The LG V30+ would one say one is of the last leader smartphones to be released for the year, so would it say it was justified regardless of the hold up? On paper at any rate, the V30+ has for all intents and purposes all that you would need in a 2017 smartphone: a bezel-less outline, a 6-inch OLED QHD show, a double back camera setup, IP68 assemble, remote charging, MicroSD expandable capacity, Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 4G LTE Cat16 similarity, and yes, it’s one of the last smartphones staying with an earphone jack – and it’s a decent one as well, because of an inherent audiophile-level Quad DAC. On the off chance that that is insufficient, LG has likewise given the V30+ a smooth new present day plan, and included a heap of expert level video recording alternatives. The majority of this for just S$1,098. So is the V30+ the smartphone to beat this Christmas season? How about we discover.
N.B. In case you’re pondering what the distinction is between the V30 and the V30+, the V30+ accompanies 128GB inside capacity, while the V30 (not accessible locally) just has 64GB. That is the main difference.
|Launch SRP||· From $1098 (Rs. 53,990)|
|Operating system||· Android 7.1.2 Nougat with LG UX 6.0|
|Processor||· Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core (4×2.45 GHz Kryo & 4×1.9 GHz Kryo)|
|Built-in Memory||· 4GB RAM|
|Display||· 6.0-inch / 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (537ppi) / pOLED|
· Always-on Display
|Camera||· Rear: Dual 16-megapixel (f/1.6, 1 µm, 3- axis OIS, PDAF) + 13-megapixel (f/1.9, no AF), phase detection & laser autofocus, LED flash|
· Front: 5-megapixel, f/2.2, 100-degree FOV
|Connectivity||· Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth v5, NFC, 4G LTE Cat 16 (up to 1024Mbps)|
|Storage Type||· 128GB internal storage|
· Expandable up to 256GB via microSD
|Dimensions||· 151.7 x 75.4 x 7.3 mm|
The V30+’s ancestors, the V10 and V20, were both incredible smartphones, however they weren’t the most attractive gadgets out there, with a rough outline and an attention on power and execution over looks (the V10’s plan was apparently roused by a power apparatus). That is changed however with the V30+ and it’s extraordinary to see LG at last giving its best smartphone a delightful body to coordinate.
Like most 2017 leaders, the V30+ has an aluminium outline with a glass raise. It’s a shocking blend of metal and glass with bends in all the correct spots. What’s more, approve beyond any doubt, it really looks a considerable amount like the Samsung Galaxy S8 (without the bended show) yet I’m happy LG went for a straightforward, if subsidiary, outline this time, as opposed to have a go at something peculiar and exceptional once more (calfskin upheld LG G4 anybody?). The V30+ is light as well, tipping the scales at only 158g, which makes it one of the lightest lead smartphones this year. LG has figured out how to make the V30+ IP68 clean and water safe, which implies it can get by under 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes, and incredibly it likewise holds the MIL-810G rating against stuns and drops of past V arrangement telephones, in spite of the V30+’s more rich plan.
The secondary display we saw on the V10 and V20 is gone; instead the front of the device is dominated by a single extra-tall 6-inch pOLED display, which has trendy rounded corners like you’ll find on the iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S8, and Google Pixel 2 XL. While LG has used curved displays in the past, the sides of the V30+ don’t curve like the Galaxy S8 and S8+, so the device is slightly wider than both of them. Despite this, it doesn’t feel too big, and still fits comfortably in your hand, even with its 6-inch screen. In fact it’s about the same size as LG’s previous flagship, the G6, but boasts a larger screen and is lighter too.
The bezels at the top and bottom of the display are also reasonably slim, with the top bezel housing just the front-facing camera, camera flash and top speaker. Unlike the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, there’s no logo on the bottom bezel to distract from the screen, in fact there’s nothing at all on the bottom bezel. As a result, the V30+ has a screen-to-body ratio of 81.2 percent, which puts it ahead of the likes of the Google Pixel 2 XL and Huawei Mate 10 Pro, and only slightly behind the Samsung Galaxy Note8 and iPhone X (both 83 percent).
On the back of the device, there’s a tiny cross-hatch pattern under the glass that gives the back an interesting 3D effect that makes it look a bit like a lenticular hologram. The dual 16-megapixel rear-camera system resides near the top of the device, and is almost flush with the rear, while beneath it there’s a clicky fingerprint scanner that doubles up as the power button. Personally, I prefer having the power button on the side, but the rear button is well-positioned and easy to reach – it just takes a bit of getting used to.
On the left side you get two separate buttons for volume, on top you’ll find a microphone and the headphone jack, while on the bottom there’s a downward-firing speaker, another microphone, and the USB Type-C port. The Nano-SIM/Micro-SD card slot can be found on the right.
The V30+ is available in four colors: Aurora Black, Cloud Silver, Moroccan Blue, and Lavender Violet, all of which are available in Singapore. Our review unit (and my favourite of the bunch) is Moroccan Blue. By the way, if you’re wondering what Morocco has to do with the color blue, its probably a reference to the city of Chefchaouen, whose buildings are famously painted almost entirely in blue.
The V30+ uses the same 6-inch QHD 2,880 x 1,440 pixels resolution (~538 ppi) pOLED display panel as the Google Pixel 2 XL. Looking at the screen straight on, at high brightness it’s actually quite nice, with good color reproduction and strong contrast. But if you’ve read my review of the Pixel 2 XL, you’ll know my issues with that screen and the V30+ suffers from many of the same problems.
My biggest issue with the V30+ display is that the screen always looks grainy and a bit dirty, although it’s only really obvious at low brightness settings. Like the Pixel 2 XL, there’s also a noticeable blue color shift when viewing the display off-angle. Now, to be fair, you can learn to live with these issues, and under most usage cases where you’ll be using the display at a high brightness setting and looking at the screen head on, it looks fine, but it’s disappointing when other phones, even those with LCD displays, don’t have any of these problems.
Like most of the other bezel-less phones released this year, the V30+ has a super-tall 18:9 aspect ratio screen, which means calling the display 6-inch is a bit misleading. If you play 16:9 content on the V30+ you’ll have black bars at either side, and the actual content will look the same as if you had a 5.5-inch display. The display is Dolby Vision and HDR 10 compatible, which means you’ll be able to watch HDR content on Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.
The on-board audio from the V30’s single downward-firing speaker is fairly average, with a tinny quality and no bass to speak of – there’s also some noticeable distortion at high volumes, so you’re much better off plugging in a good pair of headphones.
Like the V10 and V20, the V30+ features a built-in audiophile DAC, which is activated when you plug in a pair of wired headphones. This time around, LG is using ESS Technology’s SABRE ES9218P 32-bit Quad HiFi DAC, which seems to be identical in spec to the older SABRE ES9218 found in the LG V20, which includes 2.0Vrms output, 130 dB SNR and -114 dB Total Harmonic Distortion, and support for up to 32-bit 384kHz PCM and DSD256 file formats. Honestly, I’m not sure what, if anything, the ‘P’ designation changes, as I can’t find any differences in the spec sheet.
Audio software options have been expanded on the V30+. If you head into the Hi-Fi DAC settings menu, there’s the usual volume control, and left and right balance, and there’s also a new set of sound EQ options. There are four presents – enhanced, detailed, live and bass – which LG claims are optimally designed based on popular tones and characteristics studies by its engineers. Unfortunately, there’s no way to configure these presets, and there’s no option for customizing your own EQ settings.
LG has always been good at keeping up with audiophile file formats, and the V30+ is the first smartphone to support the MQA (Master Quality Audio) format. MQA is a high quality file format that boasts a better compression ratio for high-res audio than FLAC, but without the data loss associated with lossy file types like MP3. Instead, MQA repackages high frequency audio data into superfluous bits of data inherent in hi-res audio files.
Despite being released quite late in the year, and the V20 being the first phone to launch Android 7.0 Nougat, the V30+ is unfortunately still running on Android 7.1.2 Nougat, and according to LG, an Android 8.0 Oreo update won’t be available until late January/early February next year.
LG has also heavily skinned Android with its UX 6.0 UI, which removes Android’s standard app drawer in favor of an iOS style app-filled home screen. Fortunately, you can restore the app drawer by going to Settings > Home Screen > Select Home > and picking Home & app drawer. LG has also reskinned the icons themselves to look more like iOS icons with rounded square backgrounds applied to every app. This isn’t really a problem except with Google’s default apps like Chrome and the Play Store, because these can’t be skinned to follow LG’s re-design, so they just look like folders with the app icon sitting on a grey square background. Even the app folders use an iOS-style full-screen display rather than Android’s superior in-place folder popup. Personally, I wish LG would just lay off the skinning because Google’s Material Design philosophy looks great, so why go to such lengths to make your phone look more like iOS?
The most notable new addition to UX 6.0 is a new Floating Bar option that acts as a virtual replacement for the V10 and V20’s second screen, offering up similar functionality as a place for shortcuts and controls. It lives on the edge of the screen and you can move it anywhere you want, tapping it to show app shortcuts, a set of screen capture tools, contacts, and music controls. Like the secondary screen on the V20, I didn’t find it to be particularly useful, and it was more distracting than helpful, so I ended up turning it off entirely. Your mileage may vary though, so give it a try.
There’s also some new settings for the always-on display. You can select different clock styles, and there’s also the option to display your signature (or rather some custom text in a squiggly handwriting font). There’s even an option to display a color photo from your image gallery (or you can select from a range of full color stock images). In another effort to replace the second screen, swiping the top of the always-on display will display a useful set of quick controls that will let you turn on or off the Wi-Fi, flashlight, Bluetooth or launch the camera. Unfortunately, you can’t customize these.
Alternative forms of biometric security, like the iPhone X’s FaceID, and Samsung’s iris scanning are a hot new thing this year, and LG has also included two forms of secondary biometric security – your face and your voice. Facial recognition isn’t as advanced as Apple’s FaceID and merely compares the image in the front camera to the one it has on file. As you might expect, this can be easily fooled with a picture (which is why LG warns you that using it will make your phone less secure) and is more for convenience than security. It’s basically the same facial recognition software Samsung has on its phones.
Voice recognition lets you unlock the V30+ by saying a pre-defined key phrase, such as “Open Sesame”. The phone is always listening, so you can just say this at any time to unlock it, similar to how you launch Google Assistant by saying “OK, Google.” Obviously you don’t want to blurt this out in the middle of a crowded train where anyone could hear. While the phone didn’t unlock when my wife tried speaking my unlock phrase, my father, who I guess can do a pretty decent impression of me, was able to get the phone to unlock pretty easily. A voice recording of me saying the phrase also worked no problem. Honestly, it’s faster and more convenient to just use the fingerprint scanner to unlock your phone, so I wouldn’t recommend this option either. And saying your password out loud just seems like a bad idea anyway.
Like most of the other Android flagship smartphones this year, the LG V30+ runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core (4x 2.35GHz Kryo & 4x 1.9GHz Kryo) processor with 4GB RAM and an Adreno 540 GPU.
While most dual-lens camera setups offer you a normal focal length lens and a telephoto lens, LG continues to use a different setup, pairing a 16-megapixel f/1.6 aperture normal focal length lens with a 13-megapixel f/1.9 wide-angle lens.
The main lens’ f/1.6 aperture is noteworthy for being the largest ever put in a smartphone. Large apertures are better (and tend to be really expensive) as it allows the camera to capture more light, which theoretically makes it better in low light situations. However, for some reason, LG has paired its high-end large aperture lens with Sony’s mid-range IMX351 sensor, which has a small 1/3.1″ surface area and just 1µm size pixels. This is actually a downgrade compared to last year’s V20, which had a larger 1/2.8″ sensor and 1.12 µm size pixels. For reference, the only other phones I know of using the IMX351 are the S$469 ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro, and the HTC U11, where it’s used as the sensor for the front camera. To compare to other flagship smartphones, the Google Pixel 2 XL has a 1/2.6″ sensor with 1.4 µm size pixels and the Samsung Galaxy Note8’s main camera uses a 1/2.55” sensor that also has 1.4 μm size pixels. The small surface area and pixel size on the V30+ sensor means that it can’t capture as much light, rendering the benefits of a larger aperture useless.
Like the V10 and V20, LG has included a fairly comprehensive Pro mode with the V30+’s default camera app, which lets you manually adjust white balance, focus, ISO and shutter speed. Manual mode also includes a focus peaking option, which will highlight pixels that are in focus, making it much easier to tell when your subject is in focus.
Image quality from the V30+’s main camera is quite good in well-lit environments. However, there are some noticeable processing effects and there’s some jitteriness around the edges of objects. In low light scenarios, the camera really struggles, even with the camera in manual mode with the aperture set to wide open. Noise reduction artifacts become readily apparent and there’s way too much over-processing in any dark part of the image (you can already see this in my test shot below by zooming in on the black background).
As before, the wide-angle camera comes in handy only in specific scenarios. The focal length is really wide, which means it’s only really suitable for landscape photography or huge group photos. It gets so much in frame, it’s hard to frame anything else nicely, and there’s also some fisheye distortion, although it’s not as bad as last year’s. Having said that, a super wide-angle lens does have its upsides when trying to capture wide vistas, large atriums, and other such subject matter that you would often encounter while traveling. For more ideas, check out our article here where we’ve prepared tips on making use of both the standard and ultra-wide lens.
LG has also ramped up the V30+’s video shooting capabilities with a new Cine Video mode that lets you shoot professional-looking video footage from your phone. Cine Video includes a Cine Effect filter that lets you pick from 15 presets – Romantic Comedy, Summer Blockbuster, Melodrama, Noir, etc. – to capture the perfect mood for your video. All of these filters can also be adjusted in intensity, and you can add vignette effects to any of them. According to LG, the colors applied in Cine Effect were developed in collaboration with post-production coloration experts.
Cine Video also offers a great zoom feature called Point Zoom. Instead of only zooming in and out on the center subject, Point Zoom lets you smoothly zoom in anywhere on the screen replicating the look of a professional camera dolly.
The V30+ also includes the option to shoot video in Log format. If you’re unfamiliar with this, it’s basically the equivalent of shooting photos in RAW. Log format is a feature found in most professional video cameras that allows you to shoot with a much flatter image – the colors are more subdued. This allows the camera sensor to focus more on light and increase the dynamic range rather than having to deal with the color science. However, Log format also preserves a wide dynamic range and color gamut in the saved files, which lets you easily adjust them in post-production. When shooting in Log, you can also toggle on/off the Display LUT (Look up Table) mode. This will add some of the color back to your footage while shooting, just as a reference. The saved video won’t include this color data.
Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:
- Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
- Constant data streaming through email and Twitter
As you might have suspected from the revamped design, the V30+’s 3,300mAh battery is non-removable, which is a pity as the removable battery was something I liked about the V10 and V20, but it’s an acceptable trade-off for a much nicer IP68 build.
LG’s phones have struggled in the past with battery life, but switching to a more power efficient OLED screen seems to have helped as the V30+ lasted just under 11 hours in our video looping benchmark. To be fair, that’s still less than most of the other flagship smartphones (the exception being the OnePlus 5), but it’s a respectable score and the V30+ will easily last you a full day assuming normal usage habits.
Switching to a glass back has finally brought wireless charging to the V series. Like most other wireless charging smartphones, LG is using the the Qi standard. The V30+ supports fast charging over wireless, but it requires a wireless pad with at least 9W output and it needs to be EPP (Extended Power Profile) compatible. EPP is a new standard that enables up to 15W power transfer wirelessly, but Qi wireless pads with EPP are quite hard to find right now. You can buy the official LG one here but this is the South Korean model, which means it has a 2-pin plug and you’ll need an adaptor. Fast charging wireless pads without EPP will not provide fast charging on the V30+ with output capped at 5W.
When I started reviewing the LG V30+, I really wanted to love this phone. It has everything I’m looking for in a smartphone: all-screen design, OLED display, beautiful metal and glass IP68 build, dual cameras, wireless charging, expandable storage, flagship processor, and a headphone jack (the built-in audiophile DAC is just the cherry on top), but after a week of using it, I’ve come to the realization that despite having all of the ingredients required for success, it just doesn’t live up to its potential.
You can learn to live with the screen, and under most usage scenarios it looks fine, but when I compare it to the OLED display on an iPhone X or a Samsung Galaxy Note8, it’s obvious that the V30+’s display just isn’t as good.
Its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB RAM means that the V30+ should perform at least as well as the Google Pixel 2 XL, but for some reason it doesn’t. I’m not sure if this is the difference between Android 8.0 and Android 7.1.2 with UX 6.0, but in every benchmark I tried the V30+ trailed the Pixel 2 XL. Speaking of that UI, all of the changes LG has made to Android don’t seem to serve any purpose, and I wish LG would just opt for a less heavy-handed approach in future.
On paper, the V30+ rear camera looks great, but in reality, it doesn’t compete with the cameras found in the Pixel 2 XL, Note8 or iPhone X. Now, to be fair, those phones are all much more expensive than the V30+, but it’s frustrating because I can’t help but think that if LG had just opted for a better sensor, the V30+ could rival or even surpass those cameras.
The addition of wireless charging is great, but as things stand now, you basically have to pick between fast charging via a cable, or slow wireless charging, unless you want to import an expensive EPP compatible model from overseas. LG’s own official EPP wireless charger isn’t available locally, and according to LG, there are no plans to bring it to Singapore.
As for the V30+’s other unique features like its audiophile DAC and professional-level video recording capabilities, these are really nice, but they’re niche features that a lot of people won’t get much use out of. I actually really like the Quad DAC, but it’s basically the same one from last year’s model.
The V30+ is a phone for people who want to embrace the future, but aren’t ready yet to completely give up the past: it’s one of the few phones around with both modern touches like an all-screen design, dual rear cameras and an HDR display, and legacy features like a headphone jack and expandable storage. The V30+ is still a good phone, it’s just not a great phone.