LG hasn't followed quite the same approach. The LG G5 scrapped the G4's more traditional design for one with modular, snap-on accessories, but while there were good ideas in the mix, it didn't catch on – and the G5 wasn't better than the top competition on either the Android or iOS side of things.
Luckily, the LG G6 looks like a much stronger effort. Ditching the modular trend, the G6 is just a straight up slab of wonderphone, based on what we've seen and tried so far, with a big and bold screen, appealing design, and plenty of power within.
Revealed first at MWC and now launching in India, the LG G6 looks like a strong contender to put against the coming wave of expected handsets from Samsung and HTC, but how does it stack up compared to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in terms of specs and features? Here's a closer look.
Design: Fresh vs familiar
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus make some nice tweaks to the existing iPhone 6/6s design, whether it's making the antenna likes less abrasive, changing up the home "button," or adding some appealing black colour options. But at a glance, it's the very same phone that Apple has peddled for three editions now. At least water resistance is a great benefit this time around.
On the other hand, LG has emerged from its modular phase with a really attractive and fresh-feeling device, highlighted by that screen-dominated front. Contrast that to the still-bezel-loaded iPhone design, which is fine but also pretty unexciting at this point.
The LG G6 is heavy on glass and metal, looks super premium, and should hold its own against the Samsung Galaxy S8 and other coming contenders. Based on looks and feel (from our hands-on), it's the phone we'd rather wield - and show off - between these two.
Screen: Not very close
As Android flagships have embraced pixel-packed Quad HD displays over the last couple years, Apple has held tight to its lower-resolution screens. The iPhone 7 screen (4.7in) is still only a 750p panel, while the iPhone 7 Plus (5.5in) thankfully hits the 1080p benchmark, at least.
LG takes this category handily, however. The 5.7in display sounds massive, but thanks to the minimal bezel, the phone doesn't feel as large as it seems. It's a super-sharp Quad HD display, like the G5's was, but this time it uses a taller 18:9 aspect ratio. Why? Hard to say: just something different and more eye-catching, we suppose. But at least LG has built-in modes that can re-render content to fit the screen without horrible stretching (or so they say).
Better yet, LG's screen has HDR (high dynamic range) support – yes, on a smartphone. It'll run both Dolby Vision and HDR10 content right in your hand, delivering the incredible contrast and stunning colours that HDR promises. Expect Netflix and other apps to start offering on-the-go HDR content via updates.
Power: Fantastic Fusion
Apple may actually have the clear leg up in this category. The A10 Fusion chip introduced in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus was smashing benchmark tests left and right last autumn, blowing past anything else on the smartphone market at the time.
You might think that LG could put up something more powerful after a few months now, but instead, the company is using the existing Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 seen in the Google Pixel phones and OnePlus 3T. It's a super-fast processor, and the G6 has a bit more RAM to play with (4GB vs 2GB on the iPhone 7 and 3GB on the 7 Plus) – but if we're talking raw power, Apple seems to have more of it.
In everyday use, however, we doubt there's a night and day difference here. True, Android and iOS are different operating systems. Apple's iOS 10 tends to feel fast and fluid with its own chips, while pure Android 7.0 Nougat on a top-tier phone is also plenty speedy. LG has some amount of skinning seen on the G6, but it didn't seem extensive or overbearing during our demo. In short, you're sure to have more than enough power for all of your apps, games, media, and other daily purposes, no matter which of these devices you use.
Camera: Can't miss (probably)
The dual back cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus live up to the hype: the 12-megapixel main camera grabs excellent snapshots and you can swap to the telephoto lens for close-ups that don't lose quality in the process. Better yet, combine the two cameras with the Portrait mode and the results can be pretty spectacular. It's one of the best cameras on a phone today.
The iPhone 7's single back camera isn't quite as spectacular, but it's still one of the top phone cameras for everyday snaps – as the iPhone has long been – especially with speedier focusing in the latest model.
There's reason to think that the LG G6 could be a strong challenger to both iPhones, however, and like the iPhone 7 Plus, it has two back cameras. Here they serve different purposes, though: one is a 71° standard lens and the other goes wide at 125° degrees.
The LG G5 did something similar with widely disparate megapixel counts for each (16MP for the standard and 8MP for the wide angle), but now they're evened out at 13 megapixels apiece – so you won't sacrifice quality to fit more into the frame. Assuming the shots look great from both lenses, the G6 could hang with the iPhone 7 Plus in the upper echelon of smartphone shooters.
Perks: Mixed bag
When it comes to hardware perks, the LG G6 scores a big win over the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus with storage options. The G6 launches with 64GB of internal storage, but then you can pop in a microSD card with up to 2TB of extra space to load it up.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 7 models are predictably limited to whatever amount of storage you pay for from the outset, whether it's 32GB, 128GB or 256GB. Each higher level adds another ₹10,000 to the price tag. But that's always been the case with iOS devices.
And there's another big hardware perk for the LG G6: an actual headphone port. Yeah, we said it. Honestly, the iPhone's obvious omission hasn't been that big of a deal, but we're still happy to see LG stick with the classic 3.5mm port.
When it comes to battery life, the LG G6 packs a hearty 3,300mAh pack with fast charging available, while the iPhone 7 Plus has a 2,900mAh battery and the standard iPhone 7 has just a 1,960mAh cell. Granted, both devices probably use less battery power for their lower-resolution displays, but there's still a significant difference here.
Surely, the LG G6 will outlast the iPhone 7, although it's probably pretty close to what the 7 Plus can manage. We'll have a better sense once we've been carrying the G6 around for a few days.
We don't need to dig into the great iOS vs Android debate again, and both mobile operating systems have their advantages and perks – but ultimately, both are super useful, loaded with features, and similar in a lot of ways. If it's a big deal to you, then you've probably already made your decision in this particular battle.
But when it comes to apps and games, it's tough to argue with Apple's advantage. The App Store not only gets more high-profile app and game releases, but it also often gets those bigger releases before Android. The Play Store certainly isn't barren, and almost anything worth a damn on iOS will eventually hit Android – but not everything, and it can be a long wait.
Overall: A fantastic fight
If we had to take a guess, we suspect that the LG G6 has a strong chance of landing very high on our list of the best smartphones in the world right now. It returns to strong, core fundamentals of flagship construction and ditches last year's modular additions, and promises a brilliant display, alluring design, plenty of power, and little obvious reason to complain.
But the iPhone 7 Plus is already in our top three on that list, as of this writing, for its amazing camera, strong (but not best-in-class) screen, speedy performance, and its cohesive marriage of hardware and software. And the iPhone 7 isn't too far behind, although it has less standout perks and dips low on a few key specs.
These are pretty different handsets, to be fair. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, while surely the best Apple phones to date, feel like the company's last gasp at revising (and reusing) a proven design before hopefully wowing us with something new. In that respect, it's not all that exciting. It's great in nearly every way, but also highly familiar throughout.
The LG G6, while maybe not blisteringly innovative, at least has a lot more momentum hitting the market, especially as a rebound from the LG G5 and also the first big flagship out of the gates in 2017. We'll just have to see (once we finish our full review) whether it's awesome enough to top the iPhone 7 Plus on our rankings… or even the standard iPhone 7.