LG V20 preview: tanky phablet sports second screen and replaceable battery


Last year's LG V10 was a bit of a surprise. The handset came out of nowhere to replace the company's somewhat stagnant G Pro line. That was generally a good thing, though, as the V10 proved to be an overall likeable handset, despite a few shortcomings. Now, it's been almost a full year since LG's rethought phablet hit the shelves, which means it's time for a new one.

Sporting a bunch of interesting improvement comes the LG V20 – a robust and imposing smartphone ready to duke it out with the rest of the super-sized propositions out there. This is story of a phone that isn't afraid to have its own definition of cool.

TENACITY OVER ELEGANCY



While handsets like the iPhone 6s Plus and Galaxy Note 7 target a more sophisticated appearance despite their monumental dimensions, the LG V20 goes in the opposite direction – it offers a hardy, tanky exterior designed for robustness rather than elegance. Where a rubbery-like plastic material covered the back of the V10, now there's a special aluminum alloy which LG claims traditionally ends up in crafts such as yachts or fighter jets. It's supposed to be strong enough to survive moderate drops as it's MIL-STD-810G drop compliant. This is just one of a number of ways in which the V20 retains the DNA of its predecessor; however, LG has also addressed some of the issues we had with the V10, such as the weight, which is now around 6.13 oz (174 g), down from 6.77 oz (192 g) in the V10. The V20 is also 11% thinner than its predecessor, at 7.6 mm.

Despite all this, the LG V20 is one unmistakably large, bulky phone. Especially in its dark gray variant (there are also silver and pink), it wouldn't be an overstatement if we say that it lack any amount of grace. Is this a phone one could eventually grow to love? Yep, but this sure ain't gonna be love from first sight.

A SMALL SCREEN DWARFS THE GIANT ONE UNDERNEATH


The V20 is home to a massive 5.7" QHD LCD display, and while this panel in particular doesn't seem to shine with any extraordinary type of glow, our gaze happens to be abruptly drawn by the tiny LCD strip just above it. Sitting slightly offset to the right, the secondary display remains true to what it used to be in the V10. Quick apps, music controls, calendar events and more – the V20's secondary screen is simply a tool to make you a bit more productive when working with your smartphone, and as we've said back when we reviewed the V10, it is a fairly strange, though functional little thingy.

There are almost no functional improvements concerning the V20's secondary screen. It's mostly more of the same, though LG has made it about twice as bright, and it can now fit longer "signatures", which is the short text lines you can choose to display on the second screen. Arguably not very useful stuff, but if you happen to have a favorite motivational quote, you might as well put it on display there.

NO MODULES, BUT REMOVABLE BATTERY IS BACK



The LG G5 sport a button which, upon being pressed, releases the bottom portion of the phone, allowing the user to change the battery or insert some kind of module. The V20 also has a button on the side, but all it does is to release the metal back plate, thus allowing for a replaceable battery. It's a solution we quite prefer to the G5's clunky mechanism. Unlike with LG's flagship smartphone, there will be no modules to install on the V20, and considering the company's whole implementation with the G5, we'd say the V20 will be better off this way.

The back cover release in the V20 isn't the most fail-safe mechanism we've seen, but with a little finesse from the user's side, it should work without much hassle.

CAMERA AND AUDIO PROMISES


The V20 is big on features when it comes to all the camera and audio gear it's equipped with. There's been a bit of a shake-up all-around concerning the snappers: the V10 used to have a single rear camera, but now the V20 has adopted a dual-cam setup as in the G5. However, from two front cameras in the V10, LG has left only one on the V20.

Obviously, the two cameras on the back will allow you to capture either normal (16 MP) or super wide (8 MP) shots, just as in the G5. The big new feature that LG's keen to talk up is Steady Record 2.0, which is made possible by the Snapdragon 820 chipset and uses both electrical image stabilization with digital image stabilization to provide more stable, distortion-free video recording. Of course, this will be complemented by other useful tech such as the familiar laser-detection autofocus, working in tandem with phase-detection and contrast AF to ensure fast and reliable focusing on the V20. Just how fast and fail-free it's going to be, remains to be seen!

Now, the V10 aimed to deliver studio-level audio experience through its use of high-res audio capabilities, and LG seems set to double down on its efforts in this direction. There are four audio DACs on the LG V20, which is a solution said to minimize the level of audible noise slipping through the audio components. In addition, LG promises great dynamic range and extremely clean sound – bottom line is the V20 will be able to reproduce lossless audio formats with audiophile-grade quality. When we get our review unit, we'll be sure to put our ears to work and see (hear?) if there's any meaningful improvement to audio over the more ordinary tech used by most handsets out there.

If we were to summarize what the V20 is, we'd probably end up saying it's a super-sized G5, sans the gimmicky modular stuff. The V20 is an understated superphone that can do almost anything you can think of, and then some. Whether LG's expansive attitude when it comes to features is going to lead to a successful product, however, we can't be sure. Do we really need an extra-wide camera on the back? Are four audio DACs necessarily better than one? And is there room on a smartphone for more than one display? There are all questions we look forward to answering, once the LG V20 ships later this year.




Related phones

V20
  • Display 5.7" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2150 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3200 mAh(14.17h talk time)

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29 Comments

1. Hoggington

Posts: 356; Member since: Feb 23, 2016

Glad it's Gorilla Glass 4, not 5.

23. SuperMaoriBro

Posts: 533; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

It "uses both electrical image stabilization with digital image stabilization". Electrical image stabilization? Is that a mistake, should it be optical image stabilization? if not please explain more on what this is.

2. Ninetysix

Posts: 2965; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

Winner!

3. aznhachi

Posts: 212; Member since: Apr 12, 2016

sexy waiting for the pricing

4. senseiJ

Posts: 172; Member since: May 02, 2015

But why did LG announced V20 several hours before the iPhone's unveiling? I hope that doesn't overshadow V20.

7. therealestmc

Posts: 679; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

LG should've waited and ride apple cocktail.

5. FlySheikh

Posts: 444; Member since: Oct 02, 2015

I'm impressed.

6. Dreamboat

Posts: 50; Member since: Apr 29, 2015

Looks good

8. tyger11

Posts: 297; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

"electrical image stabilization"? I think you meant to say OPTICAL image stabilization. :)

9. m11ann

Posts: 9; Member since: Feb 26, 2014

No IR? Is this some joke?!

21. SCHeldon

Posts: 5; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

It does have an IR blaster. Many other websites say so, and you can see it here too if you look at picture 10.

10. crogers2012

Posts: 13; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Satall day waiting to see text by text update of the release of the device as the V10 was fantastic. But all I can see is love and attention for Apple. Even on the main page shows a countdown for the next Apple products but not a lick of interest towards Lg. Users need to be aware that Apple, a brand almost solely sticking true to their brand by name recognition is not the only manufacturer in this world. This article makes it feel that the V20 is a device set aside from everyone else as a negative thing and that LG is a failure in their ventures. There needs to less bias in reviews.

11. Firenze91

Posts: 206; Member since: Nov 19, 2014

ohh gosh this think is ugly....the back alone turns me off...especially that asymmetrical weird looking camera module...eww

12. Furbal unregistered

Needs a bigger battery.

13. canned.acid

Posts: 26; Member since: Feb 02, 2015

Like the V10 the secondary display seems unreachable

26. rsiders

Posts: 1988; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

Most people using phones these days have two hands... Nothing is unreachable with two hands and you don't get a big display phone to use one handed or at least you shouldn't. Glad I could help.:)

14. ajit1

Posts: 9; Member since: Aug 24, 2016

no where stands near GALAXY NOTE 7 in terms of looks n design..........specially that ugly camera bump on back side......looking for I phone 7 nw

15. ajit1

Posts: 9; Member since: Aug 24, 2016

looks like an older HTC phone..........

16. monoke

Posts: 1185; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Reminds me of some Desire model, can't pinpoint which one. P.s. They really should ditch that second screen idea. Phone way too big to reach for it.

17. irossdrummer

Posts: 370; Member since: Jan 17, 2015

Is the back actual metal? Or plastic over metal like on the g5....

18. elimartinez7

Posts: 23; Member since: Apr 16, 2015

you get metal !Removable! back, durable, 2! screens, 3! great cameras, Great audio, .... yet some of you are still crying, .. just go buy your iphone an stfu

19. iLovesarcasm

Posts: 589; Member since: Oct 20, 2014

I don't like phablets, but I think I'll have one.

22. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Looks a lot better than v10.

24. cthunder

Posts: 126; Member since: Nov 02, 2010

Damn, after LG botched the LGG5. It looks like I am headed back to Samung :(

25. gersont1000

Posts: 473; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

This phone looks great and has everything I look for (large storage, bright screen, removable battery, microSD slot, no fragile body, latest processor, great camera) but it's just SO BIG! Look at that thing, it is the size of the big iPhone. It was my same complaint about the V10. But I may still get it depending on how I like the G5 (to which I'm switching from the Note 7 because it's probably the most phone you can get straight from Tmobile for the price, and due to the Note 7 battery issue and the edge that is hard to find tempered glass screen protector for). And for people that complain about the camera hump, if you use a case it doesn't really matter, it actually looks nice once you put a case on. This also resolves the 'problem' of the battery cover popping off in the drop tests, since the case will hold it in place.

30. dmitrilp_

Posts: 330; Member since: Sep 12, 2016

I love the camera and sensors layout, it looks way better than those other phones.

27. irossdrummer

Posts: 370; Member since: Jan 17, 2015

I don't know why, but the G5 is butt ugly but this V20 honestly looks pretty sexy, even though it just looks like a blown up G5. There's something different and cool about it now though... the slightest differences can do a lot but I'm not sure what that difference is. Maybe they stopped using the plastic over metal like in the G5? Not sure, can anyone help me?

28. animeware

Posts: 32; Member since: May 14, 2012

looks awesome smartphone love removable battery feature.... Android 7.0

29. dmitrilp_

Posts: 330; Member since: Sep 12, 2016

The layout of the camera and sensors in the back is perfect, not that ugly bulky frame on the Iphone 7 plus that looks like the robot from futurama. That phone is beautiful, too bad their advertising isn't strong enough. These phones are really making leaps in technology.

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