LG G6 Smartphone Review
Tired of your iPhone? LG's newest phone is just for you
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Peer up at the smartphone mountain you’ll see Apple and Samsung occupying its peak (Google’s up there too; it’s just hanging out in a smaller tent).
Just below the summit is where you’ll find HTC, Sony, Huawei, and LG. Every year these companies make a break for the top, and every year they seem to just fall short. The LG G6 (MSRP $600-$700) is the latest challenger, and while it might have the sheer power to hang with the industry-leaders, it’s missing the sort of style and finesse that make the iPhone 7, the Galaxy S8, and the Pixel as good as they are.
All of this is not to say that the G6 is a bad phone—it’s fast, it’s got a fun dual camera, and its big, 3,300mAh-sized battery hangs tough. But despite being a great phone, the LG G6 isn’t an exciting one, and when there’s over $700 on the line, premium smartphones that excite start to feel like the more palatable option.
If you decide to buy a G6, there’s a very good chance you’ll walk away from the deal happy, especially if you find that Apple and Samsung smartphones aren't your thing. At the end of the day, the G6 is a powerful phone with a great camera and a few perks. But if you’re worried that a new iPhone or Galaxy S8 will forever be the one that got away, it’s worth being concerned about the G6’s shortcomings.
About the LG G6
The G6 is a follow-up to LG’s 2016 flagship, the LG G5, and while they share some features (both rock a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner as well as an extra wide-angle lens) they’re fundamentally different smartphones.
The driving philosophy behind last year’s G5 was customizability; the phone was modular, allowing users to remove the battery or outfit the G5 with additional hardware. It was an interesting concept, but one that proved unsuccessful.
This year, the G6 is sealed-up for water resistance, is made with glass, and sports a look closer to Samsung’s Galaxy S8. In other words, it’s LG taking a stab at the modern-day luxury smartphone.
Here’s what’s under the hood:
• Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon 821 processor
• 4GB RAM
• 32GB/64GB internal storage, up to 256GB of expanded storage via microSD
• 5.7-inch quad-HD (2880x1440) LCD display
• 13MP, f/1.8 primary camera with OIS, phase-detection autofocus, LED flash, face detection, and 4K video support (30FPS)
• 13MP, f/2.4 wide-angle dual camera
• 5MP f/2.2 front-facing camera
• IP68-rated water resistance for up to thirty minutes in 1.5 meters of underwater submersion
• 4G LTE, WiFi, AC/Bluetooth, and NFC support
• FM radio
• 3,300mAh lithium-ion battery with both fast- and wireless charging support
• USB Type-C port
• Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
• 3.5mm headphone jack
What I like about the G6
A damn good camera with added flexibility
We were first introduced to LG’s interpretation of dual smartphone camera with 2016’s LG G5, which opted for a second wide-angle lens.
The G6 is a similar set-up, offering users the ability to switch between a 13-megapixel, f/1.8 camera and a 13MP, extra-wide f/2.4 camera with the click of an on-screen button.
The flexibility means nothing, however, if the G6 doesn’t snap good photos. Fortunately, the G6's camera (which features optical image stabilization) is a trooper, capable of capturing pictures that stand-up to the Galaxy S8s and the iPhone 7s of the world.
It doesn’t quite shoot low-light subjects as well as its closest competitors, but the results are good enough to satisfy casual users, serious Instagrammers, and smartphone shutterbugs.
That said, phones like the S8 and the Pixel are better equipped to fire off shots quickly, mostly due to Samsung and Google’s superior software.
The G6’s camera is still a significant improvement over the G5’s, and because LG decided to keep the dual-camera set-up in 2017, users will appreciate both the flexibility of shooting with the G6 and the quality of the shots themselves. If you find the idea of a wide-angle lens appealing, you won't find one anywhere else.
In terms of sheer horsepower, the G6’s Snapdragon 821 processor and accompanying 4GB of RAM goes a long way in earning the phone a spot on the top shelf.
Our tests (Geekbench 3 and 3D Mark’s Ice Storm Unlimited) revealed that, while the G6 doesn’t pack as much power as the Galaxy S8, it’s more than capable of handling a heavy workload.
It’s not the fastest option available (that honor goes to the Galaxy S8), but it's on par with the Google Pixel. The G6 carries a steep price tag, but you get what you pay for.
Top-tier battery life
The G6’s long-lasting, 3,300mAh-sized battery is near the top of its class in performance—our lab test (which uses Geekbench 3) put it closely behind the iPhone 7 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Generally speaking, I’m able to get about a day and a half of use out of the G6 with light-to-moderate use, and close to a full day of juice with heavier use. It’s not the best battery we’ve ever tested, but it’s certainly in the top five, and that might ease the concerns of people who were once hoping for the flexibility of a removable battery.
With Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 baked into LG’s charger, the G6 is able to pull a substantial amount of power in a short period of time, which is always appreciated in a pinch. And, although I didn’t have an opportunity to test it, the G6 also supports wireless charging, which’ll please folks who are fed-up with USB cables.
What I don't like about the G6
LG’s software leaves a lot to be desired.
When it comes to smartphones, I prefer sleek, slimmed-down software, and although the G6’s user experience is closer to a stock Android experience than the G5's (and better than the G5 overall), it still can’t seem to get out of its own way.
For starters, the lack of an app drawer (while easily rectifiable) makes the home screen feel cluttered. And despite the ferocity of the G6’s hardware, jumping from app-to-app and snaking your way through menus still feels sluggish, since half-seconds of hang time between screens have the tendency to add up quickly. Even swiping down to check my notifications felt like a process that’s happening in slow motion.
Being an Android phone, it’s not difficult to replace stock apps with third-party options that are better suited for your needs, but there’s something to be said for software that feels polished out-of-the-box. Samsung’s stock camera app on the Galaxy S8, for example, is lightyears ahead of LG’s, which seems kind of janky in comparison.
The all-glass design is prone to smudges and cracks.
In the world of smartphones, there is such a thing as too much shine. After all, these devices live their whole lives in our sweaty, greasy paws. As it turns out, the G6 identifies the line between “just enough gloss” and “too much gloss” and leaps right over it—this phone is slippery, smudgy, and destined to scratch.
Although we’ve been careful not to drop our review unit, the G6’s glass casing feels like it carries a high-risk of cracking with long-term use. If you opt to keep the G6 out of a case, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself wiping the smudges from it constantly, especially since the fingerprint scanner is mounted on the back of the device.
Smartphones like the G6 and the S8 (which features a similar, extra-glossy aesthetic) look mesmerizing in promotional photos, but the reality is that shiny glass phones are slippery to hold and prone to streaks and smears.
The G6 is overflowing with bloatware.
Look, bloatware is one of those nearly-unavoidable annoyances that everyone’s just sort of accepted at this point, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t call to attention the absurd amount of garbage software pre-loaded onto the G6.
Between Verizon’s bag of nothing-apps that no one will ever use and LG’s insistence on making sure we all have copies of Panda Pop and Mobile Strike, there’s enough bloat loaded onto the G6 that I'd almost expect it to float if I dropped it in the sink.
Should you buy it?
Only if you’re in love with the dual camera
Truth be told, the LG G6 is a great smartphone, but I'm not sure that's enough anymore. The G6 can certainly claim it's in the same class as the Galaxy S8, the iPhone 7, and the Google Pixel, but it's also close to being in the same price bracket. Despite all of the G6's strengths, how many people will opt for a less-polished version of what those phones offer, especially when it amounts to a few extra dollars per month with a payment plan?
For about $600-$700, the G6 offers premium performance that falls in line with its price, but without Apple’s superior design, Samsung’s superior software, or the Pixel's awesome camera. The price makes sense in a vacuum, but people don't shop in a vacuum.
Did I enjoy the G6’s zippy performance, giant screen, and reliable battery life? Sure did. But I can get those things from Samsung or Apple, and for a little more money, both of those companies’ offerings are better than the G6 all-around.
The only reason I’d recommend the G6 over the S8 or the Pixel is if you’re dead-set on taking advantage of the G6’s wide-angle camera, which might be the case if you spend a lot of time taking pictures with your phone and you want some added flexibility. The G6’s dual camera is the only leg-up it has on its competitors.
If LG wants to climb to the top of the mountain and hang with Samsung, Apple, and Google, it’s going to need to do more than offer a compromised experience at roughly the same cost. It needs to make a flagship smartphone that excites us the way a new iPhone excites us, and unfortunately, the G6 gets the job done without any style points.