This year LG has gone back to basics there’s no more tricks, no more experiments, and most importantly no more modularity. Instead the LG G6 focuses on just being a simple solid and reliable smartphone. It’s got a pretty straightforward design formula, with a sturdy metal frame, and features a couple of different kinds of Gorilla Glass. You’ve got your own Glass 3 on the front, guru Glass 3 over the camera lens, and Gorilla Glass 5 for the back and yes, because it’s covered in a lot of glass it is very prone to fingerprints and smudges but they’re a lot less noticeable.

lg g6 desktop

LG G6 body

This new, sealed-in design does mean you no longer have access to the battery, but that’s a really small price to pay for what you get in return, which is ip68 dust and water resistance. The LG G6 is surprisingly very easy and comfortable to use with one hand and that’s due to a number of reasons. It’s got these super tight bezels on the sides, top, and bottom, and a new aspect ratio for the screen that makes the screen taller and more narrow. It allows LG to fit a bigger screen, and still keep the overall footprint down. The phone is significantly smaller than Google’s Pixel XL or Apple’s iPhone 7, both of which have smaller screens. It’s a feat of engineering that’s much easier to appreciate when you actually hold and use the phone, although it’s a new design.

You still have LG signature power button on the back. It doubles as a fingerprint sensor and works extremely well. It’s very fast and accurate to unlock, Just like last couple of LG flagships, you don’t have to physically press the button down in order for it to start unlocking. It does have a headphone jack placed up top, and the other standard buttons and ports (like the volume buttons) are on the left side. The SIM card slot is on the right and along the bottom is the USB type-C port and a single speaker. The speaker itself is surprisingly loud for just one speaker, but it does suffer from the same issues as every other bottom firing speaker: it can easily be blocked by your hand when you have a phone in landscape.

The real star of the show here, though, is the 5.7 inch display. It’s an LCD instead of OLED, but it’s a very good-looking LCD panel. It has the perfect amount of color and contrast, so it doesn’t appear washed-out or overly saturated and it’s bright enough to easily see in direct sunlight. It’s quad HD, but it has a new aspect ratio of 18:9 also known as 2:1. It means you’re getting some extra pixels on the long side of the display. If you split the screen in half you essentially get two perfectly symmetrical squares stacked on top of one another or side by side because of the taller/wider screen. If you’re in landscape this makes things like split-screen multitasking a little bit easier, because you’re able to see more of each individual app. Also new to the screen are the rounded corners, and the display itself is actually rounded. It’s not just an overlay sitting on top of the square screen. LG says this helps make the screen more durable against corner impacts.

LG G6 screen

Tthe rounded corners also add a nice aesthetic touch, but they’re not perfectly rounded and you can still see some sharpness to these corners. It’s not a huge deal and doesn’t really take away from how good the screen looks, but it is one of those things it’s hard to unsee after you notice it for the first time. The screen also has HDR support for both Dolby Vision and HDR 10, which will give you a much brighter and more vibrant image. It’s not something you can fully take advantage of right now, but you will be able to eventually start streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Video roll out their HDR support for smartphones now. If 18:9 does become the new standard for smartphone screens there will be some growing pains. When you’re consuming content that’s natively in 18:9 it’s absolutely incredible but when you’re watching 16:9 content or using an app that doesn’t scale to the new aspect ratio you will deal with some awkward black bars.

LG’s built in an app-scaling feature that lets you force apps to rescale to 18:9, but you’ll want to use this with caution. It can cause the contents of the app to be cut off and it is something that LG does warn you about. If you aren’t sick of hearing about 18:9 already LG’s even updated their off where to show off this new aspect ratio. You’ll notice that many of LG’s default apps wallpapers and even the lockscreen have the split to square design or, at the very least, are following the proportions and guidelines created by this aspect ratio. It’s a very clean and refreshing new look. At the same time feels really well in line with Google’s material design.

LG G6 OS

At the core of the OS you have Android Nougat running the show, with LG’s GUI, and just like every year they’ve updated it for the G6. It still has all the same features, so it’s essentially just a new coat of paint with more natural colors. It’s much easier on your eyes, which you can see throughout many of LG’s apps and wallpapers. The app icons have been updated to square icons with rounded corners for a much more uniform look, and pop-up menus within applications also have rounded corners. It’s meant to complement the rounded corners of the display and, personally, I like the look of the new icons. It makes them all the same size, but LG does give you the option to revert back to the original icons, if you’d rather use those. There is Google assistant onboard which makes the LG G6 the first non-Pixel phone to have dual assistant. This would have been a pretty huge selling point for the G6, if Google hadn’t released Google assistant for other devices running Nougat or Marshmallow. It’s still a really awesome feature. The more devices running Google assistant the better.

lg g6 first impression

LG G6 hardware

Inside it’s powered by a Snapdragon 820. One chip, which is not the latest like what Qualcomm has to offer this year. Some people may be disappointed by that, but it’s still a really powerful processor. There’s also four gigs of RAM on board, and I’ve really had no issues with the performance on the G6 at all. I guess you could say it flies like a G6… terrible I know. But in all seriousness it is a very fast phone even while launching apps, multitasking, and playing graphically intensive games. It handles it all extremely well and without any noticeable stutters or drop frames. This is also an unlocked version of the G6. The phone isn’t being bogged down by unnecessary bloatware, so performance could be slightly affected on carrier versions. Generally speaking if you had any concerns about the phone’s performance there’s nothing to worry about.

For most regions the phone only comes in a 32 gigabyte version, and in 2017 that isn’t a whole lot of storage. On the upside, as you usually would expect from an LG phone, there is a micro SD card slot which supports up to 2 terabytes if you need the extra space. Battery life on the G6 has also been extremely solid. It’s got a 3300 mAh battery, which isn’t the largest battery we’ve ever seen in a smartphone, but it’s still a fairly decent size and has been more than good enough to comfortably get me through a full day. On a consistent basis even on a heavy usage day, when I might use the camera a lot, and do a few hours of gaming I still get through a full day just fine with anywhere between 20 to 25 percent battery life left at the end of the night. I get to charge the phone during the day, but if you do need to top it off it’s got your standard quick charge 3.0. The US version exclusively has wireless charging, so that’s another option that you have available.

LG G6 camera

If you want to take advantage of that LG’s camera, you got a little bit of an upgrade this year, but it’s in a way that you probably wouldn’t have expected for the G6. LG has gone from 16 down to 13 megapixels in favor of getting rid of the camera bump, but this time both the standard angle and wide angle lens share the same 13 megapixels. There’s no loss and resolution when switching between cameras. Switching between cameras is now also a much smoother transition, than it was before. There are however two very different lenses: the standard angle is F 1.8 with optical image stabilization, while the wide angle is F 2.4 and lacks both OIS and autofocus. LG has also swapped out their laser autofocus system in favor of phase detection, which works just as good if not better.

The camera app is mostly the same as previous LG phones. Because of this 18:9 screen you now have this carousel of previews on the side. It lets you see literally every single photo you’ve taken, rather than just the one that most smartphone cameras will typically show you. This is easily one of the best and most clever uses of the wider screen. There’s a new square camera, perfect for Instagram, and it has a few different modes inside. You can snap a photo and immediately see a preview of it on the bottom half of the screen or take multiple photos or short clips that the camera will auto stitch together.

They’re all really different and useful in their own ways, but my personal favorite has to be the guide shot. It allows you to use a premade template or a previous photo for taking another photo with the same framing or composition. New to the G6’s camera (but not new to LG) is full-on manual video recording, which previously was exclusive to just the B series. It looks like LG has finally caved in and given users what they’ve wanted. You no longer have to wait for the B series if you want manual video, and it has all the same features like focus peaking, hi-fi audio recording, and “in wind” noise filter. The camera is a lot of fun to use, especially because of that wide angle which can take some really breathtaking landscape shots. It’s amazing how much more you can fit into the frame over the standard telephoto lens.

The quality of the photos themselves is also very impressive. It has excellent detail vibrant colors, great contrast, and overall pretty good dynamic range. It doesn’t have any major issues with overexposing highlights or crushing shadows, which is something that has always been a little problematic with previous LG cameras. It’s nice to see LG’s made some improvements with that on the G6 now. The wide-angle lens is not that great in low-light, though. and you’re better off using the main sensor. This is all too surprising, considering you have a wider aperture and optical image stabilization to help. With a standard angle lens you’ll get a much sharper, more colorful, and much cleaner image over the noisier, muted, and more overexposed shots of the wide-angle. The 5 megapixel front camera is also a wide-angle lens, with a 100° field of view. It is great for group shots, but don’t expect it to be of the highest quality especially in low light, where it completely falls apart.

LG G6 conclusions

LG wanted to get back to the things that matter and create a good solid all-around smartphone and they nailed that with the G6. It performs well, it has an excellent camera, good battery life and offers features that people actually want in a part phones like wireless charging and water-resistance. It’s even pushing a few boundaries with the 18:9 screen and super thin bezels and it’s set the bar for what looks to be the future of smartphones. LG is squarely back in the flagship conversation and for reason. G6 is shaping up to be a part of that conversation for the rest of 2017, and that’s really exciting.