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LG G6 Review

LG G6
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Camera

LG's latest-gen dual-camera system is an absolute joy to use

LG G6 Review

Dual-camera smartphones are old news by now, and it seems like there's nearly as many different ways to implement such dual-camera systems as there are phones taking advantage of them. Do you merge the data from both sensors? Should they have similar properties, or attempt to each capture unique image information?

LG has already zeroed-in on the idea of giving its phones camera with very distinct lenses: one standard (or perhaps telephoto, at least by comparison), and one wide-angle. That was the case with the G5, as well as the V20, but with both those cameras, the wide-angle lens was paired with a lower-resolution sensor. For the G6, LG puts its cameras on a closer-to-even playing field, making both of them full 13MP components.

That's not to say that they perform the same, and beyond the obvious field-of-view distinction between the standard and wide-angle cameras, the former gets a wider f/1.8 aperture (letting in more light) and gets to enjoy the presence of optical image stabilization. The wide-angle lens, meanwhile, has an f/2.4 aperture and no OIS. Still, we're just hugely happy to see them come in at the same resolution, and swapping between the two is so fast, it's easy to choose the right camera for any particular shot.


Image quality


As you should be able to tell from that breakdown of G6 camera hardware, LG has made a real commitment to making this phone a serious contender when it comes to smartphone-based photography. And while the images it produces aren't maybe as effortless as those shot with a phone like the Pixel or even an iPhone 7, we're still generally satisfied with what we were able to get out of the G6's cameras.

A big appeal there is the easy transition between standard and wide-angle shots, and it can be a bit stunning just how pronounced a difference that choice in framing makes.

Shooting with HDR set to auto, we found the G6 not taking advantage of that processing option maybe as much as it should have, but especially when it did, our shots looked great. Without it, there was a little less certainty we'd get the tonal balance we were looking for, but few pics came out really disappointing.

Night shots also look quite nice, but here in particular we start to notice the differences between the two cameras; with both OIS and a larger aperture, the narrow-angle camera produces noticeably superior low-light photos than those available in wide-angle mode. The selfie cam also supports standard and wide-angle shots, though that's physically just a single wide-angle camera. Unsurprisingly, we preferred the native wide-angle option.

Finally, we have to talk about some of more gimmicky shooting modes LG's cooked up for this weird 18:9 screen. Since that 2:1 ratio means you can have two perfect squares side-by-side, LG's built its camera software to take advantage of that geometry. For instance, you can shoot one square picture and then match it up with another square for some juxtaposition fun, or take a series of four pics that add up to create their own square (with the other half of the screen acting as a viewfinder). There's nothing wrong with any of this, but nor does much of it feel particularly valuable – take it or leave it.


Video recording


With as oddly-shaped a screen as the G6 has, potential buyers are bound to start asking, “where can I get some video content that matches the dimensions of my screen?” And while there's a growing list of 18:9 productions available through streaming services, sometimes the best answer really is “just make it yourself.” To that end, in addition to the expected assortment of video recording modes, the G6 also includes a couple 18:9 options.

Those cover both HD (1440 x 720) and FHD (2160 x 1080) resolutions, but you do miss out on some fancier extras when filming in 18:9. There's no buttery-smooth 60fps mode, for one, as well as no 18:9 equivalent for 4K UHD shooting. Those concessions aren't too, too bad, and while we absolutely love having 18:9 filming options at all, it would have been nice to get one that can record at the full resolution of the phone's screen.

Video shot with the G6 looks pretty darn good, and the phone did an admirable job at managing exposures, refocusing on new subjects, and capturing intelligible audio even when fighting against some serious wind. One big plus is the ability to toggle between zoom and wide cameras while you're right in the middle of filming, and while there can be a very brief period where the camera has to recompute its exposure levels, it's still impressively seamless. We also really enjoyed the video stabilization mode, helping to remove a bit of the “this was clearly shot on a handheld device” jitters.


Multimedia

If only LG paid as much attention to sound as it did to the G6's fancy new screen

Maybe the trickiest thing about enjoying media on the G6 – and enjoying it in its fullest – is simply getting access to that content. We just talked about shooting your own 18:9 video, but you've also got streaming options, and if you subscribe to a service like Netflix, you'll find series such as Stranger Things or House of Cards all ready to be viewed full-screen, with no black bars to be found.

At least, that's possible, but getting there can be less than intuitive. Even after firing up Netflix, and identifying and tracking down some 18:9 video, it still wasn't quite filling the screen. It took a moment to hit us: the app has to be manually set for 18:9 mode in the G6's system settings. Once you make that adjustment, everything falls into place nicely.

As we mentioned, the G6 supports both Dolby Vision and HDR 10 high-dynamic-range video standards. We'd love to try some of that action out for ourselves, but Netflix restricts such footage to only its highest-end tier. If you're already on the four-screens plan, though, you should be good to go.

LG G6 Review

Watching video with other apps can be similarly tricky. VLC ended up working quite nicely, letting us scale our video to fit the G6's screen as we chose. You Tube was a bit less successful, and especially when we were dealing with footage already in a wider-than-16:9 ratio, often ended up with a windowboxed result: that is, video with black bars on all four sides around it. Two sides are acceptable. Four mean that you're wasting screen real estate. We're not trying to throw around blame here, but it's still worth pointing out a common use-case where the G6's screen-fitting tools let users down.

As for sound, the single speaker on the G6's bottom edge is slightly quieter than some of its peers, but still very much capable of the kind of output levels we demand. We found ourselves wishing we could pair this big, beautiful screen with some stereo sound, but sadly LG doesn't use the phone's earpiece as a second speaker.

Headphone output does a bit better than the internal speaker, but even this isn't without an upset: in some markets, the G6 will get a fancy 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC for its audio output, just like we saw on the V20. Unfortunately, that list doesn't include the US.



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LG G6

LG G6

OS: Android 7.0
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
8.7Excellent
Display5.7 inches, 1440 x 2880 pixels (561 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera13 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, Quad-core, 2350 MHz, Kryo processor
4 GB RAM
Size5.86 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches
(148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm)
5.75 oz  (163 g)
Battery3300 mAh, 20.5 hours talk time

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