News by Josh Dasey on Thursday March 10, 2016.
|Sponsored links, if any, appear in green.|
All the buzz is currently around LG's interesting and somewhat innovative G5 flagship, and rightly so. However, the Korean company has another device that fits the same billing as the G5, and it too is of flagship quality. The LG V10, the quirky and massive phablet that landed late last year is now receiving Android 6.0 Marshmallow.South Korea, Turkey, and other countries are now starting to receive the upgrade, bringing the V10 up to software version V20b, LG's own naming that will include the Marshmallow deployment. That means the dual camera packing device now gets Doze Mode, Direct Share, app permissions, new Silent Mode, app settings, and automatic brightness adjustment. LG has updated some of its own features too, like Knock Code, which can now handle as many as 6 screen taps in at least 3 corners of the screen. LG has been employing a pretty solid Marshmallow upgrade program so far and has already updated both the G4 and G3 former flagships, as well as the G Stylo.
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. 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.
Josh is our European editor, tackling news events, reviews, and new items from his UK home. As a former HTC marketing employee, Josh is close to the industry and bring his experience to MobileBurn.