The LG Velvet is my favourite handset the company has launched in years, and it’s not even a flagship device. Everything from the design to its pink colour and responsive performance makes the Velvet a pleasure to use. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t even close to flawless, but it might be the perfect smartphone for some Canadians given its reasonable price tag.
Keep in mind that the Velvet features a mid-range Snapdragon 765G processor, which technically means it shouldn’t be compared to flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy S20, Motorola Edge+ or even LG’s V60 Dual Screen, but in Canada, there’s currently no device like it — yet the Pixel 5 will reportedly feature the same mid-range 5G processor.
At Freedom Mobile, you can get the Velvet for $600 CAD outright. In an industry saturated with a variety of high-end devices at sometimes alarming prices, it’s nice to see a future-proof smartphone with a huge screen at such a low cost.
Overall, the Velvet offers a surprising amount of bang for your buck, especially in the context of the Canadian smartphone market.
On Wednesdays we wear pink
Colours aren’t something I usually dive too deep into, but LG’s Velvet comes in an ‘Illusion Sunset’ hue that is essentially fancy marketing for ‘shiny pink.’ First of all, a pink phone isn’t something you come across often, and I love it because it’s unique and pretty. On top of the shiny pink, in the light, the phone sometimes changes to yellow, orange and somehow, even green.
To be fair, other smartphones come in fun colours as well. For example, you can get Samsung’s Note 10+ in ‘Aura Glow,’ and ‘Interstellar Glow’ on the OnePlus 8 is awesome, but the Velvet is a pink phone — and though there was a ‘Not Pink’ Pixel 3, it was as the name says, really not that pink. I think the point is, even at this handset’s most boring with no light shining on it, the device is still the prettiest shade of pink.
The only real downside to the back of the Velvet is it’s a fingerprint magnet.
In Canada, the Velvet is also available in ‘Aurora Grey,’ but as you may have already guessed, it isn’t as fun as ‘Illusion Sunset.’
Trying something different
I’m a fan of the new design elements that LG added to the Velvet. Since the LG G7, the company hasn’t made many drastic changes to the design of its smartphones. We’ve seen slightly bigger displays, a smaller notch and flat cameras, sure, but the Velvet features a new aspect ratio and for the first time, a curved display — and I love curved screens.
A curved display doesn’t make or break a device for me, but I stand by it improving the experience when watching content. I find that curved screens feel more immersive when using a video app like Netflix or YouTube that takes advantage of the full screen. Some apps, however, are unable to expand to the full 20.5:9 aspect ratio, and in those cases, the immersive feeling disappears.
The Velvet also features a U-shaped notch. While I prefer hole-punch displays since they make the device look more modern, notches keep the cost of the phone down. Plus, above the notch, there’s a loudspeaker.
On the bottom, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C port and another loudspeaker. Looking on the left side, there’s the two-button volume rocker and below that is the Google Assistant button. This might be a small case of user error, but I constantly press the Assistant button accidentally. I typically never have this issue on other devices, though I think it’s because the Velvet’s button might be a bit too low.
The right side features the power button that’s at the same height as the lower volume key.
Flipping the phone to the back reveals its ‘waterfall’ camera setup, which wouldn’t be very impressive several years ago, but because of the huge camera modules now on most smartphones, in comparison, the small array is probably the best-looking and most elegant shooter setup available on any handset this year.
I especially like that the two bottom sensors sit flush and don’t protrude from the glass. It would have been nice if all three of the shooters were the same, but you could make the argument that it adds something extra to the phone’s style.
The Velvet has a 6.8-inch display and measures in at 167.2 x 74.1 x 7.9mm, which makes it not a small phone by any means. With that said, I’m constantly afraid of dropping the device, plus it doesn’t fit in a lot of my pockets, which is an impressive feat.
The Velvet has a 6.8-inch screen and aside from its size and curve, the display isn’t particularly impressive.
It’s undeniably a nice screen that looks fine as long as you don’t compare it side-by-side with high-end devices like the Galaxy S20, LG G8 or OnePlus 8 Pro. There are just better panels on-the-market.
That said, the colours are accurate, blacks are dark enough, there’s a decent amount of contrast, and I enjoy watching content on it. It also has great viewing angles. What’s amiss with the Velvet is the display’s 60Hz refresh rate. After using devices like the Pixel 4, OnePlus 8, and S20 series, it’s hard to go back to a 60Hz refresh rate smartphone. A higher refresh rate results in smoother motion when scrolling, swiping and gaming
You don’t typically find smartphones that are not flagships with higher refresh rates though, so this is something I’ll have to forgive.
This is my first experience with Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 765G processor and I’m quite impressed with it. I don’t typically do anything too intensive on my smartphones. I’m usually browsing Instagram, swiping right on Tinder, watching YouTube videos and Netflix while I’m at the gym, occasionally writing articles, and lately, I’ve been playing Limbo.
With all the above activities, I haven’t run into any slowdown or any major performance concerns. I’ve seen reports of other people encountering a snag or two, but in my experience, the phone runs well.
Limbo isn’t exactly a graphically intensive game, but I can play it for half an hour straight and the device doesn’t even warm up. And with 6GB of RAM, the device can keep around 10-15 apps opened at a time without closing any.
The highlight of the Snapdragon 765G is its 5G capabilities, but given I’m in Canada where there have so far only been initial and limited 5G network launches, this isn’t something I could test out. The Snapdragon 765G is more future-proofing the device for when we can truly utilize the benefits of 5G in a few years. It’s worth noting that the Velvet’s status bar said I was on 5G despite Koodo not offering the next-generation wireless technology on its network.
I’ve reached out to LG to find out why the phone indicates its on a 5G network when it really isn’t.
While the Velvet is pretty quick, its fingerprint sensor is not. For an optical sensor, I find it takes longer to unlock the phone than the OnePlus, Samsung and Huawei devices.
I don’t find the Velvet’s battery that spectacular either. I often have to charge the Velvet near the end of a day, with me starting work at 10am and needing to charge roughly 12-hours later.
The LG Velvet’s camera setup is in the shape of a waterfall, according to the South Korean company. While it’s pretty, it’s camera capabilities aren’t as good as the setup looks.
I thought the pictures were quite over-saturated in some situations. Similar to companies like Samsung, Huawei and TCL, LG offers optimization that changes saturation, highlights and more depending on what you’re looking at. It effectively makes the sky bluer and the grass greener.
Unfortunately, similar to other LG phones, the device doesn’t handle image detail very well. Instead, it over sharpens objects like leaves and grass. Even when taking a picture overlooking Riverdale Park in Toronto, the trees look like badly painted artwork. I also snapped a couple of images of a poodle and one looked good. In the other photo, the dog’s hair appeared a bit blurry and unfocused despite the dog being completely still — “what a good boy.”
What the Velvet does do well is taking pictures with a great sense of depth, and it does this thanks to a sensor specifically dedicated to depth.
The Velvet also has a night mode for low-light pictures that allows you to adjust the brightness. I thought this worked well if I found just the perfect amount of brightness. That said, companies like Google and Huawei do low-light better as the process is more automatic, making it easier for the user.
These pictures aren’t bad by any means, but recently released phones like the Pixel 4a, for example, do a far better job.
Though you can say this with every camera, I thought it was really worth mentioning here. With selfies, lighting is key and that goes especially for the LG Velvet. With natural lighting outdoors, I thought the Velvet took a decent selfie, it showcased accurate colours, even on my black skin as well as a satisfactory amount of detail. Switching to indoors; however, on my black skin, I thought there was a bit too much of a highlight and depending on the darkness in the room colour accuracy is definitely not perfect.
As someone who loves to take selfies, I would typically just switch to my Pixel 4. But since everyone doesn’t have that choice, really take note of your lighting.
Pretty and affordable too
You can get the LG Velvet as low as $600 in Canada (at Freedom Mobile and Eastlink) and honestly, it might be worth it.
To put the price in perspective, the Samsung Galaxy A71 costs about $600 as well and sports similar specs, although the Velvet is more future-proof with its Snapdragon 765 processor compared to the A71’s Snapdragon 730 chipset. If you compare it to the Pixel 4a, that device has a price tag of $479, but if you’re someone who likes bigger displays, and the 5G-ready chipset, the Velvet might be the choice (there’s a Pixel 4a 5G coming that will cost $679). Both A71 and Pixel 4a sport better cameras than the Velvet, though.
The Velvet is not the best upper mid-range device on the market but is by far the most stylish thanks to its pretty pink rear and its reasonable price tag.
"The Velvet is not the best upper mid-range device on the market, but is by far the most stylish"