image

Smartphones

First impressions of LG G6 smartphone – memories of last year’s G5 flop erased with release of new model

More streamlined than its disappointing predecessor, the LG G6 aims to deliver a reliable, usable premium smartphone with Siri-like artificial intelligence system, extra widescreen and double camera set-up

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 3:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2017, 12:03pm

After last year’s flop with the modular G5 (a model with a removable bottom that let users swap in various accessories such as a high-quality camera and audio unit), LG this year opts for a relatively safe device – the new G6 – that fits into the conventional “premium smartphone” handbook right now: a unibody glass phone with an aluminium frame.

Yes, that means LG’s removable battery – it was the last major phone maker to offer this feature – is no more.

That doesn’t mean the G6, announced at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, is a boring phone. The major selling point this year is its super slim bezels at the top and bottom of the display. Shredding the fat from both sides means the G6, despite sporting a 5.7-inch screen, is physically smaller/slimmer than last year’s G5 and its 5.3-inch screen.

The 5.7-inch LCD panel here isn’t a standard display either, as LG has opted for a 18:9 ratio (ie 2:1) instead of the industry standard 16:9. That means the G6’s display is longer than most phones, a decision the company made in unison with Italian filmmaker Vittorio Storaro, who showed up at the launch explaining his vision of a mobile phone with extra widescreen so it can play films the way filmmakers intended.

Picking up the phone, the G6’s streamlined size can be immediately felt. The rounded corners and relatively thin body – it’s only 7.9mm – make this a very sleek device. The G6 is easily the most comfortable 5.7-inch phone to hold yet.

Under the hood, the G6 is powered by (only) a Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM. Neither of these are top-of-the-line specs for 2017 (Samsung’s next phone, to be announced in about a month, will have the Snapdragon 835.)

But Ian Hwang, who is in charge of designing all LG phones, stressed during the phone’s presentation at MWC on Sunday that “the war for specs is over”, and that it’s now more important to deliver a reliable, usable phone. That may sound like marketing speak, but I do see LG making efforts in providing better user experience.

Last year’s V20 was the first non-Nexus/Pixel device to ship with Android 7.0 and this year the G6 is the first non-Pixel device to have Google’s Siri-like artificial intelligence system, dubbed the Google Assistant.

The useful two camera set-up (with one being a wide-angle lens) is back, and unlike last year’s G5 there is no hideous camera bump.

Pricing and release dates haven’t been officially announced yet, but expect the G6 to go on sale in South Korea in about a week and hit Hong Kong by mid to late March.