5G connectivity. 8K video recording. A design that folds. These are some of the things you'll get in one of Samsung's newest phones—but the privilege will cost you at least $1,000 for the most affordable device of the lot.
If you want these next-gen features but aren't feeling the four-figure price tags, you could try LG's new phone: the V60 ThinQ.
It supports the new mobile network, packs a camera sensor with 64 megapixels for 8K recording, and comes bundled (depending on where you buy it) with the Dual Screen attachment—a case that adds a second screen to the phone, exactly like last year's G8X ThinQ. You get all of this and a headphone jack, something missing from all of Samsung's flagship phones, for a few hundred dollars less. (LG hasn't announced pricing yet, but the company says it will be priced in the ballpark of previous devices, so around $700 or $800.)
I only spent a few minutes with the phone, and while it's a compelling offer on paper, I'm not convinced the company has improved the areas where the V60's predecessors fell short. The cameras are usually decent, but not as nice as what you get from Samsung, Google, and Apple; more megapixels doesn't guarantee better photos. The software still looks dated, and there's no sign of the phone receiving Android updates faster. There's no folding screen here, and while the second screen does turn the V60 ThinQ into a foldable phone of sorts, it comes at the cost of being bulky, heavy, and cumbersome—and frankly a little ugly too.
LG does nail most of the basics. The V60's high-res OLED screen is something I could stare at all day. It's marred only by a small notch housing the selfie camera. There's a bigger, 5,000-mAH battery inside, too, which should keep the phone powered for a reasonable amount of time.
Powering it all is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 processor with 8 GB of RAM, which keeps performance slick. Then there's the MicroSD card slot if you want more storage over the base 128 gigs, support for fast wired and wireless charging, IP68 water resistance, and the latest version of Android. All features you'd expect in a flagship phone. The headphone jack is even connected to a high quality digital-to-analog converter that keeps the audio sounding great.
What I'm not thrilled about is its size. The phone is built around an abnormally large 6.8-inch screen, which is just a smidge smaller than the one on Samsung's huge Galaxy S20 Ultra. This is a massive phone, even for someone with large hands like me. I also wish the screen had a high refresh rate, a feature that makes gaming and scrolling in apps like Twitter look much more fluid. That smoother refresh rate something we're seeing in several high-end handsets, like the OnePlus 7T, Google Pixel 4, and even Samsung's latest.
Despite the size, the phone feels a little nicer than its predecessor. Its looks aren't drastically different, but there are now chamfered edges around the sides, and the gold accents on the blue model adds some style—something LG phones have traditionally lacked.
But slap on the Dual Screen case and those style points quickly evaporate. The case was already thick and heavy on the G8X, and now with a bigger phone, it's even more unwieldy. I do like the functionality the extra 6.8-inch screen brings, like the ability to watch YouTube and text at the same time, or use one screen for a game and the second as a custom controller. But when I tested the G8X last year, I did not like lugging the whole package around. When I decided to toss the second screen in my backpack and keep the phone in my pocket, I ended up forgetting about the add-on completely.
I wish LG made more of an effort to slim the case down and make it as light as possible, or even make its front screen show more useful information than a clock widget with notification icons. It's great that the accessory is bundled with the phone, and that it gives you more visual real estate, but the experience still feels clunky.
In a similar fashion, it's nice to see 5G phones being sold at more accessible prices, but the 5G wireless experience is still limited. LG isn't selling an unlocked version of the phone (which Samsung is doing), so you have to buy a model that just works on your carrier. The Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T models support the sub-6 version of 5G, which is faster than 4G and has good coverage, and the Verizon one only supports millimeter wave, which is blazing fast but has poor range and almost no access indoors.
So if you buy the T-Mobile version and then switch to Verizon later on, your phone won't be able to access Verizon's 5G network. Boo.
But even before all of that, 5G networks are still few and far between across the US and will likely jack up your phone bill, so don't feel as though you need to rush to buy a new phone just to hop on 5G.
Where Have All the Cameras Gone?
LG's previous V-series phones have a whopping five cameras in total. The V60 pares it down to three. You're left with a 64-megapixel main camera, a 13-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 10-megapixel front camera. (There's also a time-of-flight sensor for more accurate depth sensing in portrait-mode photos.) I can't remember the last time I was wowed by a photo from an LG phone, so I'm hoping the use of a larger image sensor can help change that.
8K video recording is the highlight with four mics for improved audio capture—except that very, very few people have an 8K TV, so this feature appeals more to creative types who be able to edit and display the footage. It will eat up your storage space either way. Like many other phones, LG uses binning technology on its displays to merge pixels together so they can absorb more light, resulting in 16-megapixel photos that should produce brighter results in low light. I haven't been able to test these features, but the few photos I snapped on a sunny balcony looked good.
LG tries to include all the latest features without making the V60 ThinQ cost an arm and a leg, but the phone still manages to be a little dull and doesn't really stand out in one area. It's kind of like the Toyota Corolla of phones—V60 ThinQ even sounds like a model name for a car!
None of this means LG's phone will be bad when it goes on sale in the coming weeks. Sometimes you just want a flagship phone with a headphone jack, and if that's you, then you'll be happy here. If that's not you, then I'd encourage you to peruse our selection of the Best Cheap Phones for a more practical and affordable mid-priced handset.