LG V10 Review: A Different Kind of Flagship

by Reads (1,044)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Service, Warranty & Support
      • 8
      • Ease of Use
      • 6
      • Design
      • 7
      • Performance
      • 8
      • Value
      • 7
      • Total Score:
      • 7.20
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Exceptional camera and camera software
    • Secondary screen proves useful, particularly for multitasking
    • Unique and credible build materials
    • Comes with great headphones and exquisite DAC
  • Cons

    • It’s big
    • Body rugged, but not waterproof
    • Battery only slightly above average
    • Chipset a bit below flagship

Quick Take

LG V10 is unique and different. It's also a pretty good smartphone with an excellent camera, credible performance, and a fine display.

The LG V10’s innovative display, finish, and camera – as well as its above average sound output – combine to match the competition’s flagship models. Think of it as tweaked LG G4, a device that attracts early adopters who appreciate the type of superior engineering and advanced features that may or may not find a place in the larger market.

LG V10

LG V10

The superior features in question are the V10’s two front-facing displays (one of which is constantly active), two selfie cameras, an entirely new build material, and AKG’s in-ear headphones.

Looking past the prominent characteristics, the LG V10 has much of the same hardware as found on the LG G4, with slight upgrades to match the V10’s “geeky” spirit. The 5.7-inch QHD display (compared to the G4’s 5.5-inch) and the secondary 2.1-inch status display combine with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808, 64GB memory storage (32GB on G4), and 4GB of RAM (3GB on G4).

The LG G4’s excellent 16-megapixel rear camera returns, but the V10 has new advanced software, providing more creative options shutterbugs, while two 5-megapixel cameras adorn the front – one wide angle for group shots, the other with a narrow field of view for head shots. As with other high-end LG smartphones, the V10 has a 3000mAh battery.

Build and Design

LG V10 doesn’t look as modern as its features suggest, and with dimensions measuring 6.20 x 3.12 x 0.34 inches (159 x 79 x 8.6 mm) and weighing 6.7 ounces (192 grams), it’s one of the biggest and heaviest handsets available. Still, it leaves a credible first impression due to its detail-oriented finish, and it’s evident that this is a premium model. The LG calls the V10’s build material “Dura Guard,” and it’s essentially stainless steel covered with a chrome-oxide layer. This enables the chrome to “self-heal” surface scratches when that layer reacts with oxygen.

LG V10 camera and rear panel

LG V10 camera and rear panel

The rear battery lid is covered with Dura Skin, an elastic material akin to silicone. LG claims it’s twice as resilient to scratches as plastic and ten times more scratch resistant than aluminum. The material’s soft surface not only enables a strong grip but also helps the V10 obtain MIL-spec (MIL-STD-810G) shock protection; so you won’t have to worry about this smartphone if you drop it on the floor or if you’re out in the freezing cold. That said, the LG V10 is not waterproof, despite its rugged body.

The front side also sports the smaller secondary display, located above the main screen. Its left side has been ‘cut off’ in order to leave room for two selfie cameras, while the very top holds the phone speaker. Position and ambient lighting sensors sit right next to it. LG branding resides under the display, and all Android nav buttons are onscreen. The left and right display rims are relatively thick compared against modern smartphones.

The familiar LG control button layout rests on the back. The power button now doubles as a fingerprint reader, located between the volume keys, making LG V10 the first LG smartphone with this feature in recent memory. The rear camera’s lens is situated above the volume keys inside a large ring, which unfortunately does not provide the camera glass with any protection, as well as the dual LED flash, laser autofocus module, and the color specter sensor.

The microUSB 2.0 port is located at the bottom of the smartphone, along with the speaker and the 3.5-mm audio jack, connected to the 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC. The smartphone sports with three microphones, enabling several levels of ambient noise reduction, and supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 (charger included), which can charge up to 50 percent of the battery in just 40 minutes. Finally, the V10 ships with a fantastic set of QuadBeat headphones, tuned by AKG, a highly respectable audio company.

LG V10 side

LG V10 side

 

Display

Secondary smartphone displays are nothing new, but LG’s implementation is unique. The main 5.7-inch IPS display features 1440 x 2560 pixels, resulting in a density of 515 pixels per inch.  The second, smaller display has a 2.1-inch diagonal with a 160 x 1040 pixel resolution, and sits in the upper portion of the display, acting as an extension. Notice it’s 400 pixels less than the main screen, as its left portion is cut off to make room for the front-facing cameras.

LG V10 secondary display

LG V10 secondary display

While both displays are physically part of the same panel, they have separate controls and back-lighting systems. This makes it possible for the smaller display to act as an always-on status screen with an insignificant power drain. Due to the fact they are a part of the same panel, both displays offer identical characteristics in terms of brightness, color reproduction, and contrast.

Technically, this is the same display found on the G4, but LG V10 offers a slightly better contrast with darker black tones. The trade-off is that the LG V10 has a slightly weaker maximum brightness setting compared to LG G4. This shouldn’t bother LG V10 users in day-to-day use, as it’s only discernible when the two handsets are compared side by side.

The display is as sharp on any other on the market, thanks to its high pixel density. The colors are vibrant yet realistic instead of the overly saturated colors typically found on AMOLED displays. Contrast is great and provides a wide viewing angle, which helps mitigate the effects of direct sunlight glare.

Second Display

Here’s the defining feature. It functions as a feed with shortcuts to settings, toggles, and applications. It’s accessible with a swipe to the side, even when the display is off. It’ll also display the weather, date, and notifications by default. The secondary screen also features contextual controls for apps like the music player, and it can also be personalized to display the user’s name and a short message.

The secondary screen also functions as an excellent multitasking aid, given that it offers recently-used app shortcuts. Consider it Alt-Tab for Android. In a similar fashion, the smaller screen can also serve as a Taskbar and set to include frequently-used tools like the screenshot creator.

Performance

The LG V10 is basically a LG G4 on steroids, and LG buffed things accordingly. LG went with the Snapdragon 808, and not the 810, which might have been more appropriate for a flagship had it not given G Flex 2 owners fits with overheating issues (the 820 has since surpassed the 810). It added 4GB of RAM instead of the G4’s 3GB, and 64GB storage instead of 32GB. Rounding things out is an Adreno 418 graphic unit.

LG V10 doesn’t shatter any benchmarks, offering similar performance to top-range devices, and just slightly better than the G4. In practice, the smartphone provides an absolutely fluid performance with normal tasks, but we found the V10 takes its time rendering graphically demanding games.

Battery Life

All LG flagships have the 3000 mAh battery going back to the G2. With the V10, it doesn’t provide as much autonomy. Streaming full HD video drained the V10 after 7 hours and 15 minutes, which is a notch below average for this type of phone. We found it necessary to charge after a day and a half of regular usage

The secondary display can be turned off in order to save some power, but we found this to have a minor impact given its size.

Camera

LG G4 had one of the best cameras when it launched, and the V10 takes it a step further, upgrading it with software. It features the same 16-megapixel sensor with OIS and f/1.8 lens, as well as the so-called laser autofocus (actually infrared and not literally laser) and the ambient color sensor, enabling above-average color interpretation even in poor lighting.

The software now allows more control for elements like white balance, exposure compensation, ISO and shutter speed, while also offering complete manual focus. It also has a histogram and shoots RAW images. The two front-facing cameras each have 5 megapixels. One has an 80-degree lens, while the other is intended for group selfies with a 120-degree angle. This is cute, but not all that useful.

Photo and video quality is identical to the LG G4’s, which means it’s pretty good. It was one of the best last year, but has since been surpassed by the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

Sample Pics

LG V10 sample pic

LG V10 sample pic

Conclusion

The LG V10 is built for technology buffs who like their hardware to be both unique and different. This is a special kind of flagship, appealing almost directly to developers and the tech savvy. It’s also a pretty good smartphone in its own right, with an excellent camera, impressive performance, and a fine display.

Pros:

  • Exceptional camera and camera software
  • Secondary screen proves useful, particularly for multitasking
  • Unique and credible build materials
  • Comes with great headphones and exquisite DAC

Cons:

  • It’s big
  • Body rugged, but not waterproof
  • Battery only slightly above average
  • Chipset a bit below flagship


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