With Mobile World Congress just around the corner, everyone is going to be on the lookout for the hottest new Android phone. This year that won’t be Samsung’s Galaxy S8, as the company has already announced that it won’t be bringing its flagship handset to Barcelona this year, so the attention will be squarely on LG and its G6.
Last year’s G5 made a splash for its quirky modular concept, but after disappointing sales (and an equally flat V20), LG will be looking to capitalize on Samsung’s absence with a major release that gives people a reason to buy one of its handsets again. And based on what we’re hearing, the new G6 might do just that.
No more Friends
New phones are always an improvement over their predecessors, but the G6 is shaping up to be a complete departure from the G5. Last year, LG introduced its modular phone concept, which features a handset and a set of swappable Friends designed to bring added functionality. There was a bigger battery, camera grip, and a digital audio converter, but ultimately the system was too clunky to catch on. Thankfully, LG seems to be scrapping the idea altogether, and from what we’ve heard, the G6 will be a standard handset without any removable parts.
Last year’s G5 was a relatively small phone, with a 5.3-inch, 1440 x 2560 display. With the G6, LG is going bigger. LG Display has already outed the screen for its new flagship handset: a 5.7-inch LCD screen with a slightly taller than usual ratio of 18:9. The size is a little strange for a phone, but LG says the extra height “will provide users with greater immersion than previous displays and allow consumers to multitask by using (Nougat’s) dual-screen feature.” In addition to the size, LG says the screen will be thinner and more responsive than its previous displays, as well as being easier to see in direct sunlight and more power efficient. The pictures that have been circulating also show a screen with rounded corners, a departure from the right-angle corners we’re used to seeing.
The Verge has posted what looks to be a product rendering for the G6, and from what we can see, it’s a beauty. Based on an image of the top half of the device, it has ultra-skinny bezels and just enough room above the display to fit the camera and sensors. Reportedly, the screen-to-bezel ratio is greater than 90 percent, which should kick off a year full of handsets with edge-to-edge screens. Additionally, it has been reported that the G6 will keep the headphone jack, much to the delight of wired earbud fans everywhere.
A leaked prototype published by Droid Life seems to confirm the slim bezels, as well as the existence of a headphone jack at the top of the device. And like the G5, there will be a USB-C port on the bottom and a fingerprint sensor on the back, since there’s nary any room on the front.
LG hasn’t done a very good job with keeping the details of the G6 secret, but it actually outed one of its best features in a teaser video. In a series of interviews describing people’s wish lists for their ideal smartphone, it highlights waterproof alongside big screen, smaller body, and reliability,” so it’s a safe bet that the new handset will be able to get wet. However, that likely means the battery won’t be removable, which has been one of the defining characteristics of previous G handsets. We haven’t heard any rumors about how big the battery will be, but we’re hoping it packs enough juice to get that giant screen through a whole day of use.
LG was one of the first phones to introduce a dual-camera system, and it’s not about to downgrade for the G6. The G6 included a 16MP main camera and an 8MP super-wide-angle one, which allowed for images with a 135-degree field of view, along with an f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization. Prototype pictures have shown that the G6 will come equipped with a dual-camera setup as well, though we don’t know too much about it. However, we expect that LG will get into the portrait game for depth-of-field images.
Chip and OS
While Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is all but confirmed to get the Snapdragon 835 processor, it seems that LG will have to rely on last year’s best chip to power the G6. Qualcomm is reportedly waiting until Samsung’s spring launch to debut its new chip in a smartphone, so the 821 will likely be the brawn behind the G6. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since the chip is plenty capable inside the Pixel and OnePlus 3T, and beefy enough to run Daydream VR games, but a lot will depend on LG’s interface. Traditionally, LG has added numerous themes, features, and apps to Android, so we’ll have to wait to see how heavy a hand it uses this time around.
Price and availability
The LG G5 cost $650, but a report from the Wall Street Journal suggests the price could dip into the $500-$600 range. And while there hasn’t been any reports on availability, it safe to assume that LG will want to get the G6 on shelves as soon as possible, to beat the inevitable rush that will come when Samsung’s Galaxy S8 lands.