Note: This review is based on a Korean unit of the LG V20. The B&O Branding, as well as specifics related to the user interface and user experience, may not be available in other regions.

Introduction


Power user – this is a term associated with individuals who operate a computing device with advanced skills and elevated privileges. In other words, that is someone who knows their gadgets inside out and, more importantly, who knows how to make the most of them. The LG V10 was a phone suitable for that kind of folks. Released about a year ago in a limited number of markets, it was quite the unusual handset – large, rugged, and packed to the brim with outstanding features, including a secondary display, dual front-facing cameras, premium sound hardware, and full manual camera controls.

Fast-forward to present day, and the LG V20 is here to pick up where the V10 left off. Sticking to the same formula, this new and improved model comes with a sizzling-hot specs sheet complemented by a list of goodies to wow the tech crowd. We’re talking about an enhanced secondary screen, dual cameras at the back with full manual controls, a Quad DAC setup for superior sound reproduction capabilities, microphones good enough to record a concert in high fidelity, and all of that sprinkled with a sweet dash of Android 7.0 Nougat.

To say the least, the LG V20 is a phone that tech enthusiasts, audiophiles, and media creators would be intrigued by, but does it live up to the high expectations that it sets? I spent some time in its company to find out.

Design

Durability over grace is the main theme with this extra-large handset.

When the team and I saw the LG V20 for the first time, it wasn’t a case of love at first sight. The phone appeared tough and manly, but lacked in elegance and sophistication, not unlike the Tumbler Batmobile. And you know what, I’d say that I’m okay with that, now that I’ve used the V20 for a while. Sure, it isn’t gorgeous, but what it lacks in grace, it makes up for in durability.


The LG V20 is built of 6013-series aluminum alloy – a light yet durable material used in the construction of boats and planes. The strips at its top and bottom are made of 24% stronger polycarbonate. And just like its predecessor, the phone is MIL-STD-810G transit drop compliant, meaning that it can withstand more physical abuse than a typical phone. Water resistance is missing, however, so don’t go selfie-snapping near a pool with this one.

One thing I should stress on is that the LG V20 is a large device. In terms of width and height, it ranks alongside the iPhone 7 Plus, the Nexus 6P, and its predecessor, the LG V10. Unlike the latter, however, the phone doesn’t feel top-heavy. It has a better-balanced weight distribution, which makes it more comfortable to handle than the V10.

With the V20, LG is sticking to its unorthodox design approach of placing the power button at the back – at (or near) the point where the user’s index finger would naturally rest. Those who are new to the idea might find it odd, but it is something one gets used to over time.

Embedded in the power button is a fingerprint reader. It gets the job done, as it is fast and gets the reading right almost every time. You place your finger on it (without the need to actually press the power button) to unlock the phone, and if you just want to take a peek at your notifications, you can wake the phone for a few seconds with a double tap on the screen. This setup could use some improvement, however. As I take the phone out of my pocket, I naturally put my finger on the reader, yet a reading is only sometimes performed – at that moment, the scanner may still be disabled because the phone is not completely of my pocket yet. This means I have to wait to see if my finger got read, and if it didn’t, I have to lift it and place it again to unlock my phone.

You might have noticed that the LG V20 also has a small button on its side. Pressing it lifts the back cover, which in turn lets the user access the removable battery, as well as the SIM card and microSD card slots. While battery swapping can be considered a power-user feature, it is one I don’t mind having.


LG V20

LG V20

Dimensions

6.29 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches

159.7 x 78.1 x 7.6 mm

Weight

6.14 oz (174 g)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

Dimensions

6.09 x 2.98 x 0.34 inches

154.72 x 75.74 x 8.6 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

OnePlus 3

OnePlus 3

Dimensions

6.01 x 2.94 x 0.29 inches

152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm

Weight

5.57 oz (158 g)

LG V20

LG V20

Dimensions

6.29 x 3.07 x 0.3 inches

159.7 x 78.1 x 7.6 mm

Weight

6.14 oz (174 g)

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.63 oz (188 g)

Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

Dimensions

6.09 x 2.98 x 0.34 inches

154.72 x 75.74 x 8.6 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

OnePlus 3

OnePlus 3

Dimensions

6.01 x 2.94 x 0.29 inches

152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm

Weight

5.57 oz (158 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Display

Small things also count, and the V20’s secondary screen has its uses. Some tweaking is required, however.


Although the LG V20’s secondary screen is the one raising eyebrows, it is the primary one I’ll comment on first. Its main advantages are its large size and high resolution – traits that make activities like gaming, watching videos, or web browsing, a pleasure. On the downside, this is far from the most color-accurate display we’ve ever tested. With a color temperature around the 9000K mark, the screen makes whites appear blueish. Sure, the average user probably wouldn’t be bothered by that, but the flaw becomes glaringly obvious once you place the V20 next to a display with accurate color reproduction. A way around this drawback is to activate Comfort View mode on a low setting.

Now that I’ve mentioned it, Comfort View is a blue light filter built into the V20’s user interface. Studies have shown that blue light might be messing with our sleep, hence it is a good idea to have the feature activated at night. (Although a way to get a good night’s sleep is to not use your phone at all before bedtime.) And while Comfort View is nice having, it would have been better if I had the option for it to turn on automatically after sunset or at a predefined time.

That aside, night-time use is generally convenient, as the screen’s brightness goes sufficiently low. And when out in broad daylight, I’ve never had any issues with the screen’s visibility. It is bright enough to remain visible even on a sunny day.


Second screen



As for the secondary screen placed at the top, it is actually a nifty feature – one adopted from the V10. The screen is now brighter, however, and fonts are larger, which makes things easier to see, even at an angle.

For those not familiar, the purpose of the V20’s second screen is to serve as a widget of sorts, available at all times, in any app. When the phone is in standby, it acts primarily as a notification ticker, but also gives you control over music playback and various quick settings. And if you don’t like it for some reason, you are free to turn it off.

The key to making the most of the V20’s secondary screen is to customize it to your needs. This will take a few minutes, but it will be time well spent, as some of the options prove very useful. For example, the screen can be set to list your 5 recent apps there, and you can switch back and forth with a simple tap. Or you can have shortcuts to 5 of your favorite apps. Media controls are also an option, meaning that you can access Spotify or the stock music player at any time.


To be clear, you’re not limited to a single function. You can switch back and forth between screens by swiping left or right, and the ones I mentioned above are the ones I found most practical. You may also have 5 of your favorite contacts listed there, or a row of toggle buttons for various settings, or your next calendar event, or even a “signature” – a row of text that you can customize.

But the LG V20’s second screen isn’t quite perfect. One thing I found annoying was that when a notification arrives, it is shown only for a couple of seconds, giving me no chance to actually read it. Another botheration is that the screen, being placed at the top, is practically unreachable with one hand.

One more thing worth mentioning is that the second display consumes a small amount of power while it is on – enough to draw 1% of additional battery energy in under 2 hours. To reduce the amount of power it consumes, you may have it turn on only when the main screen is lit. You also have the option to have it turned off during night hours.

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91 Comments

3. jessy90

Posts: 162; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

O i forgot this is not an iphone. 8? I would give this phone a 9. LG ux is one of the best. You can make the phone feel unique to your style,personalize almost every thing,plus fast,smooth, and feature packed. Iphone has no headphone jack,limited customization,no sd card,only 1080p screen and it was rated 9.

5. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

They gave 9 to Pixel. Butthurt much? LG cant make a top of the top phone. They stopped making top phones since legendary G2.

30. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

You sound like a butthurt user who happen to get a raw deal with some LG phone in the past. Let it go. I know many girls who have told me they miss their LG phones, after having to get Samsung and HTC replacements. Everyone has their own preferences. Deal with it and so trying to bomb on LG.

48. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2124; Member since: May 29, 2014

That last part should read, "In My Opinion". There... I fixed it for you.

84. rsiders

Posts: 1935; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

Here's an in depth look at the top cameras.https://youtu.be/pBEQEKlgXNU

6. manojmcn

Posts: 633; Member since: Jul 16, 2015

Hello PhoneArena- you dont have to reduce the ratings because V20 may not sell like Apple or Samsung flagships. Just rate based on what it's worth.

7. thegeneral7010

Posts: 437; Member since: Dec 10, 2014

Wat do u expect from a site that gave note 5 (which didn't bring anythimg new from note 4 beside design) 9 phonearena is saving 9 and above for apple and samsung.

25. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 908; Member since: May 07, 2014

They have to post a review which most of the readers here will like. Samsung and Apple has a huge following compared to other brands. There are more Apple and Samsung fans, now if they give the iPhone 7 a seven score, more people will be pissed.

74. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 966; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

What? Check the specs. Better camera, processor, UI, faster charge time, better stylus, wireless charging integrated instead of having to get a Qi sticker, and the design of having a flat screen is far superior to the Note 7. So, how is it the same device as a Note 4?

8. Martin_Cooper

Posts: 1774; Member since: Jul 30, 2013

When was the last time an LG phone had THE BEST of more than 1 main feature of a phone? Best camera? Almost never. Best screen? Never. Best battery life? LOL, not since G2. Water resistance? Nope. Best speakers? Never. The only "BEST" feature this thing has its probably best audio quality output through headphones. Thats just one "BEST" feature. And you expect this thing to get a 9? Oh yes it has removable battery, yep and nowadays that's only a feature a tech geek will want.No Android phone will beat S7 edge and Pixel for 2016. Simple as that.

15. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

While I would not own a LG since I've had the boot loop with a G5, LG has been a top two in the camera department since the g4

33. jeroome86

Posts: 2314; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

Maybe they solved the boot loop problem this time.

38. Pattyface

Posts: 1658; Member since: Aug 20, 2014

Maybe but I'm not gambling with my money.

9. Joms_US

Posts: 200; Member since: Oct 02, 2016

So a worthless iCrap 6s got 9.3 while this phone just 8? Surprised? iPhoneArena does that on purpose. Put the st*pid Cr@pple logo on this LG phone and iTards will be drooling all over it.

26. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 908; Member since: May 07, 2014

I come here just for the news, while most of the news are not worthy of reading, they still have updated news. The reviews, on the other hand, are s**tty, those who review stuff don't know their stuff. I have to look for a review, I will go to PocketNow, Michael Fisher, and Android Authority (Android Authority does not review Apple but their reviews of Android phones are the most sensible.)

85. lnhrts

Posts: 28; Member since: Apr 27, 2015

you are ignorant!!

86. lnhrts

Posts: 28; Member since: Apr 27, 2015

Joms-US...

10. sintruder

Posts: 162; Member since: Aug 30, 2012

This is complete BS! Unacceptable! PA gives their useless ratings based on brands and not on what the phone actually deserves. Just because samsung and apple has has a huge fanbase and their fans would speak out, they get 9

83. bucky

Posts: 3778; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Let's be honest, this was never gonna be a great phone.

12. jellmoo

Posts: 2563; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

The score seems fair if the software issues experienced are a common theme. The basic user experience of the device should be one of the big things a company nails right off. A device with this price tag needs to offer a stellar user experience. All the specs in the world won't matter if your experience is crappy.

16. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3101; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Best audio dac in the market and got an 8.0. IPhone 7 does not have an audio jack and got a 9.3 with?!

17. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3101; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

*with?!

18. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3101; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Stupid autocorrect *wtf

19. elimartinez7

Posts: 23; Member since: Apr 16, 2015

woooooooow.... 1st, the battery life thing is bullsh*t.. i received the phone tuesday and have since then been testing "real life" useage. this battery kicks ass. idle over night (6hr) only lost 2%. heavy usage lasted me a full day (4am-10pm) with 7% left. the next with normal usage and auto brightness left me with 0ver 60%.. unless i got super lucky, this battery kicks a** in the last 6 mo. i tried s6/s7/s7E/N7/G5/V10.. V20 is beast

65. grbrao

Posts: 294; Member since: Nov 23, 2012

This is what i am looking for. The real use review. People do all sort of idiotic test which we dont even use it in real life and brainwash fans with these battery test. I was thinging of getting V20 for myself, was looking for a user review and you nailed it. Thanks

20. elimartinez7

Posts: 23; Member since: Apr 16, 2015

i was a huge PA fan until i saw this douchebag's biased rating.

21. BROWN_KNIGHT

Posts: 7; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

Iphone arena does it again...apple bias much?? Overkill for giving the public a very sophisticated phone?

27. cdm283813

Posts: 424; Member since: Jan 10, 2015

If you love the phone so much why do you need a website to justify your purchase? Would a 10 out 10 make you feel better?

31. rsiders

Posts: 1935; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

Trust me I'm getting mine regardless. They pulled this same crap with the V10 and that was such a great device.

71. cthunder

Posts: 126; Member since: Nov 02, 2010

CDM, it's not about being in love with this phone or any other phone. It's about giving the readers a bias opinion about a phone regardless of who makes it. PA is know for grading Samsung and Apple phones over their true values. Remember the S4 and S5 reviews? Both also got over a 9 rating but the S5 was a huge disappointment for Samsung and resulting in mass changes in the mobile department. Now LG V10 gets a 7 and LG V20 gets an 8.But when you read reviews from users and other sites on both you can easily see the bias.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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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