LG V10 Review – What Premium Looks Like In a Smartphone

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Does LG’s super-premium phone live up to the hype?

There seems to be a slowly growing trend of companies releasing higher-end versions of their flagship devices, like Sony did when releasing the Xperia Z Premium, and like what Motorola has done with the release of both the Droid Maxx 2 and Turbo 2. LG seemed to want in on this new super-premium tier of devices, and has done so in a fairly stylish way. The V10 is the company’s highest specced device to date, and even though it’s not too far ahead of the G4, it’s still enough to give fans of the G4 something to drool over. Thanks to the guys over at AT&T, I was able to spend some time with the V10, and here are my thoughts on the device.

 

Specs:

  • 5.7inch 1440p Quantum IPS LCD display

  • Secondary 2.1inch 160×1040

  • 1.8 GHz 64-bit hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, Adreno 418

  • 4GB RAM

  • 32GB or 64GB storage, MicroSDXC expandable up to 2TB

  • 3000mAh removable battery, Fast Charge 2.0

  • 16MP rear camera, OIS 2.0, f/1.8 aperture, hybrid infrared autofocus, dual-tone LED flash

  • 5MP dual front-facing camera, f/2.2 aperture, 80º or 120º wide-angle

 

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Design

When I first played around with the LG G4, the first thing I noticed was how big it was. The 5.5 inch screen was bigger than any other phone I had ever used. Well the V10 changed all that, boasting a massive 5.7 inch quadHD Quantum IPS LDC display, practically marking it as a phablet. Many people have commented on the device, gawking at its size, and quite frankly I am among them. The screen size makes it very hard to use the device one handed, and the weight doesn’t help either. The V10 weighs a hefty 192g, quite a bit more than the “monstrous” Lumia 920 that everyone complained about.

That weight does come with the added bonus of a sturdy and stylish design. The device is wrapped in Dura-skin silicone body with a stainless steel hugging at the sides. This combination gives what some may consider the perfect balance between heft and style, and the studded back allows for more grip without compromising on looks.

As with its many predecessors, the V10 keeps the same with its rear-mounted power and volume buttons, adding to the clean look of the phone. On the back you’ll also find the 16MP camera (more on this later) with the LED flash and Laser Focus unit on both sites.

 

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Hardware

The V10 is powered by the same 1.8 GHz 64-bit hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor found on the G4. As a super-premium phone, you would expect LG to splurge for something a little higher, but alas the phone chugged away without fault, thanks in part to the bump in RAM to 4GB.

Beyond this we have 64GB of on-board storage (with a 32GB model also available), which is expandable to up to 2 theoretical TB thanks to the removable back cover that also exposes the removable 3000mAh battery. Fast Charge 2.0 is included, and fortunately LG decided to bundle a Fast Charger with the device, something that was omitted with the G4. Battery life is pretty good and I get a full day of usage out of it.

The speaker has been moved the lower back to the bottom of the device, so sound the sound was fairly loud and clear, though not as good as they would be had LG opted for front-facing speakers (a boy can dream).

 

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Software

The LG V10 runs Android 5.1.1 “Lollipop” out of the box, with the company’s own UX 4.0. As noted with the G4, it runs super smoothly thanks to the the push for more RAM. Of course in addition to the multiple homescreens, LG’s own Smart Bulletin is present adding some extra smarts into an already smart phone, like automatically turn the WiFi off and on when I left or arrived home, respectively.

Double-tap to wake was also present, but seemed almost secondary to the new fingerprint scanner found on the home button. After using the one on the iPhone, it’s definitely something I’ve gotten more and more accustomed to. Unfortunately, after using the iPhone, I realized how cumbersome the V10’s fingerprint scanner was. Pressing the home button once was only enough to wake the device, requiring a second tap to get it unlocked. On the iPhone, one press of the home button was all I needed to both wake and unlock the device. It’s because of this that I stuck to using the on-screen unlock pattern half the time.

Aside from this, the software experience was pretty much the same here as it was on the G4… almost.

 

Second Screen

One standout feature for the V10 was the inclusion of a second screen, the first of it’s kind seen on a phone of this kind. Few phones have dabbled in this territory, but LG chose to go about it another way. Though it’s just as cumbersome a feature as the fingerprint scanner. Sitting at the very tip of the device, users are able to access a customizable set of applications, switch between open apps, and control music. It even lets users accept of decline calls, nicely keeping many of the notifications away from the main screen. It’s also always on, even when the phone is on standby. Unfortunately, its placement on such a large phone makes it pretty much impossible to use one-handed, and I hardly ever want to use it. Frankly, the second screen is as useful to the phone as it is noteworthy to this review… which isn’t much. My name at the top is a nice touch, though.

 

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Camera

After the superb performance form the G4 camera, I was actually quite disappointed with the V10. It has the same 16MP rear shooter with an f/1.8 aperture, OIS, and laser focus. But really the photos don’t seem to compare, as they seemed either noisy or washed out, and the V10 seemed to have more trouble than its predecessor when it came to focusing. Largely the photos were pretty bland, and I didn’t find myself wanting to use it as often as the G4 as it seemed to take more effort to capture a decent photo. In good lighting conditions, the camera performed nicely, but that’s it. In low-light, it was pretty hit-or-miss.

 

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Video was good, and the device is capable of shooting in 4K, though I stuck largely to 1080p. The OIS kept movements fairly smooth and it didn’t seem to have much trouble focusing for the most part.

The front-facing camera was another standout feature, as LG opted for a dual-camera module. This was in order to capture super-wide group selfies at 120º, as opposed to the V10’s standard 80º. The tradeoff of this was the lower 5MP resolution, down from 8MP on the G4, and it definitely showed. Selfies suffered from A LOT of noise, unless captured in the absolute most perfect lighting conditions. As an avid selfie taker, this made me miss the quality and detail from the G4’s camera. And while a group-selfie feature is cool, I would’ve preferred if LG kept the same camera module as I found myself wanting to use the selfie-camera even less than I wanted to use the rear camera… and that’s saying something.

 

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The Verdict

All in all, the V10 is a great first attempt at a super-premium device, and LG has pretty much nailed it in the style department. The device is fast and responsive, and will definitely standout in a crowd. Unfortunately as such a large and heavy phone, the V10 just felt like a burden to use, and the extra features did very little to help its case as a phone G4 users should look forward to. My overall experience with the device was mixed with its fair share of pros and cons. The question now is whether or not the V10 is a phone for you?

 

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