LG’s G6 event (or “G6 Day”, as they called it) occurred early for those of us Stateside yesterday. Between rumors, leaks, and confirmations from LG that the G6 wouldn’t continue with the same modular design the G5 had, I felt like I already knew what was coming: another smartphone slab that looked all too similar to the other smartphones on the market. For the most part, I feel that it is.
I knew that this was probably the best move for LG. While I was impressed by the G5’s uniqueness when it debuted last year, my awestruck first impressions fizzled out once it was apparent that the G5 would only ever be “moderately modular” and support just a handful of their “Friends”. The G5 especially fell flat when compared to Lenovo’s extensive efforts for its modular design with the Moto Z. It makes sense for LG to go back to a more familiar design.
I’ll admit that I felt the event was a little lackluster, and focused far too much on the phone’s screen than other aspects of the phone. The G6’s main selling point is that it fits a 5.7-inch QHD+ display in the body of a phone that would normally only be able to fit a 5.2-inch display. By shrinking bezels and internals of the phone, fitting the large display in such a small body was possible. As somebody who appreciates larger screens but has a hard time holding larger phones with one hand, this design is appealing.
The major focus on the screen size may work for now, but it could be relatively short lived considering the high expectations mobile enthusiasts have for devices like the Samsung Galaxy S8, which is set to debut in late March, and the next generation iPhone, which is so hyped that it’s partly to blame for lower-than-expected iPhone 7 and 7 Plus sales last year. It’s also worth mentioning that the G6’s defining slim bezels are expected to be a major design element in many flagship smartphones this year. If true, that leaves the G6 with very little to fall back on aside from being “first”.
There are a couple of arguable shortcomings of the G6. First, there’s the removal of the removable battery. Despite the G5’s unpopular modular design, it still managed to keep the removable battery and seemed appreciated for the most part. The G5 even had a battery charging pack accessory for charging a spare battery, which something that not many phones offer anymore, and certainly not of flagship caliber. Obviously, this won’t be an option with the G6.
There’s also the decision to use last year’s Snapdragon 821 processor. To me, this seemed like a decision that LG had to make to avoid the lesser of two evils. LG allegedly chose to use the Snapdragon 821 processor because Samsung had apparently secured “first dibs” on releasing a phone with the latest Snapdragon 835. If that’s the case, then LG would have either had an atypical late release, or they could settle for the 821 and beat a popular brand to the punch. I think LG made the right choice there.
Beyond the drawbacks, however, there are some good additions to the G6 as well. LG gave the G6 an IP68 rating, making it waterproof and dustproof, as well as wireless charging capabilities. LG’s dual-camera set-up on the rear – one for “normal” photos and one with a wide-angle lens – is similar to last year’s G5, but like the removable battery, the camera was one of the better aspects of the G5. The G6 was also said to be the second smartphone to ship with Google Assistant, a feature that was recently an exclusive to Google’s Pixel, but it’s hard to praise the G6 for this feature considering the announcement that Google Assistant would be coming to Android phones running on Marshmallow and Nougat followed mere hours later.
The G6 seems like a practical device overall, and I find its minimal design attractive. The four major U.S. carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, as well as U.S. Cellular) have all already confirmed that they will sell the device, so they have availability locked down. I think what will make or break the G6’s sales will be its pricing. The G6 is already set to launch in Korea on March 10 for 899,800 won (around $795 in the U.S.) but the pricing may be different in the U.S. Hopefully it is; while I don’t think anybody really hold the use of the Snapdragon 821 against LG, they might if the pricing ends up being too close to a more powerful phone.