LG has a problem. Despite some great products, it continues to play second fiddle to fellow Korean giant Samsung. This is particularly true with phones. Last year’s G5 wasn’t a bad flagship, but LG’s modular approach made too many compromises in areas that really mattered, like materials and build quality. The result was a gimmicky handset that barely improved upon its predecessor, the excellent G4. Consumers voted with their wallets, and the G5 flopped. There’s a lot riding on the G6. Among tech journalists, we like to joke that LG’s even-numbered flagships are the best ones, so does the G6 live up to our expectations? Is LG back in the game? More importantly, is this a phone worth buying? Find out in our full review.
Note: The G6 LG loaned us is a pre-production unit. While the hardware is optimized for the US market, the software isn’t completely final. As such, we’ll update this review as needed once we receive a final production device.
We’re not going to mince words here — and yes, this is subjective — but we think the G6 is absolutely gorgeous. Finally (and for the first time), LG gives us what we’ve long been asking for: an uncompromised, refined, full metal and glass flagship — a premium design that can take Apple and Samsung head-on. There’s no painted metal here, no modular gimmicks (yes, we’re looking at you, G5). No plastics, even (hello G4). The G6 is made of a machined and chamfered aluminum frame with seamless antenna bands, sandwiched between two sheets of Gorilla Glass. It’s also water and dust resistant (IP68 and MIL-STD-810G rated).
Our review unit is particularly stunning in white (and gold), but there’s also a black (and gunmetal) model, and a platinum (and silver) version that’s more blue-ish grey. Unfortunately, the white color won’t be available from US carriers, so you’ll probably have to wait for the unlocked version to drop or import a foreign model. Either way, the G6 looks fantastic. It’s thoroughly modern — classy and restrained, without being boring or bland. And thanks to slightly curved rear edges and 2.5D glass in the back, it just feels great in hand.
But what really distinguishes the G6 from other flagships is that 5.7-inch screen, which covers 80% of the front area and features an 18:9 (ie. 2:1) aspect ratio and rounded corners. In fact, the design reminds us of the beautiful LG Arena, circa 2009. That aspect ratio means LG can fit two perfect squares (or apps) side-by-side within the display’s footprint, for better multitasking. This also makes the G6 relatively small (and quite narrow) for its screen size, at just 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9mm (5.86 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches). Still, at 163g (5.75oz), it weighs about the same as the Pixel XL, which exudes substance, and is backed up by impeccable build quality.
Taking a tour of the handset, there’s a headphone jack (hurray!) and secondary mic on top, a metal volume rocker on the left side, a nano-SIM and microSD tray on the right edge, and a USB Type-C connector, speaker, and primary mic at the bottom. In front, you’ll find a 5MP selfie camera, light and proximity sensors, and the earpiece (with a matching gold grille) above that imposing display along with the LG logo below. The back is home to the camera pod (which is slightly recessed), fingerprint sensor/home button combo (adorned with a matching gold ring), and the G6 logo (strangely silver). Both rear shooters pack the same 13MP sensor this year, but still include a regular f/1.8 lens and a wide-angle f/2.4 lens, along with a dual-LED flash.
As you’d expect from a water- and dust-resistant phone, the 3300mAh battery is sealed. Strangely, the G6 uses Gorilla Glass 3 in front, Gorilla Glass 5 in the rear, and Gorilla Glass 4 for the camera pod. LG tells us it picked the best glass for each job, so we’ll just assume economies of scale are at play here (Gorilla Glass 5 is stronger but more expensive)…
The 5.7-inch 2880 x 1440-pixel (Quad HD+) IPS panel is definitely the star of the show here. Not only does it cover 80% of the G6’s front area, but it features an 18:9 aspect ratio and rounded corners. This 2:1 aspect ratio, also known as the Univisium format, helps with multitasking by allowing two apps to run side-by-side within perfect squares. It also provides additional real estate for controls like the Android navigation keys. Sure, the rounded corners are a gimmick, but we like how they give the G6 a cool and unique personality.
LG makes great screens, and this one is no exception. Beyond the spec-leading 564ppi resolution, this display is bright and saturated, with accurate colors, deep blacks, and excellent viewing angles. Sure, it’s not quite eye-popping as the best AMOLED panels out there (Samsung comes to mind), but it’s close. Ultimately, you won’t be disappointed: this is a phenomenal, flagship-worthy screen, and we have no complaints. It even supports Dolby Vision for HDR content.