In high school, being different only works if you’re also cool. Otherwise, you get mocked or, possibly worse, completely ignored. LG can no doubt relate.
After the lackluster reception of its unique, modular-like G5, LG decided not to double-down with another quirky approach to mods. Instead, it reversed course, toed the party line and released the more traditional G6. Gone is that funky hot-swappable chin. In its place is a slim, water-resistant build whose screen takes up an enviable 80 percent of the phone face. For LG, this is the safer but smarter play since the G6 has to do battle with the OnePlus 3T, the Google Pixel phones and the Samsung Galaxy S8.
So will it usurp its biggest South Korean rival, the S8? We won’t know until we fully review that phone. But we will point out that on paper, the G6 doesn’t have as powerful a processor, and longtime LG fans will be disappointed that there’s no removable battery anymore (then again, neither does the S8). And while LG was earlier to announce its big-screen, small-bezel phone, Samsung’s S8 takes the same basic design and adds its unique curved-edge twist.
But Samsung’s still dealing with some Galaxy Note 7 fallout, and the G6 is a great alternative if you’re squeamish about Samsung. Plus, with a $600-$720 (depending on the carrier) price tag, the G6 is about $30-$100 cheaper than the S8. For the first time in a long time, an LG handset stands a fighting chance to be your next high-end Android phone. It may not be popular enough to be Prom King, but it’s a no-compromise premium phone with enough mainstream appeal to be on the ballot.
Editors’ note: This review will be updated and expanded with direct comparisons to the Samsung Galaxy S8 in upcoming weeks.
Polished and splash-friendly
The G6 is LG’s nicest-looking flagship yet, which I don’t say often, especially given last year’s out-there G5. But the polished G6 has a streamlined aesthetic and a smooth unibody design (think the LG V20 with fewer seams or the G5 with fewer bumps). It’s a bit heavy in the hand, but that doesn’t bother me much. Like with previous LG handsets, the fingerprint sensor is built into the home button on the back, which sits below the camera (and not next to, like the S8). Oh, and don’t worry, there’s a headphone jack still.
The sharp, 5.7-inch screen takes up roughly 80 percent of the front of the phone, leaving it with an impressively thin bezel all around. It’s unique in that it has an 18:9 aspect ratio (with the exception of the S8, most phones are 16:9).
The phone feels expansive and “tall,” especially when you’re scrolling down your web browser or social media feed. Not all apps and games take full advantage of this ratio though, and when they can’t, you’ll see black bars on the sides of the display even at full screen, aka “pillarboxing.” You can enable “app scaling” on some apps by going into Settings. The longer display works, and seeing that you get more screen for about the same build size, I’m all for it.
In addition to its beautifully glossy design and screen, the G6 is dust- and water-resistant like the S8s, the Apple iPhone 7s and several Sony Xperia phones. It’s rated IP68, so you can dunk it in up to 3 feet of water (about 1 meter) for up to 30 minutes. For the everyday user though, it just means the G6 won’t crap out after you accidentally drop it in the pool or spill coffee on it. (Get a deeper dive on IP ratings and what they mean for waterproof gadgets.) I dunked it in a fishbowl and let it sit underwater for 30 minutes. I also placed it inside a shower with the water splashing on it for 30 minutes. In both instances, the handset kept ticking fine afterward, and it even registered an incoming call during the full dunking.
Non-removable battery is a bummer
With that said, waterproofing and removable batteries don’t tend to go together these days, so the fact that the G6 does not have a removable battery was kind of a given. Still, to longtime LG fans, this might come as a disappointment. The company has been one of the few holdouts to feature swappable batteries in its flagship phones, so people can switch a drained one for a charged one or replace an old battery with a fresh one.
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