Review: LG Electronics V20 Smartphone

LG V20 Smartphone

While standing in a T-Mobile store buying a new phone for my wife, I also ended up upgrading my LG V10 to the latest and greatest from LG, the V20. I was happy with my V10; however, as I was on JUMP! from T-Mobile and had not utilized the upgrade option, making the upgrade to the V20 made sense.

The LG V20 has the same basic functionality as it’s predecessor. The V20 has the same 5.7″ IPS QHD display with an auxiliary screen for displaying notifications, which appears brighter and clearer despite the resolution remaining the same as the V10 at 160 x 1040 pixels, however, the IPS light bleed is gone.

The CPU and GPU have been upgraded as you’d expect; the LG V20 sports a Snapdragon 820, 2.15Ghz with an Adreno 530 GPU. The V20 performance seems to be the same to me; I notice no speed increase in my day to day use compared to the V10. I do find it interesting that LG elected to move from the hexacore 808 to the quad core 820 processor; even if the overall clock speeds have increased.

The big selling point of the V20 is its photo and video functionality. And in general, I don’t see much difference from the V10; image quality is excellent with good sharpness and detail at low ISO settings, but gets noisy quickly when the ISO is pushed into the 600-800 range, i.e. indoor and lower light shots.

The biggest difference is the camera itself, the dual lens front “selfie” camera has been moved to the rear offering a 16 megapixel sensor with 29mm F/1.8 and 12mm F/2.4 lenses with optical image stabilization, while the front camera maintains it’s wide angle functionality despite having a single 5 megapixel sensor.

I took a selection of photos of my kids and wildlife at the Sedgwick County Zoo and image quality is good for static objects. However, capturing moving objects is very hard as the resulting images have significant motion blur. I do like the ultra-wide 12mm lens, it appears as wide as my Canon EF-S 10-22mm USM lens. I could use the LG V20 in a pinch for real estate photography as rooms tend to be static by nature.

Video recording seems to be on par with that of the V10; the imagery is sharp with good contrast and color using auto exposure mode. However, I believe the auto-focus mechanism to be too sensitive, it does not take much to get the camera to pull focus from the subject making the video blurry for a few seconds.

The camera has options for 4K, 1080p 60 fps, 1080p 30 fps and 720p 30 fps and does have a plethora of manual video settings for those creative types. However, on a cell phone I prefer the point and shoot experience, pull it out of my pocket and hit record, if I was doing serious videography I would use my Canon EOS 80D. I would suggest that the majority of cell phone users use the automatic modes.

Audio is still great with the same Hi-Fi DAC with headphones plugged in. However, unlike the V10; it does not stop playback if it deems that I have the volume set too high. I can play my music as loud as the device allows without interruption on the V20, which makes me immensely happy, to say the least.

Battery life has been hit or miss; I’ve had the V20 on battery for 14+ hours with 40% remaining. The next day, it barely managed 6 hours with similar usage to the previous 14 hour day. Another evening, I put the phone down with almost 50% battery life and left it for about 90 minutes before noticing the secondary display was off. I found that the battery had drained completely in that short time period without use.

For the record, I set my screen brightness to 50% and have all the same apps as I did on my V10. I don’t tend to install apps on a regular basis, I have my core apps and that’s it. I know I could use auto-brightness to conserve battery, but that does not work well for me, it tends to be too dark to my eye in most situations. I also used 50% brightness on my V10 and got more than 24 hours usage every day.

Ergonomically, not much has changed from the V10; with the exception of the volume buttons being moved from the back to the left-hand side. I do like my volume rocker on the side instead of the back, however, the power button/fingerprint scanner remains on the back. I’d prefer the fingerprint scanner to either be on the side or the front, so I don’t need to physically pick up the phone to unlock it.

Android 7.0 (Nougat) is pre-installed on the phone, which seems very much the same as 6.0 just with added security features. Finally, the charging input is USB 2.0 Type-C, which is great from my point of view, my family can not steal my fast charger anymore as they all have microUSB 2.0 chargers.

Would I recommend the LG V20? If it’s a brand new purchase and not an upgrade from the V10; I’d recommend it. However, if you already own a V10; save your money and keep it for another year. In my opinion, the V20 is not a big enough jump from the V10 to justify the hefty price tag of the LG V20.

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