Hands-On News Phones

First Look at the LG V30

LG's latest entry in the V series of smartphones is here, and it packs a total redesign, no secondary display, and improved media creation tools.

Boy, it’s an early one here on the east coast in the US. Over in Berlin, Germany, IFA 2017 is getting ready to kick off, and LG is hosting an event to debut its much-anticipated new smartphone, the V30. That event starts at 9 AM CEST (Central European Summer Time). That means it’s 3 AM EST in the States. That’s darn early.

But hey, you’re up. And that means you wanna get your first look at what LG is doing differently this year with its V series. Lucky for you, we have our hands on a pre-release unit of the V30 for your interest’s pleasure, and here’s your first look.

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Starting things off, LG is going for an all-glass body with the V30 alongside a metal frame surrounding the sides. This frame is coated in a glossy finish similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S8 we reviewed earlier this year. It’s even IP68 certified just like the Galaxy S8 so you can dunk the V30 in water and it’ll be fine.

First impressions of the new design are it looks stunning in person, especially when you consider what the V20 looked like last year. It also feels really nice in your hand with its curved corners and slim form factor. Of course, we’re reserving our final judgment for our full review of the device when we get our hands on a retail unit so stay tuned.

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This is the first LG flagship to have an OLED display, and it’s pretty.

On the front of the V30 sits a 6-inch FullVision Quad HD+ display with curved corners. This handset marks the first time LG has included an OLED display in one of its flagship smartphones, and it shows. Just by looking at it for a moment, I noticed much punchier colors and deeper blacks than on my V20. Again, you’ll have to wait until my full review to hear all of my thoughts on the device’s screen, but first impressions are positive.

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The V30 also lacks one thing that’s been a trend in the smartphone industry this year: bezels. There’s barely a forehead on the V30 besides a small one to house the front-facing camera and earpiece, while the chin is near inexistent. We saw similar designs with the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 earlier this year, so it’s nice to see LG adopt the same design for its V series smartphone for 2017.

Since there are smaller bezels, LG was able to enlarge the screen of the V20 to 6-inches for the V30 and fit it in a smaller body. The display also now has an 18:9 aspect ratio which looks longer than what consumers are used to but is definitely welcome if it means more screen in a smaller footprint. There are also slight curves on either side of the screen which, aesthetically, looks great.

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There is no secondary screen this time, but let’s hope software makes up for that.

One thing missing from the V30 that was present on its predecessors and became a signature feature is a secondary display. On both the V10 and V20, LG included a 2.1-inch ticker screen at the top of the device which housed app shortcuts and quick toggles for settings on your phone. This is also a place where notifications would pop up. On the V30, it’s been totally obliterated and replaced with the large 6-inch screen previously mentioned. To make up for this, LG is including what they call the Floating Bar which is essentially the second screen from the V20 but is accessible from any distance on the main display thanks to new software. You can tap on it to present quick app shortcuts and toggles to different settings, while new toggles like GIF capture and a scrolling screenshot are also here. A music widget is also accessible by swiping left or right on the bar. Users have asked previously that the second screen be one day easier to access on an LG V smartphone, so it’ll be interesting to hear what early buyers think.

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Side note: the V30 is also Daydream VR compatible so you can pick up one of Google’s headsets and use LG’s new phone with it.

As for specs, the V30 packs everything you’d expect in a 2017 flagship and even outdoes the G6. There’s a Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM, a minimum of 64GB of storage, and a 3300mAh battery which is chargeable over the USB-C connector at the bottom. There’s also a bottom-firing speaker, volume buttons on the left side, and a power button/fingerprint reader on the back. The handset is powered by Android 7.1.2 Nougat with LG’s new UX 6.0 on top which includes a new Always-On display, refreshed wallpapers, and an overall cleaner design. I know you’re all asking, and no, LG still doesn’t include an app drawer in their main launcher and instead lays out all of your apps across multiple home screens like an iPhone. You do have the option of bringing back the app drawer, and the latter layout could result in becoming the default by the time this thing hits the market. Remember, this is a pre-production unit so anything could change.

Like that headphone jack at the top. Let’s hope that moves to the bottom.

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Regarding cameras, we’re looking at something pretty unique here. LG is including an 8MP selfie shooter and two sensors on the back of the V30 with one having 13MP and a super wide angle (now with less distortion, according to LG) and the other having 16MP and a standard viewing angle. But that latter sensor has something no other smartphone has: an f/1.6 aperture. This is the first time such a wide aperture is being used in a smartphone, and LG says it can take in 25% more light than a standard f/1.8 aperture like on the iPhone 7. Obviously, we’ll be going further into depth regarding how well this sensor performs when our review goes live in the near future. Stay tuned.

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The V30’s cameras pack some serious heat.

In addition, LG’s suite of manual video and photo controls in their camera app is also present. The V30 is being positioned as a media creation tool, so it makes sense to see these types of features. There’s also some new modes such as Cine Video which lets you shoot video with a movie-esque feel and finish to it, while Graphy lets you apply manual adjustments to your camera for getting the right type of shot. Users can share photos taken in manual mode on Graphy with other users and allow them to use the same settings you used to achieve a similar picture (for instance, if a user has specific settings for a picture of fireworks, you’ll be able to use the same settings just by tapping the fireworks photo on the side of your screen). This should help those not very familiar with manual controls on a camera adjust to the power of the V30’s sensor array and learn what it’s capable of.

Finally, optical image stabilization, electronic image stabilization, and laser detection autofocus are also onboard.

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As was made famous with the V20, LG is also including a hi-fi DAC with the V30. This time around, they’re upping the ante with a new 32-bit quad digital-to-analog converter with technology brought over from ESS’ ES9218P. New digital filters and sound presets for improved personal listening habits are loaded on the device, while both the left and right channels of the DAC’s sound will be adjusted separately to make listeners feel like “as if they are standing in the center of a concert hall.” The company was even able to cut any distortion surrounding this effect down to 0.0002 percent which is a pretty incredible foot. The new DAC, which is also paired with MQA technology, will provide a listening experience “that will touch the heart as well as the ears.” In addition, the company notes any audio output from the V30 will be in high-resolution “without the inconvenience of downloading huge files or using up large amounts of mobile data to get great sounding music.” Overall, the V30 aims to offer both better audio listening and audio recording experiences over its predecessors.

As some final tidbits, there’s a new vibration motor in the V30 provided by Immersion’s HD TouchSense technology to make software elements like the camera shutter button vibrate and bring the phone to life, NextRadio is on board as announced earlier this month, and there are new ways of unlocking the phone thanks to Face Detection and Voice Detection. The latter function is powered by Qualcomm’s Aqstic technology, but it remains unclear how secure it’ll make the device. Obviously, we’ll let you know when it comes time for our full review.

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Pricing and release information is unknown at this time, but we’ll let you know when we hear more. Our LG V30 coverage is just kicking off today so stay tuned to Matridox for more surrounding LG’s latest entry in the V series of smartphones.

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Max Buondonno is a technology enthusiast who has been working as a journalist in this industry for more than two years. He has grown up in the age where everyone has a smartphone which has influenced his decision to become a professional technology writer, his passion in life. He's dipped his toes in the development of websites, while you can ask him anything about Apple, Google, or Microsoft and he's bound to give you an answer. He's reachable on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and email.

6 comments on “First Look at the LG V30

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