LG V60 ThinQ 5G review: Stupendously decent for $900

IMG_0881

LG hasn’t had a screaming hit on its hands in years, and the new V60 ThinQ doesn’t change that. But in a world crowded by phones that can cost up to $1,500 at the high end, I’m actually really happy with what the V60 can deliver for the price.

I’ve been telling myself that I wasn’t gonna focus on the V60’s price and make that the reason you should buy it. In fact, I really can’t any more now that the OnePlus 8 Pro, a phone that out-specs the V60 in almost every important way, officially exists. But what I can tell you is that if you’ve wanted to buy an LG phone but have been hesitating because of bad reviews over the years, the V60 is what you’ve been waiting for. It’s the most pleasant and delightful LG phone I’ve tested in a long time and it nearly aces the fundamentals of a good smartphone.

It also does something weird: it works with a second screen. This is the third time LG has shipped a phone with a dual screen case, and the V60 gets the best user experience out of the three. I do have my gripes with it, but it’s at least decent enough to use day in and day out.

This is a big phone, guys

Before we go any further, I need to address the elephant of the room. Specifically, the elephant that is the V60 itself. Guys, this phone is big. Like, really big. It’s a few millimeters taller than the Galaxy S20 Ultra at 169.3 (6.67 inches) despite having a slightly smaller screen. It’s 8.9mm thick and is covered by glass on the front and back with aluminum side rails. In a way, its chunkiness reminds me of old HTC phones, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. If you plan on buying this phone and have smaller or average-sized hands, you may have serious problems handling it.

LG tries to make up for this by giving the V60’s screen a 20:9 aspect ratio. That makes it a bit slimmer so that you can reach to the other side of the phone with one hand, but that doesn’t make it any easier to reach the top of the phone. It’s especially annoying since LG doesn’t include a shortcut in its launcher to swipe down to access the notification shade. You get this super annoying search field which… we’ll get to later.

Around the device, it’s a familiar story. There’s a SIM/microSD card slot on the top, a few microphones here and there, volume/power/Google Assistant buttons, a USB-C port, and dual stereo speakers. There’s also LG’s pride and joy located to the left of the USB-C port: a headphone jack. This makes the V60 one of the last flagship phones you can buy with such a port. The other one that comes to mind is Motorola’s new Edge Plus, but I’m sure it’s not as powerful as LG’s since the V60 ships with a 32-bit quad DAC, capable of driving high-impedance headphones and hi-fi music.

On the front, you’ll find the 6.8-inch Full HD+ OLED display that LG seems to think is good enough for a flagship phone in 2020. I mean, it’s decent, but it’s nothing spectacular. The only spectacular aspects are its brightness and color reproduction. It’s a Full HD+ panel so it isn’t as sharp as others, and the 60Hz refresh rate kind of kills me inside, especially since I’ve been using Google’s Pixel 4 XL for a few months with its Quad HD+ 90Hz panel.

Is a faster refresh rate mandatory? No, not necessarily. But it’s one of those nice-to-have features that I’ve come to expect from flagships nowadays, and it’s really unfortunate that the V60 didn’t get one.

That’s partially because LG wanted to squeeze the most it could out of the huge 5,000mAh battery inside the V60. This phone is gigantic, and that power pack is most likely the reason.

As you can expect, the V60 has awesome battery life. I’m ending days with at least 60 percent left in the tank after heavy usage of Spotify, Bluetooth, social media, and a ton of email. The conversation shifts when you attach the dual screen case, but I’ll save that for a different section of this review. Just know that if you use the V60 all by itself, you’ll get incredible usage out of a full charge, perhaps even two or three days if you go lightly.

Speaking of charge, the V60 comes with a 25W fast charger that can supply a 50 percent charge in about 30 to 40 minutes. You also get wireless charging but no reverse wireless charging.

Specced to perform

Day in and day out, I haven’t had too many issues with performance on the V60. LG includes the flagship Snapdragon 865 processor in addition to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. That combination of specs makes for a nice experience from scrolling through Twitter to multitasking between Microsoft Word and the Spark email app. I’m sure the phone also plays nice with graphics-heavy games, but I’m not a gamer by any means. If you’re wondering whether Super Mario Run works well, though, I can definitively say it does.

This is gonna sound weird, but I think performance could be slightly better. The V60 uses the older UFS 2.1 storage standard opposed to the newer, much faster UFS 3.0 spec. I also think that it’d be nice to have a version of the V60 with more RAM. 8GB is plenty for most people, but I think some might want 12GB if they plan on using this phone for four or five years down the road.One sh

These setbacks are by no means dealbreakers. However, when phones like the OnePlus 8 Pro and Galaxy S20 are offering better specs for around the same amount of money, it’s hard to justify the V60’s somewhat safe play on specs here.

A LOT of Camera

On the flip side, one area where LG didn’t play things safely is the camera department. The company’s been known to throw everything but the kitchen sink in its smartphones, and the V60’s camera setup is perfect proof of that.

On the back, LG includes a main 64MP lens with an f/1.8 aperture and a secondary 13MP ultra-wide lens with an f/1.9 aperture. Both take incredibly nice photos with good color reproduction and sharpness, especially in daylight. Year over year, LG has certainly improved its post processing techniques, with most photos I take not feeling as icky as they would if I took them with a V50 or G8. The phone still kind of falls flat when it comes to low-light since everything gets either noisy or watercolory, but other than that, both shooters are enough for average users to take decent photos.

That’s absolutely huge. For the first time in years, LG has re-entered the same ballpark where Samsung Galaxies and OnePlus devices have been in terms of photo quality. All three of these OEMs produce good cameras that take good photos, and that’s all I’ve been asking for from LG. And no, you won’t get photos that can compete with a Google Pixel or recent iPhone, but they’re good nonetheless and won’t leave you wanting more.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention a telephoto camera on the back of the V60. That’s because there isn’t one. LG thought it’d be better to include a time-of-flight lens that can capture depth data to improve portrait shots. I personally saw no improvements compared to a traditional telephoto camera, but I guess that’s a good thing since portraits aren’t any worse either.

So, everything but the kitchen sink. What do I mean by that? Inside the camera app on the V60 (which has a beautiful 60 frames per second viewfinder, by the way), LG has a ton of different modes. You can take manual photos and videos with a plethora of different options, 3D photos like on Facebook (a feature you’ll use once and forget about), photos with AR stickers in them, panoramas, slow-motion videos in 4K, and Cine Shots (photos with certain areas of motion in them). This is actually far less than what LG usually throws in its camera apps, so the company’s likely trying to focus on features that consumers will use, even though most of them will go unnoticed.

The feature that’s most notable is the ability to record 8K video. You can only go up to 30 frames per second, but quite frankly, that doesn’t really matter. I don’t see a lot of people actually leaving 8K video enabled after recording a few test clips. It eats up all your storage, it doesn’t improve the overall quality of videos captured with the V60, and you more than likely don’t have a screen capable of displaying 8K content. It’s a pointless feature at the moment, and it’s hard to say when it’ll mean something in the future.

Speaking of which, video recording with the V60 is pretty nice. It isn’t iPhone-level quality, but no phone is. Standard issue 4K 60fps video capture is on full display, with good sharpness and detail. Stabilization is also solid.

In terms of selfies, there’s a 10MP shooter on the front hidden inside a teardrop notch. It’s absolutely fine.

Like I said, for the first time in years, I really don’t mind using an LG phone to take pictures. Do I still prefer my Pixel 4 XL? Absolutely. But when I use the Google phone, I tend to miss some of the features on the V60 like manual camera settings and the ultra-wide lens. Plus, the photo difference isn’t all that dramatic. LG has finally reached the point where if you buy the V60 over another phone, you won’t feel like you’re missing out when you use its cameras.

Finally.

LG software will be LG software

I always dread the software section of LG phone reviews because I know I’m gonna dump on it. And the worst part is how little the V60 changes that conversation.

The phone runs on Android 10 with the company’s revamped skin on top. It’s the same skin that debuted on the G8X, and at least compared to past LG skins, it’s pretty good. LG’s trying way too hard to be Samsung with all the colorful buttons and large headers, but I can live with that.

What I can’t live with are all the inconsistencies in the software. Throughout the system, you notice all these tiny flaws and odd animations that add to the feeling of a lack of polish. Even worse, LG is still stuck in its old ways when it comes to bloatware and its default launcher. The bloatware situation is absolute horrendous at this point since every version of the V60 comes with pre-loaded carrier apps (there’s no unlocked version). You could get everything from a stupid Game of Thrones app to some ancient version of Facebook. That’s not to mention all of the carrier-branded applications that also ship with every phone.

Then there’s the terrible default launcher. LG, for whatever reason, still thinks it’s a good idea to sort all apps horizontally on multiple scrolling pages in the app drawer. Speaking of which, the app drawer doesn’t automatically alphabetically categorize your apps. Every time you install a new one or get rid of something, you have to re-sort the drawer yourself. That’s stupid!

Swiping down on your home screen gets you an extremely slow search field that isn’t good for anything, and the Google pane to the left of your home screen might combine both data from Google and whatever carrier you buy your V60 from. The Settings app is also pretty terrible when it comes to search. There’s always a five to 10 second delay between you tapping the search button and your keyboard popping up. And then there’s the problem with updates: LG doesn’t guarantee anything. You might get regular security patches, you might not. And who’s to say whether you’ll get Android 12 after the Android 11 upgrade?

LG still has a long road in front of them when it comes to software. They tried a complete revamp which helped a bit, but they refuse to move on from some of my biggest issues with the way it’s designed. I’m not the only one complaining either. A bunch of other reviewers are quick to point out that software is far from perfect on LG phones. I feel like in a couple of years, the company might be in a better place, but I tend to doubt it given their history.

Maybe that new Velvet phone will finally fix LG’s software problems. Who knows?

Dual screens are cool, but definitely not necessary

Finally, let’s talk about the dual screen accessory for the V60. Mot people will get it for free when they buy the phone, and T-Mobile will give you the option to pay $100 less and just get the phone. If you want the case at all, it’s best to buy it when you get your phone since you’ll have to pay $200 for the case separately.

The V60 slides into the case from the top and connects over a USB-C port. Once the connection is established, the second screen fires up. It’s the same panel found on the V60, notch and all. Much like the G8X, LG isn’t bothering creating a custom display for the case which is why it has a notch with nothing in it. I think this is a dumb decision but that’s just me.

Having two screens on your phone is nothing new anymore. In fact, throughout 2019, LG released two other phones with the same feature, and I’ve used both of them. Since then, I’ve been able to develop somewhat of an opinion on the whole dual screen idea, and I’ve solidified it with the V60.

Here it is: it’s totally not necessary.

Most people, when they look at a phone with two screens, see endless multitasking possibilities and the ability to run two apps at once. You can watch YouTube on one and scroll Twitter on another. You can dedicate one to a controller for a game displayed on the other. You can even stretch web pages and videos across both screens for a bigger canvas (although that’s a really bad idea since there’s a huge hinge between the two screens).

That’s all fine and great, and the moment you take the case out of its box, you’ll give everything a try. But none of it is practical enough for everyday use, and I can’t see any of it convincing someone that dual screens is the only way to use a smartphone.

Right off the bat, the case is gigantic. It makes the V60 even heavier, thicker, and taller than the phone is by itself. It’s an absolute behemoth of a device, one that isn’t easy to operate in one hand. You can’t open the case with one hand either, which is perhaps the most aggravating part of the whole experience. If I have something in my left hand and I wanna take a picture of something, I have to free my hand and open up my phone, potentially missing whatever was in front of me.

Phone calls aren’t a big deal since you can answer them while the case is closed using the Google Assistant key, but it’s still pretty awkward since it feels like you’re holding a brick up to your face.

You’ll also notice that most of the time, you’ll only be using one screen. If I pull out my phone during dinner to reply to a text, I’m only using one screen. If I wanna check my email for a few minutes, I’m using one screen. If I’m scrolling Twitter, it’s always on one screen. So for a vast majority of the time, I either have the dual screen extended or flipped to the back of my phone while I use the main display on the V60. Only a few times have I felt the notion to bust out the second screen, and that’s usually when I wanna prop up a YouTube video. A reminder: you can just spend $15 on a PopSocket to do that.

There’s also the whole conversation about software optimization. LG can’t perfect software for a single screen, and it certainly hasn’t done it for a dual screen phone. You get a separate home screen that you have to manage, a separate app drawer that also has to be sorted manually, and a generally slower and buggier experience when interacting with the second display. It’s by no means a pleasurable experience, but it works well enough.

At least for me, I don’t get a ton of usage out of the dual screen case for the V60. It’s cool and nice to have, but only sometimes. It’s not built for everyday life, it’s not designed to be taken out of your pocket or purse often, and it’s definitely way too thick and heavy for most people. It also makes the headphone jack harder to access since your headphones have to travel through the case before they reach the port itself.

I will say, though, having magnetic charging is something I’ll forever treasure. It’s so underrated it drives me crazy. Being able to trip over the cord and not have your phone fly through the room is a delight. I guess if there’s a major upside to owning the dual screen case, it’s having a magnetic charger, especially since it doesn’t slow down your charging speed.

Conclusion

The V60 is a solid phone through and through. For $900, you get a phone with flagship specs, decent cameras, and terrific battery life. You also get a dual screen case that might be of interest to you. If that sounds nice, go and buy an LG V60. You probably won’t regret it.

But keep in mind that there are other phones in that price range. For instance, I can’t help thinking about the OnePlus 8 Pro. It costs the same as the V60 but ships with much higher-end specs, a high refresh rate display, and more cameras. The software is also way better, and that’s quite the statement given the fact I haven’t even used a OnePlus 8 Pro.

The V60 is a fine device, and it’ll please most people who buy it with the sheer amount of features packed inside. Just keep in mind that the phone isn’t in a vacuum, despite arriving with a headphone jack and a starting price below $1,000. Consider your options first, and if you still feel in your heart that the V60 is the right phone for you, pull the trigger. You’ll dig it.

LG V60 ThinQ 5G

~$900
7.4

Design

6.5/10

Display

7.0/10

Performance

7.5/10

Camera

7.0/10

Battery

9.0/10

Pros

  • Awesome battery life
  • Headphone jack!
  • Great performance for the price

Cons

  • Dual screen accessory isn't all that useful
  • Cameras are good but still need work
  • Do I have to tell you about the software?



There are no comments

Add yours

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: