LG unveils the G6, swapping modularity for new screen dimensions and waterproofing

The modular G5 was a novel device, but novelty alone doesn’t sell phones. So LG went back to the drawing board for its followup, and the result is, on a whole, a fairly straightforward flagship smartphone. The LG G6 is a good looking handset, but not an especially remarkable one, with design language that brings to mind fellow flagships like the Galaxy S7.

The company’s big marketing hook is aspect ratio – not something a majority of consumers likely consider when looking for a new phone. In a briefing on the new handset, the company made reference to the competition – the not so subtly renamed Company A and Company S, both of which, it noted, are said to be considering longer phones.

But LG beat them to 18:9/2:1 (both the S7 and iPhone 7 are 16:9, for the record). Being among the first to what may well become a (erm) wider trend in the industry certainty has its perks. LG gets the first to translate all of those benefits to the smartphone buying public. Getting in early also has its drawbacks, like the fact that LG has to translate all of those benefits to the smartphone buying public.

The company certainly did its part to hype the G6 in recent weeks, capitalizing on a handful of leaks by talking up what sounded to be what it deemed a “FullVision display,” coupled with a new interface designed to capitalize on the new dimensions. But LG has let the early innovation ball get away from it in the past, with the aforementioned G5, which eclipsed and better executed by Motorola’s Moto Z line.


There’s also the V20’s dual-camera set up.That one had plenty of wind sucked out of its sails by the iPhone 7 Plus, which earned Apple bold op-ed headlines like “Apple’s new iPhone 7 Plus is set to bring augmented reality into the mainstream.”

LG’s primary selling points for the new golden ratio are multitasking and photography, the latter of which is not particularly surprising. After all, imaging was a big focus for the V20, and continues to be on the G6, in part courtesy of those dual-rear-facing cameras, which are packed into the phone with no discernible camera bump. The added screen real estate means you’ll be able to preview photos as you’re shooting using the Square Photo app, which juxtaposes a live view and the most recent photo – as long as you’re shooting in the square configuration.


The limitations there are inherent, of course. Square photos do the trick for plenty of social media sites like Instagram, but is lacking for other portrait, based platforms. Even so, it’s a neat trick, and one that definitely enhances the picture taking process.


LG also takes advantage of the extended display by adding on the ability to open two windows side by side – not a new trick, exactly, but one traditionally reserved for devices like tablets, for obvious reasons. The idea is to bring added multitasking, and the new dimensions make it possible to have two square apps open at once, though the practicality of such a feature continues to be limited by the phone’s limited real estate. I say this as someone who is currently feeling the limitations of a 13-inch laptop screen, sorely missing my second monitor. It’s all relative.

While the move away from modular feels more broadly like an admission of failure on behalf of the G5, it does make for a better phone all around. Not only is the design more solid and premium, it allows for things like IP68 waterproofing, quickly becoming something of a standard feature on flagship handset, but still a key feature worth noting for anyone who’s ever dropped the thing in the toilet on a late night trip to the loo.


For good measure, the company had a shower on hand at the announcement to demonstrate the functionality. I can attest that it didn’t break after holding it under the shower head for a few minutes, though the touchscreen unsurprisingly went a bit wonky when it was wet, and I nearly dropped the slippery phone for some improvised ruggedness testing.

Dumping the modularity also means a notable step up in battery capacity, from 2,800mAh to 3,300 — which is about right for a flagship phone in 2017.

LG was also careful to note the extra steps it took to ensure battery safety on the device – no doubt a not so veiled reference to the recent high profile woes of a fellow South Korean handset maker. Either way, the company seems pretty confident that its QC 3.0 fast charging battery definitely isn’t going to blow up.

The G6 will be getting wireless functionality here in the States — functionality it will apparently be lacking in the rest of the world. It’s set arrive in South Korea in “a few days,” according to the company with availability following in other markets.