LG V20 first impressions: Is LG late to the party?

Successor to the V10, the new V20 has made its way to India, probably to cover up the losses of the G5. But is it too late? Here is my initial impression of the smarphone.


We hardly saw LG launching any interesting devices this year. The company's flagship, G5 seemed like a promising product, but it turned out be an unsuccessful due to it's unconventional modular design. It never picked up all that well. On top of that, the Nexus lineup was axed in favour of the Pixel, taking away LG's last hope to sell another Nexus smartphone.

The company announced the V20 back in September for limited markets which in my opinion sounded like flagship material. Successor to the V10, the new V20 has made its way to India, probably to cover up the losses of the G5. But is it too late? Here is my initial impression of the smartphone.

Build and Design

The smartphone has a metal finish and a removable back panel. Something which you don't see on smartphones these days. The back panel looks and even feels like solid metal when its shut, take it out and it feels light, almost like a thin sheet of aluminum. LG has added a special button on the right edge to pop open the back panel and thankfully it isn't as flimsy as the module ejector on the G5.

LG V20 first impressions: Is LG late to the party?

A bunch of the design elements seem to be taken from the G5. The dual camera setup on the back and the rounded edges look familiar. The front is mostly dominated by a glass panel covering the display with a slim plastic forehead and chin. Just like the V10, there are two displays, a primary 5.7-inch and a small strip on top which is always on. The always on display strip, just like before, gives you access to notifications, quick toggles, time and date as well as shortcuts to your most used apps. I didn't get to use this feature on the V10, but the low-end LG X-Screen offers the same feature and I quite liked it.

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Moving back to the build, I was quite satisfied with the overall quality of the device. The company says that one doesn't have to worry about dropping the device as the back panel pops open upon impact and pushes the battery out. Now this doesn't mean that it is unbreakable, but it does offer some amount of assurance.

Going into the elements, the volume buttons are placed on the left edge while the headphone jack, speaker and the USB Type-C port is on the bottom. At the back is the primary dual-camera and a fingerprint scanner which doubles up as the power button. Removing the back panel unveils the battery, the SIM card slot and microSD card slot.

Display

As I mentioned, there are two displays but let me talk about the main 5.7-inch IPS LCD panel that offers brilliant 2560x1440 resolution. The pixel density here is 513ppi and the whole front glass panel is made out of Gorilla Glass 4. The panel feels a lot like an OLED, but then I only used the smartphone during night time with a black wallpaper.

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Moving onto the small display strip sitting on top of the main display. It measures 2.1 inches and has a 1040x160 pixels resolution which makes it really sharp. It is mostly monochromatic when showing the time or the toggles, but does offer colour when showing recently used or pinned app icons. You can swipe away to scroll through the different options and of course it works when the phone is locked.

Chipset, RAM and Storage

The smartphone is big on hardware as you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor paired with 4GB of RAM and an Adreno 530 GPU. This makes it at par with high-end flagship smartphones that were launched this year in the first half. Storage offered is 64GB onboard with an option to expand it further using a microSD card.

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We do have new smartphones like the Pixel XL and the OnePlus 3T that are offering the new Snapdragon 821 chipset, but having said that, the 820 is no slouch when it comes to processing power. And well, LG made the phone when the 821 was not available so I have no complaints here.

OS

The V20, at its time of international launch, became the first smartphone apart from the Pixel/Pixel XL that came with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. It does come with LG's skin called UX 5.0 which brings in a bunch customisations, custom icons, themes and some changes to the settings menu. It also gives you option to either add or remove the apps drawer. Overall, it felt smooth and didn't give me any issues, but again I did take some time to understand the UI as it isn't completely stock.

Camera

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Similar to the G5, the V20 uses a dual-lens camera setup. One of the cameras is a 16MP unit with an f/1.8 aperture while the second one is an 8MP unit with an f/2.4 aperture. You get laser auto-focus, OIS and a dual-LED flash. The front camera comes with a 5MP unit with an f/1.9 aperture.

I tried the camera for sometime and I quite liked the performance. It maintains sharpness and colours are also well balanced. The best thing is that camera offers manual controls in photo as well as video mode.

Battery and Connectivity

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The V20 features a 3,200mAh battery that can be user replaced. This means that one can actually swap batteries, just like the good old days. The battery is charged via a USB Type-C port with support for Quick Charge 3.0. In the connnectivity department you get 4G LTE, GPS/A-GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 and even an infra-red port.

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I like to also mention the fact that LG has added a special DAC for high-quality audio experience. The company has worked with B&O and the smartphone offer 24-bit HD audio recording and 32-bit playback support. The company says it supports every single audio format and and bundles a pair of B&O Play earphones with the smartphone.

Conclusion

In the few minutes that I used the smartphone, I was quite impressed. The smartphone is sturdy and seems to offer a good user experience. The camera and audio experience was impressive, although I would need further testing. Having a removable back panel is also quite interesting.

The smartphone is priced at Rs 60,000 with the best buy price going at Rs 54,999. That is a notch higher than smartphones like the Galaxy S7 Edge, HTC 10 and almost getting into the territories of the iPhone 7/7 Plus and the Google Pixel/Pixel XL. A more relaxed pricing would have made more sense and personally I think the smartphone has been launched a bit too late. If LG had got this device around the time of its unveiling, it would have made a lot more sense.

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