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We have all grown accustomed to the yearly refresh schedule at this point, whether or not we actually buy a phone every year or not.
But it looks like LG doesn’t want to keep up that schedule. In fact, it doesn’t sound like LG wants to see itself as launching phones because it has to, according to LG Electronics Vice Chairman Cho Sung-jin. According to the Chairman, LG doesn’t want to launch phones just because its rivals are launching devices, and it may mean that it doesn’t keep up a yearly refresh schedule. Interestingly enough, we may even see more variants of the G- and V-series handsets along the way, too:
“We will unveil new smartphones when it is needed. But we will not launch it jut because other rivals do. We plan to retain existing models longer by, for instance, unveiling more variant models of the G series or V series.”
That would be a big shift, to be sure. LG and Samsung have been going head-to-head in the early part of the year, for quite some time, with the former company launching the G-series handsets, and the latter launching its Galaxy S flagship brand. And then again, later in the year, Samsung has typically launched the Galaxy Note phablet, while LG has turned to the V-series device as its competing product.
It will be interesting to see what this turns into. The suggestion that we could see more models of both the G- and V-series handsets seems to suggest that while LG might not stick to the yearly refresh cycle, we could see just a bunch of different devices released throughout any given year with these brands.
- LG Electronics CEO Cho Seong-jin says the company plans to unveil new smartphones “when it is needed,” rather than to maintain competition with rival devices.
- LG wants to “retain existing models longer” with the release of additional variants, for example.
- What this means for the hypothetical LG G7 and LG V40 remains to be seen.
LG is planning a rebrand its flagship G series this year (more on that below), but it looks like the company’s plans might stretch farther and wider than a reshaping of naming conventions. Its mobile division is coming off the back of 10 quarter-on-quarter losses, so now could be a good time for a change.
LG Electronics Vice Chairman and CEO Cho Seong-jin sat down at CES yesterday to discuss, among other things, LG’s future mobile strategy (via The KoreaHerald); specifically, when it would reveal its next flagship.
“We will unveil new smartphones when it is needed. But we will not launch it just because other rivals do,” said Cho.
“We plan to retain existing models longer by, for instance, unveiling more variant models of the G series or V series.”
LG has traditionally released devices around the same time as its South Korean rival Samsung, but after beating the Galaxy S8 to launch in 2017 with its LG G6, and still (by all accounts) getting trounced by it in sales, it’s little surprise that this strategy is being rethought. LG might not adhere to a strict yearly release cycle, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see a new flagship the LG G7 or LG V40 released this year.
Additionally, though Cho referenced the G series in his comments, we can still assume this was for convenience’s sake — a rebrand would still be in line with the other changes in its mobile division strategy.
Cho focused on LG’s new approach as something the company could sustain. “We found it is important to retain a good platform for a long [time] and concerns rise over the supply of lithium materials,” he said.
Those may be viable reasons, but LG could just as likely be changing its strategy because its mobile business just isn’t profitable anymore. At the last count, LG’s mobile unit was still responsible for hundreds of millions of lost dollars, and it’s expected to see its 11th quarterly loss in a row in the Q4 2017 earnings announcement coming soon. Retaining a good platform is one thing, but making phones that will sell in astronomical quantities probably wouldn’t hurt either.
LG hosted a press conference at CES 2018 where Vice Chairman Cho Sung-jin said that its models will stick around for longer then before, with more variants launching between new models.
“We will unveil new smartphones when it is needed. But we will not launch it just because other rivals do… We plan to retain existing models longer by, for instance, unveiling more variant models of the G series or V series.”
This move seems to be a way for LG to downsize its mobile business, which has been losing money for the last 10 quarters. Losses have been shrinking thanks to the budget segment, but the flagship models still haven’t been selling as well as its rivals.
Nonetheless, this move could ease people’s minds about buying an LG flagship for the long term. Hopefully the company also steps up its game with software support and security updates to keep those customers happy.
We’ve already shown you the first things you should do with the LG V30. Now, we can dig deep into the features. LG traditionally packs a lot of stuff into their phones. The V30 is no different, but they’ve also scaled back in some areas. It’s a nice full list of features without burring the users in choices. We’ll help you get the most out of your V30 with this list.
How to take a screenshot on the LG V30
Taking a screenshot is a great tool for showing people what you’re looking at. It’s one of the most basic functions you can do with a phone. The V30 has a couple of different methods to perform this task.
- Press and hold the power and volume down buttons simultaneously
- Open the Floating Bar
- Tap one of the Capture shortcuts
- You can draw on the screen, record a long screen, crop, or create a GIF
Set up the fingerprint scanner
The fingerprint scanner on the back of the V30 can be used for a few things, such as Android Pay and Google Play Store purchases, but the most common use is unlocking the phone. The V30 has one of the fastest and most reliable sensors I’ve used. You definitely should give it a shot.
- Go to Settings > Fingerprints & security
- Tap on Fingerprints (confirm your password)
- Select Add fingerprint
- Scan your fingerprint
Unlock the phone with your face
Unlocking phones with your face is all the rage these days and the V30 can do it too. LG’s “Face Print” is one of the best face unlocking implementations I’ve used. It can work along with the fingerprint scanner (you don’t have to pick just one). You should check it out and give it a try.
- Go to Settings > Lock screen
- Select Face Recognition
- Tap NEXT
- Tap START and follow instructions
- Tap OK when done
Skip the lock screen in safe places with Smart Lock
The V30 has many convenient unlock methods, but sometimes you shouldn’t need any of them. A feature called “Smart Lock” lets you tell your phone when it’s safe to disable lock screen security. This allows you to lock your phone when you need it, but it won’t be locked when you’re in trusted situations.
- Go to Settings > Lock screen
- Select Smart Lock
- Choose one of the Smart Lock methods
Currently, there are 4 types of Smart Lock, and you can use more than one at a time. Each one will explain how it works when you select it. Trusted places is a good place to start.
Make sure you can find your lost or stolen phone
The worst thing that can happen to a new phone is for it to be lost or stolen. Thankfully, you have some options for retrieving the device. The V30 comes with something called “Android Device Manager” pre-installed. If your phone is lost or stolen you can simply go to this website, log in with your Google account, and locate your phone. You can also remotely ring, lock, and erase the device. The best thing about this is there’s no set-up required. It just works.
Set up the Floating Bar
LG replaced the Second Screen with a new feature called “Floating Bar.” It has essentially the same features of the Second Screen, but it’s a widget that floats on your screen. You can drag it around wherever you want, but it’s always just a tap away.
- Go to Settings > Floating Bar
- Toggle it on
- Toggle on the items you want in the bar
- Tap Shortcuts and Quick contacts to customize
Get quick info with the Always-On Display
The V30 has an Always-on display that allows you to see the time, date, and notifications while the display is turned off. This feature really shines with the OLED displays. It’s pretty handy to see the time or whether you need to read a notification.
- Go to Settings > Display
- Tap Always-on display
- Toggle the switch to ON
- Tap the settings gear icon to choose how it looks
Wake the phone with a double-tap
If you haven’t used an LG phone in a while, you’re about to discover something you won’t be able to live without. Since the power button is on the back, sometimes it’s hard to quickly wake up the phone. You can simply double-tap anywhere on the screen and the display will light up.
Putting the phone to sleep works the same way. If you’re using the stock LG launcher you can double-tap on any blank space, but if you’re using a 3rd-party launcher you have to double-tap the status bar. Give it a try.
Put the Settings in list mode
On most V30 models, the Settings is organized with a tabbed layout. We’ve found that the tabs usually make it more difficult to find what you’re looking for. To go back to the more traditional list view, simply tap the three-dot menu icon in the top right of the Settings and select List view. You can also slide out the list of settings from the side.
Delete unwanted apps
Some carrier models of the LG V30 will come with a lot of apps pre-installed. It’s very annoying to see apps you never intend to use. The good news is we can uninstall, or at least disable, most of the bloatware. There are two methods to remove apps.
- Go to Settings > Apps
- Locate the appropriate app
- Note: For system apps, tap the Menu icon > Show system
- Tap UNINSTALL
- Tap OK to confirm
- Open the app drawer
- Tap the Menu icon
- Select Arrange apps
- Tap the (X) icon on an app to remove
How to draw on the screen
You can draw on pretty much anything with a tap of a button on the LG V30. It’s a button that you can find in the Quick Settings or Floating Bar. When you tap the button, it takes a screenshot and lets you draw on it. Not only is it great for doodling, but it’s great for taking notes.
- Expand the Floating Bar
- Swipe to the screen capture shortcuts
- Tap the pencil icon
- Edit the image and tap the check mark to save it
Bring back the App Drawer
The default LG home screen does not include an app drawer. All of your apps will be on the home screen just like how it is on the iPhone. If you use a 3rd-party launcher, this isn’t a problem, but if you use the stock launcher you might want the app drawer. Thankfully, LG has a way to get the drawer back.
- Go to Settings > Home screen
- Tap Select Home
- Choose Home & app drawer
Hide apps in the launcher
Now that we have the app drawer back, there may be some apps you don’t want to see in it. Sometimes these are apps you need to have installed, but you don’t want them cluttering up your app drawer. Thankfully, it’s easy to hide apps.
- Open the app drawer
- Tap the menu icon
- Select Hide apps
- Check the box for the apps you want to hide
- Tap DONE
Change up the look with a Theme
By default, the V30 comes with a bright white theme. It’s not an ugly theme, but you may prefer something darker or just plain different. The good news is you can choose from a few pre-installed themes and even download themes directly from the Play Store. Here’s how to do it.
- Go to Settings > Theme
- Select one of the preloaded themes
- Tap APPLY
Themes installed from the Play Store will show up in the same place. Here’s an example of a theme you can download from the Play Store.
Get a new keyboard
- Go to Settings > Language & keyboard
- Select Current keyboard
- Tap SELECT MORE
- Toggle on your desired keyboard
- Go back, select Current Keyboard again
- Select your keyboard
To find Settings for your keyboard
- Go to Settings > Language & keyboard
- Tap the name of your keyboard
- You’ll see all the settings
Turn off the “Rounded Square” icons
For everything that LG does well, software design is not on the list. One of the things you’ll notice right away is the “rounded square” icon shape on the default LG home screen. It’s kinda ugly, but the good news is you can turn it off and go back to the stock icons. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to Settings > Home screen
- Select Icon Shape
- Choose Original
- Tap OK
Adjust how apps scale to the 18:9 display
The V30’s display is taller than most phones. It has an 18:9 aspect ration, whereas most devices have 16:9 displays. All that means is you get some extra vertical space for apps. By default, most apps run completely fine on the tall display. Where you may run into some issues is with fullscreen apps, such as games. You can adjust the scale.
- In a fullscreen app, swipe up from the bottom to reveal the nav buttons
- Tap the App Scaling button
- You’ll have three options:
- Compatibility (16:9)
- Standard (16.7:9) (default)
- Fullscreen (18:9)
- If the app is misbehaving, put it in compatibility mode.
You can also adjust App Scaling in the Settings.
- Go to Settings > Display
- Select App scaling
- Tap the app you want to adjust
- Choose one of the options
Change the display size
LG allows you to adjust the display size on the V30. Whether you have good eyes and want to take advantage of that extra screen real estate to show more of everything, or you want to further enlarge text, icons, everything, it’s all possible thanks to DPI scaling. Here’s where you’ll find it:
- Go to Settings > Display
- Scroll down and select Display size
- Move the slider to the left or right to either shrink or blow up the entire UI
Change the wallpaper
Changing the wallpaper is one of the easiest ways to instantly personalize your phone. It’s super easy to do. Simply press and hold on any empty space on the home screen. Select the Wallpapers tab in the bottom right of the screen. You’ll be able to choose from installed apps and pre-loaded wallpapers. You can also change the lock screen wallpaper. Go to Settings > Lock screen > Wallpaper.
Add or reorder home screen pages
Adding extra home screens gives you more room for widgets and apps icons. LG doesn’t allow you to simply drag an app or widget to a blank screen to create a new home screen. You have to follow these steps.
- Pinch to zoom out on the home screen
- Tap the (+) on the blank home screen
- Now you have a blank screen
Reorganize the Quick Toggles
There are a bunch of super handy Quick Settings toggles in the notification shade. Pull down once to see a few to toggles or pull down again to see a bunch more. You can customize the order of these toggles and add or remove certain ones from the list.
- Swipe down to show the notification shade
- Swipe down again to expand the Quick Settings
- Tap the EDIT button (bottom right)
- Drag and drop icons in the notification panel
- Tap the menu icon to add/remove brightness, volume, etc.
Customize the Navigation Bar
The V30 has software nav button on the bottom of the screen. Unlike physical buttons, they can disappear to make room for fullscreen apps, or in this case, be customized to show more buttons. You can rearrange the existing buttons, change the color, and add up to two extra buttons.
- Go to Settings > Display > Home touch buttons
- Select Button combination
- You can drag and drop the buttons in any order you like, but there can’t be more than 4 in the bar
- Changes will show up in the navigation bar immediately
- You can choose the color of the buttons on the previous page
Add shortcuts to the lock screen
By default, you’ll probably see shortcuts for phone and camera on the lock screen. While these are handy for most people, they might not be your first choices. LG allows you to add up to five shortcuts to the lock screen.
- Go to Settings > Lock screen
- Select Shortcuts
- Simply tap on a shortcut and choose the desired app from the list
- Tap SAVE when you’re done
Take advantage of ALL the megapixels
The V30 features a great camera. With a dual lens system, users can switch between the regular 16MP camera or a super wide angle camera on the fly. On some models, the camera doesn’t take full advantage of the all the megapixels by default. While it’s nice to see the viewfinder filling up the entire display, it’s basically chopping off the top and bottom. You should fix it.
- Open the Camera app
- Tap the Settings icon
- Select Photo size
- Choose 4:3 (16MP)
- Flip to the front-facing camera
- Go to Settings > Photo Size
- This time select 4:3 (5.0MP)
Use the wide-angle camera to get everything in frame
One of the best things about LG phones is the wide-angle camera on the back. It allows you to get much more in the frame of a photo or video. You can switch between the cameras on the fly, even in the middle of a video.
- Open the Camera
- You’ll see two icons on the top or side of the app (depending on orientation)
- The single tree icon is for the standard camera
- The icon with three trees is for the wide-angle camera
- Tap whichever one you’d like to use
Get Instagram pics with Snap Shot mode
LG has added a new “Snap Shot” mode to take advantage of the 18:9 display. Square mode uses the top half of the display, a 1:1 square, as the viewfinder. When you snap a pic it moves to the bottom half of the display for review. It stays there until you snap another pic. This mode is perfect for Instagram.
- Open the Camera
- Tap the MODE icon
- Select Snap Shot
Switch to Manual mode for more control
LG has one of the best camera interfaces around. It can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like. Auto mode removes most of the buttons from the screen so you can just tap to focus and take a photo. Manual mode is only for advanced users. It has settings and sliders for things like focus, ISO, shutter speed, and more.
- Open the Camera
- Tap the MODE icon
- Choose Auto (default) or Manual (there are options for manual video and photo)
Try all the unique camera shooting modes
The camera is also packed with several nifty “modes” that are fun to play around with. In the Auto interface, you’ll see an icon labeled “MODE”, tap it to see a list of different shooting modes. These modes will allow you to do some interesting things with your photos and videos.
- Panorama: stitch together photos to create a panorama shot
- 360 Panorama: creates an immersive 360-degree panorama
- Snap Shot: assemble short clips into a 60-second video
- Pop-out: take a photo with both rear cameras to create a PIP effect
- Time-lapse: record long videos that are sped up for a short video
- Slow-mo: record a video in slow motion
- Food: specifically for food shots. Adds white balance slider
Feel like a movie director with Cine Video
One of the big features that LG talked about with the V30 is a new camera mode called “Cine Video.” This feature allows you to add professionally created lighting effects and color grading to your videos. You can get some really cool looking videos with the Cine Video tools.
- Open the Camera
- Tap the MODE icon
- Select Cine Video
- Tap the Cine icon (looks like movie film, next to MODE icon)
- Select one of the presets and adjust the sliders
- Record the video like usual
Take selfies with a gesture
Another cool trick is called Gesture shot. You can take a selfie by holding your open hand up to the camera and then closing it into a fist. The feature actually works really well, and it can come in handy quite often. Gesture shot is enabled by default, so all you have to do is use it.
- Hold up your open hand to the camera until brackets appear around it
- Make a fist once to take one photo (a 3-second timer will count down to the shot)
- Make two consecutive fists to take 4 burst shots
Use your voice to snap a photo
You can also use your voice to snap a selfie (or any photo). With “Cheese shutter” enabled you can say “cheese, smile, whiskey, kimchi, or LG” to snap a photo with your voice. It’s that easy.
- Open the Camera
- Tap the Settings icon
- Switch the toggle on for Cheese shutter
Automate tasks with LG Smart Settings
LG phones come with a feature called Smart Settings. It allows your phone to automatically adjust settings based on your location or connected devices. For example, your favorite music app can open when your plug in headphones or WiFi can be disabled when you leave your house.
There are four different things that can trigger the Smart Settings: arriving at home, leaving home, plugging in earphones, and connecting a Bluetooth device. Each one has several options available.
- Go to Settings > Smart Settings
- (you may need to turn on My Place in Settings > Location first)
- Select one of the Smart Settings
- Toggle it on and adjust the settings
Get every last drop of battery life
The V30 has pretty good battery life, but you still might end the day with not much life left. There are built-in settings for getting every last drop of juice when your battery is low. Battery Saver can turn off background activities and limit resources. It works great and only requires a short set up.
- Go to Settings > Battery & power saving
- Tap on Battery saver
- Select Extended or Maximum mode
- Select Edit mode to customize
Show battery percentage in status bar
Want to keep a close eye on battery life? You can put the actual battery percentage in the status bar. You’ll see the number for battery percentage next to the battery icon.
- Go to Settings > Battery & power saving
- Toggle the switch for Battery percentage on status bar
Pin apps and safely hand off your phone
If you’re like most people, your phone is full of personal information and sensitive content. Handing off your phone to someone else can be a little nerve-racking. Screen pin is a feature that lets you lock your phone to one app. You can “pin” a specific app so the user can’t do anything else.
- Go to Settings > Fingerprints & security > Screen pin
- Toggle the switch on
- Also, toggle Pin with screen lock on
To use Screen pin open the app you would like to pin, press the Recents button in the nav bar, scroll up and tap the thumbtack icon in the bottom right corner of the most recent app (not the pin in the title bar). To unpin an app simply long-press the back and Recents buttons simultaneously.
Take advantage of the SD card slot
While some phones these days don’t have microSD card slots, the LG V30 still has one. You can easily upgrade your storage capacity without buying any cloud storage subscriptions and relying on a data connection. Check out these great cards.
- SanDisk Ultra 32GB
- SanDisk Ultra 64GB
- SanDisk Ultra 128GB
- Samsung EVO Select 32GB
- Samsung EVO Select 64GB
- Samsung EVO Select 128GB
Launch shortcuts with the volume buttons
The volume buttons on the V30 are not only for adjusting the volume. You can also use the volume buttons to quickly launch the camera or take notes when the display is off. All you have to do is double-tap the volume up or down buttons.
- Go to Settings > Shortcut keys
- Switch the toggle to ON
Double tapping Volume Up will launch the Capture+ app for taking notes. Double tapping Volume Down will quickly launch the camera.
Silence your phone automatically with Do Not Disturb
Everyone has certain times of day when they don’t want to be bothered by notifications. Do Not Disturb allows you to choose those certain times and days for your phone to automatically go into silent mode. It can be incredibly useful, and you should definitely use it.
- Go to Settings > Notifications > Do not disturb
- Select Schedule > (+) button
- Choose the days of the week you’d like it to be enabled
- Choose the start and end time
- Choose if you’d like Priority interruptions or total silence during this time
Crank up animations for faster performance
The V30 is a very fast phone, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be faster. To speed things up and make the UI feel more snappy, you can increase the speed of the animations. But you’ll first need to activate the hidden Developer Options by following these steps:
- Go to Settings > About phone
- Select Software info
- Tap Build Number 7 times until you see “You are now a developer” message
- Go back to the main settings and you’ll see Developer options
To speed up animations:
- Go to Settings > Developer options
- Scroll down select Window animation and choose .5x
- Select Transition animation and choose .5x
- Select Animator duration scale and choose .5x
How to factory reset the LG V30
If you ever want to start fresh or sell your phone, you need to do a factory reset. This will wipe the device clean, so make sure none of your personal information is left. It will be like you turned the phone on for the first time again.
- Open the Settings app
- Scroll down and select Backup & reset
- Tap Factory data reset
- Tap RESET PHONE (confirm password)
Find the best Android apps & games
An awesome phone is nothing without some equally awesome apps. We’ve compiled tons of helpful guides for finding the best apps and games in the Play Store. Before you dive in and rummage around, you’ll want to check out these lists first.
Download the Forums for Android app!
One of the biggest surprises this fall happens to be the LG V30, a refined product that has been highly praised by critics as the no-bull smartphone – offering a wealth of uncompromising features. Meanwhile, the hype surrounding Apple’s latest device, the 10th anniversary iPhone X, is in full swing as buyers packed stores and shops to pick it up recently. Apple’s reputation isn’t necessarily on the spot, given how its iPhones are continually popular amongst consumers, but for LG, they’re on the upswing after last year’s sour performance, so it’ll be interesting to see if the V30 can remain relevant now that the iPhone X is here.
When you stack these two titans next to one another, it’s apparent that there’s no shortage of premium qualities with their designs. It’s so blatantly rampant, as the two phones share almost the same philosophies – a metal meets glass construction. However, the stainless-steel bands of the iPhone X combined with its slightly heavier weight does give it a more substantial feel in the hand. In terms of size, the iPhone X is slightly more manageable, since it’s shorter and narrower than the V30. But at the end of the day, it’s clear that the two phones simply look stunning!
What we like about the V30‘s design over the iPhone X is that it features a slightly more water-resistant construction; an IP68 rating versus the iPhone X‘s IP67. Furthermore, it packs the ever-so-useful 3.5mm headphone jack and a fingerprint sensor. The latter has been omitted with the iPhone X, replaced instead by its new Face ID technology, but we still certainly appreciate this alternative form of security.
Apple might’ve moved beyond 1080p resolution with the iPhone X, which flaunts a 5.8-inch 1125 x 2436 Super Retina Display that leverage OLED technology, but the V30 is still technically more pixel packed with its larger 6-inch 1440 x 2880 FullVision P-OLED display. Not surprisingly, they hopped on the trend of boasting that near bezel-less look with their fancy looking new displays, so they’re more than equipped for all of your multimedia consumption.
Briefly comparing the two, it’s tough to make enough of an assertive affirmation about which one is more superior, but we can definitely say that the viewing angles on the iPhone X‘s display is better. For now, we’ll be reserved before making a final judgement – that’s until we can fully test out the qualities of the iPhone X’s new Super Retina Display. With the V30, it has already established itself as a strong contender with its strong brightness output and high contrast.
Apple’s iOS versus Google’s Android, this is a battle we’ve seen countless times before. With LG‘s skin on the V30, it manages to retain a faithful experience to stock Android, but there are some useful additions thrown into the experience that enhance the experience, like its always-accessible floating bar. As for the iPhone X and its latest iOS experience, there are some new tweaks and tricks up its sleeve, like its new Animoji feature, but the core stuff continues to favor simplicity and straightforwardness.
Honestly, the two competing platforms have grown so much since their inceptions, so either can suffice for all sorts of needs. Android clearly continues to offer more customization and control by the user, but Apple’s control has been lessened. That new Animoji feature with the iPhone X is intriguing, providing users with a new form of interacting through messages, but knowing how the two platforms eventually adopt ideas from each other, it shouldn’t surprise us if and when a similar feature comes out for Android.
Processor and Memory
Just for specs sake, the LG V30 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC accompanied with 4GB of RAM – whereas the iPhone X leverages Apple’s new A11 Bionic with 3GB of RAM. Until we can properly put the iPhone X through our barrage of testing, we’ll just mention our quick takeaways with their performances during our initial look. And with that, it’s just unbelievable how snappy the iPhone X runs. We’ve been using the V30 for quite some time now, exhibiting the tight responses you’d expect from a high-caliber phone, but it blows us away the noticeable difference in how the iPhone X performs with simple navigation around the interface!
Both handsets start with base storage capacities of 64GB, but there’s also an iPhone X with a 256GB capacity as well. That’s surely nice and all, but it can’t take away from the storage expansion of the V30 courtesy of its microSD card slot.
Dual-camera systems have been the trend amongst top-tiered smartphones this year, but even though these two prized smartphones offer them, their purposes are totally different. With the iPhone X and its dual 12MP cameras, it’s meant to deliver those creamy looking portrait shots as your subject is surrounded by beautiful bokeh. Oppositely, though, the LG V30‘s combo of having a main 16MP camera and a 13MP wide-angle one, is meant more to deliver a wider capture with compositions.
The intent of each camera system is definitely on the opposite ends of the spectrum, as the iPhone X seems to be the kind of camera for those who want simplicity in capturing shots, with an attention to portraits and those blown out backgrounds. Those wishing for more control, the V30‘s implementation offers a rich set of tools for content creators, especially on the video side. Then again, the iPhone X is notable for offering 4K capture at 60 FPS.
Regardless, we’re eager to compare the two and uncover who is going to deliver the better end result quality – both stills and videos, of course.
The LG V30, with its 3300 mAh battery cell, has already proven its endurance in delivering solid battery performance. It’s not the longest lasting thing we’ve tested, but it’s definitely up there still. Oppositely, though, the iPhone X‘s 2716 mAh battery will be scrutinized moreover not only for the fact that the capacity is a little bit underwhelming, but it makes us wonder how it’ll perform with that new, higher resolution display.
Thanks in part to their glass surfaces, the two are endowed with wireless charging technologies, which is always a nice complement to find in a high-end phone.
What makes the LG V30 so compelling is that unlike its contemporaries (iPhone X included), it’s not priced so exorbitantly that it would make it unreachable to mere mortals. Although, based on the craziness and demand from consumers on launch day for the iPhone X, it seems people are willing to enter this new threshold for a smartphone.
Starting at roughly $829.99 at most retailers and carriers, the LG V30 seems like a value rich option in comparison to the $1,000 cost of the iPhone X. For the additional $130 you’re required to fork over for the iPhone X, it makes us wonder how much more you’re getting from Apple’s latest gadget. Still, we can’t stress enough how we appreciate some of the design cues found with the LG V30, like its headphone jack, in addition to how it’s a great option for video content creators.
The iPhone X, on the other hand, has a lot to prove to consumers at $1,000.
A smartphone can have top-of-the-line specs and an affordable price tag but if it’s ugly, no one will buy it. Like it or not, design has a huge impact on consumers’ purchasing decisions. It can make or break a device.
Most of this year’s smartphone announcements have been pretty average-looking. Some are just plain ugly. However, a few devices sporting super sexy designs, which instantly grab your attention, were also released this year. A really great design is something every manufacturer aims for, but rarely manage.
Here are five of the sexiest smartphones we’ve seen this year. What makes them so alluring? Let’s dive in.
Samsung Galaxy S8
Samsung’s phone design made a huge leap forward with the Galaxy S8. The front of the device is gorgeous thanks to its thin bezels and curved display, both of which give off a futuristic vibe. It’s clean and elegant. It also doesn’t have a Samsung logo on top like its predecessor, which no one liked.
The back of the Samsung Galaxy S8 is simple but still eye-catching.
The Galaxy S8 has a premium-feeling metal frame and glass back too. The back of the handset is simple but still eye-catching and features a nicely designed camera sensor, with the flash module and fingerprint scanner to the left and right. The Samsung branding on the device’s rear doesn’t make it any less gorgeous. The back also has curved edges that not only look nice but help with handling.
Samsung’s flagship features four buttons located on its sides. The power button is on the right, sitting right where your thumb naturally rests— at least if you’re right-handed. The volume rocker is on the left side, above the dedicated Bixby button used for launching Samsung’s digital assistant. There’s a SIM card/microSD card slot on top and a headphone jack at the bottom alongside the USB Type-C port and speaker.
The device comes in a number of colors, although not all are available in every market. You can get it in Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Arctic Silver, Maple Gold, Rose Pink, or my favorite, Orchid Gray.
The Galaxy S8 is a stunning device, but it’s not perfect — no smartphone is. I think the overall design could be improved by placing the fingerprint scanner below the camera sensor, instead of next to it. This would look better and make the scanner a little easier to reach.
Huawei Mate 10
Huawei’s latest smartphone is a stunner and looks way better than its predecessor. It features a bezel-less design, but unlike the Galaxy S8, has the fingerprint scanner on the front. Whether that’s good or bad depends on who you ask, but what’s important here is that the scanner blends in with the overall design and looks really nice.
What makes the Huawei Mate 10 stand out from the crowd is the reflective stripe that runs horizontally across the cameras.
The Mate 10’s glass back is what makes it one of the most beautiful smartphones released this year. It has curved sides and a vertically positioned dual-camera setup along with a flash module and a Huawei logo that’s located on the bottom. The reflective stripe that runs horizontally across the cameras gives the device more character. It’s a simple design element which really improves the overall look of the Mate 10 and makes it instantly recognizable.
The power and volume control buttons are all located on the right side of the device and the SIM card slot can be found on the left. There’s a USB Type-C port at the bottom alongside a speaker, while the headphone jack is located on the top of the smartphone. There are four colors to choose from, as the Mate 10 comes in Black, Champagne Gold, Pink Gold, and Mocha Brown (which is the best one, in my opinion). You can take a closer look at the Mate 10 in the images below alongside the Mate 10 Pro.
The Mate 10 is simple and elegant, but also very stylish thanks to that gorgeous stripe. It has a little bit of everything and doesn’t take things too far, so to speak. Its design is universal and could be the key factor that will allow it to outsell its predecessor globally.
The LG V30 doesn’t have a design “X factor” that makes it stand out from the crowd but is nevertheless one of the most beautiful handsets on the market.
The LG V30 doesn’t try to be too fancy or dazzle you with some crazy design features but instead just sticks to the basics.
It doesn’t try to dazzle you with crazy design features, instead sticking to the basics. It has a bezel-less design with a very clean, branding-free front. The device comes in four color options: Aurora Black, Cloud Silver, Moroccan Blue, and Lavender Violet. No matter which one you choose, the front of the device is always black. This makes it look even cleaner, as the camera, speaker, and proximity sensor aren’t as visible as they would be on a white smartphone.
The V30 has a metal frame and a simple yet stylish glass back. The dual-camera setup is more minimal than on a lot of other handsets but — just like the fingerprint scanner below it — stands out due to the rim that surrounds it. The back also has a flash module to the right of the cameras, the V30 and LG branding, and curved edges for a great feel in the hand.
Looking at the sides, you’ll find the SIM card slot on the right and two buttons for volume control on the left. The power button is on the back and doubles as a fingerprint scanner, which is something that takes getting used to. The headphone jack is on top, while the speaker and USB Type-C port are located on the bottom edge.
There’s not really anything bad I could say about the V30’s design; it’s impressive in every way. One thing worth pointing is that although the glass back looks and feel premium, it can be a fingerprint magnet. So to keep it looking clean as the first time you took it out of the box, you’ll have to wipe it down often.
It might not have a bezel-less design like the rest of the devices on this list, but the Honor 9 is still one hell of a sexy smartphone.
The Honor 9 may not have a bezel-less design like the rest of the devices on this list, but it’s still a sexy smartphone. Its front is simple without any over-the-top design elements, as it features a camera, speaker, and proximity sensor above the display, and a home button/fingerprint scanner along with two capacitive buttons below it. The great thing about the navigation keys is their minimal design, both marked with a small dot for a cleaner look.
Just like the Mate 10, it’s the glass back that got the Honor 9 a place on this list. Its design is minimal and eye-catching. There are two small horizontally positioned camera sensors in the upper left corner along with a flash module, and the Honor branding sits a bit further down.
The back has curved edges and is very clean, which is always a good thing in my opinion. A clean design can sometimes be a bit boring, but that’s not the case with the Honor 9 mainly due to its light-refracting composition that enables some enthralling reflective patterns. Sure, its shiny back might not be to everyone’s taste, but it definitely gives a boldness to the phone’s minimalistic look. In terms of colors, you can get it in Blue, Amber Gold, Gray, and Black.
The smartphone sports a metal frame that makes it feel sturdy in the hand and has the power as well as volume buttons on the right edge. The SIM/microSD tray is on the left. An IR blaster can be found on the top. The bottom edge features a speaker, USB Type-C port, and 3.5 mm headphone jack.
Overall, the Honor 9 offers the best of both worlds in terms of design. It keeps things simple, but also comes with a shiny glass back to prevent it from looking boring like most recent smartphones.
HTC U11 Plus
The front of the device looks very minimalistic thanks to the thin bezels surrounding the screen and the lack of HTC’s branding. The back is also quite simple, as it only sports a camera sensor, a flash module, the company’s logo, and a fingerprint scanner that blends in nicely and doesn’t stand out too much.
However, the back does have a liquid glass surface already seen on the HTC U11 that’s quite reflective and gives the device more character. It’s very eye-catching and is the main reason that makes the U11 Plus one of the sexiest smartphones in the world.
The Translucent Black version of the U11 Plus is gorgeous and unique, as it reveals parts of the internal components.
The HTC U11 Plus comes in Ceramic Black, Amazing Silver, and the gorgeous Translucent Black that stands out from the crowd. What makes it unique is its translucent glass back that reveals various internal components. It’s a bold design feature that makes the device instantly recognizable.
The smartphone sports a metal frame for a premium look and feel and a textured power button that’s located on the right side, below the volume rocker.
The HTC U11 Plus is a real stunner, and there’s not a lot of bad things to say about it. The only thing worth mentioning is that although the back is extremely sexy, it’s also hungry for fingerprints — just like the majority of glass smartphones.
Each smartphone on this list is unique in terms of design, but they all have a couple of things in common. The first is that they are made from a combination of metal and glass, which is clearly the trend this year. Which doesn’t mean that smartphones with full metal bodies aren’t sexy anymore; metal handsets can look just as gorgeous and premium as those made of glass — just look at the OnePlus 5. However, a glass design is more eye-catching, especially if it has a reflective mirror finish and is paired with a vibrant color.
But a smartphone with a glass back does have a major drawback: it’s a fingerprint magnet. This means that after using it for a while, it won’t look anywhere near as gorgeous as when you took it out of the box for the first time. You’ll have it wipe it down often to keep it looking clean, which is a problem you won’t experience with a metal device. Glass phones are also much more likely to crack if dropped, but I guess that’s the price we pay for fashion.
The other thing these smartphones have in common is that what makes them sexy is a combination of simplicity and something a little bit extra. For example, the Galaxy S8 has a curved screen, the Mate 10 has a beautiful stripe that runs horizontally across the cameras, while the U11 Plus sports a reflective liquid glass surface and is available with a translucent back.
Apple's iPhone 8 Plus takes on LG's G6 in our smartphone camera shootout. Let's look at color, clarity, exposure, and overall user experience.
We put the LG G6 and Apple iPhone 8 Plus head to head in a smartphone camera showdown.
Last year, Apple failed to take the top spot in our four-way smartphone camera shootout between the iPhone 7 Plus, LG V20, Google Pixel XL, and Samsung Galaxy S7. But this year’s iPhone 8 Plus includes some major improvements over the iPhone 7 Plus, and looks perfectly positioned to take on the LG G6, our current pick for best smartphone camera.
So which phone offers better camera performance—the latest iPhone or the G6? We took a ton of photos to find out. Oh, and in case you’re wondering where the Pixel 2 stands in this battle, just give us a few more days. We’re currently doing extra camera tests with Google’s amazing new phone, and will have definitive results soon.
We put both the Lg G6 and iPhone 8 Plus head-to-head in a wide variety of testing environments.
Apple’s iPhone cameras have been a bit stagnant in recent years, but the iPhone 8 Plus is turning that around with some huge changes under the hood. The sensor has been updated with “deeper” dual pixels, the lenses have new color filters, and Apple has switched to a proprietary image signal processor (ISP).
The rest of the specs remain similar on paper. The dual-lens system features one normal lens and one telephoto, providing a 2x optical zoom. Both cameras have 12MP sensors, with the normal lens sporting an f/1.8 aperture and the telephoto lens stuck with a much lower f/2.8 aperture. Just like last year, Apple made the mistake of forgoing optical image stabilization (OIS) on the telephoto lens, including it only on the normal lens.
LG’s G6 features better specs in its dual-lens system, and takes a different approach to its second camera. Most notably, LG pairs the G6’s normal lens with a super-wide-angle lens, allowing for more of a scene to be captured in a single frame. Both sensors are 13MP, with the normal lens rocking an f/1.8 aperture and the super-wide angle having an f/2.4 aperture. The G6 also has one of the best stock camera apps around, including a powerful and easy-to-use manual mode.
For this camera showdown, I’m going to focus mostly on the results from the main cameras for both phones. And I’ll use them the way most people do: straight out of the pocket, with the stock camera app, and HDR set to auto. Our testing categories are broken into four sections: color, clarity, exposure, and user experience. And for this shootout, we hired the beautiful model Valeria to help us with real-world testing.
The first category we’re going to cover is color, and here I’m looking for accurate color balance, along with reproduction of natural skin tones.
Right off the bat, I can say that the iPhone 8 Plus and its new internals produce some of the most accurate color results I’ve seen in a smartphone camera. The new sensor and lens color filters are partially to thank, but the majority of this power comes from Apple’s new ISP.
Past iPhones have struggled in the color category, so it makes sense that Apple would put so much effort into correcting its faults. No matter what lighting scenario I threw at it, the 8 Plus performed more like a DSLR than a smartphone. The color battle is a blow-out for Apple, and easily goes to the iPhone 8 Plus.
Next we’ll go over clarity, and these results are a bit more nuanced. Here I’m looking at the sharpness of each image, and how each camera decides to maintain a clear photo across multiple lighting scenarios. You’ll want to click on each image to see clarity flaws in detail.
The LG G6 stands up quite well to the iPhone 8 Plus and even outperforms it in a few scenarios, like far distances and macro. But the 8 Plus has the upper hand at normal shooting distances, so it’s suited quite well for day-to-day use.
In low light, both phones stumble in different ways. The G6 holds a bit more dynamic range in the darkest of areas and has a very aggressive OIS system that helps maintain detail. But the 8 Plus has a more pleasing grain structure and super-quick autofocus.
In fact, I was stunned by the speed and accuracy of the iPhone’s autofocus system. That’s enough to give the iPhone 8 Plus the edge, and take the clarity category.
For our exposure test results, I’m going over the dynamic range capabilities of each phone, and how they chose to expose for the scene. I’ll include a histogram in each shot so you can check out the graphs for yourself.
The exposure category was a tight race, with both phones handling themselves very well in almost every lighting condition. The G6 has a flatter image, making the photos look washed-out when compared to the iPhone. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Having a flatter image allows for more flexibility in editing, and guards against bad exposure decisions.
Nonetheless, almost all of the exposure decisions the 8 Plus makes are spot-on. Basically, the iPhone maintains accuracy while retaining a nice punch, right out of the camera, with no editing. So it really comes down to personal preference on how you like your phone to handle processing. I support both approaches.
The G6 goes for less showy results, but leaves open the door for more editing flexibility. The iPhone has more wow factor, but doesn’t make bad exposure decisions. So I’m calling the exposure category a tie.
The last category to hit is user experience. Because even if the camera is amazing, it’s not worth using if the experience is horrible.
The G6 has great advantages, like the ability to quickly launch the camera app with a double-press to the volume key. I also believe LG has the best stock camera app you could ever want on a smartphone. For instance, you get a manual mode with a histogram, RAW photo support, and some really cool modes that leverage the G6’s dual camera system.
The biggest difference between using both phones are their second cameras. The iPhone uses a telephoto lens that gives you an effective 2x zoom, which is good for capturing far-off subjects. But Apple’s Portrait Mode offers even more value from the telephoto lens. It uses the two-lens system to gather depth information, and introduces blur into the scene, providing stunning results.
On the LG side, we have a second lens with a super-wide field of view, allowing more of a scene to fit into the shot. As awesome as Portrait Mode is—especially when shooting with a model—I just found myself having way more need for a super-wide lens during day-to-day use.
These features really boil down to personal preference. I’m only going to give the slight edge to the LG G6 in this category, mainly on the strength of its camera app features—you can just simply do more with LG’s camera.
So after four categories we have a clear winner: Apple’s iPhone 8 Plus!
The G6 beat some awesome phone cameras this year, and it’s been a great ride for LG. But after a couple of lackluster years, Apple finally stepped up to the plate and created a truly stunning camera system.
Photos shot with the iPhone 8 Plus have the most accurate colors I’ve seen from a smartphone camera. The accuracy approaches DSLR levels, even in low light. I believe the strength of this new system lies within the new ISP. If this phone is any indication, we should see even better results coming from Apple’s upcoming iPhone X.
KnockON: double tap the screen to turn it off or on
Add more useful icons to lockscreen
- First, go into Settings.
- Select the Lock Screen tab in the Display section.
- Choose the Shortcuts menu
- You will see “+” buttons for the empty spots. Add any app you like to the lockscreen.
- Here is how it all looks after we’ve filled all the available spots!
Customize Always-on Display
- First, go into Settings.
- Select the Always-on Display section in the Display tab.
- Tap on the big Content field.
- Choose the look you like best!
- Consider setting a Daily timeout when the feature will be off (usually at night) to save battery.
Bring back the app drawer
- First, go into Settings.
- Select Home Screen under the Display section.
- Tap on the Select Home button.
- Select Home & app drawer, and you’re done!
Enable, disable and/or customize Floating Bar
- First, go into Settings.
- Next, select Floating Bar in the General tab. (There is an on / off toggle right here to turn it on or off.)
- Here, you can customize which apps and contacts to appear as shortcuts!
- You can also add new shortcuts.
Capture a GIF from a video you are watching
- Open a video you like, tap on the floating bar arrow and select the GIF option
- Adjust the size of the capture window by dragging its edges up, down and to the side. When you are ready press the record button to initiate GIF capture and start the video.
- Once you are done with your GIF, it will automatically be saved in your Gallery, in the GIF Capture folder.
- Tap on the edit button to fine tune that GIF!
- Save the results and find them in your Gallery.
How to take a screenshot
Set your screen for comfortable use at night
- First, go into Settings.
- Select Comfort View under the Display section.
- Enable the “Use Comfort View toggle”
- Consider scheduling it, so it automatically starts at night.
Change Icon Shape
ROUND SHAPE ONROUND SHAPE OFF
1. First, go into Settings.
2. Next, select Home Screen in the Display tab.
3. Here, tap on Icon Shape.
4. And change the icons to use their original shape!
Change the order of your navigation buttons, add buttons
- First, go into Settings.
- Scroll down to Home touch buttons under the Display section.
- Tap on Button combination.
- Here you can add new buttons or change the place of the existing ones. Some people prefer having the back button on the right!
Change the screen resolution to get better battery life
- First, go into Settings.
- Scroll down to Screen resolution under the Display tab.
- Select a lower resolution like the Medium one to get better battery life.
- You can even go down to 720p for further battery savings, but the drop in sharpness will be more noticeable here.
Remember, you can find the location of a stolen or lost phone
Should you buy the LG V30 or the Pixel 2 XL? It’s a hard decision.
I was the last person to leave Google‘s Pixel hardware event in Toronto this week, the cleaning staff already entering the converted movie studio to remove the painstakingly crafted demo spaces for Google Lens, augmented reality, and the Pixel 2 camera’s Portrait Mode. I just didn’t want to give the damn phones back, them feeling so good and comfortable and right in my paw.
And gave them back I did, but not before I snapped some photos of the Pixel 2 XL next to the LG V30. I’m saying this both to hedge against the poor quality of the photos themselves (Lightroom’s Clarity can’t fix what isn’t in focus) but to emphasize that, Samsung flagships aside, I think this is the most interesting comparison to come out of the entire event.
See, the LG V30 goes on sale pretty much now — it’s already available at Verizon and AT&T, and will be next week at T-Mobile and Sprint — despite being announced in August and seeded to reviewers shortly thereafter. LG has a knack of announcing its phones well before they actually go on sale, which means that despite a great product, they tend to lose the momentum of public discourse in the weeks following.
So which should you buy? Honestly, that’s a difficult question to answer. But let’s try to get you closer to that truth.
What’s the same
LG brought its Plastic OLED technology to the V30 first, but it appears that the Pixel 2 XL has either the same panel, or one very similar — they’re both six inches at 2880×1440 pixel resolution, with the increasingly-common 18:9 / 2:1 aspect ratio. I like this compromise between width and height; unlike the Galaxy S8+ and Note 8, neither the V30 nor Pixel 2 XL feels top-heavy or onerous to use in one hand. That’s not to say they’re one hand-friendly the way the smaller 5-inch 16:9 Pixel 2 is, but they’re easier to maneuver without risking a drop.
Those screens, curved at each corner, fit into chassis only slightly larger, making them practically bezel-less. But LG does a better job on the V30, mainly because it eschews front-facing stereo speakers for a single bottom firing port. The Pixel 2 XL is slightly taller, and a bit wider, as a result, but to me it’s not a dealbreaker — I haven’t heard them just yet, but I love the idea of phone speakers with actual impact.
Both phones are powered by the same underlying hardware, too: Snapdragon 835 SoC, 4GB of RAM, between 64GB and 128GB of storage (though only on the V30+, which is limited to Sprint and US Cellular), and a sizable battery — 3300mAh for the V30 and 3520mAh for the Pixel — along with IP67 water resistance. Thankfully, the rear fingerprint sensors are in the same (gratifying) place — though only the Pixel’s lets you swipe down to reveal the notification shade. Come on, LG!
On a high level, that’s where the similarities end. And that’s what makes this comparison so interesting.
The LG V30 focuses on so many different things than the LG-made Pixel 2 XL, and that’s why I love Android. The V30 is a shiny slab of glass on the front and back, which supports wireless charging. The Pixel 2 XL is … not. It has a unibody metal chassis, but a portion of the back is covered in glass, which is both a design and signal benefit, since Google doesn’t have to break up the look with plastic antenna lines. The metal back is rendered slightly more tactile, and less slippery, thanks to a finish that can only be described as plasticky. When I first picked it up I had to be reassured the phone was indeed aluminum — it feels more like the Nexus 5X than the original Pixel XL.
Of course, the V30 has two cameras, one 16MP sensor with a wide-angle lens, and a 13MP sensor with an extra wide-angle lens. The two form the basis of one of the more interesting and fun camera experiences on the market, and as we’ve said before, no one does landscape photography better than LG. At the same time, many of LG‘s new video modes are substantially more robust than anything you’ll find on a Samsung or even Sony device, and far surpasses that of Google‘s simple camera app, which even lacks a dedicated manual mode.
At the same time, Google‘s focus (pun intended) on a single camera, which is lower-resolution with larger individual pixels than the V30‘s main sensor, allows for some incredible low-light shots. Google also boasts of a computational portrait mode, while its HDR+ capabilities bring out color and detail in situations that many other phones would fall flat.
We’ve spent a lot of time with pre-production versions of the V30‘s hardware and came away impressed, but I’m fairly confident that, when put head to head with the Pixel 2 XL, it won’t square up in most situations. The Pixel also has Google Lens, which further reinforces the company’s lead in using the camera for contextual gain; point it at a sign and get information about the words, or its location. Point it at a dog and (hopefully) find out the breed (it’s a Great Dane). That’s all very cool, but it remains to be seen if people will actually use the feature.
If you care about audio quality at all, the V30 isn’t just better than the Pixel — it’s the best out there.
LG also puts a tremendous amount of effort into shoring up its audio game; not only does the V30 have a headphone jack, but its Quad DAC and powerful amplifier ensures that all headphones, even high-impedance ones, sound excellent. It’s also possible to tune the phone’s sound to suit one’s individual ear, with additional filters and settings that even 2016’s V20 lacked. This is as robust an audio-visual experience as you can get on any phone today — but it requires a tremendous amount of tweaking to get there.
The original Pixel was renound for its awful Bluetooth performance, so it’s a bit concerning that its successor lacks a headphone jack. Sure, there’s a dongle in the box, but it’s one sure to be quickly lost or discarded. At the same time, Google is patterning with companies like Libratone to deliver “Made for Google” Bluetooth accessories, which consist of easy pairing and (we assume) consistently good performance. It really would be nice if Google were to deliver a phone that didn’t experience base-level problems for once.
LG also delivers some very decent headphones in the box, whereas Google delivers… well, that dongle.
The last two differences are obvious, but worth pointing out. Google‘s software is worlds ahead of LG‘s in many respects; not only does the Pixel 2 XL ship with Android 8.0 Oreo, but its interface and general aesthetic feels substantially more mature; LG, which has made strides in recent years, ships the V30 with Android 7.1.2, and though many of the more hard edges have been softened, it’s still easy to find nits to pick. For example, LG still insists on shipping its own keyboard, which is terrible, and its default launcher lacks an app drawer and hits icons with an ugly stick.
At the same time, Android 7.1.2 is a known quantity, both mature and easy to understand, and LG benefits from this extended lead time; the V20 was one of the first devices to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat and experienced some awful bugs that took months to resolve. I’ve yet to experience a single show-stopping issue with the V30. The original Pixel on Oreo, on the other hand, has developed a cottage country of complaints since the update became available.
But updates are going to come to the Pixel must more quickly, and for longer, than the V30 can hope to see. For starters, Google updates the Pixels directly, and is promising three years of both security updates and, for the first time, platform updates. The V30 is being sold primarily through carrier channels, so it will have to go through approval processes that often take longer. We can hope that the V30 receives Oreo sooner than later, but it’s the next update, Android P, where that lead will lengthen on Google’s behalf.
Which should you buy?
The LG V30 costs between $800 and $840 at U.S. carriers, which works out to around $32 to $34 per month for 24 months. The V30+, which is available only at Sprint and US Cellular, runs closer to $920, or $38 per month. The Pixel 2 XL starts at $849, but can be had at Verizon or the Google Store for around $35 per month for the 64GB model and $39 for the 128GB version.
So the cost is a wash.
That leaves the features, and to my eyes the V30 has a more robust collection of experiences for the advanced user, especially when it comes to audio and photography. Not only does the Quad DAC provide better sound, but there’s a headphone jack with a powerful amplifier and plenty of adjustability. The dual camera setup is tons of fun, and the manual mode is just wonderful. The V30 has wireless charging, too, and the all-glass design keeps it lighter than the Pixel 2. The overall body is smaller, too, though you forgo front-facing speakers.
The Pixel 2 XL is a simple phone. It’s meant to be easy to understand and use, and accessible to any and all who buy it. It hides much of the complexity that Android is famous for. Its design is also sure to be divisive; it’s both whimsical and utilitarian, and while the larger Pixel doesn’t have the substantial bezels of its smaller counterpart, it probably won’t win any design awards.
Oreo is coming to Android Wear — eventually.
” Today, we are launching the beta of the next Android Wear update. As we mentioned at Google I/O, this will mainly be a technical upgrade to API 26 with enhancements to background limits and notification channels. “
The update is not significant from a consumer perspective at this point, since it doesn’t change the Android Wear 2.0 user interface that started rolling out earlier this year. Instead, it updates the core AW code to Oreo, giving it access to two important features phone users have been enjoying for some time: notification channels, and background limits.
The former lets apps on the watch follow the same rules as apps on the phone; if you limit a particular app from sending specific notifications, that behavior will be imitated on the watch.
” For notifications generated locally by Android Wear apps, users will be able to customise the notifications channel they want to see, right on their watch. “
Given that Android Wear is becoming more phone-independent, notification channels will likely benefit those who rely on apps that generate their own notifications rather than just forwarding them from the phone.
Background limits are battery-saving properties that should extend the battery life of some watches.
” There are increased restrictions on background services. Developers should assume services can no longer run in the background without a visible notification. In addition, the background location update frequency will be reduced. Battery-saving best practices such as using JobScheduler should be adopted to ensure your app is battery-efficient and able to perform background tasks when possible. “
There’s no word on when Google will make the Android Wear beta program available to more watches, but it’s good to see the company sticking with its development path nonetheless. You can sign up for the beta if you have the LG Watch Sport.
Dual camera systems on smartphones have been around for several years now. Some of the earliest examples include the weird 3D camera on the HTC EVO 3D. Then it was HTC again who introduced it in a different form on the One m8. Then LG decided to drop in with its cool wide-angle lens with the G5 and the same year, Apple decided to take in the other direction by adding a telephoto lens on the iPhone 7 Plus. Meanwhile, Huawei had other ideas, with its Leica branded monochrome camera on the P9.
But just how many types of dual camera systems are out there and how do they differ from each other? Most importantly, are they any good or is it just a passing fad? Let’s find out.
The Depth Sensor
We will start with this as this is the most basic form of dual camera system. In this system, the primary camera is accompanied by a second camera whose only function is to 3D map the area in front of the camera. As you may know, we are able to see in 3D because we have two eyes with slightly different perspectives that help us convey depth, especially for things that are close to us.
The HTC One m8
The secondary camera in this system works similarly. With the second camera, the system can now tell roughly how far the objects in front of it are with respect to each other. This information is then used to separate the foreground subject from the background.
The most common use of this technique is to create a shallow depth of field effect. While it’s something that comes naturally to DSLR cameras with their big sensors and big lenses, the small smartphone cameras cannot achieve the same shallow depth of field. So instead, this technique is used to first figure out the borders of the foreground subject and then apply an iris blue effect on everything else. This gives the illusion of shallow depth of field.
Sample from the HTC One m8. Didn’t always work this well.
While sound in theory and occasionally in practice, this technique has its pitfalls. Unless your subject is a cardboard cutout, it will have depth to it and because this depth is not as much as the depth between the entire subject and the background, the camera occasionally ends up blurring the edges of the subject as well. Even when it does work reasonably well, it never quite looks natural, especially since most smartphone cameras that have this feature apply an even blur on everything in the background whereas with a DSLR, the intensity of the blur increases with the distance from the focus point.
Camera systems with a dedicated depth sensor is one of the rarest types of dual camera systems. The first popular use of it was seen on the HTC One m8 but these days only the most basic smartphones, such as the Honor 6X or the Lenovo K8 Plus, can be seen using a dedicated depth sensor lens.
The Monochrome Camera
A slightly more popular implementation of the secondary sensor is the monochrome camera. In this method, the primary camera is accompanied by a mostly identical secondary camera. Both cameras usually have identical sensors, apertures, lenses and focusing systems. The main and usually only difference between the two is that the second sensor lacks an RGB color filter. This means that the sensor cannot capture color information but on the upside, because there is one less thing blocking the sensor, the monochrome camera can capture more light.
Every time you take a picture, the camera system combines the output of both cameras and layers them into one image. In theory, the two images when combined will have greater detail and reduced noise. Alternately, you can also just shoot from the monochrome camera and get slightly better image quality at the cost of all the color information.
One of the first examples of this system was the Huawei P9 and since then, few other devices have also shipped with this system. To us, the advantages of this system are nebulous at best. While sound in theory, we can’t really say for sure if the feature does really work as advertised. We have seen some good results with this system in the past but its hard to tell if it was the dual camera doing all the work or it was just good image processing system.
Monochrome image from P9
There is no real disadvantage to this system and we do appreciate that it’s the only one of the systems discussed here that tries to do anything about the actual image quality instead of adding additional features but still, we would rather take some zooming ability over marginally improved image quality.
The Wide-Angle Camera
Debuted first on the LG G5 early last year, the wide-angle camera is pretty much what it sounds like. To take LG’s example, the phone had a 16 megapixel, 29mm equivalent f1.8 primary camera and 8 megapixel, 12mm equivalent f2.4 secondary camera. The 12mm focal length gave the secondary camera a crazy wide field of view that allowed the user to capture a much wider area without having to move back or capture interesting perspectives afforded by such a wide-angle lens.
We have mainly seen this on LG phones, with Motorola recently incorporating it in the X4, and we are fans of how it works. The wide-angle lens gives a very unique perspective that you simply don’t get at all on smartphone cameras and apart from having practical value (capturing a large group of people from up close) also lets you capture some really cool looking shots.
The early iterations of this system did have its disadvantages. On the G5 and V20, the ultra wide-angle lens image quality was nowhere near as good as the primary camera and also had significant barrel distortion that made it look like the footage from a GoPro with a fish-eye lens. However, LG has been steadily improving the system with every iteration and in its latest avatar on the V30, the secondary lens not only has highly respectable image quality but also significantly less distortion around the edges, making it far more useful.
Wide-angle on top and ultra wide-angle below from G5
With good implementation, this system does have the potential to be a really cool second camera system for particular scenarios and we wish more manufacturers adopted it.
The Telephoto Camera
The most common of all the dual camera systems today is the telephoto camera. In this, the primary camera is paired with a second camera that has a telephoto lens. As you can tell, this is the exact opposite of the wide-angle camera system, wherein it actually lets you zoom into your subject instead of zooming out.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Since the iPhone 7 Plus, manufacturers have stuck to using a 2x factor for the second telephoto lens. This means the secondary lens has twice the focal length of the primary lens, giving you an instant 2x optical zoom.
There are many advantages of this system. First is the most obvious, where you get 2x lossless optical zoom. Zooming on smartphones has largely been digital until now but with this you get to quickly move 2x closer to your subject with very little quality loss. Any further zooming is done digitally still but because the digital zoom is now being applied on top of 2x optical zoom, it gives much better results.
Wide-angle above and telephoto below from the iPhone 7 Plus
Shooting with a telephoto lens also has other advantages. Telephoto lenses are more suitable for portraits than wide angle as they have less distortion and is more flattering to the subject. Most manufacturers go one step ahead and also implement the background blur effect that we saw with the very first system we talked about today (the primary lens now acts as the depth sensor). The combination of a telephoto lens and background blur gives far superior results than just applying background blur on wide-angle images.
Of course, this system too has its disadvantages. So far none of the manufacturers have been able to get complete parity between the two cameras. When the iPhone 7 Plus launched last year, it had a much smaller aperture (f2.8) compared to the main camera (f1.8) and no OIS on the secondary sensor. The iPhone 8 Plus ships with similar arrangement (although the sensors are better this year) and even the iPhone X still has f2.4 for the second camera (although it does have OIS). The Note8 was the first phone with a telephoto camera to have OIS but even then it’s still f2.4 (compared to f1.7 on the main lens) and the second sensor is slightly worse even if it has the same resolution.
iPhone 8 Plus Portrait Mode with Studio Lighting
Due to this, there is generally a quality difference when shooting with the telephoto lens. It’s even worse in lowlight, where due to the small aperture, most manufacturers just choose to disable the telephoto camera entirely, and instead when the user taps the 2x button, the camera just does a 2x digital zoom on the primary wide-angle lens. Needless to say, any further zooming is also digitally done on the primary lens. There are ways to force the camera to use the second lens on some phones but the results are generally not worth it.
Still, most of these limitations seem to be temporary and something year after year advancements should take care of eventually. This is still by far the most practical solution of all the systems we discussed today. Not only does it give the user a much needed optical zoom ability but at a pinch also lets them take some pretty decent looking shallow depth of field images.
That’s pretty much it for the dual camera systems. Let us know in the comments which one do you prefer, and if you have any further queries or other topics you’d like us to discuss in the future.