Hands On with the LG V10
LG's new V10 smartphone offers some unique features, including a secondary screen for shortcuts and notifications, and a pair of user-facing cameras for more fun with selfies. Here are our first impressions of this new phone from LG.
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LG debuted an interesting handset in New York today called the V10. The phone is similar to the G4, though it's much bigger. Maybe think about the V10 as LG's equivalent to Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge+. It's larger and quicker than the G4, but is still LG at its core.
The V10 is clearly cut from LG's DNA, but the company took a different approach with this phone. Where the G4 is mostly plastic, the V10 is stainless steel, Gorilla Glass 4, and "Dura Skin." (You gotta love the marketing malarky.) The V10 has a huge footprint, sharp corners, and tapered side edges. The edges aren't tapered too much, however, as stainless steel rods form the side edges of the phone. It's a thicker phone than the G4 by a significant margin.
I'm not sold on how LG mated the materials together. The steel rods serve as the side edges, and the Dura Skin plastic wraps around the top and bottom (above and below the screen). LG says this is to help protect the phone from drops, as the Dura Skin is slightly spongy. The rear cover is a highly-patterned, rubber-like material that is grippy and malleable. Like previous LG handsets, the Dura Skin can heal itself. The steel rods are meant to help make the phone stronger, and LG claims it is definitely tougher than the G4, but the rods almost look out of place to my eyes.
The V10's front surface is gigantic. The 5.7-inch main screen is big enough by itself. Add the Second Screen on top, and you have a monstrously large phone The quad HD display looks glorious, just as you'd expect from LG. The Second Screen is perched above it. It is 2.1-inches across the diagonal and is not as wide as the main screen; LG reserved some of that space for the dual front-facing cameras.
The Second Screen is pretty limited. It can hold several collections of app shortcuts, a handful of contact shortcuts, controls for the media player, and of course notifications. When the main screen is dark, the Second Screen can remain on with the time and status indicators still on display. In the camera, the Second Screen holds the main camera settings tools. That's cool, since it free up space for the actual viewfinder. Surely the Second Screen will come in handy, but it's hard to judge just how handy after spending only a few moments with it.
Like most LG phones, the V10's buttons are placed on the back. The volume up, screen lock, and volume down buttons form a trio of controls on the rear surface. They aren't hard to find, but they felt weak and cheap to me. LG said the demo units on hard were pre-production, and tolerances would be tightened up once manufacturing kicks off in full. The screen lock button doubles as a fingerprint sensor and has a chrome rim to help set it apart visually. The side edges are free of buttons, which is how LG was able to get away with the steel rods.
The rear cover peels off easily and many will be happy to learn that the phone's battery can be pulled at any time. LG also (finally!) made the transition from micro to nano SIM cards. The V10 supports microSD cards up to 2TB (no such cards exist right now), and the phone itself includes 64GB of storage.
LG made a huge deal about the V10's cameras, and rightly so. The phone is being pitched as a content creator's most vital tool and it has lots of new things to talk about.
To start, the phone has two user-facing cameras. Both shoot 5-megapixel images, but they have different fields of view. One can capture images that are 80 degrees wide and the other captures images 120 degrees wide. The idea is to let you fit more people — or more background — in your selfies. LG is pitching the feature as a way to negate the need for selfie sticks. The software lets you do some fun things, too. You can turn on all three cameras at once, mishmash the images together in several frames and create a single image containing the three view points. It's pretty neat.
Then there's all the fun video stuff. LG claims the V10 is the first to give owners full control over the video camera's settings. Users can adjust white balance, ISO, exposure, and so on to create the dramatic effect they want. Like the still camera, the video camera can shoot video from all three lenses at once and combine them into a single video. Users have control over the three microphones, which can be silenced or adjust at will. Powerful filters know to weed out wind and other background noises.
LG also made it easier for people to show off their creations. Every time you finish shooting a video, a QuickShare button pops up that lets you share the video to your favorite social networks immediately. LG bestowed the video camera with tons of editing apps, as well.
The main camera captures 16-megapixel images, offers laser-assisted focus, and can shoot in full HD, quad HD, or ultra HD resolutions.
The phone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and there's no word on if or when it will receive Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The Snapdragon 808 processor and 4GB of RAM had the phone screaming in the demo room, and LG's user interface skin was quick.
The LG V10 is an impressive, if odd, smartphone. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless plan to sell it later this year. There's no word on pricing, nor exact availability.
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LG V10 (GSM)
5.7" display 1440 x 2560 pixels
Snapdragon 808 processor 4 GB RAM
3,000 mAh battery
Memory Card Slot, Headphone Jack (3.5mm), NFC, Wireless Charging, Fingerprint Reader
What a phone