LG V20 review: Inconsistent greatness

lg v20 back - rogers bell selling lg v20

The Pros

  • Useful secondary display and vibrant main display
  • Premium design
  • Impressive wide-angle dual-camera setup
  • Groundbreaking audio experience

The Cons

  • Inconsistent performance for camera & other large apps
  • Slow boot time
  • Not waterproof
  • Tendency to slightly overheat

This is it. LG’s big opportunity.

With the iPhone 7 deemed unimaginative by many and Samsung’s popular Note 7 recalled for battery explosion issues, this could be the perfect moment for LG to take to the mobile world by storm with a capable, well-designed premium device.

Thankfully for the company, the timing is right and it has the perfect handset to offer — at least on paper.

The LG V20, the company’s latest smartphone release, demands attention by claiming to be the ultimate multimedia phone, stocking the world’s first 32-bit Hi-Fi digital-to-analog converter (DAC) in a mobile handset and two rear-facing cameras. The former takes aim at an improved wired headphone experience, while the latter provides super wide-angle shots.

Additionally, the phone features a secondary display in the form of an always-on ticker above the main display — exactly the kind of frill that those enticed by Samsung’s sloped edges or Apple’s generally cutting-edge design might enjoy. Americans have already had the chance to become accustomed to this feature with the V10, but for Canadians, it’ll be brand new, as the V20’s predecessor never made it here.

But while all this sounds like it may lead to a 2016 LG comeback tour, there is one essential question keening for an answer: can the device stand under the weight of its own expectations and perform?

I spent two weeks, and used two pre-production versions of the handset, to find out.

Specs

  • Quad-core (2×2.15 GHz Kryo & 2×1.6 GHz Kro) Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 CPU
  • Adreno 530 GPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB internal storage with up to 2TB of expandable UFS ROM/microSD storage
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 5.7-inch QHD IPS Quantum display 2560 x 1440 pixels resolution, 513 ppi
  • Secondary display: IPS Quantum display 160 x 1040 pixel resolution, 513 ppi
  • 7 x 78.1 x 7.7mm
  • 174 grams
  • 16 megapixel rear camera with f/1.8 aperture and OIS (75-degree lens), as well as 8-megapixel rear camera with f/2.4 aperture (135-degree lens)
  • 5-megapixel front camera with f/1.9 aperture (120-degree lens)
  • Removable 3,200 mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
  • USB Type-C
  • 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC
  • Rear finger print scanner

Unsteady footing

lgv20-7

One of the main selling points of the LG V20 is its dual rear-facing camera setup.

The pair features a 16 megapixel shooter with a f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization (OIS) and a 75-degree lens, as well as an 8 megapixel shooter with a f/2.4 aperture and 135-degree lenses respectively.

The camera setup also makes use of 2x optical zoom and hybrid auto-focus (which integrates laser detection, phase detection and contrast auto focus). Together, the duo is capable of taking professional-grade photos.

However, the conditions need to be right. I found that in mid to low light, the photos suffered from blur and a granulated appearance, at least while auto shooting — though, overall, the low-light shooting still operates at a fairly high-level for a mobile device. While definition might be soft, it’s possible to take intelligible snaps even in a darkened bar.

Much more impressive is the wide angle feature. It provides unique and interesting photos with a slight fish-eye look that give you the extremely satisfying feeling of fully capturing all that you can see. In fact, it’s actually capable of capturing more than you can see.

Unfortunately, the camera package that was meant to be one of the leading aspects of this phone also brought with it an unsettling bug that plagued much of my time with the phone. The camera app on my handset had a tendency to crash — a lot.

Obviously, this isn’t ideal. So much of a camera’s usefulness is down to how quickly it can launch and shoot. A full shut down is a setback that could easily cause you to miss that magic moment.

There are a few things to note here, though. The first is that other reviewers that used pre-production models of the LG V20 didn’t seem to experience this malfunction.

lgv20-12

The second is that it was not a consistent issue. There were sessions with the camera in which it crashed repeatedly, at almost every open, and there were sessions when try as I might I could not make it crash.

Lastly, it’s important to remember, of course, that it’s a pre-production device, which means a fix can and hopefully will be found before units hit the shelves.

Having said all that, LG was still confident enough in these devices to send them out to reviewers, so I consider it only fair to make mention of a bug that seriously affected my enjoyment of the camera.

lgv20-6

Wanting to get to the bottom of things, I explored the crash error using logcat. It pointed towards an issue between the LG camera app and what appeared to be the Android media server. Beyond this, I wasn’t able to deduce much.

I reached out to LG and they notified me that they believed they had a software update that would fix the issue, which they would deliver with a new handset. I have only tested the new handset for mere hours, and the issue seems to be resolved, but I will update this article if the problem returns.

While this aspect of the camera was disappointing, when it worked there was much to be impressed by. For instance, the device takes astounding 4K video. With the help of Qualcomm’s development, the V20 offers electronic image stabilization (EIS) 3.0 technology that the company says reduces sync latency to 50 milliseconds. This means your shaky hands are a lot less likely to ruin a video. If you take the experiment to its furthest extent and shake your hands intensely, it does look a bit strange — like something in your video is moving, not the camera — but it’s still more professional than the alternative.

To round out the camera package, there’s the 5 megapixel front-facing camera, with its 120-degree lens and f/1.9 aperture. I appreciated the ability to take wide-angle selfies, which helped me get a shot with all my theoretical friends.

Looks good up close

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Despite being a little hefty and large in size, the V20 somehow manages to feel just right in the hand. When I first picked it up, in fact, I noted that it felt light. In fact, it comes in at a sturdy 174 grams — which is in the middle between the iPhone 7 Plus’ 188 grams and the Note 7’s 169 grams. It is, however, longer and wider than both, so perhaps that contributed to an overall feeling of well-proportioned balance.

Adding to this experience is the matte metal body. It feels premium, and has a minimal, elegant look that I love, though it must be said that my co-workers had a very different reaction upon seeing the first photos of the device. One stated that it looked plastic and cheap from afar. Their mind changed, however, when they got a chance to actually hold it.

As for the more practical elements of the design, the V20 has a rear-facing fingerprint sensor, which is positioned slightly high for those with small hands. On the bottom, there’s a USB-C port for charging, a grill for the main speaker and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. There is also a prominent camera bump at the back, holding the device’s dual camera setup.

One design feature that makes the V20 unique in the premium handset space is the fact that its metal back is easily removable by pressing a small button on the side. This reveals a consumer-friendly removable battery and the SIM and microSD card slot. A minor irritant is that the phone is not dual SIM, and it’s a bit of a hassle to swap out SIMs, considering you must first take out the battery. Another notable downside of this configuration is that the phone is not water resistant.

Additionally, like any beautiful metal body, it often feels hot — even if the actual temperature of the device is not unreasonably high.

Double the fun

lgv20-1

The arrival of the V20 in Canada marks the debut of LG’s ‘secondary display’ in the country. I was unsure of the feature at first, feeling it was perhaps just a tweaked version of Samsung’s Edge (which I’ve never found useful). However, I ended up finding it extremely convenient.

The secondary display has three sections. One features five quick tools, which can include sound profile, camera, flashlight and Wi-Fi. Another holds five apps, which can be anything downloaded on your phone, and can be quickly shuffled simply by holding and dragging them down from the secondary display, on to the main display or vice versa. The last section features your name in stylized font, and rolling notifications. For those who are certain they won’t like the secondary display regardless of its features, rest assured that it can be switched off if desired.

As for the main 5.7-inch QHD IPS 1440 x 2560-pixel quantum display, it’s bright and richly coloured, adding to a premium look that puts it in contention with the top devices on the market now. For instance, the Note 7’s screen is also 1440 x 2560 pixels, while the iPhone 7 Plus has an IPS LCD screen that runs 1080 x 1920 pixel.

The Note 7, however, is Super AMOLED, allowing it to execute its secondary display differently. While the V20’s secondary display must actually be separate, the Note 7’s can simply turn off certain pixels and keep others on. As interesting as that sounds, in my opinion the V20’s system simply works faster and better.

Almost there…

lgv20-5

The handset runs a pretty standard configuration for a 2016 high-end flagship device. Built within the phone is a Snapdragon 820 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage (expandable up to 2TB) and support for X12 LTE.

In theory, this should be more than enough to let the V20 handle the majority of computing tasks – and much of the time, it was snappy and worked superbly. At other points, however, the phone struggled with tasks that should have been easy. Google Maps and Apple Music, in particular, would crash even when the phone wasn’t carrying a heavy load of open apps. Apple Music, interestingly enough, also seems to operate using the media server mentioned in the camera section above.

This issue seemed to be fixed upon testing the new, software updated LG V20 provided to me but I still found the performance to be slightly laggy when it comes to heavy processing apps. Again, I’ll be sure to update if the apps begin quitting once more.

The device also takes an unusually long time to boot up – about 25 seconds to a screen where you must enter your PIN, and 35 seconds to fully booted and operational. I tested the Note 7 and iPhone 7 in comparison, and the former took a little over 30 seconds, while the latter was up and running at about 20 seconds. This issue was unchanged with the arrival of the new pre-production model.

Similarly, the phone sometimes took more than one second to turn on from locked, giving the device a very sluggish feeling.

My other main issue with the handset’s performance was a semi-frequent false rejection rate from the fingerprint sensor, along with some periods of complete unresponsiveness. This too seemed repaired with the new device.

Pitch perfect

lgv20-10

Another large selling point for the V20 is its audio experience. The device stocks the mobile world’s first 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC, which provides excellent quality sound through wired headphones. For reference, I used my Bose QC15 set.

While the quality is certainly better than on any other smartphone I’ve come across – articulated and deep – I will also note that for non-audiophiles, the improvement over other high-end phones will be difficult to notice and appreciate, at least at first. Once your ears get used to the quality of sound coming from the V20, however, going back to another Android and iOS device is disappointing. They just can’t measure up.

lgv20-2

The device’s exterior speaker performed well, managing to play sounds at top volume without coming off tinny, though the experience would’ve been improved had the speaker been front-facing and not situated at the base, where it could be easily muffled.

Once again, as has been my experience with many recent Android devices, it was difficult to reliably hear people when taking calls, forcing me to don my headphones in any location that wasn’t silent.

The HD 24-bit audio recording is magnificent. Three AOP microphones ensure a professional level sound recording that brings voices to the forefront, but can also pick up beautifully articulated background noise when taking atmospheric videos.

Removable battery for the win

lgv20-9

The phone has a 3,200 mAh battery which all in all performed well. With my moderate to heavy use — about two hours of data browsing, four of Wi-Fi browsing, 30 minutes of calling and up to five hours of Wi-Fi music streaming — I was able to eke out a day and a half of up time on average from the handset, occasionally two full days.

Charging was also impressively swift. One session saw the device charge in an hour and ten minutes, while the average seemed to be about an hour and a half. Another large benefit is the fact that the battery is removable, making it easy to replace if and when it burns out.

Unfortunately, it might not take long for the battery to degrade, as heat, the natural enemy of strong battery life, was an issue. The device peaked at 46 degrees Celsius while charging, and frequently spiked to around 40 degrees. The flaw can be fixed with the purchase of a new battery, admittedly, but you’ll likely have to spend a few dollars to do so.

Not quite stock

lgv20-14

The fact that the LG V20 will likely be the first device to ship to Canada preloaded with Android 7.0 Nougat is a big benefit, but LG’s UX 5.0+ skin is far from stock Android. Having said that, with a little tweaking, you can get it fairly close — if that’s the sort of thing that matters to you.

For instance, the phone comes out of the box without an app drawer, and you’ll have to get into settings to download it. Additionally, though it comes preloaded with Google Now (and is also the first phone to feature Google’s in-app search function), you won’t be able to get to it by swiping right on your screen. Instead, you can enable an LG stand-in for the service in settings, which it calls Smart Bulletin. The feature is understandable a lot more limited than Google Now, but still useful.

Though the skin seemed strange to me at first, after customizing it I came to mostly enjoy the user experience. There were many other small features I found useful, as well, including a quick setting for ‘Mini View,’ which shrinks the display to allow for one-handed use and the ability to knock twice on the screen to wake it up.

It makes sense to compare the V20 against Samsung’s Note 7. Both are premium, plus-sized Androids. What’s interesting is that from the start LG seems to have set its sights on the iPhone, as well. From launching a day before the iPhone 7 was announced, to using iPhone 6S’ prominently in their comparisons during the unveiling event, LG seems to be making a strong statement about its most recent flagship: that this is a world-class device capable of drawing in even long-time Apple fans.

So how does it compare to the other two top-tier contenders?

Design-wise, well. It’s lighter than the iPhone 7 Plus, and has a larger display by .2 inches, though it is also wider. It’s thinner than the Note 7, and less of a fingerprint magnet due to its matte metal body, though some will say the fact that it can be mistaken for plastic is a major design detractor. To me, the biggest flaw is that its competitors are waterproof, while the V20 makes no such claim.

The battery life is comparable with the added bonus of removability, while the audio surpasses what’s on offer with the iPhone 7 Plus and Note 7. The camera also compares well, with its wide-angle shooting abilities – yet it’s tendency to crash makes me hesitant to fully recommend it.

The same question arises when it comes to performance. Generally, it worked just as quickly as the Note 7 and iPhone 7, and the specs are comparable — the Note 7 features a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of Ram, and the iPhone 7 Plus has an Apple A10 Fusion processor backed up by 3GB of RAM. The inconsistent performance, however, truly degraded the experience.

Can it compete?

The LG V20 is in many ways an amazing phone. It has everything it needs -- premium design, fantastic camera, leading audio quality and even an interesting future-forward always-on display feature. However, even if my experience with the camera bug is set aside, its inconsistent processing performance (including painfully slow boot time) likely mean that this isn’t the device will catapult LG into Samsung and Apple’s realm. Those aren’t gigantic issues by a long shot, but when it comes to operating at the level of those powerhouses, they matter.

However, depending on the price, which hasn’t been released yet, and under the hope that the bugs I experienced will be fixed, it would be easy to recommend this as a boundary-pushing device with much to offer a tech-savvy Android power-user.

As mentioned above, the two devices I review were pre-production units. Once MobileSyrup receives a production unit, we will update our review accordingly.

"The LG V20 is in many ways an amazing phone. It has everything it needs - premium design, fantastic camera, leading audio quality and even an interesting future-forward always-on display feature"

Comments

  • Rose

    This was a really interesting device to review, eager to hear everybody’s questions and comments!

    • Thanks for the review. It seems like the biggest cons for now can be and hopefully are fixed with a software update when it’s finally released. Doubtful the camera crashing will be an issue by launch, but inconsistent performance isn’t something unusual on LG phones I’ve used so I’m hoping it’s a non-issue with the SD 820 when it’s released or at least something that doesn’t bother me as much as when my G3 or G4 really bogs down.

      I just wish LG opted for a bigger battery. If I could get a 4,000 or 5,000 mAh battery with a grippy or textured back, this phone would be perfect. Right now, the Moto Z Play is very appealing with its much lower price tag and battery that apparently lasts for days. I do really like LG’s UX, though. A lot. And I’m interested in seeing how much has changed and improved with Nougat.

      You should use your journalist powers to nudge LG and tell them that they should strongly consider an extended battery option for this phone for power users. =D

    • Rose

      Glad you enjoyed it Marcus. I promise I will use all the powers I have to advocate for bigger batteries, though for what it’s worth I don’t think I have a lot of sway. 😉

    • Terry Yau

      Typo:leading audio quality “an” even…

    • Rose

      Thanks!

    • Terry Yau

      I just learnt a new word from you. “Don”, didn’t know what it was.

    • Terry Yau

      “The device’s exterior speaker”…If I’m not mistaken, the speaker you’re referring to is not external to the phone; it’s built-in. Also, it’s not housed on the exterior of the phone. As such, it’s the built-in, internal speaker. You can classify it as the external-facing speaker though (internal-facing speaker on a phone wouldn’t make any sense, of course).

      The review seems to be a bit thin on the DAC (thinking of the audiophile and semi-critical mobile listeners targeted user-based), and the display panel characteristics (as you mentioned the phone aims as being the “ultimate multimedia phone”). More detail is required from the what you “see” and “hear” experience. (colour space, colour reproduction, outdoor visibility, auto-brightness behaviour…)

    • Rose

      Interesting, I hadn’t realized that my phrasing could be interpreted like that. Thanks for letting me know. What would you like to further know about the DAC, for reference?

    • Jared Crandall

      How would you compare the 3.5mm HTC m10 versus lgv20?
      Great review. Thanks!

  • Kevin_Lee

    Please proofread the review.

    The specifications state 7 inch display and not 5.7 inch display, which is what the V20 has. The sound portion indicates a 32-bit AC and not DAC.

    Besides that, the phone is going to be niche. Large with specific features targeting an audience that may or may not want them, particularly the DAC and amp. I don’t know many audio enthusiasts who just use their phone amp for sound outside of convenience. The question is how well the rest of the phone will measure up when compared to its rivals. You need very expensive headphones to take advantage of the LG V20 and Beats is not going to be one of those to use.

    • Patrick O’Rourke

      All the typos have been fixed, thanks for pointing them out 🙂

    • Rose

      Hi Kevin, thanks for finding those typos. Always appreciate it. I assure you we did proofread the review — sometimes these things slip through.

      Personally, I agree with your points. I think this’ll be niche, unfortunately for LG.

    • Kevin_Lee

      I think it would have been nice if the phone was smaller.

      That said, there is likely technical reasons why it is so big. The camera system takes up space which either requires the phone to get thicker or taller. The second display also contributes to that as well as the 4 DACs throughout the phone. More powerful amps also require more power to push out to more powerful, higher impedance headphones.

      LG is onto something with the V lineup of phones. They just need to make them smaller and cut certain corners while still retaining overall quality and most of the capability.

    • Rose

      Absolutely! There was so much I loved about it. And even with my small hands, it really was well enough designed to feel good in the hand.

    • Gregory Weatherhead

      Well smaller you have the G5, I am one of those people who prefer larger, my fingers are about 6 inches, lots more people like me. you look at Samsung 5 inch 5.5 and 5.7 the market is catering for people with different preferences . The reviews never entice me to purchase ,I chech the specs and know what I am looking for as some of these reviews are bias.

    • I feel like the G5 was meant to the have the second screen, but then they scrapped it. That phone has an unnecessarily large forehead that seems as if it could easily fit the second screen. Maybe the G6?

      Personally, I’m all for the larger size of this phone. Coming from the G3 and G4, I want a bigger screen and the added height doesn’t bother me since it’s mostly coming from the extra screen on top of the main display and won’t affect the usage of the phone so long as it feels balanced.

    • Laslo

      Please proof read again, quite a number of wrong words making some sentences difficult to read.

      One major Pro you don’t have in your final summary is “Replaceable Battery” which in today’s world is major.

    • Rose

      Hey Laslo, you’re right it is a pro — but considering many replace their phone in one or two years just due to the advancement of technology, I don’t really consider it a major one. It’s also a contributing factor to the phone not being water resistant, which is a large con.

    • knighthawk

      Replaceable battery is as much a pro as it’s drawback, lack of water resistance, is a con.

      If that doesn’t make sense, I guess I mean that if a phone isn’t water resistant, that’s a con, but at least it has the decency to have a removable battery (thus being a pro)

      Plus it takes well less than two years, maybe even as little as a few months for me to be looking for a new battery/have a backup

    • Internaational

      I disagree. It’s a major “Pro”.

      I carry a spare with me at all times and love being able to swap out a fully charged pack instead of waiting to charge. It means my charging time is about 30 seconds instead of the hour and a half it takes for fast charging. It also means that I don’t have to find an outlet if I’m on the road for business or on a bike ride. I also don’t have to sit with my phone in an external charger. And on top of all that, I can replace my battery when it inevitably degrades.

      It’s the reason I’m interested in the phone. More so than the cameras, DAC and everything else. It’s a key differentiator.

    • Julien Bouchard

      My s5 is water resistant and yet has a replaceable battery so maybe you should not assume this?

    • Terry Yau

      On the verge me sounding annoying: “Replaceable” can sound ambiguous (a matter of perspective). Replaceable / serviceable can mean from the manufacturer’s perspective; they can replace it, at a cost. To be precise, it is “User-replaceable battery”.

    • Sunil Raj

      A B&O headset is part of the package

    • tyger11

      Only in some markets.

    • And most likely not the US. I’m okay with that since I use BT. I do hate that I’m paying for features that I won’t use, though.

  • BishieAddict

    Lol @the phrase about theoretical friends.

    • Rose

      I have soooo many of those.

    • That was funny to include. Nice writing style.

  • TomsDisqusted

    Don’t think ‘Slow boot time’ deserves its own ‘con’ bullet item, especially when there is already ‘inconsistent performance’.

    The only time my Android reboots is when updating the firmware.

    • Rose

      I understand where you’re coming from — I could’ve bundle them into one overall comment on performance, but on the other hand they’re also two separate but important issues.

      I had to reboot the V20 quite a bit because to switch out SIM cards for travel I had to take out the battery.

    • Slow boot times is actually an issue if you’re someone like me who takes advantage of the removable battery to swap in fresh ones to stay powered throughout the day.

    • Internaational

      Yeah. the boot time on my V10 for marshmallow was soooo much slower than it was on Lollipop. It was noticable, but manageable. Still made my “charging” time less than a minute to get to 100%.

    • mwake

      Oh wow… I was told to reboot phone once a day by phone shop staff to clear the phone memory… Have things changed?

    • TomsDisqusted

      Never heard tha before. I suggest you only reboot it if you see a noticable problem, eg. slowing down or some flakiness.

    • noh1bvisas

      i was told that, too. i don’t do it everyday, but most days.

  • noh1bvisas

    Rose, if you have tried the ZTE Axon 7 how would you compare the two?

    • Rose

      I have tried the ZTE Axon 7! (Review: https://mobilesyrup.com/2016/09/06/zte-axon-7-review-cant-quite-kill-the-flagship-killer/) That’s a really interesting question. V20 looks and feels better despite being the bigger handset — the physical design of the Axon 7 was awkward in the hand. The audio features and camera are also leaps and bounds ahead. However, what I will say for the Axon 7 is that it’s performance was reliably zippy and OS was closer to stock right off the bat. Using the Axon 7 was an easier, more seamless experience in many ways. Considering the price differential, too, it almost feels safer to recommend — but when the V20 is operating at peak performance, there can be no comparison. That being said, my new pre-prod version is much improved, though I’m still experiencing a few hiccups. Within a week or so I’ll publish a more conclusive update!

    • noh1bvisas

      thanks! i’ve got 3 phones on my ‘short list’ right now. the v20, 1+3 and the axon 7. of course, nothing is known about the pricing on the v20. currently using a g3.

    • David Martrano

      The price is 830.00 plus tax. Sounds like 900.00 big ones!!!

    • noh1bvisas

      the v20 is off my list. given that i heard the g3 is getting nougat, i’m going to stick with my g3.

    • Balls

      I can chime in about the Axon 7 if you’ll hear me. Despite a couple of quirky software choices (nothing an app or two couldn’t fix) I’ve found the device to be great.) I wouldn’t say it is awkward in the hand, but that is my personal take.

      The phone comes with it’s own, grippy, clear case so that helps should you choose to use it. I was very comfortable with the OPO’s sandstone back, and so I thought I’d have issue with the all-metal body. However, after a few days of regular use it has become quiet comfortable to hold and use (I chose not to use the clear case.) Performance is indeed snappy; nary a hiccup. I have found the camera, both photos and videos, to be fantastic during the day. Lower light performance isn’t as strong obviously but by no means is it terrible.

      The front-facing speakers are great. With headphones on (senheisser hd25 II’s) the sound is fantastic. Battery life is also fantastic, easily getting a day of use and most times can push it to a day and a half (browsing, some video during work commute, streaming music.)

      When looking for a newer phone I was on the fence between the Axon7 and OP3. Either one is a solid choice. I went with the Axon7, and haven’t looked back.

    • noh1bvisas

      i got the v20 1.5 days ago. the maini drawback with the Axon was lack of wifi calling support. it’s a “must have” feature for me.

    • Graham Davidson

      Hey Rose, quick question, what led you to the opinion that the V20’s audio was leaps and bounds ahead of the Axon 7? Both feature 32 bit DACs (afaik) and the dual front facing speaks on the Axon would certainly seem to give it the advantage as a media consumption device, at least until the headphones come on. I’m guessing it sounded better to you in day to day usage?

    • Mister E…

      The ZTE Axon 7 has the exact same processor and amount of memory – there shouldn’t be a significant difference in performance between the two.

      In terms of audio, I highly doubt the V20 is “leaps and bounds” better. The Axon 7 camera, despite the many negative reviews, isn’t as bad as it’s been made out to be either.

      The Axon 7 (along with OnePlus, etc.) only proves that a flagship device can be quite affordable and not require people to get locked into 2 year, overpriced provider contracts for subsidized devices.

      I’m very happy with my Axon 7 – one of the best deals in a long time. I honestly don’t see myself going back to the “big” brands again if the competition stays this affordable and keeps this kind of quality.

  • John W

    Interesting about the Camera, my wife’s G5 has no issues like that. Hopefully it is just a pre production bug of some sort.

    • John W

      Also, thanks for the detail on the 2nd screen! excellent review.

    • Rose

      Thanks John! There’ll be an update when I’ve had more time with the updated pre-production unit I received, and a comparison with the production model as well in the future.

  • Max Fireman

    Because of Samsung’s floundering of the Note 7, I am perplexed at the lax of urgency releasing the device in North America. There are many users eagerly awaiting to dumb the Note 7 because of the battery issues plaguing the model and most want to jump ship to LG. Myself included…. Any day now LG

    • noh1bvisas

      i agree. i wouldn’t have picked the note 7, anyway, but it does seem like a missed opportunity. 10/21/2016 is the official release date for the v20.

    • knighthawk

      Jeez that’s a long time to tease this phone. By then I’ll want the V30

    • noh1bvisas

      LOL. yeah, it does seem like a long time between announcement and availability. i don’t thnk anyone could have predicted the samsung debacle.

    • David Martrano

      I still don’t know why there waiting so long!!

    • noh1bvisas

      maybe they are embarrassed by the price. i’m embarrassed for them. $830?!?

  • Tim3Tripp3r

    Rose, Overall I liked the review but I thought it odd that you didn’t mention the fact that it’s MIL-STD-810G certified. Though not water proof the MIL spec mentioned means that if you drop your new baby on the floor it should survive it to play another day.
    I’ve never owned a LG smartphone but am very interested in this one, I hope that the price is not to over the top in CAD. At least the Koreans got a nice set of B&O earphones thrown in with the initial introduction. Would be nice if the Canadian carriers got on with who is selling it and the price point.

    • Rose

      Thanks Tim, that’s a good point. There’s so much to talk about with this phone that it was hard to fit it all in. I will make sure to mention this in any updates.

      As for price and availability, I know. The suspense is killing me.

  • Joe Marrow

    I am an owner of LG’s initial foray into producing a hybrid phone of sorts; last years (2015) LG V10. Like I’m sure other folks have experienced a myriad of other phones….I’ve had my share of them….all brands…(but only android) …tons of models….I’ve sampled things from HTC…to nexus…to Samsung’s… To…Motorola… To sony, etc etc….had Samsung’s galaxies S2-S7’s….(I’ll rock my S4 from time to time)….but my purpose here is to say…..with all the probable 50+ phones I’ve rocked…..to me…i hit “paydirt”….struck gold… with the V10. To me and about 47 others that i know who also rock V10’s….this phone (V10)…is literally …unflappably unbeatable. While waiting for the “true” accounts of the supposed successor… the V20….and “thinking” it’d break not just follow the footsteps of our V10….to us…unfortunately… the V20…falls short. So far..living with this V10….is like living with a living one-off masterpiece…. Of a phone device. It’s like LG made a “one-off” Ferrari, Lamborghini, aston martin…..and just haven’t figured out how to truly surpass what they did…once before (the V10). Thescratchis such a “sleeper” of a phone device….its actually incredible. While a lot of folks criticized for example the rubbery back cover, its actually in genious, a Godsend…in that…if it were metal like the V20…if it fell, got bumped… There goes “the look/esthetics”…as dents will pop in…even in a ladies purse, a guys pocket, etc…. And heat wise…shucks…no overheating issues at all. Plus…this back is beyond durable… Its actually absorbs shocks, …seemingly re-directs energy away from….what..???….oh my!!!…not one…but 2..as in two layers of gorilla glass 4..!! (Note G4 glass…as the later G5 glass.. Has been proven to be less capable than its Gorilla glass 4 predecessor!!!… especially in scratch tests)… So a V10 phone with dual layers, plus the “duraskin” back…makes a V10 almost indestructible. And being water resistant..???…. Who really cares?… Even if a sony or Samsung phone is….who realistically purposefully dunks a phone or doesn’t take care to try and keep it dry?…. Water resistance in phones is the least worry I’d have. But… The V10 is also beautiful…. With its bold, cool stainless steel exposed on both sides like a slick auto. (And it’s inner framework is comprised of stainless steel as well)!!…. The camera (video/photo) is beyond excellent, no freezing, crashing…. Super customizable settings, the audio on it was groundbreaking as well, the 2nd screen is a beyond wonderful idea… Super useful…. 4gb ram/64gb out of the box….and i got a free 200gb sd card with it and a spare battery…. Plus headsets…. So what the “brain” ..processor is model no. 808…and not 820…like later produced phones….its still blazingly fast.. No lags, no freezes….just pure phone bliss. Being a V10 user coming up on a year this November…. a V20….or so far…nothing else on the upcoming bills…will surpass the super phone LG made in their 1st “V” series offering. the V10……is truly the super and (“sleeper”) phone every manufacturer has to beat/topple. No I-phone…no sammy G7 edge, regular or note….no HTC..no nothing beats a V10…. to date. True reviews may not see my point of view about a V10…but…if you get one, use it….for say 3+ weeks…. You’ll know then…..u have a serious “diamond in the rough”….of a phone. LG’s V10….is a masterpiece…..IEgyptian they built an Egyptian pyramid… That in today’s world can not be rebuilt!!!!

  • JMG

    The note 7 has far more inconsistent performance,it lags quite often. But i hope LG fix these small issues before it hit shelfs.

    • PsiPhiDan

      Yeah, I highly doubt the V20 has worse performance. In fact, I’ve read the opposite in every single other review for this phone.

    • Rose

      I hope so too! That wasn’t my personal experience, though, and of course I had to reflect that. But I really hope the issues are remedied with a production model because otherwise it’s a fantastic device. I’ll also be publishing an update soon regarding the software updated pre-prod model.

  • nokye

    Still no Canadian pricing or release date? Geeze LG

  • Vacuumboots87

    Everything about this phone, I am about, as a dude with fairly large hands and an equal desire for a phone with a larger screen (nexus 5 feels small now..), I think one con would be this seemingly endless trickle of news bits and pieces while, when in the bloody @*£#! Is this going to be available? And why not now when it’s the perfect time to seize the spotlight from Samsung and Apple.
    My only concern, which is undermined by my love for removable battery, is water resistance. I’d probably look into a lifeproof/water proof case whenever I planned id be outside of the typical office work day. Stoked though. Fair article. Oddly enough I quite like the photos provided as samples. October for Americans, November/December for us canucks? I need it now!!!

  • Kristopher Meyer

    Your writing on the fingerprint sensor is interesting considering I had the same issues with the V10 here in the states. It was so bad I used a pin instead. I bought the G5 on the day of its release and the sensor is amazing on this phone! Very rarely does hang and that’s when I have a side loaded app crashing. The audio sounded great on the V10 with a standard pair of headphones although I enjoy Bluetooth headphones more often. And with the emphasis on audio I agree they should have installed dual front facing speakers to go along with that overall experience.

  • Zmeg2222

    Thanks for the extensive review, to bad it was a per-release
    unit. Can’t wait to see your production unit opinions. Wish your Headline was Inconsistent per-production greatness!

  • SamsaraGuru

    For future articles, may I suggest that before you pan something and claim it as an actual fault – i. e. the fact that the camera app “crashes repeatedly – only to say two seconds later that later, updated models with updated software didn’t report this, that you state the truth first, then tell us about your personal, limited experience using a older version.

    I stopped reading at that point. I don’t like to have to waste time undoing the misconceptions that writers throw in just so they can appear to be warning us.

    • Rose

      I just told the truth, which is all I could do. There are a few reviews of this LG V20 pre-production unit out now, and LG sent the units out for this purpose — to use, and review. I think I was very thorough when it came to investigation of the issue, and simply followed the chronological order of events. I will also be publishing accounts of the updated model and production unit, but amongst other glowing reviews of the pre-production LG V20 on the internet, I felt it was only fair to give my account. Other than my notable issues, as I’ve said, I love the device.

    • SamsaraGuru

      And, I think you did do a thorough job, my problem was with the order with which you presented your own findings as gospel and only later qualified them with the fact that no one else you knew of had the apparently unique problems you had experienced.

      I am not saying that you should not have mentioned your problems experienced, but simply wish you had done a better job setting things up in a more logical way that reflected a broader perspective.

      And yes, you were wonderfully thorough.

      I used to write articles for a major Android site and appreciate how hard it can be.

  • dirtyKIMCHI

    One thing that this review fails to mention is that this is one of the first handsets to support Band 66 LTE, as in WIND’s future LTE network. Obviously Rose cannot test this as of yet, but it is worth noting nonetheless.

    • Rose

      Good point, will make mention of this in the future.

    • noh1bvisas

      the v20 will also support tmobile’s highspeed 256QAM (i asked tmobile about this).

  • JD

    The phone aside. I have to say Rose Is a refreshing reviewer. Skills with logcat and the facts nothing but the facts is a great 180 from the others that either gush over iThings or bash everything. Keep up the good work

    • Rose

      Thanks JD!

  • Stephane

    What I find troubling is that this seems to be the second LG device with issues. A lot of people (including me) complain about the sluggishness of the Nexus 5x. The camera on the 5x has also been plagued with unresponsiveness / crashes. This points to a much deeper issue. Either the drivers are very poor quality or even worst, hardware design issues! And it doesn’t seem like LG is able to address those issues..

  • Crossed

    good review, I really liked your take. Although I think you placed too much emphasis on the boot time (who cares?).

    • Rose

      Thanks, appreciate it.

      Yeah, perhaps not as important to others, but to me it is. I frequently travel and need to pop the battery to get to the SIM slot, and also often run my battery to zero.

    • Battery swappers care. But battery swappers don’t have a choice anyway so it then becomes a non-issue.

  • Daniel A Kistler

    Why would you give a negative preview on a phone that obviously had some issues…..Why don’t you get a phone with no problem’s so you can give a correct review?

  • korbindallis

    looks like LG did not give any word on pricing, also I see no B&O branding on the unit so guess no B&O headphones in the packaging

    • noh1bvisas

      the US version does not get the b&o branding or tuning. the reviews of the h3 earbuds being included with the asian model (no word on the US model) are uniformly bad “sounds great, but they fall apart, not durable). i hope they don’t include – and charge – for them.

  • E.J

    Very strange that you almost don’t mention the military grade protection of the screen and the phone from falls. Actually, as nice as water protection sounds, the main reason for the phone replacements is falls and cracks of the screen (and by a HUGE margin), so putting “marketing” and “brainwash” aside, most users should actually be more concerned about falls rather than water damage – in which area V20 exceeds everyone else, except for the special models… (Galaxy Active).

    To be honest, comparing your review with others – AndroidAuthority for example, shows too much prejudice in your approach….

    Also, emphasising some lags and crashes in a pre-production model leave me wondering what is the driving force behind this review… Especially when you compare this model for final production models of iPhone and Samsung…

    Just my humble opinion, without trying to troll or insult anyone.

    • noh1bvisas

      i’ve watched quite a few reviews of the v20 on youtube. nobody else has mentioned these problems.

  • Latvietis

    Nice review, but yet again… not one word about GPS 🙁 I’m so pissed about fact, that 99.99% reviews dont say anything about gps performance. Its third most important thing for me in smartphone (after user replecable batterry and loudspekaer(s) quality.

    • noh1bvisas

      what is it you want to know about the gps? google it 😉

    • Ximplify It

      Based specs,it supports: A-GPS, Glonass. A-GPS enables faster searching and locking of satellites. Glonass is Russia satellite. I emailed LG support and was told it also have BDS. BDS stands for BeiDou navigation System, it is China’s satellite, still in dev.
      GPS is also a very important factor for me. I have used GPS Test on both Note 7 and LG V20 in the comfort of my house, logged on time are similarly fast, accuracy are same, and the signal level of the strongest satellite is similar but there are times when Note 7 registered more satellites, not really relevant for me. My main concern is due to the removable battery. In Note3, as the antenna is on the cover, GPS sometimes get weaker and lost over time and I had to open up and tighten the screws and the connectors. Hope it will be different on LG V20.

  • jay

    there are a lot phones on the market but not so many good phones. i like the style and is like LG listen to us geeks and put all in what we want. for me a phone to get when i am on the market for a new phone.

  • Omar

    Kudos to LG for not following suite and actually putting a better DAC in their phones rather than removing the headphone jack (looking at you, Motorola).

    I think I would rather have a removable battery than waterproofing… Which seems more practical to everyday use? AFAIK (correct me if I’m wrong) you can’t have both.

    The cons of the review may be due to the device being a preproduction version, which means this might just be one of the best smartphones available.

    I really hope this can push LG back into the race.

    But I’m even more scared about the price now lol..

  • Darknut

    I find it a little silly you focused so much on that crashing bug, as opposed to the camera performance. Another issue, if you’re shooting in low light you need to use manual mode. You can shoot landscapes in the darkest night and have them turn out phenomenal. This is the true strength of LG’s camera. The manual mode even allows you to take limited astrophotography images.

  • knighthawk

    As for the pros and cons it seems like a couple things come to mind as a V10 user

    Seems like it’s enjoyably lighter. V10 is sometimes hard to hold with one hand with the thumb on the bottom and middle finger on the top. Part of that is that it’s so tall but also just a lot of weight to grip

    The DAC honestly sounds like a marketing gimmick. I had an LG g3 with a bum headphone jack and didn’t even notice for the longest time because I’m always on bluetooth. DAC doesn’t help you there. If I’m really looking to go premium audio I would be hooking up my laptop to the home theater system through a digital input.

    LG’s get hot. G3 got hot, v10 gets hot. I’m not surprised the v20 does too but I am surprised you got that much battery life

    Boot time seems like an irrelevant con. Phone is usually on, and I can’t think of many times I need to restart in a pinch or being in a circumstance where someone would be impatient over 7 seconds when they’re already waiting 30

    Lastly, I would assume some camera software will come along to take advantage of this thing. Of course it would require root but it’s a pretty steady android theme to have immaculate hardware and bog it down with software

    Thanks for the review though. I’m gonna keep this v10 a while and maybe pull the trigger on the v20 if and when more kinks arise and hopefully get figured out

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  • DukeOfS

    Rose — have you had a chance to use the 2x optical zoom? Your review is the first real review I’ve read where this feature is mentioned.

  • mwake

    Thanks for the review Rose. I’m torn between this phone and HTC 10. Which phone has better performance and sound in your opinion?

  • Tim3Tripp3r

    FWIW B&H Photo in the USA has now listed the V20 for $799.99 (US Dollars of course), the go live date for pre order is Oct 17th.
    Unknown shipping date at this point in time.
    P.S. Free shipping to Canada.

  • steve bronfman

    How is boot time unusually long if it’s exactly in between it’s two nearest competitors?

  • wargamer1969

    Replacing my Note 7 with the V20 when it releases next week. Cause the iPhone is a big no and the Pixel XL has no sd card and looks too much like an iPhone on the front.

  • John Paul

    When is this going to be available in Canada?

  • Osokthedevil

    I wish it was in Canada sooner and with more carriers like Telus. I would pick up this phone to replace my Nexus 6P

  • Dimitri

    ” Tendency to slightly overheat”

    This happens on all electronic devices. Maybe include that in all of your reviews.. No matter what electronic system you get, they all do this. Even the iPhone 7 Plus does and so do all the smartphones now. Even TV’s doe which have fans and ventilation holes on them..

    Also it seems like a great device overall but sadly the major carriers won’t get it.

    • EP_2012

      Heat does not mean overheat. All electronic devices can heat up, but very few should overheat – that’s what causes thermal throttling, degrades battery life and results in batteries bursting into flames (i.e Note 7).

      No device should overheat.

  • EP_2012

    “The camera setup also makes use of 2x optical zoom”

    I’m not sure about that… it has a regular lens and wide-angle, but not a zoom lens like on the iPhone 7.

  • Ximplify It

    For your info, Dual-SIM is region specific, not LG V20 issue. In fact, I am posting using LG V20 Dual-SIM edition. The beauty of LG V20 is that its 2nd SIM is NOT shared with the SD Slot (unlike Note7)! This means that there are total of 3 slots that you can use at the same time! ????

  • Cruze

    I’m sorry was one of her complaints boot time?? Boot time? As in how long it takes the phone to start up? That’s one of her major complaints? We’re talking about boot time!

    • Omerta

      I agree, The author seems inclined to promote seemingly mild issues of the phone. Sounds to me like a paid article to downgrade LG V20.
      Removable battery, Expandable memory, Quad DAC, Fast charging, $750 price and freedom to customize OS. LG V20 rocks !!!
      I rest my case

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  • Jean-Philippe Larouche

    While I enjoy MobileSyrup for all Canadian tech related news (best site out there for that purpose), you guys really need to step up your reviews. They are simply poorly executed. I have read a few and they always seem to focus on irrelevant and negative aspects. For example in this review 80% of the camera section is just complaining about the camera app crashing, a bug that is not found on the production model. Then you state the specs and voila, camera reviewed ?? For the Boot time, not only is this fixed but very irrelevant in the sense practically nobody reboots their devices and it is no way of measuring a devices performance. The biggest problem is you say at the end of the review that said review will be updated with the device officially released and if/when the bugs are fixed. Something you guys obviously failed to do. Plus you link all new articles about the V20 to this review, very inaccurate and unprofessional.

    You guys have lost some of my respect and faith in your content.

    • Rose Behar

      Hey Jean-Philippe, thanks for this comment — I appreciate you reaching out. We’re doing a revisit now. I take your comments into consideration as to my focus points, however, I’d also like to point that in the current mobile market, devices are generally very similar, varying in relatively small ways. It’s therefore important for me to get into the details and scrutinize small elements of the experience, which might be considered nitpicking. It’s a tightrope I have to walk, and I hope to manage that task better in every new review than the last. Thanks again for your comment, and your kind words.

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