LG Velvet overview: smooth, not easy

I’ve used most of LG’s flagship phones over the previous few years. Enjoyed utilizing them, even. But heck if I might choose them out of a lineup. LG has pursued an aggressively bland design language adopted in near-identical fashion by just about all of its recent phones. The G7, the V40, the G8, the V50, and so on are all fine units on paper, but they’re only distinguishable for those who can remember their particular display sizes and digital camera layouts — and even then it’s a problem.

Whatever the purpose for this, it’s not working. LG is hanging onto its distant third place in the US, and it’s a non-entity in lots of different main markets.

And so now we’ve the Velvet, a cellphone that sees LG take fully the opposite strategy to its typical concept of a flagship cellphone, abandoning the long-running G-series altogether. It’s an try for the company to be taken severely as a design chief, as it was in the days of the iconic Chocolate slider in the mid aughts. (LG even managed to restrain itself from including “ThinQ” in the identify.) The Velvet is a mid-range cellphone with mid-range pricing but unmistakably high-end match and end.

After utilizing it for a week, I can say that the Velvet actually doesn’t look or really feel like every LG cellphone thus far, or another 5G cellphone on the market. The query is what was sacrificed to realize this.

I’d usually begin a cellphone overview by speaking about its industrial design. It’s not all that always that I take advantage of phones the place the selection of processor has a materials influence on its person experience. In this case, although, LG’s decision to go along with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 (and the barely quicker 765G in the US) informs virtually all the pieces about the device.

Just about each flagship Android cellphone you’ll read about this year will use a Snapdragon 865 system-on-chip at its core. It’s the quickest chip out there to Android device producers. But the problem with the 865 is that not only does it not have an built-in 5G modem, Qualcomm mandates that or not it’s paired with a separate 5G modem, which takes up bodily area and consumes more power. The upshot is that 4G flagship Android phones successfully no longer exist, and 2020 5G phones are typically fairly thick and heavy.

The 765 isn’t as {powerful} a chip as the 865, but it does include an built-in 5G modem, permitting for a more environment friendly design. LG’s wager is that by sacrificing a little little bit of top-end performance, you’ll get a sleeker cellphone that’ll still work well with new 5G networks.

The first time you choose up the Velvet, you’ll understand that LG actually did go all-in on that wager. This is by far the most tasty cellphone that LG has made in a few years — possibly ever. It’s superbly crafted from high to backside, with a sturdy sense of steadiness in its curves and traces. Next to most different 2020 Android flagships, its 7.9mm-thick body seems like one thing from the future. (Or from the recent previous of simply a few years ago, when many Android phones have been pushing the limits of skinny designs.)

The LG Velvet’s “raindrop” cameras.

I admire, although, that this may occasionally not show up all that well in images, significantly since LG despatched us this boring “Aurora Gray” fingerprint-magnet model. This is the sort of cellphone it’s a must to maintain in your hand to understand the attraction of. The symmetrically curved glass on the front and back isn’t strictly new, for instance, but it provides to the sensation of thinness. While I’d not essentially say LG is breaking new floor right here, it’s refreshing in the context of today’s high-end phones.

This is still very a lot a big cellphone, nonetheless, so don’t go anticipating the modest specs to permit for a breakthrough in portability. The Velvet has a 6.8-inch 1080p curved OLED display with a selfie digital camera notch and slim bezels on the high and backside; the high edge is a little thicker than what you’ll discover on different phones, but it balances out the “chin” on the backside.

Although the display itself seems nice, it has a couple of points. It only runs at 60Hz, which places it out of step with mainly each different premium Android cellphone this year. I also discovered that the in-screen fingerprint sensor was sluggish and unreliable in comparison with what I’ve routinely used on cheaper Chinese phones for years now, typically requiring a second or third press to authenticate.

The Velvet’s display isn’t class-leading, then, but that’s simpler to forgive when you may have two of them at as soon as. Depending in your market, the Velvet ships with a new model of the Dual Screen accent that LG has been experimenting with on its last few flagships. This one is a little more refined than before, although it’s still unavoidably cumbersome, and the smaller digital camera cutout on the back makes it more durable to take away than ever. I do contemplate it a sturdy selling level for power customers, although — it’s a nice way to multitask, even when I wouldn’t go away it on the cellphone all the time.

The LG Velvet in its Dual Screen case.

Speaking of the cameras, the minimalist “raindrop” design was a much-vaunted part of LG’s pre-launch hype for the Velvet. There’s one big digital camera lens at the high, then two smaller lenses and a flash below that evoke dripping water. It does look cool and it’s refreshing to not have a enormous digital camera bump, but all things thought of I feel I’d relatively have a better digital camera setup.

While the Velvet’s 48-megapixel foremost digital camera that turns in respectable images most of the time, it typically suffers from over-sharpening and it isn’t aggressive in low mild. Here are a few comparisons with the iPhone 11, which is one among the better cameras in this worth section.

LG Velvet (left), iPhone 11 (right)

The Velvet ekes out a little more pixel degree detail in the flowers, but the colours are very flat. In actual life, these flowers undoubtedly seemed more like the bluish shades captured by the iPhone.

LG Velvet (left), iPhone 11 (right)

Here are a couple of night time mode photographs. This was a actually dark alleyway, so from one standpoint the Velvet shot is more true to life. The iPhone, nonetheless, captures each more colour and detail regardless of the longer publicity, which 9 instances out of ten is what I’m going to need.

The 8-megapixel ultrawide, in the meantime, is disappointing contemplating that LG was the first main cellphone maker to ship one all the way back on 2016’s G5. It’ll do the job in case you have enough mild, but the images are dim and lack detail. It’s worse than the ultrawide on the iPhone 11, which itself is nowhere close to as good as rivals like the Huawei P40 Pro.

LG Velvet (left), iPhone 11 (right)

The iPhone does blow out the solar a little right here, but its publicity is typically a lot more pleasing and it captures a lot more detail. The Velvet photograph seems like a watercolor portray for those who zoom in even a little.

That third lens in the “raindrop” format is a 5-megapixel “depth sensor” to help with synthetic bokeh, although I’m not completely certain what distinction it made — if any. Other phones are able to doing this with single lenses, and if LG actually wished so as to add a third for this objective I really feel prefer it may as well have been a telephoto.

The Velvet’s cameras aren’t horrible, but they’re not nice. The picture high quality feels incongruous with the cellphone’s construct high quality. You’re firmly in mid-range territory right here.

That brings me to the Velvet’s Snapdragon 765 processor which, as I mentioned before, is the entire purpose this cellphone is the way it is. In basic use, I don’t suppose it represents a lot of a compromise. Apps load rapidly, web pages render as anticipated, games run fine, and so on. But the Velvet still one way or the other feels sluggish, whether or not it’s the 60Hz display or the stuttery scrolling in certain apps. I don’t know if it’s the chip itself or LG’s software, but it doesn’t match as much as different 2020 flagship Android phones.

The Velvet does, nonetheless, wring glorious battery life out of the 765. Despite its skinny body, there’s a 4,300mAh cell in right here, and it’s been more than enough for me to make it by the day — I wouldn’t have too many qualms about pushing it for 2. (Granted, I haven’t been leaving the home all that a lot.)

There is one final piece of dangerous news I’ve to report: the Velvet is LG’s first premium cellphone in recent reminiscence to not ship with a Quad DAC for high-quality headphone performance. It does still have a headphone jack, at least, but you gained’t get that further increase. While I’m not a hardcore audiophile, I can definitely hear the distinction after I change the Quad DAC on with different LG phones, so I’m a little unhappy to see it lacking right here. At least the haptics are still good.

The LG Velvet’s Dual Screen case when closed, revealing the different display.

The LG Velvet is an uncommon cellphone that doesn’t actually have any direct rivals; it’s a lovely mid-range device in a world of okay-looking ultra-powerful flagships. If you don’t care about display refresh charges and digital camera performance as a lot as you do slick seems and a light-weight design (or a cumbersome dual-screen case), it might well be for you, significantly if 5G is also a precedence.

For everybody else, although, it is likely to be a robust promote. We don’t have final US pricing introduced yet, but I feel it’ll be laborious to advocate if it is available in at more than $600 with the Dual Screen. For comparability, last year’s G8X had flagship specs but a boring design and no 5G; it bought for $699 with a chunkier model of the second-screen case. LG says the pricing can be decrease than the Korean model’s ~$750, but in the end it’ll be set by carriers.

I like LG’s strategy with the Velvet. It’s genuinely making an attempt one thing totally different after years of constructing area of interest flagships, and this is a sturdy first try at a putting new design. Unfortunately, it falls quick in a couple of key areas, and I feel most people will most likely have the ability to discover better choices. But between the Velvet and stories of even more experimental form components, I can at least say I’m intrigued by LG’s cellphone design once more.

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