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Forget the G4 Pro, LG has rolled out a new flagship that stands as a unique addition to the market with blazing specs and a standout killer feature you won't find anywhere else. The LG V10 comes with a second ticker style screen that sits atop the main panel, while elsewhere the device pushes boundaries with its high end specs and cameras. However, the big news really is that screen, so we will start there as we get up close and personal with the V10.
Almost all smartphone manufacturers have upped their game in 2015 with their flagship devices. We think of the Chinese companies (Xiaomi, Huawei, OnePlus, etc.) and see devices that are meeting the potential those brands have been promising for years. Even Sony, struggling in recent years, has wowed us with the Xperia Z5 Premium, the first smartphone to ship with a 4K screen. Then of course there's Samsung, the company has gone to a metal design with its smartphones and also pushed boundaries with the curved displays on the Edge devices.
LG's G4 was much safer than handsets pushed out by numerous rivals, and after the hugely successful G3 felt like a disappointment. It certainly wasn't the giant leap that we had seen from other manufacturers, but the LG V10 is finally that leap. It is a smartphone that stands out and shows LG trying its hand at being innovative with that added display, clearly the company's answer to Samsung's folded technology.
We'll touch on the added strip display at the top of the handset soon, but the actual screen is worthy of mention too. It is a full on phablet device with a 5.7-inch panel, which sports a 1440 x 2560 Quad HD resolution and at this size that resolution should be popping and a pixel density of 513ppi suggests plenty of clarity.
The main talking point of the LG V10 is without a doubt that second screen that sits as a strip on top of the main viewing pane. It measures 2.1-inches and has a 160 x 1040 resolution, which is also 513ppi, but it is its features that really make it an interesting prospect. While we will have to really get to grips with the V10 over time to see if this is merely a gimmick, on the surface at least this little panel of packed pixels looks like a truly useful tool. Dare we say it, more useful than the edge display on Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones.
second screen and dual cams
This second screen can be on when the main panel is off, allowing you to see such information as the time, date, battery, and other status notifications. Think of it as the Android status bar separated when the main screen is off, while it can also be used for music controls and other basic functions. When the main screen is off the panel can be left always on and LG says it will not impact on battery life. The strip even has functionality when the main screen is on, allowing you to see notifications without having to leave a game or movie. It can also be used for shortcuts, but we get the feeling we will be learning more about this second screen for weeks to come, so a dedicated post is probably on the way.
So often we see a unique touch like this surrounded by bland specs that drive the device into mid-range territory, we only have to look at LG's original curve screened G Flex for proof of that. Luckily the V10 avoids that as it ships with flagship quality hardware. LG has opted for the six core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, a step down from the Snapdragon 810, but the same silicon the company uses in the G4.To drive the chipset there is 4GB of RAM, more than most smartphones on the market, while 64GB of native storage is also above the norm. You can boost that space with a micro SD card slot that can hold a theoretical 2TB of extra data... that's a lot of apps.
As you would expect from a tier one smartphone these days, the LG V10 is well connected, with compatibility for 4G LTE-A (Cat.6),Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC and USB 2.0. The handset will be all but guaranteed to get Android 6.0 Marshmallow at some point, while a 3000mAh battery could point to LG finally getting serious about keeping the lights on long enough to rival other flagships.
LG has decided to really get on board with the premium crowd with the V10, and that's a good thing. The Korean company knows how to do slick and good-looking, but the plastic G4 just felt wimpy next to devices like the Galaxy S6, iPhone 6, HTC One M9, and others. It is not a plastic vs. metal thing we are going for here, but there is no doubt that seeing a stainless steel frame adds class to the V10.
And class is the right word, because this handset oozes it. Sure, you may get a lump of fear to swallow if you drop this, but that metal frame and LG's elegant rear plate offerings just look fantastic. We don?t want to throw superlatives around too much because there are a lot of stunning smartphones these days, but finally LG has a flagship that is in the mix.
The company has also employed its Dura Skin covering for the rear plate, meaning this device will heal itself of scratches. This post is too brief to explain why, but from testing this on the G Flex handsets, it just works... we put it down to magic.
These days white is not white and blue is not blue, so available colors for the LG V10 look something like Space Black, Luxe White, Modern Beige, Ocean Blue and Opal Blue.
The screen is the definite talking point here, but LG has done its best to get the cameras to steal the thunder and it seems the company is trying to muscle in on market leaders in this area. The rear shooter is pretty standard for the flagship market, which is to say it is very good and loaded with goodies and features. It is a 16 megapixel lens with an aperture of f/1.8, which means it should be solid in low light conditions. Other familiar but welcome features include OIS 2.0.
Around the front things get more interesting and unique. It seems smartphone companies are in pursuit of the perfect selfie, even though it is still a spec we feel most people are not really that bothered about. We think most would prefer a stunning rear camera before even getting concerned about the front facing lens, but smartphone manufacturers think otherwise.
That is good news for us really because it means we get camera tech on the front that would have been high end in the point and shoot market just a few years ago. The LG V10 sports two 5 megapixel lenses on the front, allowing a 120 degree angle selfie and of course added depth perception. LG says you don't need to pan the camera around or use a selfie stick to get everyone in shot as the camera combines two images into one large composite.
Video tech is through the roof as the V10 is blazing a trail. It is the first smartphone to come with a manual mode for video recording. That gives you much more control of course as you can now tweak frame rate, shutter speed, white balance, ISO and focus in videos. You can grab video in HD, Full HD, and Ultra HD, while standard aspect ratio (16:9) or cinematic (21:9) are also available. There is also Multi-View Recording where all of the three cameras on the V10 record at the same time and you can choose which one to use afterwards.
Stunning with blazing specs, the V10 is LG flexing its muscles. If the G4 was a cautious step after the giant leap of the G3, the V10 is the company pushing the boundaries again. It is innovative and easily the best-looking smartphone the company has made for a long time (possibly ever). On the surface there does not seem a lot to dislike here and in a year where most companies have managed to impress, it is good to see LG up its game once more. This, if anything, proves that the G3 was not a fluke and that LG is really ready to play in the big leagues.
Ultimately though, everything we just said comes with a caveat. We have obviously not fully reviewed the handset, so any praise (no matter how glowing) should be cautious for the time being. However, unless LG has totally fudged the finished article, we think this handset is a winner.
Price and Availability
LG has announced the handset for South Korea and the United States, while the device will almost certainly go global to Asia, Latin America, and Europe. T-Mobile is the only U.S. carrier to confirm pre-orders (pre-registration is open now), although no company has revealed a price. In South Korea the V10 is the equivalent of $680, which is the normal kind of price for a flagship and should provide a ballpark figure for the global price. The V10 will land in Korea October 8th and other regions later in the month.