The LG G6, pioneer of the super-tall display, has been around for almost 6 months now. I was at the launch event in Singapore back in March, where I was rather impressed by the amount of screen that LG could fit into a form factor smaller than my OnePlus 3. Unfortunately, I flew back to the UK shortly after and never got a chance to review the phone. Until now.
LG has recently refreshed the G6 line with a couple of new colours – blue and gold – and so I thought this would be the perfect excuse to revisit the G6, 6 months later. I reached out to LG, asking them if they would loan me a review unit in one of their spanking new colours; they gave me one in the old colour option of platinum, but it’s fine for my purposes, I guess.
I reviewed the G5 last year, and it left me pleasantly surprised, despite all the hate that it got from the media. The gimmicky LG “Friends” modular design, the resultant lapse in build quality in the form of a creaky chin, the lack of waterproofing, and the poor battery life made the G5 overshadowed by the Samsung Galaxy S7 that year. But that also meant that the price of the G5 quickly plummeted and could be had for a good deal. The replaceable battery, reasonable size and that glorious wide-angle camera had me tempted to get a G5 of my own. But as you know, I didn’t, and instead got myself a good deal out of the OnePlus 3.
This year though, LG came back kicking. The G6 is a vast improvement over the G5 – it’s got IP68 water and dust resistance, a glorious display with ultra-thin bezels, that wonderful wide-angle camera, and, in Singapore at least, a Hi-Fi Quad DAC which gives fantastic sound through the 3.5mm headphone jack. Headphone jack? A rarity in 2017. One with a Hi-Fi Quad DAC? Dare I even dream of it? Suddenly it seems like LG might have a fair fight against Samsung.
6 months later though, we know sales of the G6 are, as admitted by LG themselves, “weaker than expected”. It was a valiant attempt, but ultimately futile. Was it because of how Samsung horded every single Snapdragon 835 chip, forcing LG to settle for last year’s Snapdragon 821? Or because of Samsung’s legendary marketing team? (Compare Samsung’s “Infinity Display” nomenclature to LG’s unwieldy slogan “the big screen that fits in your hand”)
It seems that the G6 has been relegated to the same spot that the G5 was just one year ago – underappreciated by the masses, but also depreciated in terms of price. Which, ironically, makes the G6 a compelling option right now, 6 months after its launch. A quick search on Carousell shows that it can be had brand new for as little as S$600. That’s a pretty good deal for an s821, IP68, Hi-Fi Quad DAC, wide-angle camera-wielding device with microSD expansion.
Hence, this review.
I’ll keep it brief, summarising the good, bad and miscellaneous things that I’ve experienced with this phone, before giving an evaluation on whether or not you should get it now, 6 months after launch.
- Wide angle camera, as always, is awesome. The quality of the photos though, can be better, especially in low light.
- The screen is great. Some people complain about the black bars when watching 16:9 video, but the way I see it is this: would you rather have a phone that has black bars some of the time (the G6) or all the time (any other 16:9 phone with no ultra-thin bezels)? That being said, an AMOLED screen would have been greatly preferred, especially because of the fact that an Always-On display just doesn’t make sense with an LCD panel.
- Screen is really tall but LG has gracefully provided an optional notification shade toggle on the navigation bar. A simple swipe down gesture would have been better, but at least this option is there, unlike with the Samsung Galaxy S8.
- The build quality is excellent, especially when coming from last year’s G5. This thing is solid and military grade. Like, legitimately military grade. This thing passed 14 different military standard tests.
- Hi–Fi Quad DAC produces great sound quality with wired headphones.
- No easy way to launch the camera – there’s a shortcut where you double press the volume down key to activate the camera, but only when the phone is asleep, and not when it’s awake or when you’re playing music while it’s asleep
- Touch latency and screen responsiveness is poor. In certain apps, such as settings or in WhatsApp chats, the screen is hyper-sensitive, causing it to jitter about when you scroll. Clearly a software issue that needs to be fixed.
- Not a fan of LG’s default UX. I don’t like how the brightness slider disappears after a second pull on the notification shade, being replaced instead by useless “screen sharing” and “file sharing” buttons. This makes the brightness slider terribly hard to reach on the tall display.
- I only realised this when getting my hands on the review unit: there’s no LED notification light, meaning you can’t tell if your phone has finished charging, or if you’ve received new notifications, from afar.
- Phone’s default display scaling is on the large side, but can be reduced in settings
- This is personal preference, but I don’t like having the fingerprint scanner on the back because I can‘t use my fingerprint to unlock the phone while it’s on the table. That being said, KnockON helps by allowing you to turn on the screen by double tapping on it and turn off the screen by double tapping on the notification bar
The G6 is an excellent piece of hardware mired by some software shortcomings. In particular, issues with touch latency and screen responsiveness are noticeable, and an annoyance. And to be very honest, I’m not confident in the likelihood of LG fixing these issues with a software update.
If you’re considering the G6 now, you’re almost certainly also considering the OnePlus 3T, which can be had brand new for about the same price. And for these people I believe it all boils down to this: if you want superior software (more frequent updates, a confirmed update to Android Oreo, more customisability), go for the 3T. If you want superior hardware (military grade, water resistance, Hi-Fi Quad DAC, wide-angle camera), go for the G6.
I’m sure there are some pretty good custom ROMs out there that fix the G6’s software shortcomings, but I’m equally sure that they’ll brick some other aspects of the phone (like the camera). I haven’t checked them out, but if you know what I’m talking about, go check those ROMs out and see if any of them will make the G6 have the best of both worlds.