I really enjoyed using my LG G5; it was a good size, worked quickly and efficiently, had a superb camera set up, and it never let me down. Well, almost never. The battery in the G5 isn’t exactly what bloggers and reviewers (or presidents!) might call huuuuge, and on more than one occasion I found myself reaching for a portable charger while out and about with it, while at the same time being nowhere near a wall socket to charge it quickly. Who invented the portable charger? Whoever it was is a bloody genius. But carrying around a portable charger can have its drawbacks, of course, namely, that you have to carry around another “thing”, and if it’s a warm spring afternoon, you don’t really want to cram your shorts pockets full of bulky battery packs. This shortcoming played on my mind while I had the G5, and so when the newer and shinier G6 was announced, I was really looking forward to it. Like a kid the week before Christmas.
And now I have it.
And it’s amazing.
The battery grumbles I had are gone; this thing lasts all day. Its 3300 MAh battery isn’t the biggest in the market, and it doesn’t last two days, nor will it allow 12 hours of on-screen time. Nor will it let you watch videos non-stop for 19 hours. But it does get me through a day of on-and-off use, (listening to podcasts and music, surfing the web, Twitter, Facebook, some photos, etc.) and when I get home, I’m not thinking, “Phew! That was close!” like I was with the G5 almost every day. Now I get home after work with around 50-60% to spare, which would comfortably see me through an evening of social events, just in case I found myself doing that instead of staying in watching TV one evening. Y’never know. Maybe one day I’ll party on a school night…
So let’s get down to it then. The LG G6 arrived about a week ago, and I have to say, with hand on heart, that I will most likely be keeping this phone with me for quite a while before moving on. As a phone nerd I know that’s a silly thing to say, and if you’re reading this you are probably also one of the many geeks and freaks out there who enjoy a phone for about 3 months and then move on to something else, be it the latest and greatest, or last year’s flagship that you missed and that is now half the price. Or something like that. You know what I mean.
But my issue with smartphones is finding the one phone that not only “does it all” but does it in a way I like. For example, around Christmas time I had, (and was really enjoying), the Samsung Galaxy S7 and then a few weeks later the S7 Edge. Both hugely popular and capable phones. Pretty too, and I received many compliments on my S7 Edge. Nothing wrong with the S7 either.
My three “must haves” (which the S7 and S7 Edge both feature) are SD card expansion, some kind of Glance screen (harking back to my Nokia days) and (fast) wireless charging. The first one is important to me because I’m not an app monster, nor do I watch movies on my phone, but I do like the option to maybe want to in the future. I travel a fair amount, so loading up an SD card with Netflix movies is something I might want to do one day. Or chucking all of my music on there in case I ever need that one song. Or filling up a few gigs of it with photos from my vacations in case I ever want to share one to social media that hasn’t seen the light of day since I got back home. I just like to have the option. And I like the option because it cost me about $19 to buy a 64GB SD card. If I was able to choose between a phone with an internal memory of 32GB or one with 64GB (or more), I’m almost certain the difference wouldn’t be cheap; it would probably run into hundreds more in dollars. So that’s good for me.
Secondly, I just like having the ability to look (or glance!) at my phone’s screen and know whether I should be bothering to reach over and pick it up and see if I have anything worth checking out, like a text message or a missed call. I’m also a little bit of battery diva, and so if my battery percentage is starting to look a little depleted (thanks to the on-screen percentage being displayed) I could act and top it up. Less of a worry with this phone, but all the same. It’s nice to see the percentage and choose to top it up or not.
This brings me onto my third “must-have” which is wireless charging. Now I know what you’re saying: “Hey, you had a G5 and said you were happy with it but the G5 doesn’t have wireless charging!” Well, mine did; it was a special edition G5 that was sent to me by the CEO of LG when I wrote him a nice letter.
OK, fine, it didn’t have wireless charging, and I dealt with it, but I honestly missed it quite a lot. Not being able to plonk (and yes, plonk is the important word here) it down onto a charging plate or stand was a killer. Having to bend over the side of my chair and stretch muscles that haven’t been stretched in a very long time and reach…reach…reeeaaaach….almost…aaalmost….there! Got it! You little bugger! The USB-C charging lead under the table next to my desk, plugged into the socket on the wal- AH! Dropped it! Buggeration! This is so annoying!
You get the picture. I know charging via USB-C is quick and mostly painless, but IT IS NOT THE SAME THING, and while wireless charging is much, much slower than charging via USB-C with Quick Charge 3.0 (which is ridiculously fast by the way), when I just want to top the battery off for a half hour or so, plonking it down is preferable over reeeeaaching for that bloody lead which always seems to have wriggled away from my grasp like a naughty worm.
So, back to the S7 Edge for a second. It has all three of those features, (and in addition, it is capable of charging wirelessly very quickly thanks to Samsung’s fast-charge feature), so why did I ditch it? The camera was great, the screen was great, the design was great. Even the battery was great. But it’s always the little things, isn’t it? TouchWiz just started to get on my nerves a bit, and to be honest, I didn’t like the always-on screen they had implemented because if you didn’t use a Samsung app (like their own email app instead of Gmail, for example) the icon didn’t show up. And I didn’t want to use their own email app. Even third-party apps such as WhatsApp didn’t have any Glance screen capabilities, which I thought was weird. I understand that all of this is sort of fixed now, or at least it’s been polished and improved with 7.0 Nougat, but when I came around to getting rid of the S7 Edge in late March, it STILL hadn’t received that important OS update and was stuck on Marshmallow. So much for buying the more expensive factory unlocked version! And this was another reason to “upgrade” to the LG G5, which I knew already had the update. Oh, and those “evil-looking” Samsung emojis? No thanks. I actually really like Android’s “melting gum drop” ones.
I was also conscious of the fact that the S7 Edge was quite expensive, and I was carrying around a phone that didn’t seem to me to do much more than the G5, and the G5 was WAY less expensive in the early part of this year. I also had to gripe a little about the S7 Edge utilizing micro USB over USB-C, which was something I found just a tiny bit annoying. My wife already had a G5, I had been using a Lumia 950 XL, and USB-C chargers were everywhere in our house, and now I had to dig around for a micro USB charger, something I had trouble finding at first.
But I didn’t dislike the S7 Edge. I honestly did like it. I most definitely wasn’t a fan of the home screen button being where it is, and I can see that moving it to the back panel on the S8 is probably, despite its placement near the camera lens, a better spot for it. I think fingerprint readers feel more natural when they’re on the back of the phone, and with the G5 (and now G6) the argument of “well if it’s on your desk you have to pick it up to access the fingerprint scanner” is a moot point, when LG handily included “double-tap-to-wake”, which is another brilliant feature that I was missing after becoming so accustomed to it with Lumias and Nokias of yesteryear. The G5 suddenly looked a better bet for me.
And that’s what I did, effectively switching out the S7 Edge for LG G5. And I just recently did it again by switching the G5 for a brand new G6. And I’m very happy I did. With the G5 beginning to show its crow’s feet around the eyes and the G6’s arrival imminent, I had started to get that “itch” we smartphone geeks get a few times a year when we start thinking: what if I got rid of this, and got that instead?
So now we’re back around to talking about the LG G6 again, and today it is my phone of choice, over everything else. I still have my Lumia 950 XL and I use it daily, and I still enjoy Windows on a phone and I will continue to do so until it expires completely. But until then, it is my secondary, “work” phone and I love it still.
But the G6 is something special. With Android 7.0 Nougat onboard (and with promises that 7.1 is coming soon), it just flies along, not stuttering at anything I throw at it, opening apps quickly, and I can glide around the interface with a slick speediness that all flagship phones should demonstrate. The phone itself is a beauty. Looking around the device, as you hold it in your hand, you have to wonder about the facial expressions the boffins at LG had when the first prototypes came out of their phone-making machine. It’s a glorious combination of smooth, glass, comfortable edges and curves, and refined, cool aluminum around the edges. The taller design allows for a bigger – but not wider – screen ratio of 18:9, (or as nearly every blogger like to point out, 2:1) and to hold it is to revel in smartphone perfection. It feels like a big phone when you look at it, but it feels like a small phone when you hold it. It’s as if they took an even bigger screen from the S7 Edge and squeezed it into the chassis of the S7 – more screen, less phone. The G6’s phablet-screen comes in at a whopping 5.7″ but it feels small. Really. Unbelievably, the S7 Edge had a smaller screen (at 5.5″) but feels like an oven tray compared to the G6. LG’s latest is a wonderful phone to hold, and I can tell you that one-handed use is fine with this thing. I just wish Android wasn’t so “top-of-the-phone” centric, and had back arrows at the bottom of the screen a la Windows Phone. I know you can swipe from the left for hamburger menus in Android, which is handy, but to reach up to tap that back button way up there in the top left hand corner can be tricky sometimes, and is necessary when hitting the main back button on the bottom of the screen would take you out of the app. I don’t know, maybe one day Android won’t have to copy everything that iOS does.
Back to the G6 and its features. I’ve been really enjoying the camera with this phone. The wide-angle lens has been given a boost in megapixels, and this time around, the G6 has two cameras that are both 13MP as opposed to the G5 which had an 8MP wide-angle shooter. There was nothing really wrong with that until you started zooming in on wide-angle shots and you could see quite a lot of lost detail and scrubbiness. The G6’s wide-angle shooter is excellent in comparison, grabbing in much more detail. It doesn’t have OIS like the G6’s main camera does, and this could be a little bit of an issue in low light, but so far I haven’t really noticed any huge, glaring difference in image quality. It’s still early days though, and I’m sure as time goes on I will be able to test this much more.
As for the rest, well I just love not being nagged about my music’s volume being too high (I’m glaring at you, Samsung). The G6’s glance screen is more useful, including an actual percentage of remaining battery compared to the G5’s solitary battery icon, and yes, plonking it down to charge is back.
I doubt I will get tired of it soon; sometimes I just pick it up to hold it, which sounds really corny. But it’s true; LG have done a truly splendid job of crafting a phone you want to hold, use and enjoy. I’m impressed. The screen ratio feels weird at first, but only for the shortest time, and before you know it, it feels completely natural. My initial doubts that I was going to be slightly uncomfortable with such a strange and new phone “shape” were extinguished extremely quickly, and I was all over the thing. If there is one app that reminds me that a taller display should be the new standard, it’s the Kindle app. Reading is much more enjoyable for me over using the G5 because I’m thumb-swiping a lot less now; much more text can be crammed into the screen. As for some gadget reviewers’ take on the whole aspect ratio thing and some apps and games, not “fitting” properly – I haven’t experienced this yet at all, but I’m someone who downloads less than 30 apps, and games are not something I grab from the Play store. The vibrant display is no slouch in bright light outdoors, and being able to take photos in 18:9 is fun, especially with all of the fun LG modes that have been included such as Square Shot which allows you to split the screen into viewfinder and image review at the same time. Very nice. I really like having the carousel of recent shots on the screen while using the viewfinder as well – it makes for a pretty handy way to review your photos without even leaving the camera app at all. Nice touch.
Overall, I’m very happy. I have my three “must haves” and I also have a phone I love using. And I am really looking forward to using it even more.