Google to open it up to ev­ery­one.

Stiff com­pe­ti­tion

LG is en­ter­ing an ex­tremely crowded mar­ket with the V30, what with the Gal­axy Note8, Es­sen­tial Phone, Pixel 2, and iPhone 8 all ar­riv­ing around the same time. But the V30 still checks off all the right boxes: big screen, small body, speedy chip, and loaded cam­era.

If any­thing, the V30’s suc­cess may de­pend on two things we don’t know: price and avail­abil­ity. If the price is right – and ru­mours say it will start at a palat­able

$699 – it could pose a for­mi­da­ble chal­lenge to the Note8 and the Pixel 2. At the time of writ­ing no UK price had been an­nounced, but we are ex­pect­ing it to be on sale for around £699.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 6in (2880x1440, 537ppi) dis­play with Corn­ing Go­rilla Glass 5 • An­droid Nougat 7.1.2 with UX 6.0+ and Google As­sis­tant • Qual­comm MSM8998 Snap­dragon 835 pro­ces­sor • Octa-core (4x 2.45GHz Kryo, 4x 1.9GHz Kryo CPU • Adreno 540 GPU • 4GB RAM • 64/128GB stor­age (mi­croSD sup­port up to 256GB) • Dual 16Mp (f/1.6, OIS, 3-axis, laser and phase

de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus), 13Mp (f/1.9, no AF), LED flash • 5Mp f/2.2, 1/5in sen­sor size, 1.12μm pixel size • 3,300mAh non-re­mov­able lithium-poly­mer bat­tery • A-GPS/GLONASS • Wi-Fi 802.11ac • Blue­tooth 5.0 • NFC • USB 3.1 Type-C • Head­phone socket • 151.7x75.4x7.4mm • 158g

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