LG is planning a major update for its next conventional smartphone, but before getting there, the company decided to launch another entry in its heavy V series, the V60 ThinQ. With advanced manual camera controls, a hi-fi headset and cutting-edge specifications, these phones have always been geared towards technology enthusiasts.
This year, LG is lowering the price of Samsung’s Galaxy S20 – the Android standard bearer for 2020 – while still trying to put many updates on the V60. It features a Snapdragon 865 processor with 5G connectivity and is capable of recording video at 8K. You can equip the V60 with a second monitor (with the optional Dual Screen case) for unmatched multitasking. Microsoft’s Surface Duo is due to arrive later this year and will boost the dual-monitor phone concept, but LG is already on its third try with the V60.
But the V60 lacks some of the features that are increasingly common on “flagship” Android devices in 2020. There is no smooth 90Hz or 120Hz display; LG prefers the traditional 60Hz panel with no frills. Its panels are easy to see and thicker than those found on a Samsung or OnePlus. As other high-end devices move up to 12 GB of RAM (and beyond), LG is being a little conservative with 8 GB of memory. And despite continuous improvement, the Dual Screen accessory never really unlocks its full potential: the big selling point is still the basic and basic ability to run different applications side by side at the same time. But LG’s features – a good camera, excellent audio for headphones and high-level performance – are still represented in the V60. The price is somewhat dispersed, with the phone itself costing $ 800 (T-Mobile) or about $ 900 with the Dual Screen from Verizon and AT&T. Either way, you have a $ 999 tag price on the S20.
The V60 only makes a lot (doubly, if you get the dual screen) that, in a vacuum, it’s hard not to be impressed. The battery life is impressive and is an excellent option for the type of person who will use all the tricks that this phone has in their arsenal. If that is not your case, there are several reasons to look at Samsung or OnePlus.
Fair warning: however, even people familiar with LG’s previous efforts will be surprised by the size of the V60. This is a big phone and a horn. At 6.67 inches tall and 3.06 inches wide, it is somehow even bigger than the Galaxy S20 Ultra and doesn’t pay much attention to ergonomics. it is possible using the V60 with one hand, but doing so is an exercise discouraged in finger gymnastics and grip adjustments. The beveled aluminum rails offer a secure grip on the phone, which has a 6.8 inch flat screen and an angled glass back. Toggles the volume and a non-remapable Google Assistant shortcut button occupies the left side, with the power button on the right. The V60 comes with 128 GB of storage, but supports microSD expansion.
At the bottom, you’ll find a speaker (which doubles with the headset for stereo output), USB-C port and a headphone jack, which also includes LG’s excellent 32-bit DAC for music playback with audiophile level – if you have the right headphones to make the most of it. LG receives my praise both for keeping the jack close by and for offering a listening experience that can rival dedicated hi-fi audio players. Listening to high-resolution tracks on Amazon Music HD with my Sennheiser headphones made me appreciate LG’s mission to preserve the headset, even when everyone else moved on.
The V60 comes in white (with silver edges) or navy blue, which has a golden frame. For me, there is no debate to be done: the blue V60 is a shock to the phone. White, meanwhile, is forgettable. LG uses an optical fingerprint scanner on the display on the V60, and my success rate was mixed, inconsistent and worse than the readers I used on the Samsung and OnePlus phones. This is one of those cases where I miss the old and more reliable rear fingerprint sensors. (The V60 does not have a Face ID equivalent like the G8 ThinQ did.)
The V60 screen is a beautiful 2460 x 1080 OLED panel with a small teardrop notch that houses the front camera. As I mentioned earlier, LG was unable to scrape frames to the same extent as other companies. Some will find the black edges ugly; others will be grateful to avoid accidental pressure – an occasional frustration that affects curved screens with almost nonexistent panels. The brightness, color vibration, contrast and viewing angles are perfectly satisfactory, if a step or two below the best Samsung phone is displayed.
But the lack of a smooth refresh rate of 90Hz or 120Hz is noticeable and became even more obvious when you switch between the V60 and something like the Galaxy S20 or the Pixel 4 XL. Not everyone cares, and I think LG made this switch partly because driving two 90Hz or 1440p displays would present a challenge. Still, I would like the option to exist at least for the main phone. For me, this is the most striking disadvantage of the V60 when compared to the competition in 2020. It offers a ton of power, but it seems stuck – as if it hasn’t received the entire upgrade checklist – by the same scroll as ever.
So the screen is a little disappointing, but there is something good about it. Limiting the screen to 60Hz and a modest resolution, combined with a huge 5,000 mAh battery, helps the V60 achieve fantastic battery life. I was able to keep the V60 running well until the second day of frequent use. This resistance only applies when using the phone alone, however, since activating the Dual Screen case reduces battery longevity by 20 to 30%.
During my review period, the Snapdragon 865 chipset performed flawlessly, with the V60 chewing on any task I did. Wi-Fi 6 is supported and the V60 can extract 5G data on T-Mobile and AT&T, although only Verizon is selling a version that works with 5G ultra-fast (but very limited) millimeter wave.
Like the G8x, the V60’s dual screen connects via USB-C. There is a small magnetic adapter that fits on the bottom of the case, if you want to connect to charge while connected, although fast wireless charging is the most convenient option in this scenario. The secondary screen is an exact match to the main screen, with the same resolution and even the notch cutout. (It is literally the same part of the panel, which, according to LG, helps to reduce costs and preserve color uniformity.)
The most common use case for the dual screen is the simplest: two applications at the same time. This is the best Zoom phone, let me say. You can chat with your colleagues about Zoom on one screen and see the cute pets on Instagram with the other. Want to browse Twitter while watching Netflix, YouTube or Prime Video? It has on. After we all leave again, I know that the V60 will make it easier to monitor Uber or Lyft while writing an email at the same time. And that makes it easier to listen to music on YouTube while doing something else on the main screen. Everything is admittedly superfluous, but I still felt really enjoying the flexibility at times.
LG optimizes some of its own applications for Dual Screen. When you take a photo with the camera and tap to view the photo, it appears on the secondary screen, so the camera application remains open and ready for more pictures. You can use the V60 as a mini laptop or portable game console, with the entire bottom screen serving as a keyboard or gamepad. You can also extend a small number of applications (including some from Google, such as Maps, Gmail and Chrome) on both screens at the same time, but I’ve never found this very useful. The difference in the middle is very difficult to ignore. LG, now in its third Dual Screen release, has not made much progress and is leaving Microsoft a grand opening to show everyone what an Android device with two monitors really can be. But remember, you can always disconnect the robust and heavy Dual Screen case when you don’t need these multitasking powers. Points for versatility, I suppose.
The rear dual camera system offers good results, with the 64MP main sensor (pixel with bin up to 16MP) capable of capturing a lot of dynamic range and details. LG started the ultra-wide trend, which is what the second 13MP camera is for. As is the norm, it is a little softer than the main one. The third “lens” is only a flight time sensor for depth data, so the V60 has no portrait or optical zoom lens in its repertoire. But I was very pleased with the color processing, nice depth of field and overall LG camera output. The company is using a larger sensor this year, which explains some of these improvements. If the V60 has a weakness, it is the night mode, which does not meet the standard that Apple, Google and Huawei have set. Video recording is also solid – LG offers more manual control over settings and bit rates than most Android phones – although the 8K is just a silly exaggeration at the moment. You can’t even edit 8K of footage on the device, so what does that say to you? Stay with 4K or 1080p and the V60 still stands out, second only to Apple in video quality.
You can always count on LG to launch a very strange camera feature, and this time, it’s 3D photos. If you’ve seen one of these on Facebook, you know what to expect. You take a picture and the V60 uses detailed information to create the illusion that the focused object is changing as you move the phone. I took two of those photos and then completely ignored the 3D photos. A nicer and more important touch about the camera is that, in most lighting conditions, the viewfinder is displayed at 60fps. It doesn’t really bring any benefits, but now that I’ve tasted it, I want that smoothness of the camera on any other phone.
LG’s software remains a messy bag. Some of them are good, like the excellent camera app, which has all the manual controls you could ever want and useful tools like peak focus. The audio recorder app is also best in class. I even had a good experience with LG Pay (happened to have one of the some cards currently supported), which can trick payment terminals into thinking that you stole a real credit card with a magnetic stripe – just like Samsung Pay.
Other corners of the software experience seem to have been abandoned. The icons and overall appearance appear out of date (even after a recent update). And somehow, even so, in the year 2020, the LG app launcher can’t keep apps organized alphabetically. Whenever you install a new application or game, you need to sort the list again. We will. Switching to a third-party launcher means losing Android 10 gesture navigation and none of them are optimized for secondary display. The software’s embarrassing decisions extend to the dual screen, which is treated as its own home screen, which makes perfect sense, but also has its own app drawer, instead of just mirroring the main phone, which makes no sense.
And then there’s bloatware. LG isn’t selling an unlocked version of the V60 in the U.S., so you’re at the mercy of Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile – and that’s not pretty. After setting up your phone, you’ll find at least five or six games you don’t want and a handful of operator apps that can’t be completely uninstalled. The Verizon V60 constantly presented me with a “useful” device health notification that encouraged me to restart the phone and clear the memory cache. These are unnecessary and annoying distractions that people don’t really have to worry about.
One of the most radical advantages of the V60 is the proper pen support. If you buy a Wacom pen, you will have a pressure sensitivity similar to the Galaxy Note to draw. There is an optional slide shortcut bar, where you can quickly start writing a new note, write down what’s on the screen and access other tricks. LG doesn’t have its own pen like Samsung’s S-Pen or a slot to carry one, but what’s here is quite useful and, again, speaks of the V60’s versatility.
I should say everything about the V60 being a stick for every job I’m finishing on the pen holder. This phone offers a tonne for $ 800 – even if you run out of the dual screen. He is an artist on fire, the battery life could be the best for any phone in 2020 so far and has excellent audio for headphones. But I really wish LG had done more with the giant screen. I can support the frames well, but the high-update screens are already becoming bets at this price in the Android world. If I’m sacrificing comfort and ergonomics, the screen better be amazing. And I’m willing to pay a few hundred extra dollars for that.
Photograph by Chris Welch / The Verge
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