Digital Trends joined the consumer electronics giant for a behind-the-scenes look at the G6 smartphone and all the work that went into it. Here are our first impressions.
Be sure to also check out our full LG G6 teardown and battery test.
A gorgeous, sophisticated design
Gone are the days of removable batteries and plastic backs. LG is joining the design craze for shiny, polished glass and strong metal with the G6. Two pieces of Gorilla Glass are sandwiched inside an attractive metal band, which adds strength to the device and limits damage from corner drops.
More: LG G6: News and rumors
The phone looks like a Galaxy S7 from the back, but it still has a distinctly LG look and feel. The G6 is chunkier and the metal frame is thicker, making the phone feel more solid than Samsung’s 2016 flagship. It’s not as unique looking as the leather-backed G4 or the banana-shaped G Flex, but the G6 has a glamorous look that’s right in line with all the latest trends. Whether that’s a good thing to you depends on your perspective; LG’s quirky design cues are missing, but the G6 is gorgeous. It’s shiny, sleek, and all grown up.
The design is simple and sophisticated. You’ll see slim bezels around a device that’s almost all screen, a metal frame with power buttons and a volume rocker, a glass back with a subtle G6 logo, and a single speaker along the bottom edge.
The silver color option is the most attractive and hides fingerprints better than the black and white models. We’re not fans of glass-backed phones because of all the oily smears they collect as you hold them, and the fragility of glass is also a concern. LG said the thicker metal frame helps protect the glass more, and the Gorilla Glass 5 back is as shatter-resistant as it gets in the phone industry. The company didn’t offer an estimate on the cost of replacing the glass if it breaks, but we’ll update you when we get a quote. We still wish it weren’t so fragile and recommend you use a case to avoid breakage and fingerprints.
The phone is more durable in other ways as well: The G6 is sealed up tight and as waterproof as the last Galaxy and the iPhone, for starters, with an IP68 rating. You can dunk it in 1.5 meters of fresh or saltwater for up to 30 minutes without fear of destroying your shiny new phone. LG’s keeping tight-lipped about how it protects the G6 from salt water, but its engineers assured us it is indeed saltwater safe.
No bezels about it! The G6 is mostly screen
The hallmark of the G6’s design is the stunning 5.7-inch Quad HD screen with its unique 18:9 aspect ratio. To get the phone to an 80 percent screen-to-body ratio, LG cut back on the bezels all around the device. The top and bottom bezels are super small, but they are still there, unlike on the Xiaomi Mi Mix, which has no bezel at all around three sides. Even though the G6 does keep slender bezels, the device is still mostly screen, and it’s beautiful to behold.
Related: LG V20 review
Although it’s a 5.7-inch screen, the phone’s body feels like it’s only a 5-inch phone. It’s an astonishing feat of technology. You get all the screen without any of that big-phone, phablet feel. I could actually wrap my fingers around it and my thumb and ring finger would touch. Trying that on the iPhone 7 Plus always leaves a 1-inch gap between my fingers. The G6 is usable in one hand. I could text one-handed on the screen without any problems — that’s a big deal. The G6 is extremely comfortable to hold.
Of course, the elongated 18:9 screen aspect ratio means some content may look different on the non-standard screen. LG told us most of the content will auto-adjust, but you may see some black bars now and then. However, LG is probably right in predicting that screens will move to 18:9 to keep screens big and phone sizes down.
A solid spec sheet
When it comes to specs, LG is done with the spec war. It’s sticking with tried and true components to make the G6 reliable and appealing to everyone. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM power the G6, making it a zippy phone that’s on par with the Google Pixel in processing power. It doesn’t have the new Snapdragon 835, which was unveiled at CES 2017 and is slated to hit phones later in the year. Spec fiends may howl that it’s not good enough, but the 821 is more than capable.
Inside is 32GB of storage, which is expandable via a MicroSD card. It’s not as much as you might expect from a flagship phone, but it’s passable. The additional storage in the MicroSD card should make up for it and help you keep your G6 open. We recommend using Google Photos to keep your photo storage down, because you’ll want to take lots of pictures with the cameras.
There’s wireless charging on the U.S. model, but international folks won’t get this feature.
There’s a sharp, 5-megapixel selfie camera with a 100-degree field of view on the front that can do normal or wide-angle views, depending on your needs. The G6 sports two 13-megapixel cameras on the back, and one is a wide-angle lens with 125-degree field of view. The cameras were impressive and fun to use during our hands-on time, but we need to perform more testing.
A 3,000mAh battery is inside the G6, and it juices up quickly with Quick Charge 3.0. You should only need 10 minutes to get a 15-percent charge. There’s also wireless charging on U.S. model, but international folks won’t get this feature. To compensate, some Asia countries will get a Hi-Fi DAC (high-resolution audio). Europe is the odd man out, with neither wireless charging nor the Hi-Fi DAC.
The G6 runs the newest version of Android, called Nougat, with Google Assistant, and it currently has Google’s February security patch, which is a good sign for security. It’s unclear how quickly updates and patches will come through, but LG typically does a decent job of being on time. Nougat is covered with the light veneer of LG’s interface, which is attractive and simple. It doesn’t hide Nougat’s beauty, so Android purists will be happy. It also adds a few flourishes to make the design more uniform and suited to the G6’s unique 18:9 aspect ratio.
Since 18:9 translates to 2:1, GUI (the name of LG’s interface, just to make life confusing) is built upon the idea of the screen as two perfect squares. Many of the LG apps have been adjusted to divide the screen into those shapes. So when you look at a contact, their picture takes up the top half of the screen and their contact details take up the second half. The same principle applies when you look at messages in landscape view and elsewhere in the interface. It’s really lovely, and the perfect symmetry is oddly satisfying.
You can also make the icons uniform in size and shape with a feature that puts irregular icons in rounded square frames — AKA squircles (square + circle = squricle). The icons look so much better when they’re all the same size and shape. It’s like how icons look on the iPhone. You can turn it off, if you hate it, but I loved it.
Also of note are the 10 included wallpapers. LG designers made them by hand using pieces of paper and layering them in creative ways. For example, the hero wallpaper shows a subtle number 6.
Availability and pricing
LG has yet to announce availability and pricing for the G6. We will keep you updated here. Overall, the G6 impressed us as a powerful, well-made phone with a slick user interface. It is a solid phone, though it lacks any major surprise features. Pricing and competition are the only unknown challenges for the LG G6. We are guessing it will be in the $650 – $850 price range, like Galaxy phones and iPhones. It will likely hit shelves in April or May.
- Gorgeous design
- Solid specs
- Beautiful big screen
- Comfortable to hold and use one-handed
- Not the latest processor
- Glass design is fragile and fingerprinty