The LG V30 is a phone with soul.
And funk and punk. And rap and rock. And jazz and blues. This is the exceptional-sounding smartphone that’s ever been made, and it additionally has LG’s greatest commercial layout up to now. The V30 is distinct, current, and stacked with proper features, a smartphone apparently destined for inevitable stardom.
But the V30 is also imperfect, compromised in big methods that don’t show up on a spec sheet or a characteristic tick list. I like this phone, and a large part of me honestly desired to adore it. However, after a month with it, I am coming away with the equal end I usually have approximately LG smartphones.
The $800 V30 was higher as a promise on paper than a smartphone in real use.
Let’s begin with the good stuff, because there’s plenty of it. From most of the minimum-bezel phones which have proliferated in 2017, the LG V30 has my favored layout. It is a refinement and a streamlining of LG’s G6 flagship from earlier this 12 months, and it makes the 6-inch OLED display on the V30 experience quite compact. I’ve reviewed 6-inch smartphones inside the past, together with 2013’s HTC One Max, and until recently I turned into assured that that size signaled an unwieldy -passed behemoth. Instead, the V30 is a wonderfully sculpted smart
I DON’T LOVE THE GLASS BACK, BUT THERE’S NO ARGUING WITH THE EFFICIENCY AND ERGONOMICS OF THE V30 DESIGN
Compared to the 6.2-inch Galaxy S8 Plus from Samsung, LG’s V30 is shorter, wider, and a touch thinner, and those variations upload as much as make LG’s smartphone greater first-class to address. It additionally enables that LG has placed its fingerprint reader on the back of the cellphone in a sanely imperative function, unlike Samsung’s off-center calamity. The V30’s ergonomics are so precise, in truth, that I count on most people will find it as relaxed to apply as smaller gadgets just like the Google Pixel and Galaxy S8. It in reality makes bezel-weighted down phones like HTC’s U11 and Sony’s Xperia series sense desperately unoptimized of their layout. Even the freshly brought Google Pixel 2 XL, which has the equal 6-inch screen, is tangibly large than the greatly minimalist LG V30.
With glass at the front and back, the V30 joins this yr’s trend of flagship smartphones moving beyond plastic and steel to an all-glass finish. That makes for a placing appearance and permits for the V30’s wi-fi charging, but I’m now not a huge fan of the circulate. Previous revel in with Sony’s glass-back Xperia smartphones has shown me how smooth it’s miles to shatter any glass floor on a phone, the front or back, and the everyday scratches collecting on my normal cellphone are testament to the softness of the material. LG has waterproofed the V30 to an IP68 score, and it positioned the tool thru a battery of drop exams, but glass remains glass. It will not age handsomely like, say, complete-grain leather-based, and the scratches it alternatives up will make it structurally weaker as opposed to giving it the gritty, lived-in experience of a pair of properly-worn denims which you may get from an aluminum smartphone.
All matters taken into consideration, I’m glad to crown this as LG’s excellent commercial design thus far. The bezels are beautifully minimum (in contrast to Apple and Essential notch lovers, I recognize the symmetry of LG’s device), the ergonomic compromises are nonexistent, and the sheer quantity of goodness interior this greater-skinny smartphone nearly defies good judgment.
YOU WANT SPECS AND FEATURES? LG HAS YOU COVERED
There’s no set list of have to-have capabilities for a 2017 flagship cellphone, however right here are a number of the most desired ones: waterproofing, wireless charging, high-decision show (ideally OLED), dual-digicam system, a long-lasting battery, the modern day processor, and a generous serving of storage. The V30 ticks all those boxes. LG ships it with 64GB of expandable garage, a 3,300mAh battery, the Snapdragon 835 processor that’s nearly wellknown-problem at the excessive end of Android, and one of the maximum mature twin-camera structures in the marketplace. The V30 is a spec sheet champion, much like almost every flagship smart
phone from LG ever.
The component that differentiates the V30 from its predecessor V10 and V20 gadgets from LG is its layout refinement. The V10 became subtly the great cameraphone of its time, and the V20 became the undisputed headphone audio champion, but each have been giant, clumsy matters. Up until this factor, the V collection was defined by means of beastly strength in a beastly body, but the V30 marks a turning factor where LG clearly has made its exceptional phone its most lovely one as well. Everything desirable approximately the predecessors, minus the manifestly technological layout.
The cherry atop the LG V30 spec cake is undeniably the cellphone’s Hi-Fi Quad-DAC audio machine. It is insanely good. I’m speakme “angels descended from heaven and plucked harps internal my ears” form of appropriate. It’s the sort of sound that makes me enlarge my walks and wish for my educate to be behind schedule, in order that I ought to concentrate for a little at the same time as longer. Listening with the 1More Quad Driver earphones, I find the V30’s bass so tight and pure that I just gorge on it. Everything sounds extra special coming out of this phone, whether it’s classical orchestra tune, Ramin Djawadi movie soundtracks, 2Pac’s pathos-laden lyrics, or the trendy digital productions from the likes of Nightmares on Wax. The most effective element I don’t like are the B&O Play buds that LG bundles with the V30 in maximum markets: they’re mediocre.
Apple and Google may be pushing the whole mobile industry closer to wireless audio, but LG is proving that the headphone jack can nonetheless be a supply of excellent pride on a cellphone. I price the purity, faithfulness, and strength of LG’s V30 output proper up there with devoted tune gamers which includes the Fiio X5 and X7. Given how my favorite song player is the $1,000 Astell & Kern Kann, it’s not absolutely loopy to think of the V30 as a cheaper high-constancy media player with a much more cutting-edge Android interface and a number of different good matters thrown in. It just relies upon on how vital audio is to you and your each day existence.
THE V30’S HEADPHONE AUDIO COMPETES WITH THE BEST DEDICATED MUSIC PLAYERS, BUT IT’S STILL A NICHE BENEFIT
Over the past month, I’ve found that, as a good deal as I adore the V30’s sound, it simply isn’t that essential to my regular sports. Bringing the V30 and a Google Pixel on my latest journey to Bulgaria, I spent plenty more time the usage of the Pixel’s advanced digicam than I did the V30’s vastly superior audio. LG is the absolute excellent in a single category of cellular overall performance, but that niche is slender. It pains me to mention it, however the V30’s best power is a non-vital characteristic — only a (very) fine to have one.
As to that every one-crucial digicam on the V30, I discover it top, on occasion splendid, however by no means extremely good. LG billed the V30 as a chief soar ahead in imaging, what with its f/1.6 aperture and actual glass lens for better image clarity (on the primary camera), but the actual effects don’t distinguish this smartphone from a category of very excessive performers close to the V30’s lofty fee point. A head-to-head evaluation I did between the LG V30 and HTC U11 ended up calmly cut up. Both phones had a tendency to barely overexpose snap shots, and LG had the sharper shot more often than HTC, however that turned into due to the former business enterprise’s continued over-reliance on synthetic sharpening. This is a whole lot more constrained than it become at the LG G6, but it still leaves photographs searching much less photographic. LG’s camera designers informed me ultimate month that the V30 has to do much less put up-processing paintings to improve an photo honestly because the brand new digicam has higher optics.
Judging by way of the similarities in photograph output from LG and Samsung smart
phones, I’d argue there’s an identifiable Korean fashion of cell pictures, that’s described by way of crisp edges and contours of items and competitive noise suppression in regions of consistent colour. That ends in a unique, pristine, and clinical look. It is probably top notch in case you’re filing prices or engaging in visual observe-taking, however it kills complicated detail in photographs and sort of sucks for taking pictures memories you’ll treasure for a long time. I’ve been do away with by using the digital, inorganic appearance of among the images I’ve captured with the LG V30, and I a great deal decide on the HTC U11, which turns out richer, extra nuanced colorations. The V30’s pics often feel muted and conservative in their saturation and assessment.
I give credit score to LG for constructing out a complete suite of alternatives in its camera software. The huge additions this year are cinematic video filters that have been evolved with the assist of pro videographers. They are not awful! I in particular like the Summer Blockbuster clear out, which makes the whole lot appearance blue-orange, much like all the action flicks clogging up your local cinema. It’s one among a number of nicely-performed video filters that without a doubt contribute a exceptional vibe to the stuff I film. And LG backs this up with suitable video performance from the V30, which has impressively steady stabilization, statistics crystal-clean audio, and keeps a pleasant quantity of detail. LG’s long past the more step of including a point-zoom characteristic: each other phone can handiest zoom toward the center of the display, however with the V30 you could choose any factor inside the frame and feature the camera easily zoom in on it. It’s the kind of cool extra feature that leaves an affect.
My loss of enthusiasm for LG’s huge-perspective 2nd camera at the back may be intuited from the reality I’m mentioning it last. Even with the newest optimizations and enhancements — which include lowering the fisheye distortion impact by means of a 3rd relative to the V20 — LG’s twin digicam just doesn’t excite me. The maximum-exceptional photographs nevertheless come from the principle f/1.6 camera, and I hardly ever discover myself desiring the all-encompassing subject of view of the wide-perspective lens. I guess you may depend me inside the group of people that prefer the second one lens to be both monochrome, as with Huawei and the Essential Phone, or a zoomed-in smaertphoto as with the iPhone, OnePlus five, Galaxy Note 8, and a group of others.
Almost all the core elements of the LG V30 person experience are strong. Performance is continuously fast and fluid, and battery existence is on the top quit of the spectrum for the V30’s elegance. I can conveniently get thru an in depth day’s use, even while deploying the power-hungry quad-DAC audio system. Like the HTC U11, which has also impressed me these days, the V30 offers splendid peace of thoughts that irrespective of what I’m doing, I gained’t all of sudden be left with a powerless phone. Having Qi wi-fi charging also facilitates in that regard, and I’ve been gleefully charging the V30 the usage of Samsung’s wireless charging pad for the Galaxy S8 (albeit at slower speeds than Samsung phones can wirelessly price at). Interoperable requirements are a lovely element!
LG’S ANDROID SOFTWARE IS ALRIGHT, NOTHING MORE THAN THAT
LG’s Android build at the V30 is stable and quite near the default Android user revel in, however that’s approximately as a good deal proper as I can say approximately it. The settings menu is still unnecessarily convoluted and fragmented into tabs, I can’t access the apps listing with a swipe up from the bottom of the house display (a highly big annoyance compared to the Google Pixel and plenty of other Android alternatives), and LG significantly weighs its smart
phones down with carrier bloatware. The Korean model of the V30 that I tested came and not using a fewer than 54 preloaded provider apps, and the United States options are not any better. $800 and a ton of crap I should disable and take away? What is this, a Windows pc from 2007?
A cautionary observe on the LG software program the front: the organization has indicated that its Android 8.Zero Oreo replace for the V30 (which ships with the older Android 7.1 Nougat on board) isn’t due until the give up of this yr. When you consider the long-time period funding for an luxurious smartphone, it’s essential to remember the chance of going through similar delays with destiny Android updates down the line. Unfortunately, LG doesn’t offer the equal timely update reassurance that Google’s Pixel phones or extra adroit rivals like Samsung do.
Looking on the brilliant aspect, I do revel in the usually-on display that LG has implemented with the V30. It shall we me look at the time and basic notifications in addition to manage my track with out activating the smartphone. And it doesn’t appear to eat a meaningful quantity of greater power, so I don’t have any worries approximately it draining my battery.
You may be wondering why I have left discussion of the LG V30’s display for remaining. Well, that’s due to the fact I desired you to apprehend the vital strengths and weaknesses of this smartphone earlier than I told you the ultimate deal-breaker for me. The OLED display screen of the V30 is simply horrific. There’s no dodging this difficulty, and there’s no making excuses for it. This isn’t a great display, and in case your smart
phone doesn’t have an excellent display it’d as properly be a Nokia 5110.
Areas of the same shade at the V30 seem blotchy: once I open up a Google Keep notice, I don’t get a flat white canvas as I ought to, however as an alternative I see streaks of gray, searching as if there’s an inconsistent backlight. This being an OLED show, there’s no backlight to speak of, so it’s simply terrible brightness uniformity across those mild-emitting diodes. The same unhappy effect is even greater said with darker grays and colorings like army blue, and it’s amplified by the V30’s obvious incapability to render color gradations easily. Gradients appear grainy and I see unpleasant coloration banding, exactly the identical issues that Ars Technica encountered with a preproduction V30 device last month.
Every time I switched between the V30 and HTC’s U11 in my testing, the U11’s screen felt like a pricey break out. It’s painfully apparent that LG’s so-known as plastic OLED monitors are a couple of generations behind Samsung’s alternative — which graces the Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note 8, and the approaching iPhone X — in addition to notably in the back of the fine LCDs, as exhibited by the U11. If you’d asked me, before getting ahold of the V30, what maximum excited me about this smartphone, the bezel-disadvantaged OLED display would were one in every of my pinnacle two or 3 capabilities. I surely do think LG nailed the size of this smartphone, and I’m assured the display generation contributes to the V30’s thinness (as well as making it like minded with Google’s budding Daydream VR ecosystem). But the V30’s desaturated, useless display, addled with all the foregoing troubles, makes this a phone I find impossible to like, or maybe get at the side of on a daily foundation.
Like its predecessors, the LG V30 is a cellphone designed to attraction to spec fans first, though with its quite aesthetic and incredible ergonomics it may have stood a danger of attracting a greater mainstream target audience as nicely. But the tale of LG smartphones has always been a remember of “could have” and “have to have.” It’s no longer that LG phones aren’t enhancing every 12 months — they’re, and they continue to offer current spec sheets with each new generation — but the upgrades the corporation is making appear to constantly be followed by way of self-inflicted wounds. The LG G5 changed into a pleasant step up in layout over the G4, but LG hamstrung it with a poorly conceived and quickly aborted modular accessory gadget. The G6 were given better once more, however it too lacked the very last sprucing touch to outshine Samsung’s more carried out designs.
The V30 arrives half of a year after the G6 and, at the beginning blush, seems to rectify everything that ailed LG’s devices of the beyond. But LG rushed to put a less than perfect OLED display in its flagship smartphone, preferring to have the spotlight spec over the advanced person revel in, and I can’t condone either the choice or the eventual product. This is a phone that has given me goosebumps with the amazing first-class of its headphone audio, and if I become reviewing it at the electricity of music playback by myself, I might say it’s one of the fine media gamers available on the market. But this is supposed to be a smartphone. And as a cellphone, the LG V30 fails to validate its excessive fee and flagship repute