LG Velvet Review: Stylish 5G Phone Lacks Excitement, Brings Value

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LG Velvet: Audio Quality, Performance, and Battery Life

LG Velvet Audio, Data, and Call Reception

We primarily tested the AT&T-branded LG Velvet on the carrier’s low band 5G network (850MHz, n5) in and around San Francisco, and the unlocked device -- which lacks 5G for the US -- on AT&T’s 4G LTE network in the same Bay Area locations. Reception and calls were problem free, and data speeds were on par with other AT&T devices. Obviously, T-Mobile’s version will support low band 5G (600MHz, n71) and Verizon’s model has mmWave.

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The Velvet has stereo speakers (earpiece on top and edge driver along the bottom), which sound decent but don't particularly stand out. It’s the headphone jack we were more excited about, until we realized that it’s missing ESS’s superb 32-bit HiFi Quad DAC and headphone amp. For some reason, LG decided to omit this from the Velvet. As such, the 3.5mm output is fine, but it’s nothing to write home about.

LG Velvet Performance

Like the OnePlus Nord, the Velvet is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G chip with built-in 5G. LG combines this with 6GB of RAM (8GB is some markets outside the US), and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage -- expandable via microSD (up to 2TB). While the Velvet is about as quick in most day-to-day tasks as some 2019 flagships, it isn’t as responsive as the Nord. The display’s 60Hz refresh rate certainly feels less smooth.

Still, we have no complaints. The Velvet juggled all our productivity apps with aplomb, including a brief jaunt in Super Mario Run while on a Skype call. Sure, it’s not going to run 3D-intensive games as well as a flagship, but that’s not what this phone is about. Our benchmarks (below) confirm this, putting the Velvet between the OnePlus Nord and Google Pixel 4a in terms of performance.

Futuremark PCMark For Android
General Purpose Pocket Computing Performance Metrics
Futuremark's PCMark for Android is an excellent suite of tests if you want to benchmark a wide range of tasks on any handset -- things like image and video editing, as well as lighter-duty, everyday workloads such as email and web browsing. When you see the test running live, it's clear the scripted application tests are carefully selected and tuned to make use of the each mobile platform in a very controlled way...

pcmark lg velvet

We were expecting the LG Velvet to score close to the OnePlus Nord, but for some reason, it scores just below the Snapdragon 730G-equipped Pixel 4a. While the Snapdragon 765G powering the Velvet clearly doesn't match the performance of current flagships for the workloads used in PCMark for Android, these results are still respectable.

AnTuTu 8 And AITuTu
Platform Benchmarks
AnTuTu’s latest benchmark returns a number of metrics ranked with somewhat nebulous scores, rather than frame rates or time to complete. Here we're running the latest version of AnTuTu across an multiple Android devices. AnTuTu returns four top level performance results which are all included here: CPU, RAM, 3D, UX (or User Experience), along with a total score...

antutu lg velvet

The Velvet did better with the AnTuTu benchmark. Here, it slots right in-between the Snapdragon 730G-equipped Pixel 4a and the Snapdragon 765G-equipped OnePlus Nord.

AITuTu evaluates the AI performance of a device by leveraging two mainstream neural network models for machine learning and AI -- Inception v3 for Image Classification and MobileNet-SSD for Object Detection. The benchmark determines the device’s accuracy and speed when inferring data from each workload...

aitutu lg velvet

LG has clearly done a decent job optimizing AI workloads on the Snapdragon 765G. In AiTuTu, the Velvet actually scores better than the Snapdragon 865-equipped LG V60. Strangely, that's less than half what the OnePlus Nord scores. LG likely hasn't implemented the necessary libraries to fully accelerate the workloads in AITuTu in dedicated hardware.

3D Graphics Benchmarks: 3DMark And GFX Bench
Pushing The Pixels
Next we're checking how the LG Velvet compares in GFXBench, which has been one of the standard mobile graphics/gaming performance benchmarks for years. To ensure that display refresh (v-sync) and resolution aren't limiting factors, we're comparing off-screen test results here. GFXBench tests OpenGL ES graphics workloads and we're specifically testing OpenGL ES 2...

trex lg velvet

manhattan lg velvet

Graphics performance clearly isn't the Snapdragon 765G's strongest suit. Here, the LG Velvet's scores are almost identical to the OnePlus Nord's and consistently slightly less than half the scores of current flagships.

Futuremark's 3DMark Sling Shot is a newer benchmark module that's been added to the 3DMark mobile suite. Unlike previous gen 3DMark mobile tests, Sling Shot is a much more advanced OpenGL ES 3.1 and Metal API-based benchmark that employs more advanced rendering techniques, like volumetric lighting, particle illumination, multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback.

3DMark Sling Shot Test
Futuremark 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Benchmark

We're running this test in off-screen mode once again to remove display resolution differences from the equation. This lets us compare cross-platform results more reliably...

3dmark lg velvet

Like the OnePlus Nord, the LG Velvet also performed worse than current flagships in these 3DMark tests. It scored about half what the Snapdragon 855-equipped Pixel 4 XL scored, but still 1.3x better than the Snapdragon 730G-equipped Pixel 4a.

LG Velvet Other Features and Battery Life

On the radio front, the Velvet features WiFi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5.1 (LE w/ aptX HD), NFC, and A-GPS/ GLONASS / Galileo / BDS. You’ll also find the standard array of sensors on board, including proximity, ambient light, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and barometer. Haptic are decent enough, but we don’t think LG is using a linear motor here. The optical in-display fingerprint sensor is reasonably fast and accurate.

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With a slightly larger 4300mAh cell and slower 60Hz screen, the Velvet should beat the OnePlus Nord for battery life. And indeed, it looks pretty solid. Unfortunately, our PCMark’s battery test kept crashing, but with 60% battery left after 5h49 screen-on time, we’re confident the Velvet will last a full day or more. When it’s time to recharge, it supports fast charging up to 25W (Quick Charge 4.0+ and PD 2.0), plus Qi-compatible wireless charging up to 9W.

Next up: the software, pricing, and the verdict...

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