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LG V30 Review

LG V30


A helping-hand approach to learning powerful manual controls could have you feeling like a pro in no time

While once little more than a gimmicky extra, dual cameras on smartphones have not just become increasingly common, but also legitimately useful tools for giving users a really flexible imaging experience. LG's a company we've come to respect for implementing dual cameras better than most, and its track record for success continues with the V30.

Compared to last year's V20 camera setup, the V30 makes a few important changes. We've still got one main normal camera and a second wide-angle lens, but with the V20 there was a big disparity between the two: while the main camera was 16MP and had a nice, wide f/1.8 aperture, the wide-angle camera was just 8MP and had a much less low-light-friendly f/2.4 aperture.

On the V30, the main 16MP camera's aperture widens further to f/1.6, while the wide-angle camera gets a big resolution bump up to 13MP, and its f/1.9 aperture allows for picture-taking in a wider variety of lighting conditions. Still, there are trade-offs present, primarily in the form of a reduced field of view, dropping from 135 degrees to 120.

Image quality

One area where LG has tried to enhance the V30's image fidelity concerns the phone's wide-angle camera. While we love the ability to frame our shots how we choose, wide-angle lenses often have a bad habit of distorting subjects towards the edges of a pic: straight lines become slants and curves. With the V30, LG's taken steps it claims are to minimize that effect. We'll agree that it seems to be less pronounced than on the V20, but it's still present to a some extent. LG explained to us that this is achieved with the help of new optics rather than software correction, and we can't help but wonder if the reduction in field-of-view from 135 to 120 degrees might play some not-insignificant role in that.

The photo-taking experience on the V30 should be very familiar for anyone who's used a recent LG flagship, which is to say that it's a quite robust, adaptable setup; full-auto works really well, and there's a powerful set of manual adjustments to give ambitious users more control. What's especially nice this time around is integration with Graphy, which gives novice users a solid starting point for manual operation; you just select an image of the type of shot you're going for, load the associated camera presets, and then receive some helpful nudges towards the settings you'll want to tweak for this particular setting.

Whether you're shooting wide-angle or standard, images tend to look quite impressive, and the main areas we found the cameras to struggle a bit were when handling complicated exposures – though even then, the results tended to be passable. Even the front-facer takes nice pics, but while that also offers a choice of wide-angle or standard framing, the difference is far less pronounced than with the main cameras.

Video recording

Considering the hardware it's packing, the V30 looked like it was in good shape to handle the demands of a little video recording, and for the most part that's turned out to be true. Like with the still pics, there can sometimes be issues with exposure, but we can see the camera working to keep up with changing lighting conditions as you film. It does the same with focus and shifting subjects, though here it struggles a little more, preferring to lock onto larger subjects; you may struggle to get a strong focal lock on something smaller and close up.

The flexibility of the phone's dual cameras extend to video recording, and you're able to jump from one to the other easily without needing to pause and resume filming.

We were also impressed with the audio quality accompanying videos. LG throws an above-average amount of audio tech at the V30's camera setup, letting it, for instance, tap into the phone's receiver to act as a mic for particularly loud sounds – without clipping. While we haven't pushed this to the limit, we did find the mic array to be successful at capturing sounds over a wide range of volumes, including those that were at risk of being overwhelmed by others.

New this year is a software suite LG is calling Cine Video, which consists of two main components: Point Zoom and Cine Effect. Point Zoom allows you to select a subject and then smoothly zoom in on it while recording. The nice bit here is that this doesn't have to be dead-center on your viewfinder; you can Point Zoom anywhere you can see. You have control over speed and direction, and while the controls work well, you can't escape the fact that this is a digital zoom, so quality takes a hit the closer you get.

Cine Effect, meanwhile, lets you choose from a variety of pre-defined video filters to give your footage a specific tone. Some are much more noticeable than others, and you can adjust the intensity of them all. None of this feels like a huge selling point for the V30, but the effects can be fun to play around with, just for a little variety.


Really nice headphone support, but a speaker that needs improvement

For a phone that's so focused on empowering users to produce great multimedia content, it's more than a little frustrating that the consumption of media doesn't appear to have been an equal priority. We've already talked about what to expect from the V30's screen, but our problem here has more to do with sound output.

Just like past V-series phones, the V30's armed with some heavyweight audio hardware: a 32-bit quad DAC. But it's important to remember that this hardware only comes into play when you're using the V30 with headphones. The good news there is that the headphone jack is very much present (far from a certainty in this day and age), and using the V30 with a pair sounds fantastic.

Sadly, we can't say the same for the phone's speaker. The V30 has a single bottom-edge-mounted component, and it's seriously lacking in lower frequency reproduction.

It's also a little frustrating that we don't get a stereo option, especially because LG is already putting the earpiece to double-duty has a high-volume-level mic. Was this an either/or case where it couldn't also be used as a front-facing speaker? We're just bummed because this big screen looks great for watching some videos, but we'll need to bring along headphones to really enjoy them.


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PhoneArena rating:
8.8Very good
Display6.0 inches, 1440 x 2880 pixels (537 ppi) P-OLED
Camera16 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, Octa-core, 2450 MHz, Kryo 280 processor
Size5.97 x 2.97 x 0.29 inches
(151.7 x 75.4 x 7.39 mm)
5.57 oz  (158 g)
Battery3300 mAh, 16.5 hours talk time

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