The new G6 from LG marks a new design era for smartphones, and for LG, an important return to fundamentals. Gone are the gimmicks of old. There’s no leather back, curved screen or modular components. The G6 is a pure design, yet manages to take the old black rectangle format into beautiful new territory.
There are many things to admire about the G6, but without doubt the first thing you notice, and will then continue to appreciate more and more, is the ratio of screen to body. It’s 80%, and in a design and engineering world where fractions of millimeters are critical this is a big jump. The screen extends to within 1cm of the bottom of the G6, and to 7mm of the top. The bezel on the sides is 2mm. The new Galaxy S8 takes this even further, with a screen to body ratio of 83%. This is the new design direction for smartphones and it delivers wins for aesthetics and usability.
The front glass is chamfered at the very edges and that runs to an almost flat slab side that surrounds the G6. This makes is easy to hold and adds another touch of class. Volume controls (which also perform multiple functions, such as volume down for the camera shutter) are the only physical buttons on the phone, unless you count the fingerprint scanner at the back, positioned top center which is, in my opinion the optimum position for it.
The screen itself is another wee revolution. The 5.7-inch QHD+ (2880 x 1440) yields the unusual aspect ratio of 18:9. Being taller than other screens offers more usable real estate, and some HD video that would normally impose black bars on other screens can now play taking up the entire glorious space. On the downside, some apps may, in turn, have empty areas top and bottom if they can’t scale to this aspect ratio. However, given the likely success of this – and more critically the Samsung Galaxy S8 which has a similar aspect ratio (18:5:9), it’s fair to assume app developers will move to support these new dimensions.
Glass covers the rear of the G6, giving it a particularly glossy feel all around. Initially I had concerns that the glass rear made it prone to easily slipping out of your hand, but that proved not to be the case – unless you have very dry and smooth hands. Yes, it holds fingerprints, but they aren’t as obvious as on other all-glass phones.
It’s dust and water resistant, too, meeting the IP68 standard and can handle being submerged for around 30 minutes in water up to a meter and a half deep. The battery is not replaceable, but it does support Quick Charge 3.0 and is a healthy 3300mAh capacity. In day to day use I could comfortably run to two days of regular use in standard mode. Power saving options are available to extend that, which include turning off the permanently on (unless it’s in your pocket in an otherwise dark place) time, date, battery and notifications that float on the screen when the phone is inactive. You can schedule this feature, so for example it’s off between midnight and 6am, but after using it for a couple of weeks and seeing no hit on battery life left it on because it’s quite nice to have that info at a glance without activating the phone.
It’s also dual SIM, which is fantastic, or you can use the second SIM slot to expand its 32GB memory. A regular, and welcome, 3.5mm audio jack is at the top where it should be. A Type-C connector is used for charging and connectivity. The audio is particularly nice, especially for recording thanks to its twin-mics. There’s a version of the G6 available in some other countries with a quad-DAC, which by all accounts delivers terrific music playback, but unfortunately we don’t get that in Australia, nevertheless quality was good and it plays unusually loudly.
It’s all powered by a Snapdragon 821 CPU which is technically ‘last generation’ given that Qualcomm now has the 835 available, but it appears Samsung has secured most if not all 835s for its Galaxy S8. No matter, the 821 is more than adequate for all tasks and is a battery miser.
LG’s implementation of Android (Nougat 7.0) is pleasingly austere. Again, harking back to a simpler design ethos. Few themes are included, but they’re all practical and attractive and more can be had online.
There’s two rear cameras to top it off, a standard 71° unit and a wide angle camera with a 125° FOV. Both are 13MP although a little image noise crept in during wide angle mode.
Lastly, it’s the only non-Google phone to include Google Assistant. This voice assistant is a gem with voice recognition that’s often amazing, and plain English instructions are usually understood and delivered upon.
The LG G6 is without a doubt the nicest smartphone I’ve ever had the pleasure of testing. I’m probably going to buy one… after I try the S8, which I haven’t yet. For now I cannot recommend the G6 enough. It gets it all right and is a phone you can love.