LG V20 is an Android phone I suggest those who insist on who has the equipment of four cornerstone function: a replaceable battery, the elaborate design manual camera control, excellent audio recording or high-fidelity headphones sound. If you don’t need this in the next a smartphone in the list of any content, and a lot of people don’t need – you’d better buy 7 Plus Google Pixel XL or iPhone.
For upwards of $800 depending on where you buy it, the V20 is priced to compete with the very best phones on the market right now. But it just doesn’t. To be clear, it’s fairly good at what LG designed it to excel at. It’s a gadget for Android nerds and checks all the boxes on high-end specs, build quality, display (yes, there’s still a tiny second screen on the front), and performance. It ditches the modularity gimmick that quickly fizzled out with the G5, and the design is a little classier and safer than the rubber-clad V10 from last year. But it’s also a very big phone — too big, honestly — with ugly software, no water resistance, and a lack of the cohesion that makes Apple and Google smartphones feel so excellent.
V20 design is a big leave, from the back of a rubber and rail V10 transformation. The phone looks very unique, but this time, LG safer. The front is a 5.7 inch QHD liquid-crystal display, the second screen in the upper right. The screen is LCD, so it’s not as punchy or saturated as the Pixel or Galaxy S7 Edge. And that’s fine, since some people dislike the exaggerated colors produced by OLED displays. But LG’s LCD isn’t as impressive or well-calibrated as the iPhone 7, and it also lacks the expanded color range that gives that phone added vibrancy. It’s fine, but feels a little average for the V20’s high cost.
My main problem with the V20’s design is the device’s sheer size. I’ve found myself doing hand gymnastics and adjusting my grip with this phone more than any other in recent memory — and I’ve got enormous hands.
It’s slightly taller (6.28 inches) and equally as wide (3.07 inches) as the iPhone 7 Plus, which is already oversized compared to the competition. It’s lighter than the iPhone, though, probably thanks to the plastic materials used at the top and bottom of the phone. The removable rear battery door is aluminum, with cutouts for a fingerprint sensor and dual-camera setup at the top. LG chose this mixed design to preserve the impressive drop endurance of the V10 and its MIL-STD-810G rating. But the result is a phone that doesn’t feel quite as sleek as other flagships or even something like the OnePlus 3. It’s also not water resistant — likely because of that swappable battery. You can feel the gap separating V20 of each part, once again, this is a used one hand chores – even with the software function, you can reduce any on the screen.
The fingerprint sensor is actually a button since it also doubles as the V20’s power button. Instead of pushing down, you can just rest your finger on it to unlock the phone, which I prefer since the button’s clickiness is pretty unsatisfying and a bit cheap. There’s no raise-to-wake for activating the display, but double-tapping it is a quick way to turn it on and off again. At the bottom is a headphone jack, speaker, and USB-C port, with volume toggles on the phone’s left side and a button on the right that releases the back shell if you want to swap batteries or add a microSD card (up to 2TB).
No one hand can comfortably hold all that power
The 2.1-inch secondary screen is brighter than last year’s. It’s where your notifications will pop up, and you can also swipe between various screens: favorite apps (up to 5), quick tools (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, flashlight, etc.), and media controls. The other two functions, signature (literally just a line of text) and recent apps, I find to be completely gimmicky. It’s just easier to use the app switcher for multitasking. You can turn off whatever second screen features you don’t find useful or just disable the whole thing to stick with the primary display. I left it, put the daily utility, such as 1 password and Authy there, but the second screen remain in the position of a completely unable to achieve, in most cases, so I rarely found himself against it. By default, when the larger screen is closed, it remain open, make the time, date and the battery status quickly scanning.
If the outside is a little bland, LG at least put flagship hardware inside the V20. It’s got a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and either 32GB or 64GB of built-in storage. LG has made a big deal about the Quad DAC system built into the V20 that’s meant to produce incredible headphone listening for audiophiles or anyone with a high-quality music library. Frankly, I didn’t notice much difference between this and Apple Lossless files played back on my iPhone. I’m sure it makes a very real difference if you’re plugging in headphones that smartphones normally struggle to drive. But the V-Moda M100s I’ve got don’t face that problem, and if you’re using Bluetooth headphones, the DAC setup won’t add anything extra; it’s only for wired connections.
One thing I like V20 are its three high AOP microphone array. LG designed system record anything from voice memos or quiet guitar practice in your bedroom to a rock concert at the site without any distortion or audio clips. And it works great. The V20’s HD Audio Recorder app handles these special recordings, and you’re able to capture at lossless, hi-res 24-bit audio quality. This microphone setup is super cool; when you’re listening back, it’s very immersive — almost like 3D audio.
The best phone if you’re that person who records everything at concerts
Rear camera is adopted in our earlier this year in the G5, see the same double lens method. The first is the standard 16000000 megapixel camera Angle, aperture to f / 1.8 (this means that it is under low light use camera), the other is a very wide Angle 8000000 megapixel camera, take the f / 2.4 aperture and smaller (1/4 inch) image sensor. You get a really cool 135-degree field of view with the wide angle lens, which lets the V20 capture shots that other phones simply can’t pull off. That’s a fantastic thing to have when traveling, for example, but gaining that unique perspective means settling for a drop in image quality. Even with the regular lens, I’d rate the V20’s photo output as good, but not at all great. Optical image stabilization helps in low light, HDR shots look good, and white balance is spot on. But colors can be oversaturated, and noise reduction is way too aggressive in some environments, giving images a weird Prisma-like oil painting effect that I’ve encountered on previous LG phones. You can eliminate that issue by shooting in RAW, but other devices like the Galaxy S7, Pixel, iPhone 7, and HTC 10 produce better out-of-camera shots without requiring expert settings.
For those who do like to take total control, LG’s camera app offers robust manual options. A standout feature from other phones is that these precise controls also extend to video; you can tell the V20 to record video (either 1080p or 4K) at a higher bitrate than normal, or even focus the microphones in a certain direction — in front of or behind the phone. It’s really fun to just mess around and play with this stuff. The V20’s video stabilization isn’t the best, but if you had a stabilizer like the DJI Osmo, I could see this being a really useful creation tool for video. You can record lossless audio alongside your video clip so that you won’t lose quality when editing later. As for the 5-megapixel selfie camera shoots at a very wide angle as well, just like Samsung’s phones, though you can switch to a closer framing that basically just crops the image. One last note about the camera: there’ve been some reports about the glass that covers the rear cameras unexpectedly cracking. That hasn’t happened with my review device, but LG does include a layer of protective film on the glass (with cutouts for the lenses) that’s surprisingly difficult to remove. It might be worth just leaving that on if you’re concerned about damage.
Back when LG announced the V20, the company made a big deal out of the fact that it’d be the first phone to ship with Android 7 Nougat out of the box. That’s true in most countries, but here in the US, Google’s own Pixel phones technically beat it onto store shelves with a newer version of Android. So much for that selling point. Sure, the V20 offers Nougat’s headlining features like split-screen multitasking, improved Doze battery management, new emoji, and bolstered security. But LG is making some very strange, poorly thought out decisions with its own Android customizations. The most baffling of those is the launcher, which completely throws away the traditional app drawer and requires you to find a spot (or folder) for every installed app somewhere on the home screen. You can set the application to recover the drawer, but it should be there from the start. The force method of trying to make the Android feel more like just don’t work, like LG and huawei company needs to stop doing it.
Elsewhere, LG’s interface changes are mostly inoffensive, but they result in a phone that feels less smooth than the Pixel. Worse still, the carrier bloatware situation is completely out of control on this device. There are over a dozen AT&T apps on my review unit, and apparently Sprint’s version of the V20 ships without some of LG’s own software. Verizon also strips out certain settings. The fact that this phone’s user experience can vary to such an unpredictable degree based on where you buy it is really, really unfortunate. Even the prices don’t make sense. How can Verizon sell this phone for $672 while AT&T wants $829?
The V20 is great for creating, but just okay as a phone
V20 the best application and can run Android game without any hiccups, but it is in other places, things become strange. As for battery life, it falls short of other phablets like the Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus, but if you’re eyeing this phone, you’ll probably have no problem carrying a spare battery in your pocket. In that case, sure, swapping batteries will get you way longer endurance than pretty much any other phone except for maybe the Moto Z Play. There’s no wireless charging, but because it supports Quick Charge 3.0, the V20 refills very quickly when plugged in.
LG V20 just didn’t play my tag. I am a big fan of the audio recording function and mobile phone, but after more than a week and the wide Angle camera is still one of my favorite things – and no other. I’ve been using a Pixel XL alongside this and LG’s effort just doesn’t match up. Google’s first phone reminds us of the wonderful complete package that’s possible from a company with unified control over everything. The V20 can’t do that, so instead it tries to appeal to power users with specialized hardware and, yes, some lingering gimmicks. I think it’s possible for LG to pull that off with focus, precision, and a rethinking of software. This phone isn’t that, but if those niche functions it does well fit your needs, there’s not anything else quite like it.