Release Date: 10/28/2016
Colors: Titan, Silver, Pink
The Good: Fantastic design, removable battery, IPS LCD is gorgeous, secondary screen is unique and very useful, Hi-Fi DAC chip makes listening to music an experience, very satisfying feedback experience, up to 2TB removable storage, Android 7.0 is responsive and fast
The Bad: Doesn’t include headphones, fingerprint sensor on back will take a little getting used to, no physical home button, not water resistant, no stereo speakers
LG has come a long way with their Android phones. With their flagship G series phones, they were pushed up near the top of the Android phones sales and have gone head to head with Samsung. The LG V10 sparked their new flagship phone that was larger, bigger, and more innovative than their G series phones. These were to grab the attention of Android power users and phablet fans, however, it didn’t have phablet hardware or battery life. The LG V10 was a smash hit with its one-of-a-kind second screen and kept all the features that fans of Android, and LG, phones loved. With the LG V20, LG perfects their new flagship while also helping move the Android phone market along.
I’m just going to come out with it, the LG V20 is expected to do very well because of the downfall of the Note7. While I personally felt Samsung’s flagship phablet was the perfect smartphone, the whole battery fiasco killed it. I was dragged through both recall processes and landed myself with the LG V20. I have to say that this phone has a lot of features I wish the Note7 had, and it is a great first impression from LG for me.
For phablet owners, this phone has the latest and greatest Android has to offer with an LG flavor. For starters, the screen is gorgeous with a 2K (2560×1440) resolution and uses LG’s own IPS LCD technology used in their monitors and TVs. I have an IPS LG monitor for my PC and it’s beautiful, and it really shows on the phone. For comparison to Samsung’s much loved AMOLED display, it’s less saturated and feels more true and warm while still being crisp and clean. For an LCD display, this one looks fantastic. Next, is the secondary screen. It’s a little larger than the V10’s and is just as responsive as the bigger screen. This screen is used to pin favorite apps, most recent apps, a signature, control shortcuts, and favorite contacts. It also shows notifications when the screen is off conserving battery life.
Second, is the camera. The LG V10 was the greatest smartphone camera around until the Note7 was released. The LG V20 sports a 16MP dual lens camera and a front facing 5MP camera. The photos on the LG V20 impress quite a bit, and while I won’t do a detailed breakdown, I can say they are on par with the Note7. The camera can record 4K video, 1080p video at 60FPS, and 720p video at 120FPS. With the LG software, you can take short 15 second clips to easily share them, clip videos together among other things.
The rest of the exterior only has a small volume section and a button to pop the back plate off to access the battery, microSD card slot, and SIM slot. LG is well loved for their removable batteries and the V20 does allow this for spares and larger third-party battery packs. The V20 is also the first smartphone to allow a 2TB microSD card. That’s an insane amount of space, but it’s there. On the back is LG’s famous home button with a fingerprint scanner. I personally feel this is the best placement of that button as it’s unique to LG phones only and many users will have to get used to this. It feels natural on the V20 and I honestly didn’t have to think about it much.
The last thing about the physical design of the V20 is that it’s much different from the V10. I didn’t quite like the design of the V10 and is felt kind of cheap, but the V20 is made of all aluminum and is kind of a dark gray rather than black. It looks thinner, sleeker, and much more like a premium phablet than can compete with Samsung and Apple. This is LG’s finest looking phone yet.
Internally, the V20 sports the same hardware as the Note7. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 with a quad core CPU running at 2.15Ghz and an Adreno 530 GPU. With 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The reason why the LG V20 runs faster is it’s using Android 7.0 Nougat; the very first Android phone to do so. I’m not joking about the speed of this phone. After awhile the Note7 slowed down quite a bit and became laggy. The V20 unlocks with the touch of the fingerprint sensor in less than a second. Apps open much quicker and everything feels snappier and speedier.
Android 7.0 has better notification features but is mostly a speed improvement like Marshmallow was. Software wise, LG has an amazing custom Android ROM here. It’s very impressive and more streamlined than even Samsung’s. There’re not as many bells and whistles as Samsung’s ROM, but there’re some nice touches here. For starters, the whole UI design is clean and smooth and looks amazing. I almost prefer this one over Samsung’s and it’s easier on the eyes; less is more here. The V20 can use UI themes from the LGWorld app, but as of this review, there aren’t many themes available yet. There are unique Ringtone IDs that the phone will create for every number calling in, screen filters for reading, and various other features that are unique to Android. While most are standard they are done well and any bloaty features are cut out. I do appreciate that LG allows you to transfer data from your old phone via SD card which makes transferring so much faster. LG also has a software that allows you to transfer files to your phone and to PC via LG Bridge which is great. It creates a drive on your PC so every time you connect it acts like it’s plugged in via USB.
The LG V20 just has a whole personality to it that doesn’t make it feel generic or like another manufacturer’s Android phones. The V20 actually has my favorite haptic feedback and vibration. I don’t really like Samsung’s as it feels too rough and “buzzy”. The V20 has a softer deeper vibration and feedback as well as satisfying system sounds. From the lock screen sound to typing on the keyboard, the V20 delivers second by second enjoyment that most people don’t think about. You’re always feeling vibrations and feedback on your phone as well as hearing chimes and beeps. The V20 is the most satisfying feedback experience over any smartphone I have previously used.
The V20 is also being advertised as the go-to phone for audiophiles. With the quad-DAC Hi-Fi chip, this is the best phone to listen to music with. If you are looking specifically for a phone that does a lot of audio then look no further. With that said the phone doesn’t come with headphones which are kind of ironic, but LG does offer some nice headphones.
With all that said, the LG V20 is a fantastic phone. In lieu of the Note7 disaster, this is my recommended go to phone that isn’t a Samsung phone. LG has really stepped up to the plate and has offered everything an Android power user has on their wishlist. While there’re a couple minor gripes they are minor at best such as no water resistance and this phone has mono speakers. There’re no major issues with the phone at all and this is very close to the perfect smartphone both in design, and software.