The V30 is LG’s latest flagship device that is supposed to be a no-compromise phone for media lovers. It’s supposedly packed with high-quality DAC for excellent audio and a wide aperture camera for capturing the most stunning photos possible. The question is, is that really the case due to the release of the device being delayed a bit causing it to have competitors such as the Google Pixel XL 2 and the new iPhone X?
Before we start, I want to make sure I give a huge shout out to the folks over at Verizon Wireless for sending this device over. I’ve been working with them for a while now and they always take care of me with the latest mobile devices such as the Moto Z2 Play, Moto Z2 Force, and the Google Pixel XL 2 which I’ll be reviewing shortly after this review is done. Without them these reviews wouldn’t be possible here at TechDissected.
The V30 is the best designed LG phone I’ve ever used and trust me, I’ve used quite a few of them over the years. It’s the perfect mix of high-end metal and glass, sporting curves in all the right places. It spells the end in LG’s transformation from making unattractive devices; the leather LG G4, anyone?; to ones that are gimmick-free.
Like all the best flagships in 2017, the V30 slims down the bezel surrounding the display and pushes that screen out as far as possible. The corners of the screen are rounded, but the display doesn’t curve in the way of the Samsung Galaxy S8. This means the device is a tad wider, but still surprisingly manageable to grip considering the 6-inch screen.
The LG V30 feels great in the hand, but unnervingly light. I’m sure that there will be many that like this, but I’m not so sure; I like my phones to have a little heft, but not an excessive amount. Tap the rear of the V30 and it feels hollow, something you don’t get with an iPhone 8 or Note 8.
However, in terms of the LG V30’s design, this is really the only negative in my opinion. Elsewhere, it’s IP67-rated for water-resistance; it retains the headphone jack; and its fingerprint scanner sits in the right place; below the cameras on the back. That scanner also doubles as the lock button; and it’s one of the fastest I’ve tried.
For me the headphone jack doesn’t really matter as I’m not one of those that claim to have the best ears in the world and claim to hear raw music better than what it’s even made. I just want audio and often times I want that through headphones, regardless if they are Bluetooth/Wireless or via a wired source. The LG V30 also has a USB-C port for charging which is becoming standard on most new devices now days which is quite nice.
This is the first LG flagship to swap an LCD panel for an OLED one since the days of those weird Flex phones. LG makes some of the best OLED panels for TVs, so you’d assume its smaller versions would be equally as good. Annoyingly, they’re not. The screen isn’t terrible, but it’s comfortably the weakest part of the phone.
Detail isn’t the issue: the quad-HD resolution ensures pixels are impossible to spot. However, colors often come across slightly off. Whites are muddy, and it’s virtually impossible to watch HDR/Dolby Vision content on Netflix because it’s far too dark. Viewing angles, too, are poor; tilt the device to the side and you’ll be met with a blue tinge.
Use the LG V30 and you’ll quickly realize that we’ve been spoiled by the Super AMOLEDs in Samsung devices. LG’s OLEDs, called POLED (that P is for plastic), just aren’t as good. It’s the same panel type that let the Pixel 2 XL down. People often conclude that OLED is always better than an LCD, but viewing the V30’s display, I’d have been happier with the iPhone 8 Plus’ screen; which is LED.
Following the blueprint set by the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone X, the V30 stretches the display out to the corners, reducing the distracting bezel. As a result, the V30 has an 18:9 aspect-ratio as opposed to the typical 16:9. The panel is taller, which means it’s great for reading and multitasking, but less so for video. In YouTube, for example, there will be chunky black bars sitting either side of the video.
Overall I’d say the display on the LG V30 is mediocre at best and there are plenty of other devices that have a better display that are in the same price range, if not even cheaper with the same quality of build style. It’s a shame that this is the case as I really enjoy the feel of the device itself, but the display just doesn’t do it for me personally.
While I might have been a bit disappointed in the display on the LG V30, it’s the performance of the device that really wins me back in a lot of ways. The combination of the Snapdragon 835 and a total of 4GB of RAM packs quite a punch and really allows the device to do what it wants and needs to do and it does it pretty damn fast for the most part.
If you’re a gamer, then the LG V30 is a device you’ll appreciate as it runs games without dropping frames and there’s not a single app on the Play Store that I personally use that gives the LG V30 any kind of trouble at all. Everything just works and runs the way a mobile device should.
LG’s skinned version of Android doesn’t even slow the device down. This normally isn’t the case as these versions of Android often tend to run a bit slower than your stock Android devices in various ways but the LG V30 seems to avoid that.
On first putting the V30 through its paces, I assumed Quad DAC would prove a novelty feature, something that would make my Spotify streams sound marginally better. Actually, it goes beyond this; it’s my single favorite feature of this phone. Listening to music on the V30 is a joy, unmatched by any Samsung or iPhone device.
Even without enlisting super-expensive headphones, it makes a difference. Bass is well managed, there’s plenty of detail and everything sounds crisp. Make the leap up to a Tidal Hi-Fi stream and a decent pair of headphones, and it gets even better. It’s a shame then that the speaker isn’t up to par. It’s a measly mono, down-firing unit that easily becomes blocked when you’re watching a video. Dual front-facing speakers would have definitely set the LG V30 apart from all other devices in the sound quality department, but unfortunately it falls a bit flat. Still very pleasant and enjoyable to listen to and better than most other devices that are available today.
LG has once again stuck with a dual-camera array for the V30, with a 16-megapixel unit and a wide-angle 13-megapixel camera. I’ve spoken to lots of people who adore this option, but I’d settle for a telephoto lens and a sleek portrait mode over it any day.
The 16-megapixel main sensor has a very wide f/1.6 aperture and a lens that’s actually made from glass, rather than plastic. As you’d expect, then, it takes very good photos. Can it match the iPhone 8 Plus and Pixel 2 XL? In my opinion, no. Photos captured with the V30 are bright, sharp, with noise heavily reduced in all situations. I wouldn’t even rank it in the top 5 when it comes to photo quality of the high end flagship devices of today.
However, they’re not quite as colorful as the competition. Images are often oddly muted, and the heavy sharpening during post-processing makes close-up macro shots of detailed objects look very artificial. Having said that, the majority of shots taken with the LG V30 look excellent. That super-wide aperture lets a heap of light into the sensor, resulting in a nice silky blurry background effect without the need to engage any extra modes.
Low light images is where most devices struggle and this is where the LG V30 is slightly better than other flagship devices of 2017. The photos you take in low light are often bright and the light sources aren’t completely overexposed, but there is still quite a bit of noise that remains on the darker areas of the photos. Though in all honesty, and this is something I’ll mention in the review of the Google Pixel XL 2, it tends to do the same thing.
The front camera isn’t really something I use. I’m not like my fiancee who loves to use the filters in Snapchat or post Instagram selfies and things like that, so therefore I don’t test the front camera too much. With that said however, and I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but the front camera on the LG V30 is quite horrible. It of course lacks OIS(optical image stabilization) as well as the wider f/1.6 aperture since it’s got a f/1.9 aperture.
There are a number of cinematic effects that initially sound gimmicky, but are surprisingly fun and the results good. Pair an effect with the Point Zoom feature; this lets you focus on an object and smoothly zoom towards it; and you can record some fun little videos.
This is the first time the LG V series that the battery isn’t user-replaceable. This of course will disappoint some folks, but the reality is that we’re moving away from replaceable batteries more and more and eventually it’s going to be super rare to find a device that has such a feature. For now, LG has opted with a 3,300mAh battery whihc is about the norm for most devices these days it seems.
With the LG V30 I can average 4 – 5 hours of screen-on time which isn’t too bad. It’s not as good as other devices, but it’s much better than a lot of devices. Streaming Netflix for an hour will consume 10% – 13% of your battery and that’s with the screen brightness at 60% and doing it over Wi-Fi. Listening to my favorite tunes via Spotify with the screen turned off for the same amount of time only drained the battery about 7% which isn’t too terribly bad.
The good thing about the LG V30 is it does include Qi Wireless charging and that’s going to be important to a lot of people. I love the fact that I can just place my device on a pad on my desk and let it charge. I don’t have to worry about plugging it up and then dealing with the cable if/when I want/need to look at my device or anything similar. I can simply grab it off the charger and walk away if I needed to.
The LG V30 is a well built device that has a lot of great features, but then it has quite a few things that for me personally I just don’t care about or that don’t provide a better result than other phones in its price range.
If you’re one of the die hard LG fans, then $800 for this device might be the choice for you. If you’re a Verizon customer, then you can get it for about $35.00 per month for 24 months which isn’t too terribly bad. Though it only comes in one color and only comes in a 64GB storage model, so that too might not be what you’re in the market for.
That’s going to wrap it up for the LG V30 review but stay tuned as I will be doing a review of the Google Pixel XL 2 over the next week or so and I’m sure that’s something all of you are interested in hearing my thoughts about.