LG V30 Hands-On First Look: What May Be A Fantastic Android Flagship

If you keep a pulse on the premium smartphone arena, you probably have a line on the fact that there might be something special about the forthcoming LG V30. Set for an official IFA 2017 unveiling, the new handset has been leaked, rumored and even teased by LG itself. LG in fact has been on a consistent marketing blitz, releasing bits and pieces of LG V30 features to keep the buzz factor and discussion of its new device at peak volume. Regardless, with a complement of features that may not be earth-shattering, but when combined add up to what could be handset nirvana for many, it's beginning to feel like LG may truly have something compelling in hand for Android power users with the V30.

And we're here to tell you today with our hands-on preview first look, that in fact the LG V30 is indeed something pretty special.

LG V30 Front

In A Word, Balanced

The first thing that comes to mind when you consider a handset with a 6-inch display is that it's going to be large, so large that perhaps folks with small hands might need not apply. However, the LG V30 strikes a such an efficient profile that it really doesn't feel like a traditional 6-inch device. It's significantly shorter and thinner than a Pixel XL, for example but still manages to squeeze in a gorgeous 6-inch OLED display with 2880x1440 resolution. Displays have always been a strong suit for LG and with a super-crispy 537ppi pixel density, believe us when we tell you, the screen just pops with great saturation, contrast and full HDR10 compliance.

Here's a rundown of the rest of the V30's high level specs. Then hit our hands-on video preview after the break for a closer look...
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • Display: 6-Inch 18:9 QuadHD+ (2880X1440) Full Vision OLED, HDR10 Compliant
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB, 128GB
  • SD Card: SDXC Up To 2TB
  • Cameras: 5MP Wide Angle Front, 16MP 71º/13MP 120º Wide Angle Dual Rear w/ OIS
  • Battery: 3300 mAh Non-Removable
  • IP68 Water And Dust Resistant
  • Dimension, Weight: 5.96x2.96x0.29 inches, ~ 5.57oz

Fit and finish-wise, the LG V30 is built quite similar to a Samsung Galaxy S8 and in our humble opinion that's a very good thing. The V30's edges, both metal and glass are highly polished and slightly curved so the phone fits nicely in the hand. They're not quite as curved as Samsung's Galaxy line, which actually makes the phone a little less slippery and perhaps easier to grip. The V30 feels super solid with no flex and, with both IP68 water and dust resistance, should put up with a fair amount of abuse. LG's OLED display is covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and both the back and front of the device seems to resist scratches well, while doing a decent but not stellar job of resisting fingerprints. 

LG V30 Back
LG V30 Head Phone Jack

And yes boys and girls, we've got both USB Type-C connectivity and a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. The resistance is alive and well with LG. LG's Knock-On, screen wake-up feature makes a return here as well. Traditional LG button placements are also mapped out the same for the V30, with volume up/down buttons on the left edge, a SIM/SDXC combo tray on the right and the combo fingerprint reader and power/lock button on the back side, right in the middle and easily within reach. 

LG V30 Camera Features - Some Are Kind Of Game-Changing

And the V30's camera array, along with some custom LG software setup, can do some pretty cool tricks, with one that's so simple and elegant we wonder why it hasn't been done before. 

Point Zoom LG V30
LG V30 Point Zoom Animated GIF

The LG V30's Point Zoom feature throws standard pinch and zoom or slider zoom phone camera navigation out the window and adds a very useful tool. With Point Zoom enabled, which is accessed in the V30's Cine Mode for video shooting, you can just tap a spot on the display while recording video, and a zoom slider is activated. When you pull down on the slider, the digital zoom in the camera then zooms in on the exact area you're targeting. You can also zoom back out with the same smooth, fluid motion you see above. It's quick, easy, very smooth and works really well. It's the last bit of video recording functionality that was missing from smartphone cameras, versus say camcoders. 

Graphy LG V30
Graphy Cam LG V30

In addition to having dual cameras with a standard view and wide angle shooter on the back, the V30 has a still camera mode called Graphy. Think of Graphy as pre-dialed manual setups for still shots, with ISO, white balance, shutter speed etc. all pre-configured but still available to tweak. Graphy shot settings profiles from professional photographers are cataloged in a database and stored on the V30. You can also download more shot profiles with the Graphy app from the Google Play store as well and tweak those settings, if need be, before taking a shot. Think of Graphy as a quick and easy way to help dial things in closer in manual mode. If Auto mode isn't cutting it and flat Manual mode is too complex for your shot composition, fire up Graphy and let it help dial you in based on a similar shot scene from a pro photographer. We're still evaluating overall camera performance with and without Graphy for the LG V30 and will offer you our detailed findings in the days ahead, but so far we're generally impressed with the LG V30's imaging skill set.

About LG V30 Performance And Our Full Review: To Be Continued

In terms of overall performance, the V30 feels nimble and crisp, with LG's UX 6.0+ making its debut, adding useful utility to its fairly unadulterated Android 7.1.2 Nougat OS setup. One small UI tweak to the Home screen is called the Floating Bar...
LG V30 Floating Bar
We demonstrated floating bar in the video hands-on above but generally, you can think of it sort of like the LG V20's second screen but in a floating, adjustable overlay on the Home screen. You can position the bar anywhere on the edge of the Home screen by drag it around, up or down, or to the left or right side edge, where it will slide out. It's actually a solid, handy feature and works cleanly. You can customize what utilities and app shorcuts are on the bar. So, if you want the calculator app on the Floating Bar, or perhaps Quick Memo, it's all configurable and customizeable.

LG V30 On Red Velvet Back

But we know you're looking for that deep review of performance on a number of metrics, from the LG V30's potent Snapdragon 835 processing engine, to camera image fidelity and battery life. And we'll have that for you in the very near future, so stick around. We will say, so far the LG V30 pre-release unit we're testing is a compelling and impressive device. We're also still waiting to hear about pricing and availability as well, but we expect more information to trickle out from LG as the product is officially launched at IFA 2017 in Berlin today. One thing is for sure, we'll be putting this highly polished Android beauty through its paces in the days ahead. More to come.

Update, 8/31/17 - 8:50AM: LG is holding a live stream out at the IFA show in Berlin. You can catch that right here. Scrub to the 29:00 minute mark to cut right to the event...