A weird thing happened earlier this year. To kick off Mobile World Congress, LG unveiled the G6, one of the first high-profile devices to feature a nearly bezel-less display. It marked a turning point in what would become a major trend in the smartphone market. You’d think it would be among the most talked about and coveted smartphones of the year.
But it’s not.
By all accounts, the G6 was a solid if imperfect device, a really good B movie that found a passionate niche. Then Samsung introduced the Galaxy S8 about a month later, and the G6 essentially became a ghost. LG’s device, despite its good looks and powerful camera, was forgotten in a hurry, and it hasn’t recovered since.
With the iPhone X and Galaxy Note 8 dominating headlines, and the Google Pixel 2 only a month away, you’d think the LG V30 is destined for the same fate. But don’t write the V30 off just yet, because it’s quietly one of this year’s best phones.
You’ll love the design
The V30’s design offers refinement over the G6, including the noticeable lack of a front-facing LG logo. The curves, meanwhile, are comfortable, the edges smooth, and it hovers in that Goldilocks Zone for overall size. Smartphone design doesn’t get much better.
Compared to the Galaxy Note 8, the V30 features a more pleasantly placed fingerprint sensor. And LG’s 6-inch FullVision OLED screen gives Samsung’s panel a run for its money. Blacks are deep and whites pop. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed looking at a display as much as the V30’s.
For as immaculate as the device looks, it was designed to be rugged, too. According to LG, the V30 has passed 14 different military-standard durability tests, while the handset is rated IP68 for water and dust resistance. In theory, it means the V30 should be able to handle the rigors of everyday use.
The best camera experience
By now LG devices have become ubiquitous for featuring dual-lens camera systems, and the V30 is no different. Even in the pre-production unit we’ve been testing over the past few weeks, the camera quality has been very impressive. You can view some of the camera samples in the gallery above.
The V30 features a primary 16-megapixel camera that offers an aperture of f/1.6 and a second 13-megapixel wide-angle camera, which is great for landscape shots. Compared to previous efforts from LG, the wide-angle lens doesn’t have nearly as much distortion, so shots look wide yet natural.
But even more impressive is the sheer amount of features LG packed into the camera’s software, from Cine Video to deep manual controls. If you prefer to have control of your images before they’re taken, the V30 offers a robust feature set for tweaking exposure, white balance, and more. And never at any point is the software overwhelming.
If Auto Mode is more your thing, the V30 does a great job balancing focus, white balance, exposure, and sharpness, really giving devices like the Galaxy S8 and HTC U11 a run for their money.
On the video side, users can choose between 16 color-grading presets, allowing them to create more cinematic-looking shots. It’s a small but very welcome addition that adds to LG’s Cine Video suite of features, including the ability to dramatically zoom into subjects.
And as a final topping, the V30 will record lossless audio that promises not to distort in loud environments.
So, to conclude, if you want a proper media phone—for creating a consuming—the V30 is the device to beat.
And everything else
In addition to the design, the screen, and the camera system, the V30 features powerful specs, including a Snapdragon 835 chip, expandable storage, 4GB of RAM, 3,300mAh battery, and Android 7.1.2 Nougat. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack that features a Quad DAC for hi-fi audio.
On the software side, LG has also come up with a few clever new ideas, including voice unlock and voice unlock, which will allow users to pick their own custom phrase to wake the device up. LG added a floating bar feature as well, which provides users with quick access to apps, screen capture, music controls, and more.
The only real knock, at least in our early impressions of the device, is that LG’s skin over Android is sub-par. But nothing a new launcher can’t fix.
For whatever reason, LG still hasn’t revealed the price or release date for the V30. The longer LG refuses to unveil this information, the easier it will be for consumers to turn to the Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note 8, or iPhone X. As it stands, the device is one of the market’s more exciting releases, and may wind up being among the best of 2017.