LG G6 phone: full, in-depth review

Almost perfect: LG's new flagship Android smartphone is very comfortable to use and has few foibles

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  • User Reviews
LG G6 phone
  • LG G6 phone
  • LG G6 phone
  • LG G6 phone
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Fast
  • Good battery
  • Good low light camera
  • Comfortable to hold. Great ergonomics
  • IP68 Waterproof

Cons

  • Selfie cam is poor
  • Audio quality is mediocre

Bottom Line

The G6 matches the internals of major flagships in a smaller, more-ergonomic body. It does almost everything very well and only persnickety issues with audio and the (mainly Selfie) camera stop us from declaring it the outright king of smartphones.

Would you buy this?

LG G6 camera review

The LG G6’s camera is generally very good but it’s not perfect. Low light performance is excellent. Shots in dimly-lit rooms looked downright well-exposed. We tried side by side shots with a top-performing-in-this-area Google Pixel XL and frankly the G6 was a bit better. However, the Pixel still handles dark scenes better – but not by much.

This really was a very dimly-lit room but you wouldn't think it with a shot like this.
This really was a very dimly-lit room but you wouldn't think it with a shot like this.

We did notice though, that despite the High Dynamic Range capabilities of the screen, and the good low-light performance the camera could lose detail in bright areas (blow-out highlights) more than we’ve seen in recent times.

In good lighting the camera is quick, colourful and accurate.
In good lighting the camera is quick, colourful and accurate.

The main feature is dual cameras. One is a regular camera while the other is wide-angle. If you zoom with the wide angle it effortlessly zooms into the other camera. To be frank we didn’t use this much and in some ways it feels a bit of an unnecessary, expensive addition, but it’s there and doesn’t get in the way.

A shot using the regular 13-megapixel camera.
A shot using the regular 13-megapixel camera.
A shot using the wide-angle 13-megapixel camera.
A shot using the wide-angle 13-megapixel camera.
A shot using some of LG's strange effects (Popout, Lens Blur, Vignette). It's also possible to create grids of pictures using the Square Cam mode.
A shot using some of LG's strange effects (Popout, Lens Blur, Vignette). It's also possible to create grids of pictures using the Square Cam mode.

LG also makes use of the square screen features: there’s a square cam which gives an instant square preview beneath your photo. There are various other square-based filters that provide some interesting effects. But nothing earth shattering. One of our favourite features was social media integration. A slide-out bar lets you quickly publish to your favourite site which is particularly useful when taking a 360-degree picture and publishing it on Facebook.

A food filter does well at making food look more appetizing and it works well in low-light too. However, this shot also illustrates how detail can get lost too early in the highlights.
A food filter does well at making food look more appetizing and it works well in low-light too. However, this shot also illustrates how detail can get lost too early in the highlights.
Some of the photo features from the G6.
Some of the photo features from the G6.

The selfie cam has some nice features but is let down quite badly in terms of quality – a real shame. It’s only five-megapixels and it looks it. Shots were grainy and overexposed and frankly the worst we’ve seen from any camera for quite some time. However, the ‘Say Cheese’ shutter works well as does the Fist-shutter which counts-down to a picture when you make a fist.

Read more: ​Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Selfies come out longer than usual because of the screen. But the 5MP camera is low-res and detail gets easily lost in highlights. On the right, Beauty Mode is turned on and ramped up to max. But grain is still present and the image is softer than we expect nowadays..
Selfies come out longer than usual because of the screen. But the 5MP camera is low-res and detail gets easily lost in highlights. On the right, Beauty Mode is turned on and ramped up to max. But grain is still present and the image is softer than we expect nowadays..

Video performance is generally good. At 4K the dynamic range is impressive with detail being captured well in bright and dark areas. In very dark rooms it captured impressive detail albeit very grainy. Image stabilization was average rather than great, though. We found that we preferred shooting at Full HD at 60 frames-per-second as the video was smooth but it did lose it’s low-light prowess. However, we were again a little disappointed with the audio which seems to have Microphone Gain ramped right up – you can hear a great many things but there’s not much body to the sound – it’s a bit tinny and little clicks and pops really jump out.

Battery

The 3,300mAh battery is a reasonable size. We found it easily lasted a full day and could even stretch to two under light use and utilizing LG’s impressive Power Saving features. It also uses Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3 and can fill half the battery in 30 minutes.

Battery saving works well and there's an option to reduce graphics performance in games to stretch things out further. A performance tweaker also analyses your phone for problems and power-hungry apps.
Battery saving works well and there's an option to reduce graphics performance in games to stretch things out further. A performance tweaker also analyses your phone for problems and power-hungry apps.

Other features

The G6 is IP68 certified which means its dust resistant and can be submerged in (fresh) water at 1.5m for up to 30 minutes. We had no issues using it in a shower and a steam room. Although when we came out and tried to charge it we were told that water was in the USB port and charging was stopped. We had to put it in a container full of rice for a few hours to fix this. However, that was no fault of the phone. This is a great feature to have.

Conclusion

We’ve been on the search of the perfect phone for some time and we had high hopes that this was it. It very almost is. It rivals HTC’s and Google’s own Android flagship phones and costs a lot less at $1,008. But we are a bit disappointed by the audio and some of the photo quality. We suspect that blown-highlights can be fixed in a software update but that won’t fix the Selfie camera which is downright poor.

Nonetheless, it does everything else really well, brings some interesting features to the market and as such is a compelling choice. But be wary if buying… on the one hand, if you buy through Telstra before May 9th you’ll get a ‘free’ 43-inch Full HD LG TV. Now on the surface that sounds great but it’s not the most expensive TV and you have to be on at least a $95 per month plan for two years to get it (total spend $2,280). It also raises a red flag… LG has a history of slashing the price of its flagship phones after only a short time. The G5 fell below $700 quickly and can now be had for under $600 despite costing the same as this at launch. If LG can afford to give away a TV with this phone, it’s making a high margin on the G6. If you’re buying it now be prepared for a price drop to sting you later.

However, the big question for now is, should you buy it at full price? Well it’s not quite as well rounded as the more-expensive Pixel XL but that had a mediocre-battery-life. It also isn’t as pretty as the large, feature-poor, expensive HTC U Ultra. The excellent Huawei Mate 9 is available for a similar price and that has a potentially superb camera (but one that is poor in low light). The Mate 9 is also much larger than the G6 despite having only a 2mm-larger screen and battery life is comparable despite its 4,000mAh battery. Another recent favourite is the Oppo R9s Plus which is much cheaper but much bigger and not as powerful.

So there’s not one phone to rule them all at the moment and that leaves the G6 is as a good a choice as any flagship on the market right now. What really tips the balance in its favour is the “Back to Basics” approach of making the phone more comfortable to hold, and it really is. Time will tell if this is the day-to-day phone we use moving forward - for now it is. But right now, it’s a great choice and a recommended buy.

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