LG V20 review: The G5 without modules

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The LG V20 is the latest LG flagship to come to market. After the success the original V10 was last year, many were highly anticipating its successor. Now, it’s finally here, and is almost the perfect handset for those looking for something larger as far as display sizes goes, particularly those disappointed by the discontinuation of the Galaxy Note 7.

Find out what the LG V20 is all about after the break.

Design

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One of the reasons why the LG V10 was such an appealing device was because it moved away from the traditional glossy finish and offered something more rugged and with texture. Its successor, unfortunately, is the complete opposite. LG with the V20 has moved away from that rugged design on the V10 and is instead offering something glossy, almost identical to that of the LG G5 from earlier this year. It’s extremely disappointing that we’re not getting something fresh like we did with the V10. Not only that, but this change in design philosophy makes it feel like LG is trying to blur the lines between the V and G series.

After all, there’s almost no visual difference between the V20 and the G5 other than that the former is slightly larger.

Now, the V20 does feel good and firm in the hand, although it can get a bit slippery. And while it does have almost a glossy feel and texture to it, it isn’t a fingerprint magnet.

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On the front of the device is where things get interesting. You have your standard speaker up top for phone calls as well as a front-facing 5-megapixel camera. Now, what’s different is that this device has a secondary screen, just like it’s predecessor. You can look at the secondary display as similar to how Samsung’s “Edge” works on the Galaxy S7 Edge. Only, it’s implemented a little bit better in that it doesn’t affect the design of the phone or even the touch sensitivity.

This secondary screen gives you quick access to important settings (e.g. Wi-Fi, flashlight, Bluetooth and the ability to quickly mute the phone), access to frequently opened apps as well as quick access to key applications, such as the Settings, Camera, Contacts, Gallery and even Messaging.

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Around the back, you have a fingerprint scanner that also serves as the home button. There’s an insanely large camera bump directly above it. It’s a dual-camera setup, with one sensor giving you 16-megapixels and the other 8-megapixels. The former has an aperture of f/1.8 while the latter has f/2.4. There’s also laser autofocus and an LED flash.

While it’s packed full of awesome camera specs, such a large bump has no place on a phone. Most manufacturers — Samsung, Apple, HTC, Huawei and so on — usually make their camera profiles relatively small. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a larger bump in of itself, but it will be one of the first things to break if you ever drop the phone on its back, and that’s where the complaint comes from. That in mind, I’d say it’s almost mandatory you throw a case on this handset to make sure it stays intact in the event of any accidental drops. After all, the glass on cameras are already easy to break, and giving it a larger profile only makes it more of a target.

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On the left side of the phone’s bezel is your standard up-and-down volume rocker. On the right side of the bezel is a button that releases the removable cover from the phone. This gives you access to your battery (which is removable), a SIM card and the famed microSD slot.

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Finally, at the bottom of the device, you get a 3.5mm audio jack, a USB Type-C charging port and a small speaker grille. Despite how tiny that speaker grille is, the LG V20 can produce a high volume level with crisp and clear audio.

Hardware

 LG V20
AnnouncedSeptember 6, 2016
ReleaseFall 2016
Display5.7-inch Quad HD (2560x1440) IPS LCD
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 820
RAM4GB
Storage64GB with microSD card slot
Rear Camera16MP / 8MP with optical image stabilization
Front Camera5MP
Battery3200mAh (removable)
ChargingUSB Type-C with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
SoundBottom-facing speaker with 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC
SoftwareAndroid 7.0 Nougat with LG UX 5.0+
ConnectivityNFC, Bluetooth 4.2 BLE, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
SensorsAmbient, proximity, accelerometer, compass, gyro, fingerprint
Measurements159.7 x 78.1 x 7.6mm
Weight174g
ColorsTitan, Silver, Pink

Performance

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The V20 has a big, bright and beautiful 5.7-inch 2560 x 1440 LCD display. With a pixel density of 513 ppi and a screen-to-body ratio of 72.4%, using this phone is nothing but a joyous experience. It’s fantastic for watching media on and even taking photo and video. General day-to-day activities are great as well, whether that be browsing the Internet or cruising through social media, as text is clear and rich.

Under the hood you get a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor backed with 4GB of RAM. Powering the graphics is a Adreno 530 GPU. The LG V20 cruises. It’s obvious that the Snapdragon 820 flies and the 4GB of RAM allows for a larger cache, and thus, better performance.  In my time with the V20, I’ve come across hardly any stuttering or lag. It’ll fly through almost any task. Now, there are a few frames that drop when taking a photo or browsing through your photo gallery (or even going through a website that has a lot of heavy media, such as The Verge). I don’t necessarily know if this actually has to deal with the hardware optimization in the phone or if it’s something to do with the Android software itself scaling to the larger display.

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Beyond that, this smartphone flies. It did get a little hot when playing an intensive game like Need for Speed: No Limits, but nothing to write home about.

As far as internal storage goes, the LG V20 comes in 32GB or 64GB options. No matter what storage option you go for, you still get the 4GB of RAM. What has become unique to LG’s phones is that they’re one of the few manufacturers that have not ditched the microSD card. As such, you get a space on top of the SIM card that will let you add an extra 256GB of storage with that microSD slot.

If you need a phone to rely on for the day-to-day life, the LG V20 is it.

Battery

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As far as the battery is concerned, you get a removable 3,200mAh unit. In real-world use, I’ve found that it’s your standard battery. With frequent but light usage, you’ll get a full day out of it no problem. But, just like any other phone, your mileage may vary. It all highly depends what you have on your phone and what’s running in the background. For instance, if you have a lot of social media apps that all update in the background, you might find yourself losing life a little bit quicker.

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Either way, LG has opted to keep the removable battery in this handset. That said, if you’re ever running low, you can always swap it out for a new one.

Software

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Software-wise, everything is great, except for a few caveats. Most people, at least among the tech crowd, don’t like a skinned version of Android. I, for one, love LG’s UX. It’s nice, clean and crisp.

The downside is the sheer amount of bloatware you get, especially if you pick this up from a carrier. There’s just way too many useless applications on here that you’ll never use and cannot be removed. Just to give you an idea of everything that’s on here, I received the 64GB mode. The system data takes up around 13GB, which is quite large itself; however, pre-installed applications that you cannot remove take up another 900MB or so. So, in reality, you can use 50GB out of the 64GB offered.

It’s also worth noting that, out of the box, the LG V20 does not have an app drawer. But, if you go into Settings > Display > Home screen > Select Home you can choose to add the app drawer back in.

Finally, the really neat thing is that you get Android 7.0 Nougat straight out of the box. The only other phones that have this right now are the Pixel and Nexus devices. That said, LG V20 owners get to take advantage of Google’s latest software almost immediately after they take it out of the box.

Camera

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While the software is impressive, the camera was less than stellar. This is was particularly surprising given that you have the dual-camera setup.

My biggest issue with it is that there’s an extreme lack of detail and clarity. It’s not that the camera is bad, it’s just that it’s average. It’s a thing where you’re not going to get a stunning photo like you would on the Galaxy S7 or Pixel, unless you have an absolutely perfect lighting scenario. And that’s almost never going to happen.

As I mentioned earlier, the camera has a bit of lag when taking photos. That’s just a small gripe in comparison to the actual clarity, though.

The number of options LG gives you for the camera settings, on the other hand, is quite nice. Not only do you have some standard settings you can change, but in the V20, you can also move over to manual photo or video to take more control over your photos and recordings.

Closing

The LG V20 is great in almost every aspect — the screen, the speed, storage capacity, removable batteries and the software is even great. It’s an excellent phone, and one that ex-Galaxy Note 7 owners looking for a similar sized device should have no shame in picking up. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone, but it still is a little disappointing when you pair it up against the LG G5. Really, there’s hardly a difference between the two, so much so that this could in theory be the G6. It’s strange, and I really wish LG would’ve kept the rugged look in order to not blur the lines between the two series.

That small complaint aside, the LG V20 is an excellent phone that deserves more praise. With all the excitement around the Pixel and many looking forward to the Galaxy S8 in a few months, it’s easy to overlook the V20. But, if you dig into the V20 more, it’s one of the best flagships of 2016.

Buy it now: Amazon


About the Author: Brad Ward

Brad is a tech enthusiast, writing and tinkering with all things technology since 2011. He currently bounces between the LG G3 and his beloved Moto X! His interests include reading, entrepreneurship, the gym, and of course, queso.


  • Kyra Mathias

    LG G5 is now on sale only at AndroidSmartphoneDeals:com

  • Jan Bury

    V20 is fine, but every good phone now is a kitchen pan size. 5,7″? I’d rather stay with my G5 – smaller, modular, does not need new trousers to buy.