LG V60 review

Spring is here and with it comes a handful of key smartphone releases. And while much is made about Samsung and its endeavors, considerably less attention and fanfare is given to LG.

Depending on who you ask, there are different reasons as to why LG’s phones don’t get the same level of press or excitement. Some knock the software experience while others point to questionable hardware decisions. Nevertheless, LG persists.

Its latest phone, the LG V60 ThinQ 5G, arrives at a time when device makers are exploring folding screens and new designs. Priced just $800 on its own, a secondary Dual Screen display gives users the option to up the productivity and functionality without long-term commitment.

The LG V60, as we’ll call it, has the makings of a “flagship” phone and looks to compete with the other high-end models starting to comprise 2020. We’ve been sent a review unit for use on T-Mobile and spent the better part of two weeks using it as a daily driver. Here’s our review of the LG V60.

Price

I don’t often start with price as a feature in reviews of phones, but I think it’s worth discussion. Why? Simply put, it’s considerably less expensive than what Samsung is doing with its Galaxy S20 line. Similarly, its’s a fraction of what Motorola asks for its folding phone, the Razr.

Does the LG V60 match up spec-for-spec with the Samsung Galaxy S20? Of course not. Corners have to be cut somewhere. Fortunately, LG doesn’t compromise too much with this phone, particularly in areas that are easily noticeable.

Instead of 12GB RAM, the LG V60 comes with 8GB; it has a lower resolution display than what’s found in Samsung’s flagship line. Also worth pointing out, and like the Pixel 4, the V60 does not come with a telephoto lens.

In all fairness, the aforementioned details are not as big of a deal as some might think. If it was priced the same as what Samsung was doing, then you could complain. But, given it’s much easier on the wallet, it doesn’t make sense to hold it to the same standard.

Interestingly enough, the LG V60 comes with an incredibly generous 5,000mAh battery, a quad-microphone system, the ever-present quad-DAC audio experience, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. That’s all awesome stuff in our eyes and speaks to its overall value.

Hardware & Design

There’s no way around it – the LG V60 is a big phone. At 6.8-inches it’s up there with the largest displays on the market. And because there’s no curved edge to the screen, it is physically bigger than it could be.

Not having the curve does have its benefits, though. If you’ve ever had a phone with something that wraps around, you probably know how easy it is to register a false tap or press. That’s not the case here. The same goes for screen glare. I appreciate LG’s using the old standard flat panel approach.

Similar to its predecessor, the V50, this year’s model employs a combination of metal and glass. It feels great in hand, if not a bit heavy. The “Classic White” model we have looks to have more of a pearlescent finish that certainly catches the eye.

The rear cameras are framed in a raised edge which is likely due to the larger sensors at work. It works well, aesthetically, and makes sense given the way the cameras are centered.

As someone who bounces back and forth between bigger and smaller displays, I can appreciate the benefits of each. On the other hand, I’m also reminded as to what it is that I don’t care for in them.

Going from a Pixel to a Pixel XL after a year, for instance, is a treat because of that increased screen size. More text on a screen, larger graphics in games, and a better web browsing experience are a plus. A minus? My hand’s are too small to use them comfortably in one hand.

Another downside to going big with phones is that they come with weight. And even if you have solid single-handed command of them, they’re not exactly light. That 5,000mAh battery is heavy stuff.

While I simply love the size of the LG V60’s screen, it does feel a little too cumbersome at times. It’s just a little too big. Ironically, I think it somehow works even better when coupled to the Dual Screen.

Dual Screen

Snapping the LG V60 into its Dual Screen cover makes for an entirely different user experience. For me that means using the phone less, something which I appreciate.

I think twice about flipping open the phone to see my emails and messages. I’m less inclined to break out Pokemon Go when at the desk. I’m not in a hurry to just open Reddit out of boredom and habit.

When I do use the phone, it’s much more intentional. And I really, really like the second screen.

Much like I thought I’d never use the squeezing action for Google Assistant on a Pixel phone, I never anticipated wanting a secondary screen. Then I used one.

There’s something I can’t quite articulate about having one screen entirely dedicated to email or Twitter and the other for anything else. Sure, you can hop back and forth between apps on any Android phone any day of the week. But to keep them up at the same time? That’s fun. And productive.

Does this mean that I would consider a phone that flips open to reveal a full tablet-sized display? Probably not. See, I like that I can take the V60 in and out of its Dual Screen case based on my needs.

I can easily see this design being used for people who spend much of their day in messaging and email clients. The same goes for people who are actively monitoring things in an app or through a website. Leaving one screen dedicated to that cause while the other can be for anything else? That’s more revolutionary than evolutionary, and I’ll take it.

Performance

The LG V60 houses some of the most powerful hardware on the market today so you’d expect it to perform well. Indeed it does.

The V60 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor which includes 5G support. Aiding the cause are 8GB memory and 128GB of storage with up to 2TB of external storage via microSD card. A 5,000mAh battery keeps things going all day long, often two at a time.

If benchmarks are your thing, you’ll be happy to know that it scores as well as Samsung’s Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus. While I didn’t run them through physical tests for actual numbers, a quick look around tells us that it’s right in the thick of things.

I had no problem with opening apps, multi-tasking, and switching between multiple apps at once. Gaming was buttery smooth; the phone comes with its own (read as: too many) share of titles pre-loaded ahead of time.

I did not notice any difference in performance when using the main display as opposed to the Dual Screen. While it might have the most minuscule of delays from swapping screens or moving them between each other, everything else is great.

Camera

The LG V60 comes with no less than four cameras on the rear, including the main 64-megapixel sensor. There’s a whole array of options to choose from in both hardware and software. If there’s something you have in mind, the phone has it covered.

Admittedly, I’m far more fond of what Google offers in the camera experience. Sensor number aside, the software is so much more intuitive. But, I fully understand that you can’t roll that out across all cameras.

I gave myself some extra time to play with the camera before snapping anything fun or exciting. For one, I needed to see what the options were and find the right settings. Also, I wanted to ensure I knew it well enough to snap something interesting in a candid moment.

Suffice it to say, the camera experience with the LG V60 is a solid one and I’ve enjoyed tinkering with it. I believe, at least when it comes to flagship phones, that it’s not necessary to compare one model to another. They all kick ass and stand out in various ways.

Given the stay-at-home orders in place for my state, I was not able to get out and grab as many diverse samples as I would have liked by the time I’ve published this. With that said, I do hope to come back and revise this with some fun pictures.

Embedded here are a handful of samples that have only been resized to 1280 x 960 resolution.

It’s easy to switch between modes and take advantage of the standard and ultra-wide angles. And thanks to AI smarts, the phone automatically adjusts lighting, saturation, composition, and other settings. For instance, it treats beverages differently than food and landscape different from the beach.

There are also some other fun things to goof around with including 3D photos and stickers. I may not necessarily use them in my day-to-day lifestyle, but perhaps you will.

Video capturing capabilities are actually ahead of what I can even watch. Indeed, it can record 4K and 8K video. While some of my TV sets are 4K ready, none of them are 8K. As such, everything I’ve captured on the LG V60 looks gorgeous on the device, including both still and moving.

Software

The software experience is its own topic of conversation. I didn’t intend to spend too much time here, but I will say that the review unit we were provided had not only a bunch of T-Mobile apps, but it had LG titles and a host of other seemingly random apps, too.

One of the first things I wanted to do was go through and uninstall as much as I could. These “value-added” sort of things are really often no good to someone who has owned a phone or two. Sure, one or two of them are nice and even popular, but taken as a full suite that’s given to you on day one? No thank you.

I’ll also say that LG has one of the more confusing user experiences you can find in an Android phone today. The way in which apps and games are collected in folders or standalone icons doesn’t feel cohesive at all.

Some T-Mobile apps are in a folder while others are left alone. The same goes for LG titles and the random (Tubi, Booking.com, etc). McAfee Security seems like the sort of thing that belongs in the “Essentials” folder, right? It’s not. The Play Store should be in the Google one, no? T-Mobile Play? Why isn’t it in the T-Mobile folder?

Taken as a whole, it surely doesn’t match what many other phone makers are doing in terms of navigation and layout. Who wants to take the time to reorganize?

Using the Dual Screen

If you have the chance to pick up the secondary display accessory, do it. Not only does it give you the Dual Screen book-like experience, but the exterior has a screen of its own. When closed you can get at-glance information such as time and notification icons. It also protects the main display too since it folds like a book.

To be fair, the exterior screen could provide another row or two of info such as text from your notifications. Also worth pointing out is the fact that you cannot swipe or take action from the outside.

Sliding the phone into the case is very easy. Anchored primarily by the USB Type-C port, it snaps in at the top shoulders. It’s snug without feeling tight or ready to burst.

There is very little in the way of added weight when you use the Dual Screen. It’s super thin and practical and really makes sense in a lot of scenarios. While there aren’t very many apps that are designed to span both screens, those that do work pretty well and largely feel intuitive.

Because of the nature of its design, there is a black bar or separation between the two screens. It makes things a little awkward when spreading Google Maps out or expanding messages.

I like that I can enable and disable the screen at a moment’s notice. Much of my day is spent in one app or game, but once in a while I like the secondary screen to have Slack, Hangouts, or Gmail open.

To me, the best way to use the secondary screen is on an as-needed basis. Further, it’s way better than messing with picture-in-picture for some apps.

One thing to consider with the Dual Screen is that you essentially give up the USB Type-C port on the bottom. What you do get, however, is a 10-pin charging port that relies on a magnetic connector.

The connector comes in the box and fits on top of any USB Type-C cable.┬áIt’s pretty awesome and automatically snaps into place when you put the cable near it. The downside? You have to remove the phone from the Dual Screen if you want to use any other charging cable. Inconvenient? Yes, especially if you like to charge up on the commute. Fortunately, the battery is a big one and you likely won’t run low very often.

Even if you have the Dual Screen in place you can still take advantage of the wireless charging capabilities. I like to put the LG V60 on a wireless charger and night and then go for the cable as needed.

About 5G

As great as 5G is with its promises and capabilities, it’s still somewhat of a wild west situation. It’s nowhere close to being fully built out for carriers and not all providers even offer it.

With that said, those operators which sell the LG V60 do have 5G networks underway. What’s more, the phone is built to handle both sub6 and mmWave technology. You can rest assured that if and when you use 5G on your carrier of choice, the phone is ready. Unfortunately, because of where we live (and the coronavirus pandemic), we were unable to get to a market with 5G coverage.

Bottom Line

If you like to keep up with the latest and best products, the LG V60 should be on your list. It ticks all of the important boxes and competes with the other flagship phones on the market, and it does so at a price that’s cheaper than others.

As much as I don’t care for the UI and pre-installed apps, I can uninstall and make adjustments. Performance-wise it’s as good as anything else I’ve tested in the past year.

The Dual Screen might be an unnecessary gimmick to some, but I find it very helpful. I suggest grabbing it if it’s within your budget, especially if you’re like me and like to have messaging/email clients close at hand.

You can purchase the LG V60 at a variety of places, including LG, Best Buy, Amazon, and all major wireless service providers.

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