The LG V series of smartphones has become the brand’s answer to the Galaxy Note — a midseason upgrade to a flagship phone released earlier in the year. That’s never been more true than this year — while the the LG V30 has its unique features, it’s closer in physical design to the G6 than in years past. The spirit is still the same, though — while the Note emphasizes productivity with the S Pen, the V30 once again champions high-end audio and camera quality. And, while it’s too early to tell, this phone might just have the best of both in the world of smartphones right now.
The V30 looks for the most part like the LG G6 released earlier this year, although it’s a bit bigger at 6.0″. It’s got the same nearly bezel-less front, which means LG has abandoned the second screen altogether. Previous V phones had a small display bar that could function as a quick launcher, but that’s been abandoned for a software-based movable widget we heard about ahead of today’s announcement. The back is only slightly different, with the flash off to the right instead of between the two backside cameras — the fingerprint sensor remains on the back.
Speaking of the cameras, they’re as good as ever. The V30 has a dual camera system, with one 16 MP sensor with an f/1.6 71-degree lens and one 13 MP sensor with an f/1.9 wide-angle 120-degree lens (the lenses are covered by Gorilla Glass 4). The front-facing camera has a 5 MP sensor and an f/2.2 90-degree lens. The f/1.6 lens on the primary camera is the widest aperture lens we’ve seen yet on a smartphone — given LG’s strong track record with camera performance on the V series, we’d expect this phone to take really strong night photos. Like last year, the primary camera (the 16 MP sensor) will have optical image stabilization, while the the wide-angle camera will not.
Even more exciting might be that the primary camera has a 10-bit HDR image sensor, which should dramatically improve color reproduction. LG also confirmed that Graphy will be in the camera app — this tool lets you check out different styles of photos, then automatically apply the settings used to your phone before you take a picture. It should be a great tool for camera novices who want to take full advantage of what the V30 is capable of.
But, LG has always championed video recording just as much as stills. The V30 will have a pretty cool feature called Point Zoom — before you start recording, you can tap on an area and have the camera zoom automatically as you start to record. It’s even possible to control how fast the camera zooms — that’s a huge new feature considering how difficult it is to zoom while recording and keep the phone steady. The V20 used the second screen as a zoom bar, but now that the second screen is gone, Point Zoom is in as a replacement. The camera app is also stocked with editing and filter tools you can play around with before and after recording.
It sounds like less has changed on the audio front, which isn’t a bad thing. The V30 still has a hi-fi quad DAC capable of 32-bit playback, and you can still use the native audio recorder app to record 24-bit 192 kHz stereo audio. Impressively, the V30 uses a receiver-as-a-mic, which can record sound as loud as 140 dB — without getting a mess of blown out sound. It’s by far the best audio experience you’ll find on a smartphone, at least for headphones (there is a headphone jack up top) — we’re still looking at just a single mono speaker on the bottom of the phone.
An interesting thing to note is that the V30 supports MQA. MQA is a new hi-res audio standard that stores lossless-quality audio in files that are as small as compressed files — this theoretically makes hi-res music streaming feasible, but it’s not a widely adopted standard yet, so we’re not totally sure what we should make of this. LG has also gotten Bang & Olufsen to tune the phone’s audio, and there will be B&O in-ear headphones bundled with the phone, as well.
Despite its resemblance to the LG G6, the V30 represents a pretty big leap forward in hardware, too. The most noticeable one is that LG has made the jump to an P-OLED display. Like the G6, this is a 1440p resolution panel with that new, wider 18:9 aspect ratio. The switch to OLED is key, especially now that the camera has a 10-bit sensor — the display will be good enough to let that improved color reproduction shine. And if you’re thinking VR, good news — the V30 is compatible with Google Daydream. Google also confirmed that they’re working on bringing their new augmented reality platform, ARCore, to the V30 in the near future.
The V30 runs Android 7.1.2 Nougat on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC and 4 GB of RAM. The chipset there is significant — the LG G6 ran on the 821 chipset introduced late last year. The added processing power is nice, but the real prize of the 835 is the X16 modem, which can deliver Gigabit LTE speeds should you be lucky enough to live in an area that’s seen a carrier roll out such a network.
The V30 can be purchased with 64 GB or 128 GB of storage, and there’s a microSD card slot that supports cards up to 2 TB — you might want to consider that with the sort of pictures and video this thing can take.
All this is powered by a 3,300 mAh battery — normally we’d find that sufficient, but with the crazy hardware in this phone, you might want to invest in an external battery pack if you haven’t already. LG has added wireless charging to the V30, too, just to round out the laundry list of features.
While it wasn’t emphasized as much last year, LG has always made their V phones rugged, too. The V30 is no different — it’s rated IP68, making it water- and dust-proof, and it’s passed military-standard testing for surviving drops. We’re a little less sure about the front and back, which are both covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 5 — strong stuff, but certainly not something we’d call shatter-proof.
We haven’t heard anything about price or a release date for the LG V30 yet, but we’ll be sure to update this post when we do! We do know the phone will be available in black, silver, blue, and violet.
Check out more of our IFA 2017 coverage right here!