The LG G6 fits in your hand. That's an impressive feat for a smartphone with a 5.7-inch display. In addition, the $650 G6 includes many of the features we liked about LG's previous flagships, such as dual rear camera sensors, while adding new elements like a waterproof build and an HDR screen. The question is whether that's enough to break through, especially with powerful contenders like the Samsung Galaxy S8 ($672.00 at Verizon) on the horizon. The G6 is the best phone LG has released to date, but we think it's worth waiting to see what's just around the bend.
The G6 ($672.00 at Verizon) varies in price depending on your carrier. T-Mobile—the carrier we tested on—is the most affordable at $650. Verizon is a bit pricier at $672, with Sprint and AT&T coming in at $708 and $720 respectively. No matter where you buy it, it'll cost a little less than the Galaxy S8 (which is selling for around $750), but probably not enough to make a difference in your decision.Our Experts Have Tested 60 Products in the Mobile Phones Category in the Past YearSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)
The G6 is an unusually long, narrow phone, with slim bezels and a 2:1 (LG says 18:9) screen aspect ratio. Metal sides combine with a pleasantly grippy glass back that won't easily slip out of your hand, though the black model we reviewed picks up fingerprints and smudges easily. It should be a bit less noticeable on the silver (LG calls it Ice Platinum) model.
There's a standard headphone jack on top (the G6 doesn't feature dual speakers or quad DACs like the LG V20 ($672.00 at Verizon) ), a USB-C port on the bottom, and LG's signature power button/fingerprint scanner on the back, located under the dual camera sensors. A pair of clicky volume buttons are on the left side, while the SIM/microSD card slot on the right worked fine with a 256GB card.4.5Outstanding$400.59See Itat AmazonRead Our Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Review4.5Outstanding$769.99See Itat VerizonRead Our Apple iPhone 7 Plus Review 4.5Outstanding$769.99See Itat Verizon Read Our Google Pixel XL Review 4.5Outstanding$672.00See Itat VerizonRead Our LG V20 Review 4.0Excellent629.99 For the latest plan and device pricing: 844-235-3939See Itat T-MobileRead Our LG G5 Review 4.5Outstanding$649.99See Itat VerizonRead Our Google Pixel Review 4.5Outstanding$720.00See Itat VerizonRead Our Motorola Moto Z Force Droid Review 4.5Outstanding$199.99See Itat Samsung Read Our Samsung Galaxy S7 Review 4.5Outstanding$699.99See Itat AmazonRead Our ZTE Axon 7 Review 4.0Excellent$299.00See Itat AmazonRead Our Huawei Honor 6X Review 4.0Excellent$439.00See Itat Plusnet MobileRead Our OnePlus 3T Review
The phone measures 5.9 by 2.8 by 0.3 inches (HWD), weighs 5.8 ounces, and is just narrow enough to reach across with your thumb. Compared with the behemoth Google Pixel XL (6.1 by 3.0 by 0.3 inches, 5.9 ounces) and the even heavier iPhone 7 Plus ($672.00 at Verizon)(6.2 by 3.1 by 0.3 inches, 6.6 ounces), the G6 is much easier to use with one hand.
It's just a touch wider and slightly heavier than the Galaxy S8 (5.9 by 2.7 by 0.3, 5.5 ounces), which squeezes a 5.8-inch, 18.5:9-screen into its frame. Despite the similar dimensions, the S8 feels a bit easier to grip thanks to its gently curved display that better conforms to your hand. That said, both phones are sure to please fans of big screens you can comfortably hold and operate with just one hand.
There's no carrier branding on the front or back of the G6, which helps it retain a clean, premium look. Rounded sides spread shock and give the phone some impact resistance. Like the V20, it's rated MIL-STD-810G, meaning it can withstand drops onto hard surfaces. It survived several five-foot drops onto the rubberized floor of our test lab with no visible damage, though keep in mind if you drop it on concrete, you're still likely to crack the glass back.
This is also LG's first phone to be IP68 waterproof. We dunked it and rinsed it off in the sink without any trouble.
As touched on above, the real selling point of the G6 is its 5.7-inch, 2,880-by-1,440 LCD with a unique 2:1 aspect ratio. This means you're looking at a tall, narrow screen. It can be a touch disorienting at first, but you get used to it. And one nice aspect is that when multi-window multitasking, you get a lot more content with each app.
The aspect ratio also means built-in apps have been altered, and there may be some compatibility issues with third-party software that isn't properly scaled. Fortunately, in Display settings, there's an option for App Scaling that lets you pick between aspect ratios of 16:9 (Compatibility), 16.7:9 (Standard), and 18:9 (Full-screen). You're likely to encounter a similar issue with the S8, which has an 18.5:9 aspect ratio.
Stock apps like the dialer, messaging app, address book, music player, weather, and email have been altered to take advantage of the increased screen real estate, usually with larger graphics toward the top of the screen. The camera also gets a bunch of new modes where the top half of the screen is a viewfinder, and the bottom half shows an image preview or lets you coordinate with another image. As the screen can be divided into two square halves, we see some real Instagram potential here.
Samsung may be widely known for having the best displays on the market, but the G6 can give the S7 Edge ($672.00 at Verizon) a run for its money. The screen resolution is 565 pixels per inch (ppi), matching the sharpness of the Quad HD AMOLED panel on the 5.5-inch S7 Edge (534ppi) and Pixel XL (534ppi). But it's not just mere pixel density that makes the G6 stand out. The phone has unusually rich colors thanks to its support for HDR (both Dolby HDR and HDR10). When you see HDR and non-HDR content side by side, the HDR really jumps out.
But despite great color and viewing angles, the screen could use a bit more brightness for outdoor visibility since it's hard to see under direct sunlight. Like the LG G5 ($672.00 at Verizon) , it has an "always on" mode that keeps time, date, and notifications visible when the screen is off, but it's dimmer than Samsung's.
The G6 is available on all the major US carriers. We reviewed the T-Mobile version, which supports GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz), UMTS (1/2/4/5), and LTE bands (1/2/3/4/5/7/12/13/20/66), giving it good connectivity on T-Mobile and international roaming. We tested the phone in midtown Manhattan where we recorded a top download speed of 9Mbps and an unusually high upload speed of 28Mbps.
The phone also supports dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth 4.2. The Galaxy S8 is a bit more future-proof thanks to its inclusion of Bluetooth 5.0.
Call quality is acceptable. Earpiece and speakerphone volume are both loud, but calls made with the phone tend to sound a bit robotic. Noise cancellation was good at handling the sound of traffic, but struggled to blot out wind, sometimes resulting in garbled transmissions.
The G6 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor clocked at 2.34GHz, rather than the newer Snapdragon 835. In terms of benchmarks, the phone performs similarly to other Snapdragon 821-powered devices, scoring 136,907 on AnTuTu, which measures overall system performance. That's a bit lower than the Google Pixel XL (140,121), which runs a pure form of Android. It's also lower than the OnePlus 3T ($672.00 at Verizon) (159,144), which benefits from a less-demanding 1080p screen and more RAM (6GB compared with 4GB).
But the main concern here isn't day-to-day performance, as you're unlikely to notice a difference between the G6 and other existing flagships when it comes to multitasking or playing games like GTA: San Andreas. However, the Snapdragon 835-powered Galaxy S8 will not only offer better performance, it'll also support gigabit LTE, letting you take advantage of the faster networks that many carriers are in the process of rolling out.
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In most regards, the G6 is an improvement over the G5, but if there's one aspect that may disappoint fans of the series, it's the demise of the removable battery. The 3,300mAh cell in the G6 is sealed in, partly to make the phone waterproof. Thankfully battery life is fairly solid.
The G6 clocked 5 hours, 57 minutes when we streamed full-screen video over LTE at maximum brightness. It's not as long as the Pixel XL ($672.00 at Verizon)(6 hours, 43 minutes), and falls far hours short of the S7 Edge (10 hours), but it's a big improvement over the V20 (4 hours, 38 minutes). LG has incorporated smart charging technology, allowing the battery to better maintain its charging capacity for over two years. There's a built-in battery-saving mode that turns off the always-on display, reduces screen brightness, and limits background data to save juice. The included adapter supports fast charging, and the phone is compatible with wireless charging pads (not included).
The dual rear camera sensors from the V20 and G5 are back, but LG has made one big improvement: At 13 megapixels each, both cameras are now of equal resolution, so switching between normal and wide-angle shots doesn't compromise image quality. The main sensor offers a 71-degree angle, while the wide lens is 125 degrees. The phone does a smooth zoom between the two cameras, like the iPhone 7 Plus does.
And as with the iPhone, the quality is striking. Unlike on other phones, you don't lose detail when you zoom in. The price is that there's significant barrel distortion in wide-angle shots, with straight lines appearing curved at the edges of the frame.
The sensors excel outdoors. Noise is minimal and overall quality compares favorably with the Google Pixel XL. Indoors, the Pixel XL has better white balance and color reproduction, taking superior shots in low light. However, the G6 has manual controls, so with some tweaking of ISO and shutter speed you can improve lower-light photos quite a bit from the default settings. The phone also records 4K video with both rear cameras.
When it comes to selfies, the 5-megapixel front-facing camera takes decent shots, but tends to employ a bit too much smoothing while the Pixel XL is sharper and truer to life. A wide-angle selfie mode is 100 degrees, which lets you easily fit some friends in the frame.
The G6 comes running Android 7.0 Nougat, a step behind the newer Android 7.1 you get on the Pixels. LG's software layer is quite heavy. Colors, icons, and much of the launcher have been modified, and LG adds its own gallery and music apps in addition to Google's options. Out of the box, the phone comes with the app drawer disabled and all of your apps strewn across the home screens, but that's easy to change in Settings.
There isn't much in the way of useful new software features. Shortcut keys let you launch various applications by pressing the volume buttons twice, but that's about it.
If there's one thing we've come to expect from carrier phones, it's bloatware. The T-Mobile G6 comes preloaded with seven carrier apps, five LG apps, Evernote, and Lookout. The most egregious is LG Friend Manager, which helps you connect and manage LG's defunct Friends accessories that were supposed to launch alongside the G5. Fortunately, it can be uninstalled, along with most other LG apps, but the T-Mobile ones can only be disabled.
Out of the 32GB of internal storage the phone comes with, you have 20.05GB available for use. Considering the S8 comes with 64GB of storage, the G6 seems a bit short on space. Of course, you can always toss in a microSD card if you need more.
The LG G6 represents the refinement of ideas drawn from the company's previous flagships. You have the dual-camera setup from the G5 and V20, but with both sensors being of equal resolution. You have a large, gorgeous screen that's possible to use with one hand. You also have proven crowd-pleasers like waterproofing, drop resistance, and wireless charging. The losers here are the few, proud, removable-battery stalwarts, who now really have no major phone makers on their side.
All that said, a large, Samsung-shaped cloud looms over the G6. The Galaxy S8, which starts shipping April 21, matches LG's narrow, big-screen approach with a gorgeous curved display, and throws in a Snapdragon 835 processor with gigabit LTE speeds for good measure. It also comes with a custom AI assistant, Bixby, and a small ecosystem of accessories like Samsung Dex and the Gear VR that give it a leg up in both the productivity and multimedia departments. So while LG was smart to get the G6 to market ahead of the S8, it may not be enough of a head start.4.0See It650.00 For the latest plan and device pricing: 844-235-3939 at T-MobileMSRP $349.99View MoreView More
The 5.7-inch LG G6 packs the biggest screen it can in a body narrow enough to hold comfortably, but otherwise falls short on innovation.
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