LG Electronics

First impressions of the LG V30 smartphone – light, slim, curvy, with flexible OLED display, top camera and new video tools

Sleek, mostly glass handset with tiny bezels is drastic departure from bulky, rugged looks of V10 and V20, and has improved screen, even better video tools and an industry-leading camera

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 August, 2017, 4:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 August, 2017, 7:53pm

Ever since LG’s V10 made its surprise debut in late 2015, the Korean electronics giant’s V smartphone series has thrived on offering the most comprehensive media creation functionality on a mainstream smartphone and on the handsets’ rugged, heavy-duty looks.

The latter has given the V series a reputation of being a “man’s phone”, but Lydia Lee, engineer at LG Mobile’s product planning team, has had enough with the patriarchy. “I’m here as a woman to say that the V30 is not just for men,” she says.

Announced today in Berlin ahead of the major European tech conference IFA, the third edition of the V series is a drastic departure from its older siblings.

Gone are the Kevlar back and steel frames of the V10, as well as the V20’s bulky metal build. The V30 is sleek, made mostly of glass, has really slim bezels, and is even a bit curvy – and that extends to the display.

That curvature is possible thanks to LG’s long overdue decision to use OLED panels for its smartphones (OLED panels are generally considered superior to LCD panels for several reasons, one of which is their ability to bend).

In the hand, the V30 is noticeably less thick and boxy than the brand’s already sleek G6 handset released earlier this year, and so much lighter and slimmer than the V10 and V20 it almost doesn’t feel like it is in the same series.

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Fans of the V series’ impressive media production prowess – such as the V20’s audiophile quality Quad DAC (digital-to-analogue converter) and the granular level of control in video recording mode – will be happy to hear that the V30 hasn’t abandoned that approach.

The V30’s camera is the first on a smartphone to sport an f/1.6 aperture lens, meaning it can capture more light than the f/1.8 shooters found on most rivals. LG is also very proud of the fact that the V30 has a glass camera lens, which is common in DSLR cameras but not on smartphone shooters (which tend to use plastic). LG’s Lee says the glass will capture more vibrant and truercolours.

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In early testing, I did find the V30’s camera to be a tad better than that of the Samsung Galaxy S8 in low light conditions.

In terms of videography, even the two-year-old V10 is still miles ahead of most smartphones in 2017 – because it can shoot videos in manual mode – so the V30 will almost certainly take the crown of best smartphone for videography with ease. This year’s device has three mics, which can work together to record really loud sound (like at a concert) with less distortion, and a new “Point Zoom” mode that lets the user zoom in on a specific part of the frame (most other smartphones can only zoom from the centre frame).

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Under the hood the V30 runs on a Snapdragon 835 chip with 4GB of RAM, and comes with a 3,300 mAh battery. All of these are about on par with competing flagship smartphones.

What sets the V30 apart from its rivals is its almost bezel-less screen and the camera. The V30 is slated to go on sale in South Korea and the United States on September 21. Hong Kong doesn’t have a release date yet but it will likely be in October.