LG V30 Review: Setting The Record Straight For A Great Smartphone

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LG V30 Design And Build Quality

The LG V30 offers a clean, balanced design. There's nothing about the device that feels out of place or out of reach for average-sized hands. Its display covers nearly the entire front face of the phone, with only the thinnest of bezel area on top to house its front-facing camera and earpiece speaker, along with an equal amount of bottom bezel for balance. If you ask us, the LG V30 delivers one of the best smartphone designs on the market physically, bar none, Android or iOS. It's not too tall vertically, not too wide horizontally and the V30 incorporates an extremely efficient industrial design with a premium look and feel. Some of these design trait preferences are subjective, however, and beauty is in the eye, as they say. Regardless, that's our humble opinion.
front LG V30
back LG V30
The back of the V30 is an all glass affair that looks and feels great, but as you might expect soaks up fingerprints and other muck readily. The rear of the phone, like the front, is sheathed in Corning Gorilla Glass 5 and it does seem fairly robust resisting scratches and cleans up well with the help of a micro-fiber cloth. The rear of the device isn't quite as rigid as say the Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+, however. LG's choice of putting a physical combo fingerprint reader and screen lock button on the rear of the machine does slightly break up an otherwise clean aesthetic. But hey, at least that fingerprint sensor is centered and easily within reach with either hand, unlike the aforementioned GS8+.
back cameras LG V30
headphone jack LG V30

Dialed-Up With Serious Camera Equipment

The rear of the V30 is also home to a wealth of imaging horsepower, with both a 16MP standard aspect and a 13MP 120º wide angle lens. The 16MP shooter has a very light-sensitive f1.6 aperture Crystal Clear Lens (as LG calls it), while the 13MP wide angle camera shoots via an f1.9 aperture lens. LG notes that glass lenses are typically only found in DSLR cameras and the like and this is a first for a smartphone. We will say that an f1.6 aperture is indeed the widest we've seen in a smartphone to date. We'll let the V30's photo sample shots do the talking beyond that, so stay tuned for actual performance on the pages ahead. On the font is a 5MP selfie cam with 90º wide angle lens with f2.2 aperture. You've also got the standard LED flash here and we'll say it again, yes that's a 3.5mm headphone jack for that legacy set of earbuds you won't be doing away with anytime soon. You also get a dual SIM/MicroSD card tray that can add up to another 2TB of storage, should you need it, which is fairly standard equipment these days. 

Finally, on the left edge are discrete volume up and down buttons, which you can see up close and personal below...

About That pOLED Display

But enough about buttons and features, we're sure some of you are more concerned with our official opinion of the LG V30's display. Reports have surfaced at some publications over concerns with LG's pOLED display in both the LG V30 and the Google Pixel 2 XL which is built by LG and incorporates the same display type. There were two primary concerns here that have surfaced: the display's color consistency and gradient response, as well as what has been reported as OLED screen burn. While we haven't pushed the V30 much with respect to driving its display for extended always-on use, we haven't yet seen any observable burn-in issues with its display in our use case. That's not to say they can't/won't occur, as OLED displays tend to be more sensitive to this versus other display types. However, with proper Android screen timeout settings, the average user shouldn't have to worry about burn-in from static images on the display. And if you're actually using the display, the image obviously won't be static enough to cause a burn or ghost effect.

And in terms of display performance, here are a couple of shots to give you a general feel...
volume buttons LG V30
OLED Display LG V30

We've been peering and staring at the V30's display for the better part of three months, since we saw it late August, and over two different devices, both a pre-production prototype and the final production unit we're using as a daily driver for the lead-up to this review. In our eyes, color consistency, even in low light, low brightness conditions is just fine. Since it's OLED, as you can see the display just pops and has noticeably better brightness, contrast, and saturation versus phones with IPS displays. We'd offer that LG's pOLED is setup a little cooler in both the V30 and the Pixel 2 XL, such that side-by-side versus Samsung's Super AMOLED display in the Galaxy S8 and Note 8 series, Samsung delivers a warmer image output. This may or may not be to your liking in either case, cooler or warmer. We also will say Samsung seems to have an edge in viewing angle as the LG V30 loses a bit more brightness on extreme angles versus the Samsung phone. 

However, as pixel snobs and OLED display aficionados (if we do say so ourselves), across multiple device types, from laptops to smartphones, we here to tell you that LG's V30 pOLED display offers excellent image quality and looks fantastic in both indoor and sunlight settings. In our opinion, you can't go wrong with the LG V30's display, from what we've seen so far. We reserve the right to revisit this section in the weeks and months ahead, but so far, so very good. 

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