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If buying a Samsung smartphone makes you nervous, here’s the best alternative

Todd Haselton

If you're afraid about getting burned by another Samsung smartphone after the battery fires suffered by last year's Galaxy Note 7, then you might want to consider picking up the LG G6 instead.

You probably haven't heard much about LG's smartphones in recent years. Last year's LG G5 was a flop. It couldn't hold a candle to more premium devices like last year's Samsung Galaxy S7 and also relied too much on modular components that were too clunky to mess with. Devices before it, like the LG G Flex, featured awkward curved displays that didn't really appeal to a large audience of buyers.

LG (Korea Stock Exchange: 3422-KR) hasn't brought a winning team to the ballgame in years. That changes with the LG G6.

We've had a new G6 in the office for a few days now. Having played with nearly every major smartphone on the market, including the Galaxy S8 (which hasn't even launched yet), we're confident the G6's feature set will stand up to Samsung's Galaxy S8.

The large 5.7-inch display is smaller than the 5.8-inch screen on the Galaxy S8, but it's also ultra crisp and features Dolby Vision technology for brightening up otherwise dull colors. It also has a unique 18:9 aspect ratio, which means it's thin and easily fits in one hand, unlike other bulky smartphones. The cameras have been really good in my tests. I especially like the extra wide-angle lens that allows you to fit more of your family into a group photo.

The G6 is also the first flagship phone in LG's portfolio to offer water and dust resistance. That's a feature the company oddly left out of the LG G5 and one that Apple and Samsung also offer on their high-end models.

Even the LG G6 industrial design is a win in my book. The phone isn't cumbersome to hold and I like that the display is flat, instead of curved like on the Galaxy S8. Curves certainly look cool, but Samsung hasn't proved that feature is much of a necessity outside of offering great aesthetics… and perhaps as a stand-out feature the iPhone doesn't have.

You'll find other niceties in the LG G6, too, like the ability to expand storage. That'll allow you to hold more music, videos, games and apps by inserting a memory card. They're cheap these days, so you can easily quadruple the storage for about $100. (That's as much storage as the most expensive iPhone 7 Plus, for what it's worth.)

LG's new flagship also runs the latest version of Android, otherwise known as Android Nougat, which includes the latest security features, the ability to run two apps side-by-side and more. There's a fingerprint reader on the back for quickly unlocking the device, and it works well, but there aren't any fancy doohickeys like face recognition software or iris scanners. LG also loads its own skin on the phone and, while it's smooth, it doesn't really add much to the standard Android experience. It doesn't really detract from it either, though.

If the LG G6 is a bowl of ice cream, the Galaxy S8 is more like an ice cream sundae. But do you really need all of those toppings?

The Galaxy S8 certainly has other features that you might want to consider, though. It has the gorgeous "Infinity Display" that covers nearly the entire front surface of the phone. It also supports next-generation Gigabit LTE (sometimes referred to as 5G) networks that are much faster than today's 4G LTE offerings. That's a big feather in the Galaxy S8's cap for folks worried about future-proofing their devices, but most carriers are only going to start rolling out Gigabit LTE this year in select markets.

Enthusiasts might cry out "But the Google Pixel is the best phone on the market!" I'm not sure I agree. While it's a great alternative to the Galaxy S8, it doesn't offer water resistance, doesn't have expandable storage and, worse, it's nearly impossible to buy without a six week wait time. Yikes.

The G6 is a great phone, well worth your consideration if you're in the market for something new. You can pre-order it from major U.S. carriers including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon Wireless, and shipments should begin any day.



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