Budding movie makers, pay attention: LG’s latest wants to add some silver screen magic to your social shares.
The V30 can record 4K videos in LOG format - that’s the kind of silver screen wizardry cinematographers use when they colour-grade blockbuster movies. Not bad for something that slips into a picket.
It’s purpose-built for audiophiles, too, with a 32-bit DAC that’ll handle Hi-Res music tracks. Oh, and let’s not forget the headphone jack - what good would a music-obsessed phone be without one of those?
On paper, the V30 sounds like a laundry list of everything you could want from an Android phone: OLED screen, skinny bezels, and one of the more unique dual camera setups currently squeezed into a smartphone.
Unfortunately, a few mistakes stop LG from delivering on its promises.
DESIGN & BUILD: SLIMLINE STUNNER
If the G6 was a tentative dip in the water, as far as bezel-free phones go, then the V30 is a full-on cannonball straight off the diving board.
Gorilla glass 5 protects an 18:9 aspect ratio screen, which practically fills the entire front of the phone, and the shiny rear gets the same treatment. 3D glass then wraps slightly around the sides, merging smoothly with the metal frame, which has its own slight curve.
The Aurora Black hue of our review sample is a little business-like, though. We prefer the more colourful Moroccan Blue version.
It might have the same size screen as Google’s giant Pixel 2 XL, but the V30 sits more comfortably in your hand - because it’s not making room for any front-facing speakers.
The dual camera module take up a lot less space here than they do on the G6, giving the back of the phone a more refined look. Oh, and they’re nowhere near the fingerprint sensor, either. LG: 1, Samsung Galaxy S8: 0.
That sensor sits in perfect position on the back of the phone, too, right where your finger naturally rests.
The whole thing is IP68 dust and water resistant, so won't come a cropper if it takes an accidental dunking, and LG has drop-tested it too, so hopefully a light case of butterfingers won’t mean a smashed screen. Not that I’ve thrown it at any concrete to find out - and it’s still made from glass, so any major impacts are still going to cause carnage.
While the screen itself might not curve around the edges of the phone like the Galaxy S8, the V30 is otherwise as modern as handsets get right now.
SCREEN: OLED-ING THE SIDE DOWN
LG’s return to OLED smartphone screens should have been a triumph - after all, its OLED TVs are the best in the business. Unfortunately though, the V30 lets the side down.
The 6in OLED panel has a pixel-popping QHD+ resolution, which keeps things looking pin-sharp, and when you crank up the brightness, colours look punchy. So far, so good.
In the dark, though, there’s a grittiness and unevenness to the lighting that is pretty nasty, with desaturated colours you just wouldn’t expect from OLED. It also has the same off-angle blue cast seen on the Pixel 2 XL, although it’s less noticeable here.
HDR10 support means compatible Netflix streams should look even better than their SDR counterparts, but there’s just not enough definition in darker scenes - a very odd thing for OLED, which usually has exceptional contrast. The iPhone X and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 perform much better here.
We’re not alone in experiencing these issues. Other reviewers have seen handsets that fared better - and worse. It seems quality control might be the issue here, so buying in-store might be the best way to guarantee a decent panel.
The switch to OLED does at least mean the V30 will play nicely with Google’s DayDream View VR headset - a first for an LG phone. This puts it on level pegging with Samsung’s Galaxy phones, which have supported the Gear VR headset for a few years now.
LG’s always-on display tech makes a lot more sense on an OLED screen, too, as it’s only using power to draw a few pixels, rather than relying on a backlight.
It’s a real shame the screen just isn’t up to par, because you’re forced to look at it every time you use your phone. Samsung’s OLED panels are just much better all round.
SOUND: GOLDEN EARS
There’s nothing to complain about the V30’s sound. LG has added a quad-DAC, which is audio geek speak for making your music sound as good as it possibly can from a smartphone.
That includes MQA support, a world’s first in a phone. This cutting-edge new file type is much smaller than a FLAC or WAV file, but stays lossless for the best possible quality. You’d normally find it on very high-end Hi-Fi kit, so to have it in a phone is a big deal for audiophiles.
The detail and precision you get from MQA and a decent pair of headphones is genuinely superb. Daft Punk’s Get Lucky has never sounded so clear-cut.
The built-in speaker has apparently been tuned by audio experts B&O Play, who also supply the bundled in-ear headphones, but it’s not quite as loud as the dual-speaker Pixel 2 XL.
Still, short of spending thousands on a dedicated Pono or Astell & Kern music player, this is the best portable sound around.