LG was once one of the biggest players in the Android space, but the company’s success over the past few years has dwindled away because, frankly, a lot of the phones the company was putting out didn’t really matter. Lately, I’ve been using the LG V60 ThinQ, a smartphone that takes a different approach to other 2020 flagships and, for the first time in a while, feels like an LG flagship you should actually consider buying. Here’s why.
Mixing the best with the middling, and succeeding
Let’s cut right to the chase with what matters most about the hardware on this phone. The LG V60 ThinQ is not small.
It’s huge. The 6.8-inch display leaves the chassis of this device measuring in at 169.3 x 77.6 x 8.9mm. That’s about the same size as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and, really, bigger than almost any smartphone you’ve probably handled before. If you have smaller hands, just turn away now because this is not the phone for you.
However, LG does a fairly good job of making that size workable. The bezels are fairly slim on all sides, leaving the device just slim enough to where someone with average-sized hands can reach both sides of the device without employing their other hand. For most use cases, though, I still found myself needing both hands.
Outside of its size, the LG V60 is a good-looking, well-built device. The metal/glass slab is hefty due to its large internal battery and has a simple but nice design. The “Classy Blue” model I’ve been testing has a nice dark blue color on the back with gold accents on the metal frame, around the cameras, and on the logos. The glass on the back gets a little greasy over time from the oil on your fingertips, which is a little bit annoying, but I’m just glad LG has fixed the extreme slipperiness I experienced with the LG G8 last year.
What else do you need to know? The buttons on the V60 are tactile and in pretty good locations, too. The Google Assistant button on the left side below the volume rocker takes some getting used to — you’ll likely press it while trying to lower the volume a few times. Still, the button makes it easy to trigger Assistant at any time which is always a win in my book.
The LG V60 is also IP68 rated against water and dust, has a MIL-STD rating for durability, and there’s a microSD card slot alongside the SIM. The USB-C port at the bottom of the phone also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 speeds which, while handy, aren’t as useful as the more prevalent USB-PD standard. The phone also supports Qi charging.
Overall, the hardware on the LG V60 ThinQ is good, but it’s nothing especially exciting. It’s just a good phone.
The last hold-out
One of the few things that really makes the LG V60 stand out compared to the competition is the fact that, in 2020, it still has a headphone jack.
Since the release of the iPhone 7, smartphone makers have been killing off the headphone jack with every new release with Google, Motorola, and most recently Samsung killing off the port on their flagship smartphones. At this point, LG is the last hold-out in the flagship space still offering this feature.
A headphone jack may not seem like a “feature,” but LG really makes it feel like one. On top of the port just being there in the first place, it still has the same Quad-DAC behind the scenes that’s been in place for the past few generations. That DAC (digital-to-audio converter) produces considerably better sound quality compared to what you’d find in other smartphones with a jack. That’s especially important if you have a premium pair of headphones available.
Personally, I don’t really care. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to see someone keeping this port around, but I’ve moved on. I have wireless earbuds or headphones available much more readily than wired alternatives, and I just find them more convenient, too. Sure, you can get better quality or less lag from wired headphones, but for me, we’re just past that point. Plus, Bluetooth headphones are getting cheap enough to where cost isn’t the issue where it once was.
If you want a headphone jack, buy an LG V60 ThinQ. It’s the only flagship option that still has one, so it’s a really easy decision if you find that port that valuable.
Nothing stands out except the worry of support
One of the biggest deal-breakers for me on LG’s phones has been software. The long story short of the LG V60’s software situation is that, basically, it’s fine! The device ships with Android 10 and a February security patch which is pretty good, but what’s not good is that you’ll be on that version for a long time!
LG’s update track record is just… not good. It takes the company months to push out major Android updates and monthly security patches often lag well behind, usually arriving once per quarter. LG has made promises to improve on this before, but then failed tremendously. I genuinely hope this is something LG can improve on because, in the meantime, it’s one major reason I’ll be quicker to recommend a Samsung or Pixel device.
Get used to seeing these screens — they won’t change for a while
Still, what about the software that comes on the device? As mentioned, it’s fine! Design is subjective, but I kinda like LG’s use of transparency in areas such as the notification shade.
Aside from design, this is really just a pretty “by the book” Android experience. You’ll find a lot of useful added features such as scrolling screenshots, a “Game Launcher” that can improve the experience on this device while playing games, and LG Pay, which can use MST payments (note: only some banks are supported). There’s also an app preloaded that plays nicely with LG’s smart home appliances.
Really, though, there’s just nothing exciting about LG’s software. I can look at a Google Pixel and tell people to buy it because the software is simple and easy to use. I can look at OnePlus and say that the software is highly customizable and clean. I can look at Samsung and tell someone it has basically every feature they want. With LG, there’s nothing that stands out, it’s just an average Android phone with no identity attached, just a lot of effort put in to copy Samsung — or at least, the Samsung of a few years ago.
If anything, actually, what stands out about LG’s software to me is the number of random quirks I find with it. When you set up the phone, there’s a notification telling you not to remove the battery — the battery that’s completely sealed in. There’s no dark mode toggle. There’s no shortcut to access the notification shade. “Silent” notifications also can’t be clicked or dismissed easily. None of these are deal-breakers, but they’re all weird and vaguely annoying.
You cannot easily remove the battery from this phone
LG’s launcher, though, is a bloody mess. The app drawer is disabled by default, the weather widget on the homescreen won’t update automatically by default, and the app drawer is often infuriating. By default, there’s no rhyme or reason to how it sorts, and even if you tell it to sort alphabetically, new apps still go to the end of the list and, if you delete an app, it leaves a gap in the app drawer. This is bad! At least, though, you can swap the launcher out. Granted, on this build of Android 10 that also breaks the system gesture navigation.
Another quirk I observed on the LG V60 ThinQ related to Wi-Fi. Put simply, it doesn’t auto-connect. If you leave your home network and then come back later, the phone won’t reconnect and just stays on mobile data. That’s really weird. Plus, it seems intentional. I’ve noticed a few times that a pop-up appears prompting you to reconnect to Wi-Fi, but the pop-up always seems to show up when I’m in the middle of something else, meaning it closes because I touched elsewhere on the display. Why?!
LG is overdue for giving its software skin a revamp like Samsung’s One UI. In the meantime, this software is just fine, but I can’t describe it as “good.”
Also, none of that is to talk about the bloatware! LG’s own apps aren’t too intrusive, but the AT&T model of this device in particular ships with 37 apps pre-loaded. That’s not OK!
The AT&T version of this phone is absolutely drowning in bloatware
On a closing note, let’s talk about performance. It’s… fine. The V60 ships with a Snapdragon 865 processor and 8GB of RAM which is pretty standard for a 2020 device. Performance is solid, for the most part. I rarely saw apps close in the background and games run with no issues whatsoever. My only complaint likely stemmed from software as, on occasion, the device would heavily lag for up to a few minutes at a time, regardless of what I was doing.
You won’t miss what you don’t have
The 6.8-inch display on the LG V60 is, as I mentioned previously, absolutely huge. Luckily, it’s also quite good! The LG-made P-OLED display is vivid and generally bright enough with colors that are pretty accurate too.
My only major complaint about the display here is the ambient light sensor. Often, the phone will turn down the brightness when it doesn’t need to or leave it too high in a dark room. These issues also plague phone calls where, often, the screen will turn itself on while it’s against your ear, sometimes turning on speaker or pressing other buttons. It’s annoying!
Overall, though, the display is good, and I like that LG still doesn’t curve the display. There’s a small notch at the top, too, to house a 10MP selfie camera.
So, what about the refresh rate? Unlike the Pixel 4, OnePlus 7/8, and Galaxy S20, LG didn’t go for a high refresh-rate panel. This is a 60Hz panel and, honestly, that’s fine. High refresh-rate panels are really nice to use, but if you’ve not experienced one yet, you won’t find yourself missing what you don’t have currently. Plus, the 60Hz refresh rate helps with the V60’s really good battery life, something we’ll speak more to shortly.
With the V60, you’ll also get two screens! Most LG V60 purchases either come with or are eligible to redeem LG’s Dual-Screen accessory.
This accessory is basically a case that plugs into the USB-C port on the V60 and copies the main 6.8-inch display and puts another one on the left. This is housed as a folio that can be used at most angles and can flip all the way around when you need to go one-handed.
What’s this Dual-Screen useful for? To be honest, not a ton. I found it handy for scrolling social media while watching a video or doing some serious multitasking. Those scenarios just don’t come up that often, though.
More often than not, I ended up using the LG V60 ThinQ just as a normal phone. The Dual-Screen accessory is just too thick to use daily and makes it a little cumbersome to use the phone since you have to open the “folio” to access even one of the displays. Plus, it blocks the USB-C port — there’s a pin charger with an included magnetic, but it’s very easy to lose the adapter (yes, I lost mine for a while) — and because the case is so thick, some wireless chargers won’t work properly.
Overall, the Dual-Screen accessory is a cool addition, but a lot of people would probably be fine without it. That’s one thing that’s really nice about the T-Mobile model — it can be purchased without the Dual-Screen to save $100.
We have a winner, folks
I’m going to keep this short and simple. Battery life on the LG V60 ThinQ is phenomenal. I don’t think it’s possible with any kind of normal use to kill this 5,000mAh battery in a single day. My heaviest days generally saw over 16 hours of use and upwards of 6 hours of screen time, and the device still was barely under 50% by bedtime.
Honestly, there’s just not much more I can say about this. It’s really, really good. This is without a doubt one of the biggest reasons you should be attracted to this device.
The included charger is quick — quite a feat, really, considering the battery’s capacity — but I wish the V60 properly supported USB-PD charging. Qi is a nice bonus, though.
Not bad, but not stunning, either
In a year where Samsung really stumbled in the camera department, I’m pleased to see that LG did a pretty good job. The “triple-camera” array on the V60 consists of a 64MP primary sensor, 13MP ultrawide shooter, and a ToF depth sensor, too.
Shots from the ultrawide camera are good, but the primary sensor really surprised me. LG’s processing still isn’t perfect, but outdoor shots are usually vivid and, with enough lighting, there’s a good amount of detail, too. Shots don’t look as crisp when you zoom in, but for social media and general photos, this is very much acceptable.
LG’s processing doesn’t suffer from the same skin-smoothing issues as the Galaxy S20 series, either. HDR isn’t nearly as good as a Pixel — the same goes for “Night Mode” — but overall it’s not too bad.
There’s no secondary lens for zoom, though, so results there will only be so good. Granted, with a 64MP sensor, there’s plenty of room for digital zoom.
As per usual for LG, the camera app also supports excellent pro controls and, in video, it can use the microphones to capture really good sound in almost any setting. The visual quality isn’t anything too crazy, but it’s respectable for sure.
Another nice touch with LG is that the camera viewfinder is rendered at 60fps. It’s a bit jarring at first when you switch from another phone that shows the camera at 30fps, but it’s something I ended up really enjoying!
Headphone audio is a huge win on the V60 and the speaker situation is a similar story. The volume gets pretty loud and there’s a decent amount of depth at higher volumes. At lower volumes, though, I found that other devices such as the Pixel 4 XL and Galaxy S20+ sound a bit better. I’m not particularly impressed by the speakers on the V60, but I’m definitely not disappointed.
One thing I really liked about the LG G8 was that it kept a rear-facing, capacitive fingerprint sensor. Unfortunately, LG moved over to an in-display sensor on the V60. Overall it’s fine, but the optical sensor has had an overall 7/10 success rate for me with dust or moisture often producing failed results. When it does work, though, it’s pretty quick.
In-display fingerprint sensors are an unfortunate trend, but at least LG isn’t using a slower ultrasonic sensor like on the Galaxy S20!
LG helped kick off the trend of better haptics on Android smartphones, but they’ve fallen behind the pack in the time since. The haptic motor in this phone is snappy enough and isn’t overly strong or weak, but it doesn’t feel as nice as what you’d get in a Pixel or a Galaxy S20. Bottom line? It’s good, not great.
The LG V60 has 5G! Thanks to the Snapdragon 865 processor, LG has 5G built in on all V60 variants. That’s great, but the networks aren’t ready. Verizon has very limited 5G in the US, and AT&T — the V60 variant I tested — is in the same boat. T-Mobile has a nationwide 5G network, but it usually only offers marginally better speeds compared to LTE. Good for future-proofing, but 5G shouldn’t be a reason for you to buy this phone.
LG V60 ThinQ isn’t perfect, and that’s fine!
Stepping away from the LG V60, I’m left with this. LG made a really good phone! It’s not perfect. For most people, I’ll probably still recommend a Galaxy S20 first, or if they’re a camera junkie, a Pixel 4 XL.
However, for the first time in a while, the LG V60 ThinQ is a device that I’ll keep in mind when recommending a phone to someone. If you’re due for an upgrade this year, I think this is a device you should keep in mind too.
The real advantage for LG, though, is the price. The LG V60 starts at under $1,000. For a known smartphone name with modern specs and battery life as good as this, the V60 is a very reasonably priced device. It starts at $800 from T-Mobile without the Dual-Screen or $900 with it. AT&T matches that $900 price, but the Dual-Screen has to be redeemed from LG after the fact. Verizon charges the most for the device at $949. Want to buy it unlocked? Sadly, you can’t.
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