LG G6 preview: Hands-on with the latest flagship smartphone to rival Google Pixel

LG G6 preview: Hands-on with the latest flagship smartphoneIBTimes UK

In the saturated, viciously competitive smartphone market, innovation and (to paraphrase Apple) courage has all but faded in recent years in favour of sticking firmly to the status quo. Credit to LG then for kicking back and creating mobile devices with bold features and designs.

From the repositioning of the power and volume keys to the rear on the G2 to the curved screen of the G4 – borrowed from the even curvier G Flex range – LG has taken major gambles with its flagship family.

It was the LG G5 that was arguably the oddest of all them all though. Its modular 'Friends' never took off, but its heart was in the right place: something new, something eye-catching, something different.

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At Mobile World Congress 2017 it was the LG G6's turn to take the spotlight, and while it has jettisoned seemingly all of the modular strangeness of its predecessor, it appears to have carried over many of its best traits. We went hands-on with the G6 at the show in Barcelona and have put together some of our early thoughts ahead of a full review at a later date.

LG G6 hands-on: Design

Like HTC's recently unveiled U Ultra the G6 sees LG embracing glass, albeit with metal sides and body underneath. On the upside it looks gorgeous, but on the downside it quickly attracted fingerprint smudges very quickly during our brief hands-on time. It also could impact its durability, even with the Gorilla Glass 5 protection.

LG's latest G range flagship strips back its bezels and ditches the G5's modular designIBTimes UK

The 5.7in display on the other hand settles for a Gorilla Glass 3 panel, which seems a little odd. It's also very tall, offering a lengthy 'FullVision' 18:9 aspect ratio for video playback and photo pursuing, all in vibrant Quad HD (with support for HDR and Dolby Vision too). This is emphasised by the G6's impressively thin bezels which almost fold into the curved edges in a much more aesthetically pleased way than on the G5.

The slim-bezelled design allows just enough room for an LG logo and selfie camera on the front, with the circular fingerprint sensor and dual-lens camera on the back. A single speaker and USB-C port occupy the bottom and, yes, there's a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top, don't worry.

All in all, the G6 is something of a beauty. It very closely resembles the Google Pixel in its form factor and button placement, but its glass finish and minuscule bezels could potentially win over those left unimpressed by the Pixel's mostly functional design.

LG G6 hands-on: OS and Camera

Unfortunately, those same potential buyers might be put off by LG's particular brand of Android when it comes to the software. It runs Android Nougat out of the box, with the excellent Google Assistant AI coming along for the ride, but the gaudy UX 6.0 has more in common with Huawei's muddled, gaudy overlay than it does the stock Android experience.

The LG G6 has a gorgeous, gleaming glass back - but how durable is it?IBTimes UK

This will be fine for some, but LG's software has often felt a little too intrusive and bloat-heavy with duplicate apps battling for screen space with Google's standard Android app suite. It all felt a little cluttered in our quick tests, with notifications, prompts and redundant apps flooding the screen at every turn. Whether or not this occurs on the final retail model could be a deal breaker for some.

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The camera software is equally as busy too, offering up plenty of zany frames, filters and modes for snap-happy buyers. We also tried the new 'Square' mode which splits the screen in half, with the bottom section showing an almost instantaneous preview of our photo as soon as you taken a shot. Overall, the picture quality from the 13 megapixel dual-lens set-up (one wide-angle and one normal) impressed in our short time with it.

LG G6 hands-on: Specs and price

It will take more extensive testing to see if the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 provides enough processing power in the long haul, especially with the majority of the Android elite opting for the latest Snapdragon 835 chipset, although the 4GB of RAM should help with multi-tasking.

There's also the small matter of the phone's missing features in certain markets. While wireless charging and HiFi Quad DAC audio technology featured heavily in leaks prior to the G6's official reveal, the UK misses out on both for some bizarre reason, with the former exclusive to the US model and the latter only included in the Korean model.

The most crucial omission from LG, however, is the retail price, which is still unconfirmed at the time of writing. Ditching the modular design makes the G6 a much more traditional proposition, but it also puts it in closer competition with Android's current big hitters – most notably with the similarly-styled Google Pixel –and pricing could be something of a deal-breaker for many, especially with Samsung's much-hyped Galaxy S8 getting ready to capture the public eye in March.

As well as showing instant photo previews, the 'Square Camera' also allows you to splice snaps together with... interesting results.IBTimes UK

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