We were were suitably impressed by last year's V10, LG's beefy second flagship designed with A/V geeks in mind.

Bringing to the table a pin-sharp display, soild build quality and excellent camera chops, the only things we found lacking were the slightly gimmicky second screen and an average battery life.

Well, we got our hands on its successor, the LG V20, last week at IFA ahead of its official announcement yesterday and have walked away more than a little smitten.

Spec-wise, everything's in place for what you'd expect from a 2016 flagship: a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, an improved (and removeable!) 3200mAh battery and a 5.7in 2K screen. The aforementioned second screen is back as well, as is the phone's dual camera setup on the rear and something similar for the front snapper, but more on that later.

Hey, good looking!

Right off the bat, it appears that LG have heard the concerns of its customers and made some marked improvements on the design front. While the V10 was indeed a sturdy handset, it felt a little cheap compared to the likes of the Galaxy Note 5 due to a rubbery-textured back.

The V20 looks leaps and bounds classier. The phone's back is removeable and made from the sort of military-grade metal used in airplanes. LG claims that it's able to withstand drops and twisting, and we gave both a good go, to no adverse results. There's also a centred power button that doubles as a fingerprint sensor.

Flanking either side of the back cover, the top and bottom of the phone are made from a silicon-based organic polymer which is 24-per cent stronger than polycarbonate for increased drop-protection.

The gunmetal V20 we got to play around with looks positively slick, and felt smooth and comfortable in our hands without ever feeling like it would slip out. It's clear to see that LG took the design of the V20 very seriously.

Double vision

The V20's second ticker-like screen has received a bit of an upgrade. First off, LG has confirmed that it will support Android Nougat's new In Apps feature which allows for searching for keywords directly in apps.

While its width and height remain the same as on the V10, it is now brighter, with a larger font and higher contrast. It also can accomodate up to 24 characters in its signature function as opposed to the V10's 14.

How many cameras?!

The V10 was one of the first smartphones to incorporate a dual-camera setup - something that was adopted in the company's main 2016 flagship the LG G5.

The V20 also follows this lead by housing two senors on its back. A 16MP (f1.8) regular snapper and an 8MP (f2.8) wide-angle lens that spans up to 135-degrees.

What's also interesting is LG's descision to make the 5MP snapper on the front have two seperate modes. It's actually a wide-angle lense that shoots at 102-degrees at f1.9 (34 per cent brighter than the V10's f2.2 front camera). The sensor then allows you to crop its field of view down to 83 degrees, offering up a more 'normal' image.

One other thing to note is that LG is touting the cameras as using a combination of three autofocus features - laser detection for low light conditions, phase detection for moving objects and outdoor shooting, and micro focus to help get sharper images.

As the conditions of our brief hands-on didn't allow us to wander outside the confines of a small press room, we couldn't put these properly to the test. We can however confirm that the V20's auto mode was fast and, to our eyes, accurate even under the harsh lighting of a convention hall. And there is a comprehensive manual mode for those that want to get really stuck in to the nitty gritty of smartphone photography.

We will of course take it for a proper spin once we get our hands on a full review unit.

Sound offerings

The V20 also boasts some pretty impressive audio chops in the form of (count 'em) four in-built DACs.

LG says this will help reduce noise by up to 50% and deliver high-quality audio through your headphones.

Speaking of headphones, you may notice the B&O branding on the rear of the phone we tested. An LG spokesperson sadly confirmed that the Middle East version of the V20 will not be receiving the bundled B&O earphones that select other markets will be getting. Also absent will be the B&O tailored algorithms used in conjunction with the phone's 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC to further bump up its audiophile chops.

This is a shame as the unit we tested played back FLAC and AIFF (it also supports DSD and ALAC) files with ease, and they sounded head and shoulders better than anything we'd heard on this year's flagship phones.

Once again, we won't be able to accurately tell if this will make a difference in the final retail unit that ships in our region until we get our hands on a proper review device, but we'll be sure to keep you informed of any changes.

Break me off a piece

Both LG and Google confirmed that the V20 is the first of the latest batch of late-2016 smartphones to come preloaded with Android 7.0 Nougat.

Of course this is technically not entirely true as many of the Nexus branded phones have already received updates and essentially stolen the V20's thunder.

Some of the cool Nougat features are present however, such as split-screen and Direct Reply from notifications which we mentioned earlier. However, LG has once again heavily skinned this version of Android and the app drawer is once again sadly missing.


LG V20 initial verdict

Overall we walked away from our breif hands-on eager to get a bit more time with the V20, so we can put it through its proper paces. It's got some solid camera tech, a more refined design and a bigger battery that you can swap out, which very few manufacturers can claim these days. The addition of its quad DACs means it also has the potential to be a powerhouse for those looking to do audio recording and video editing right on the device.

Everything looks to be in order to make this a strong contender against the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the incoming iPhone 7 Plus. We shall see.

The LG V20 will be available in titan, silver and pink. Pricing and availablity for the Middle East are not yet confirmed but we will update you as soon as we hear anything.