Two of this year’s most anticipated smartphones are Apple’s (AAPL) next iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S8. But before those hit the market, LG is rolling out its all-new G6 handset. And based on my short time with it, the South Korean tech company’s offering is surprisingly compelling.
That’s not a slight at LG, by the way. But compared to the company’s previous smartphones, this is a more subtle and focused device than, say, the G5 or V20. The big question, though, is: Will the Android-powered G6 even matter when the next iPhone and Galaxy S8 roll out?
So far, it’s hard to tell.
All screen, all day
The G6’s most impressive feature by far is its massive display. At 5.7 inches, it’s not the largest screen we’ve seen on a device — but it’s the way that LG fits the panel onto the phone’s svelte frame that makes it so intriguing. The phone really looks and feels like it’s all screen. In fact LG says the G6 is narrower than Samsung’s Galaxy S7 but packs a larger display.
LG refers to the G6’s screen as its FullVision Display, which, thanks to its design, can be divided into two equal squares. That, in turn, allows LG to create unique interface opportunities like the new Square Camera app that lets you see a preview of your image in one half of the screen and your last shot in the other.
The idea is to let people see what their last picture looks like without having to open the gallery app. However, if you prefer that, the standard Camera app is still available.
Interestingly, LG chose not to give the G6 a curved screen, as Samsung did with the S7 and Apple is rumored to be considering for its next iPhone. The reason for the decision, LG representatives explained, was to ensure that the display doesn’t break if you drop the G6 on its side.
The company also curved the corners where the display meets the phone, as doing so makes the panel sturdier. The screen also supports high-dynamic range video for a wider range of colors than non-HDR handsets.
Outside of its edge-to-edge display, though, the G6 is a bit underwhelming as far as design goes. Its rear panel, at least with the black model, is a fingerprint magnet. The silver model, meanwhile, looks like a stainless-steel refrigerator.
Two lenses are better than one
Like the G5 and V20, the LG G6 comes with a dual-lens rear camera. The 13-MP shooters give you 100 degrees of visibility and allow 2x optical zoom and 14x digital zoom. I’ve got to admit, though, that the 100-degree lens makes taking photos a bit odd when going from a phone camera with a smaller field of view.
You end up seeing a lot more in your shots, which can certainly be annoying if you’re purposely trying to crop something, or someone, out of a photo.
Take it in the shower; if you’re into that
Like Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and Samsung’s Galaxy S7, the LG G6 features a water-resistant body that can survive in up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes. I ran a G6 under a shower for a few seconds and it came out cleaner and still worked.
In fact, LG says you can specifically use the handset in the shower. But if you’re so addicted to your phone that you can’t take a shower without it, well, you might have some separation issues you need to work through.
In order to make the G6 water-resistant, though, LG said it had to use a non-removable battery, which is sure to anger smartphone fans who preferred the ability to swap out their phones’ batteries on the go rather than waiting around for a charge.
To offset that issue, though, the G6 uses quick charging technology to get you juiced up in a snap.
Performance wise, the G6 packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, which packs plenty of horsepower for gaming, streaming movies and music and anything else you do with your handset. There’s also 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, which can be augmented via the phone’s microSD card slot.
So far the G6 seems like an interesting handset, but I’m going to hold off on making any final judgments about it until I get my hands on a review unit. So stay tuned.
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Email Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.