LG V60 ThinQ: Impressions from afar

LG V60 header

It’s no secret that LG hasn’t had a hit smartphone in years. The company’s 2019 offerings, the blood-scanning G8 and the boring-unless-in-a-dual-screen-case V50, proved that the company was running out of ideas, not to mention the fact that its mobile division as a whole has been burning money each quarter.

So to kick off 2020 with hopes and ambitions to rebuild its mobile business to its former glory, LG has unveiled the V60 ThinQ. No, you’re not wrong for remembering that “G” typically comes before “V” in LG’s release cycle, but for some odd reason, the company is flipping that schedule on its head by holding off on the eventual G9 until later this year.

In exchange, we get the V60 which aims to compete directly with Samsung’s Galaxy S20 in many ways. The first way is in cameras. On the back of the phone, LG includes three different sensors. There’s a main 64MP f/1.8 lens, an ultra-wide 13MP lens, and a depth sensor for improved portrait mode shots. Typically, this role is played by telephoto lenses, but I guess LG can do the same thing without making the camera functional beyond collecting depth info.

The front of the phone has a 10MP selfie shooter, and that wraps up the conversation regarding camera hardware on the V60. That’s because, for whatever reason, LG cut back on the amount of functional cameras it previously had from five to three (excluding the depth sensor which you can’t use to take photos or videos). Instead, the company is hoping the features and capabilities it bundles with the hardware is enough to sway customers from buying something from Samsung or Apple.

Heh. Doing “more” with “less.” Very Googley of you, LG.

In terms of capabilities, the V60 has a ton of them in the camera department. You can record 8K video at 26 frames per second with full manual controls for both visuals and audio, “voice bokeh” lets you draw emphasis to a certain subject’s sound in a video, “3D photos” are now a thing (thanks, Facebook), and there’s a good chance the company has improved its post-processing even further.

Look, I’m sure LG has their intentions right this year. 2020 has to be a bounce-back year for the company. So while my expectations aren’t as high as they could be in terms of the quality of photos and videos that come out of the V60, I remain optimistic, if a little nervous.

I do fear, though, that for another year, LG’s latest flagship won’t be able to keep up with Samsung, Apple, and Google phones. All three of these companies are more than capable of producing cameras that you can feel confident in. I haven’t been able to say the same thing about LG phones in a long time. Hopefully, this year, they start turning things around for the better.

Cameras aren’t the only exciting part of the V60, and it’s certainly not the only department LG wants to grab some of Samsung’s market share in. for instance, the V60 comes with a huge 5,000mAh battery. You also get the powerful Snapdragon 865 processor, a 6.8-inch OLED screen with an in-display fingerprint reader, Android 10, and 5G connectivity thanks to the Snapdragon X55 modem. Heck, you even get a headphone jack with a quad DAC.

Wanna know the real kicker? LG says it plans to sell the V60 for less than the base model Galaxy S20. That phone retails for $999, so if the V60 costs around $800 or so, this phone will most certainly be worth talking about, if only for comparison’s sake.

You’ll notice that I haven’t talked about the rest of the phone yet. That’s because the other conversation potential V60 buyers need to hear has to do with cuts and setbacks. While not necessarily bad by any means, the V60 comes with 8GB of RAM instead of 12GB like in the S20. You also get up to 256GB of storage with no option to go any higher (besides the obvious microSD card slot). The display, while OLED, has a 2,460×1080 resolution, and it doesn’t come with a refresh rate faster than 60Hz. LG also dropped its Boombox speaker feature and replaced it with traditional stereo speakers on the top and bottom of the phone.

It’s important to mention that these downsides aren’t necessarily deal breakers. In fact, the only one that would keep me from buying this device is the Full HD+ screen. I’ve been spoiled by high resolutions for years and I can’t relaly go back to something lower than Quad HD. That being said, Full HD+ is perfectly fine for most people, and it actually serves a purpose: it matches the V0’s included accessory.

That’s right, folks. For every V60 that’s bought, you also get LG’s Dual Screen accessory for free in the box. The second screen has obviously been updated to reflect the larger dimensions of the V60, and the window on the back has been significantly shrunken to only expose the camera housing. LG says it’s worked with Google to bring its Wide View feature to more Google apps (a.k.a. more Google apps can now stretch across both displays and give you a tablet-like reading experience), and you still get the excellent magnetic charging feature that first shipped with the G8X. After all, the Dual Screen connects to the V60 over USB-C.

My first read of the V60 has me pegging a few features as standouts. Obviously 8K video recording with those manual controls, but also the dual screen perk. Then there’s the headphone jack which many people refuse to leave and let die. Plus, I kinda dig the refreshed design with its aluminum rails, chamfered sides, and optional blue/gold finish.

As a package, if LG sells it for $200 less than the Galaxy S20, I feel like buyers won’t be able to not consider the V60. It’ll be right in their face, with a list of specs extremely similar to the S20 but for less money. Throwing the dual screen into that mix for nothing extra will also undoubtedly cause some people to think twice before pulling the trigger.

I’ll be doing my best to get my hands on a V60. In the mean time, for all of you wondering, LG hasn’t confirmed any pricing information or release dates. That’ll be up to the carriers, and we can expect that information to surface some time next month.

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