LG G6 hands-on: Unique 18:9 display, water resistance and dual camera flexibility

LG spent the last month revealing bits and pieces of the G6 so the recent announcement was no surprise. After spending a couple days with the LG G6, it's clear that LG is ready to compete with the best.

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On Sunday, LG officially announced the LG G6. I've been testing our a non-final unit for the last couple of days and it is clear that LG is ready to compete with the Galaxy S8, Google Pixel XL, and other Android flagships.

I listed eight reasons the LG G6 is better than the Google Pixel XL, based on the known features and specifications. After using the LG G6 for a couple of days and owning a Google Pixel XL for a month, I'm ready to move forward with the G6 and have no regrets about leaving the Pixel XL behind.

Hardware first thoughts

The LG G4 had a cool leather back cover and the G5 implemented an incomplete modular system so I wasn't sure what to expect for the LG G6 and didn't think too much about it with all of the other great devices from Moto, Huawei, HTC, Samsung, and others. I took the LG G6 from the package and the first thing that struck me was the narrow width and long display with a slightly rounded metal frame that makes holding onto the LG G6 very comfortable.

I have medium sized hands and big pockets so large phones work well for me. The width of a phone is one dimension that bothers me about phones with 5.5 inch or bigger displays so with LG cutting the width and lengthening the phone, this is exactly what I wanted to see.

The glass back is a major fingerprint magnet, but it does allow wireless charging and you will find support for Qi and PMA technologies on the LG G6.

The dual rear cameras continue what LG started with the LG G5 with one camera having a standard lens and the other a wide-angle lens. Both have the same resolution and some initial samples show that both cameras beat the iPhone 7 Plus. You can check out a few samples of the Seattle waterfront in my Flickr album. I look forward to much more testing of the rear and front cameras.

Water resistance should be standard on all high end flagships today so it's fantastic to see the LG G6 with an IP68 rating. Thankfully, you will also still find a 3.5mm headset jack.

People on Twitter have been slamming the LG G6 for using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821, but those statements seem ridiculous when you consider the Google Pixel uses the same processor and LG worked closely to optimize the processor for this particular piece of hardware. Consumers won't care that the unproven Snapdragon 835 is not in use and you shouldn't either.

Software first thoughts

The LG G6 runs Android 7.0 Nougat and is the first non-Pixel phone to ship with Google Assistant. At first this appeared to be an exclusive, but then Google announced that Assistant will be rolling out to Android 6 and 7 phones so that was a short-lived benefit.

The display is one of the most striking aspects to me with uniquely rounded corners on an 18:9 ratio. LG has provided some optimization of the 18:9 display in is UX 6 interface. There is also a setting where you can manually select how you want to see apps appear in this unique resolution. With the Galaxy S8 rumored to have an 18:9 ratio, this may be something others move to and LG did it first.

You can choose between an iPhone-like setup with no app drawer or select to have an app drawer present, much like other standard Android phones. There are LG influences in UX 6.0, including custom widgets, settings area, standby screen notifications, and a couple apps like LG Health, Smart cleaning, music player, QuickMemo+, and Gallery. It's good to see manufacturers still including a custom photo gallery since these tend to give you more editing capabilities than what you get with Google Photos.

First impressions summary

I thoroughly enjoyed using the LG G4 a couple of years ago and have been pleased with the last two V series phones from LG. The LG G5 is a solid smartphone, but the modularity was a miss. Thus, I wasn't expecting too much from the LG G6.

After just a few days with a non-final device, I have to say I am very excited about the LG G6 and think it could be my next daily driver. Water resistance is included, the narrow form factor with minimal bezels and lengthened 18:9 display is fantastic, the cameras capture all I want, wireless charging is handy, and Google Assistant integration is useful.

The LG V20 is an incredible phone and one that may be better for enterprise customers than the LG G6 thanks to its removable battery, dual second screen above the main display, and IR port. If the LG V20 had water resistance, then I would likely stick with that as my primary device. The LG G6 does fit better in your hand and pocket and will likely appeal to the masses.

This is a non-final, non-review unit so I can't make any final conclusions are rate the device on a scale. That said, it has performed wonderfully for the last few days with no issues in the hardware or the software. I will soon get a final, review unit in hand and will post a full review at that time.

If you have any specific questions or want me to test something on the LG G6, please let me know in the comments and I will address the questions in my full review.

Related ZDNet LG coverage

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