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LG V30+ Review

I had been using the OnePlus One since June 2015. My smartphone game was due for an update for some time now. For my next smartphone I wanted one with no compromises. This time I wanted a flagship, not a Flagship Killer.

Here a list of features I wanted the OnePlus 5/5T to have.

  1. Processor: Don't care
  2. Memory: Don't care
  3. Storage: Atleast 128GB
  4. Front camera: Don't care
  5. Rear camera: Just match the Google Pixel (looking forward to that collaboration with DxO Labs)
  6. Headphone jack: Don't care (on the bottom if it's there)
  7. Speakers: Front facing stereo ones of course
  8. OS: Android O
  9. Durability: IP68
  10. Charging capabilities: Dash Charging (V2 maybe?) and wireless charging
  11. Color: Midnight Black 😍
  12. Screen: No higher than QHD
  13. Battery: At least 3500 mAh
  14. SIM slot: Don't care (although having 2 slot would be great)
  15. Material: Something like the sandstone version of the OnePlus One
  16. Fingerprint scanner: On the front
  17. Price: < ₹40,000
I posted this list on OnePlus' Facebook page. You can view it here. Both the 5 and the 5T turned out to be disappointments. So I had to look elsewhere. Since the beginning of 2017 I was planning to buy a new smartphone. I knew it would be one of the following,
  1. Samsung Galaxy S8+
  2. Samsung Galaxy Note 8
  3. LG V30+
  4. Google Pixel 2 XL
  5. OnePlus 5/5T
The 5 and 5T were already out. So was the S8+. The Pixel 2 XL is a great device. But it lacks wireless charging and the issues it had with its screen pushed me away. The final contenders were the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and the LG V30+. I ended up buying the LG V30+. The Note 8 placed the fingerprint scanner at a weird place and was priced much higher. I still want that S-Pen though! I have been using the V30+ for the last 2 months. And here's my review.

Design and Build

The V30+ is built really well. It's got that premium looking glass sandwich design. Everything about the phone is 2017. The buttons are where they should, the fingerprint scanner where it's easy to access. It comes with the latest trend of thin bezels. LG calls it the FullVision display. The LG V30+ is one of those rare phones that retains the headphone jack. More on that later. It's also comes with USB Type C and QuickCharge 3.0. The bundled headphones are pretty average though. So is the single bottom firing mono speaker. The phone's got IP68 rating and US MIL-STD 810G compliance. It's built to take a beating! This is my first phone with an OLED screen. And I can definitely tell there difference from an IPS LCD screen. My two gripes with the hardware are the crappy front-facing camera and the plasticky power button.

I really love the design of the V30+. The screen takes the front and center of the phone. The curved glass looks great and feels great to hold. The camera bump is minimal. The device is covered with Gorilla Glass 5 in the front and back. The cameras are protected by Gorilla Glass 4. It's got the beauty of the S8+ without the odd fingerprint button placement. Best of all, it comes in black 😎

LG V30+
Source: LG H930DS

The Screen

The LG V30+ comes with a 6 inch QHD+ (2880 x 1440, 538 PPI) OLED screen with an aspect ratio of 18:9. The screen is good. Many reviewers have said that the LG's POLED panels are not comparable to the Samsung's Super AMOLED panels. I've never owned a Samsung device so I cannot be the judge of that. For me it was a nice upgrade. All the benefits of having an OLED screen are here. True blacks and deep contrast. The screen definitely plays part in V30+'s superb battery life. On top of that, LG also added support for HDR10 and Dolby Vision. If only we had more HDR content available... But not all about the screen is rainbow and unicorns. I see white lines when a grey image is displayed. But those lines aren't visible while watching videos.

The Cameras

The LG V series has always been praised for its camera performance. The camera experience on the V30+ is a whole new ball game. The device has the same dual camera setup LG's been using for years; only upgraded. The main shooter is a 16MP sensor with a field of view of 71°. It's capable of shooting 10 bit HDR and comes with OIS+EIS paired with a hybrid autofocus system. The secondary shooter has a 13MP sensor with 120° field of view. New for this year, the main camera comes with a huge f/1.6 aperture and a glass lens. I agree with other reviewers that the camera takes dull photos in auto mode with HDR turned off. To take advantage of hardware one's gotta switch to the manual mode. Other manufactures had been saying that people don't shoot photos like that on their smartphones. I would like to quote Juan Carlos Bagnell and say, the users will adapt and upgrade themselves to the tools they are provided with. The camera hardware is capable of capturing great images, it just needs a little guidance from time to time. The manual photo mode was quite common in 2017, but no manufacture has manual video mode in their camera app other than LG. The manual video mode has all the controls of the manual photo mode plus the ability to use high cut and low cut audio filters. It also has a wind noise filter. One can also save videos in plain cinelog mode for post processing. The audio can be recorded at a higher bitrate. Here are couple of photos to show what the hardware is capable of.

Staircase during dusk
Afternoon Shot in Low Light

In Low Light 1

In Bright Day Light 1

In Bright Day Light 2

In Low Light 2

In Low Light 3

From the Wide Angle Lens

Manual Mode 1

Manual Mode 2

The Quad DAC

Just as its camera performance, the V series is also known for its great audio expertise. The same holds true for the latest member. The V30+ comes with an improved 32 bit Quad DAC for superior audio output. In world where the headphone jack is seen as a thing of the past, LG is still pushing the boundaries. Kudos to them! I wasn't able to drive the DACs at their full capacities. Turning on the Hi-Fi Quad DAC toggle didn't make a difference when it was connected to my Sony MDR-XB950BT. But surprisingly there was a little boost and punchiness when I used my XB70AP. According to the Internet, I need a high impedance headphone to unleash this beast. I don't have one at present. I will update the post if I get to experiment with one.

Battery Life

I am what one would call a heavy user. The V30+ easily lasts a day for me. It comes with a 3300 mAh battery. Having a OLED screen definitely helps in saving battery juice. The phone has never died on me. In short, the battery life has been great. Currently I'm experimenting with resolution. I have reduced the resolution to 1080p. Let's see how that impacts the battery life. I will update the post once I have the results.

The Software

LG is one of those companies that still heavily skins Android without much benefit. LG has added duplicate contacts, calendar, note-taking and gallery apps. They are ugly, iOS-esque and aren't that different from their Google counterparts. The theme engine doesn't support custom icons packs. LG's UI is mostly white. Considering it has a OLED screen, it makes sense to have a dark UI. I am currently using the high contrast theme. The settings app is convoluted. Hopefully it will be simplified with the Oreo update. The default icons are cartoonish. The call management app shows a small preview of the contact's photo. I am so annoyed by this. Me likes me some big ol' photos! But what drives me nuts is that there is no English (India) option in language setting. Even my 3 years old OnePlus One has that. The Google Assistant uses OS-wide language setting for its accent. So I'm stuck with a UK accent 😠.

The Conveniences

One of the reasons I bought the V30+ was the little conveniences it offers. The phone's got IP68 rating, wireless charging capabilities, dual SIM card slots and an Always on Display. The Always on Display is a nifty little feature to view the clock and notifications at a glance without unlocking the phone. And it doesn't sip too much battery juice since there's an OLED screen. I pre-ordered the phone and received a wireless charger free of cost. No more fiddling with cables. One you go wireless, there ain't no going back!

The Little Things

The phone's haptic motor makes the device a delight to use. The feeling is quite different from the usual vibrations. The force is much stronger and focused. I have had people surprised by the call clarity. They said that my voice was really clear and they couldn't hear the traffic passing by. One my friend even went ahead and said that he thought I was in my home when in fact I walking through a crowded area. Bluetooth 5 is another great addition. I can now walk to the kitchen and the connection doesn't drop. The same wasn't true when I was using my OnePlus One. The V30+ is also LG's first  Daydream Ready phone. 

Final Thoughts

Some people keep asking me why I did I buy an Android phone for ₹44, 990 instead of an iPhone. To them I'd like to say,

1. I don't ride that bandwagon
2. I am a Google fanboy
3. I love how customizable Android is. It even lets users automate things using apps like Tasker
4. I am very invested in the Google Play platform
5. Apple's hardware isn't worth the money they charge

The phone was launched at ₹44, 990 and was bundled with a wireless charger. The only phone that comes close to V30+ is the Galaxy Note 8. But that one costs ₹20,000 more. The V30+ is targeted for a particular group of people and it will serve them well. To summarize, the V30+ has great hardware, held back by subpar software. 


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