LG V20, First Impressions

The much-anticipated LG V20 has arrived! Here are the features you can look forward to in what may be one of the best Android phones of 2016.
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Guru
Published: Wednesday, November 9th 2016
General
LG’s mobile division has had a rocky year, following the release of its G5 flagship smartphone. The modular-styled device didn’t sell as well as expected and ended up costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars. mobiledeals_article_banner

Introducing The LG V20

Following on from that, one might have thought that the company would take a bit of a break from smartphone development. LG has decided, however, that the best means of recovering is to show the world that they do indeed know how to make a phone. The V20 is that phone. Successor to the company’s surprise hit, the V10, the V20 retains at least one of its predecessor’s most well-known features, the secondary display. The phone also packs in quite a few features that you’ve wanted in other phones as well as a few you didn’t even know you wanted.

Design

There are two things that you notice when you first see the V20, how big it is and how average it looks. Let’s be clear, the V20 isn’t an ugly phone, it’s just not the most exciting thing you’ll see this year. Having said that, it’s every bit the premium handset, thanks to its aluminium body. It’s also a rather large phone, boasting a 5.7-inch Quad HD display and a smaller, secondary display above the main display. This is nestled between a narrow forehead above the display and a narrow chin below. The V20 has a total of three buttons (four if you include the one used to remove the back from the phone):
  • The volume rocker (one button for volume up and one for volume down)
  • The power button / fingerprint scanner on the back
The V20 also includes a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB-C port. That’s it. The V20 is the epitome of restrained design.

Features

[caption id="attachment_16206" align="aligncenter" width="600"]LG-H990 Photo taken by LG V20 Smartphone #nofilter[/caption] The V20 has pretty much every feature that LG could conceivably cram into a phone:
  • Two displays
  • Removable battery (3200mAh)
  • Removable back
  • DAC audio
  • Manual mode on the camera (for both photographs and video)
  • Expandable storage
  • Dual rear-facing cameras
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Android 7.0 pre-installed
One of the most talked about features of the V20 is the secondary display. Situated above the main display it can be a stretch to reach if you have small hands. Essentially, the secondary display serves as a shortcut of sorts to select functions. These include flashlight, wi-fi on / off, and audio controls which are always accessible - even when the main display is locked. Whether or not this is a better approach to secondary displays than Samsung’s Edge display remains to be seen. But, it certainly has its benefits. The other major feature of the V20 is the dual rear-facing camera. LG has opted to include the same camera configuration as they did in the G5. Namely, a regular fixed lens and a wide angle lens. These two can be used independently of each other or. the images taken with each lens. can be combined into one image. LG has, yet again, included manual controls for its camera. This time, however, it’s far easier to use than the implementation they had for the G5. The manual controls can now also be found in video mode on the V20, a first on smartphones. One of the benefits of this manual video mode is that you can manually control the settings for perfect audio quality using options such as Low Cut Filter (LCF) and Limiter (LMT). The LCF reduces background noise while the LMT zeroes in on voices the user wants to record. The V20 also captures audio using 24-bit / 48 kHz Linear Pulse Code Modulation (LPCM). This is the same format used in professional video equipment.

Audio

LG says that the V20 is the world’s first smartphone to feature a 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC, powered by ESS Technology. According to them, this means that the V20 will give you unparalleled sound never before heard from a smartphone.   When using a pair of Bang&Olufsen H3 in-ear earphones and enabling the Hi-Fi Quad DAC feature on the phone, there is a noticeable difference in sound quality. But, nothing vastly better than the sound heard through regular earphones. Is it bad? Not at all. It’s certainly better than sound heard from any other smartphone. It doesn't, however, overwhelm one with emotion due to sounds in songs you may have never heard before. 
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Overview

The V20 is a solid phone, which makes the G5 seem like nothing more than a pothole in LG’s mobile road. This is everything I’d hoped for from the South Korean company with only one feature missing, waterproofing. Considering that the phone has a removable back, it’s a bit on the impossible side to expect the V20 to be waterproof, but it would be nice. The V20 is the ultimate power phone made for the visually creative person. It retains features that have become almost extinct in high-end smartphones while adding in the best specs one could ask for. It’s not a perfect phone, but the minor nuisances are software related. The newest iteration of LG’s UI (which they call UX 5.0+) is cleaner and more user friendly than any previous version, but does not have the same ease of use and simplicity that Apple’s iOS does. This, however, is not really an LG issue but, instead, an Android one. Android is designed to be tinkered with. If you want simplicity, and an OS that just works without you having to think about it, then maybe iOS is what you’re after (which means getting an iPhone). Would we recommend getting a V20? Yes, if only for the camera and audio capabilities. LG has a winner of a phone which is sneaking in under the radar as one of the best Android phones of 2016. Check out our unboxing video of the LG V20 below: