LG V20 first impressions: Android Nougat, removable battery, refined construction

LG announced all the details of the V10 successor, and after several days, it looks like a worthy competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Unfortunately, we don't know when it will hit the streets.

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The LG V20 has two cameras on the back and one wide-angle camera on the front.

Millions of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 owners are disappointed the phone can no longer be used, and there is an opportunity for a manufacturer to snag some distraught users. Unfortunately, LG hasn't yet provided a release date or carrier pricing for the upcoming LG V20.

The LG V20 was announced last week, and LG sent along a global preview unit for me to test until retail versions are ready. Full reviews are not allowed until official review units are shipped closer to official carrier release.

That said, the press is allowed to post some first impressions. Similar to previous LG phones, the more I use it, the more I like it. Also, the longer I use the LG V20 (with the Note 7 now returned to T-Mobile), the possibility that I'd go for the V20 rather than the Note 7 increases.

Hardware

I like big phones, and I honestly loved the LG V10 with its unique Dura Skin back cover, stainless steel side rails, useful secondary display, excellent cameras, and removable battery.

The LG V20 brings over much of what we saw in the LG V10 in a sleeker form factor. A metal back is used to provide a premium feels, with hard plastic positioned at the top and bottom to help the LG V20 pass the MIL-STD 810G drop test.

The removable battery and microSD card remain, while we now see two cameras on the back and one wide-angle camera on the front. I haven't yet performed a full camera test yet, since we often see camera software tweaks just before retail release, and I want to make sure to test the camera you will see on shipping units.

USB Type-C is now present, and the IR transmitter remains so you can control all of your infrared products. The LG V20 incorporates a quad DAC for enhanced audio playback, and I'm really enjoying the experience with the B&O Play H3 earbuds.

The LG V20 comes with Android 7 Nougat -- and this includes a more aggressive Doze feature. I've seen good battery life from the LG V20 and have been able to go for a full day of use.

The LG V20 is an amazing media-creation machine, with a focus on enhanced audio and video-recording experiences. Music sounds incredible, thanks in part to the Quad-DAC and wired headphones.

LG uses optical image stabilization hardware and software, called Steady Record 2.0, to make sure your video looks great. Three microphones on the device also provide Hi-Fi recording capability.

It's natural to compare the LG V20 to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, so let's stack them up below.

Feature LG V20 Galaxy Note 7
Screen size/type 5.7 inch IPS Quantum 5.7 inch Super AMOLED
Rear camera(s) 16 megapixel, f/1.8 and 8 megapixel f/2.4 wide-angle 12 megapixel, f/1.7
Front camera 5 megapixel, f/1.9 wide angle 5 megapixel, f/1.7
Materials Coated aluminum back/sides, glass front, plastic top/bottom Glass front/back, aluminum edges
Unique features Quad-DAC, dual rear camera, removable battery, Nougat at launch Water resistant, S Pen, wireless charging, Samsung Pay
Dimensions 159.7 x 78.1 x 7.7 mm, 173 grams 153.5 x 73.9 x 7.9, 169 grams

Software

One of the major marketing statements for the LG V20 is that it would be the first phone shipping with Android 7.0 Nougat. This indicates the LG V20 will ship sooner rather than later, but we'll have to see what happens in the next couple of weeks.

With Android Nougat on the LG V20, we see the new functionality from Google to search for content within your apps. I'm enjoying using this with people to see my calls, texts, and emails all associated with that person. The potential for this deep-search capability is rather fascinating.

LG provided dual=screen capability on the LG V10, and it's back on the LG V20. You can also direct reply without leaving the app you are using. As I mentioned recently, many of the features found in Android Nougat have been implemented previously by major manufacturers.

LG V20 also launches with LG UX5.0+, which turns off the app drawer by default. Don't worry, it's a simple toggle in the device settings to turn it back on.

You will find the same secondary display up above the main display and to the right of the front facing camera. You can still use it to launch apps, communicate with your favorite people, control some key actions (flashlight, wireless radios, etc.), control your media, add in your signature, and more. Like the LG V10, I like having Captain Solo in cursive on the display.

I would love to see LG implement a dark theme mode for the quick controls, as having the text/icons in black on white really bother me.

Please let me know what you think of this first video I've shot in a while, and what you would like to hear more about in a full review.

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