Earlier this year when LG launched the G4, we were expecting the company to follow Samsung's lead and incorporate more premium materials into its flagships phones. It was a bit of a letdown then to see that the only concession to this on the G4 was the optional real leather back. Well, it looks like LG has conceded to the demand for a device that could be considered a bit more upscale than its previous all-plastic efforts with the new LG V10, which was just announced.
The V10 is the first in LG's new series of V phones, and it also has a number of other unique features in addition to its better quality construction. It has a secondary ticker-style display above its main 5.7-inch screen, dual front-facing cameras, a more durable back material that helps it pass a MIL-spec drop test, and a vastly improved video mode (which includes full manual control). It is also the first LG flagship to come with a fingerprint reader (if you don't count the just-announced Nexus 5X).
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 64-bit Processor (2 x Cortex-A57 and 4 x Cortex-A53) with X10 LTE|
|Display||Primary: 5.7-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum Display (2560 x 1440, 513ppi)Secondary: 2.1-inch IPS Quantum Display (160 x 1040, 513 ppi)|
|Memory||64 GB eMMC ROM, 4 GB LPDDR3 RAM / microSD slot (up to 2 TB)|
|Camera||Rear: 16MP with f1.8 aperture & 1/2.6" Sony IMX234 Exmor RS image sensor / OIS 2.0 / LaserAF / Color Spectrum Sensor / Manual Mode / Video Manual ModeFront: 5MP dual lens (80-degree Standard Angle / 120-degree Wide Angle)|
|Battery||3,000 mAh (removable)|
|Operating System||Android 5.1.1 Lollipop|
|Size & Weight||159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6 mm (6.28 x 3.12 x 0.34 in), 192g (6.77 oz)|
|Network||LTE-A Cat. 6|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac / Bluetooth 4.1LE / NFC / USB 2.0|
|Materials||Stainless Steel, Dura Skin plastic|
|Colors||Space Black, Luxe White, Modern Beige, Ocean Blue, Opal Blue|
The internal specs of the V10 aren't too much different than the G4, and perhaps our only disappointment, at least from this on-paper look at it, is that it still uses the Snapdragon 808 SoC. While the 808 is still a great chip, its GPU performance is still a little lacking. With the additional breathing room that the bigger chassis of the V10 affords, perhaps LG could have gone back to the 810 on this phone. (With some judicious underclocking, the 810's heat output can be managed.)
Hurray For Secondary Display
Of course, the real story, other than the material improvements, is the secondary display and the dual front-facing cameras. The second screen located at the top of the phone can be set to be always on and display weather, time, date and battery life when the main screen is off. When the phone is on, the second screen can be used for app short cuts. We still need to see this in person to see how well this works, but it does seem to be a smart and different approach to making shortcuts to your favorite apps that Samsung's edge display is used for.
The dual front cameras are used to create wider-angle selfies, or what some people are calling groufies (ugh!). Instead of using a wider angle lens that can cause distortion towards the edge of the image, the V10 digitally combines the output of both 5MP cameras to create one super wide shot. When using the picture-in-picture multi-view mode, you can also utilize all three cameras at once (though we're not sure why!).
Around back, there have been many improvements made to the rear camera, at least from a software perspective – the actual camera hardware is the same as the G4's. In our forthcoming review of the G4, we found that although its still-capture manual mode is awesome, LG seemed to neglect its video-capture mode. It's terribly basic, with very few options and no manual control. LG has addressed this complaint with the V10 in a big way.
Shooting For Video Supremacy
Not only does it have a full manual video mode, the V10 also has quite a few other improvements that aim to make it the best smartphone for video. It has electronic image stabilization (EIS) in addition to OIS, audio level monitoring when shooting video, a wind noise filter, and the option to shoot in a 21:9 aspect ratio. We are definitely looking forward to testing out the V10's video mode, but for now it looks to be the best of any current smartphone.
A couple of other hardware improvements include "best-in-class" audio performance using an ESS Technology 32 bit DAC, and a fingerprint sensor that can be used with Android Pay. The V10 is also the first phone to be released that uses Qualcomm's TruSignal antenna boost technology for "fewer dropped calls, faster data and better call coverage."
As for the V10's premium construction, it has a metal "Dura Guard" frame. Impressively, instead of using aluminum like most other metal phones have, LG opted to use stainless steel, which should make a caseless V10 able to withstand a few more bumps and scrapes than other handsets.
The back of the phone is still plastic so that it can be user-removable (yes, the V10 still has a replaceable battery), but it's made from what LG called "Dura Skin." This soft-touch finish is supposed to be scratch resistant, and the back is also textured for better grip. With these improvements, the V10 is "MIL-STD-810G Transit Drop Compliant."
The LG V10 will be available in Korea this month, and will then be released other markets (including the U.S.) on dates to be announced later. Pricing has also not been disclosed, but one should expect its additional features over the G4 to carry a premium.
The LG Watch Urbane Second Edition
Along with the V10 phone, LG has also announced a new version of its Watch Urbane Android Wear-powered smartwatch. This new version is the first Android Wear device to support LTE connectivity so it can function without the need to be connected to a smartwatch.
This new watch also has the highest screen resolution of any smartwatch, its P-OLED display being 480 x 480. Like the V10, it has a stainless steel body, and it has a hypoallergenic elastomer band. LG claims the 570 mAh battery can last more than a day.
The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition will be first available in the United States and Korea and then land in other markets. At this time, pricing has not been announced.
We will be at LG's launch for these new devices later today, so stay tuned for our hands-on coverage from the event.
Alex Davies is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware and Tom's IT Pro, covering Smartphones, Tablets, and Virtual Reality. You can follow him on Twitter. Follow Tom's Hardware on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.