The LG G6 in Barcelona. Photo: Ben Sin

I’ve been using the LG G6 here in Barcelona, and as a longtime LG user (and fan) I have some early impressions. I’ve shot a quick video explaining in detail below, but I’ll list it out in writing too.

Like: The slim bezels and high screen-to-body ratio

If you’ve read my stuff, you already know what I’m about to say. I’m sorry to beat this dead horse but when a phone is able to drastically reduce overall physical size without sacrificing screen size, we consumers must applaud. The mobile industry is so saturated, everyone is starting to lookalike — at MWC I’ve checked out more than 50 phone company’s booth and almost every phone (especially the Chinese brands) look the same now. If you’re still releasing phones in 2017 with a large-ish top and bottom bezel, I’m deducting points in my review immediately.

I already wrote a post about it a few days ago, but the LG G6 is a phone you have to hold to believe. It’s got a 5.7-inch screen but feels smaller than other 5.5-inch phones you’ve held. Put this thing next to the iPhone 7 Plus and be prepared to laugh (at Apple).

I don’t have an iPhone on me, but here’s the G6 next to the HTC U Ultra, whose thick bezels/dated design I criticized last month.

HTC U Ultra (left) next to the LG G6. Photo: Ben Sin

I mean… come on, man. Even taking into account the U Ultra’s second screen, the size difference between these two new 5.7-inch screen phone is comical.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 — which will also have very slim bezels — might match or top it later, but as of right now, the G6 is the most comfortable "big" phone to hold and use one-handed by miles.

Dislike: Can’t hide the soft buttons anymore

Both Apple and Samsung’s new phones this year will (according to very reliable rumors and leaks) do away with the physical home button in favor of soft onscreen buttons (so the front of the phone can be all screen), and mainstream media will gush about it like Apple/Samsung invented the idea. Well, LG’s been doing this for years, and in years past, LG gave us the option to hide those soft buttons in certain apps for a true "full screen" experience.

For some reason, you can no longer do that on the G6. That bottom row of soft buttons stays there no matter what, which takes away from the immersive experience when you’re watching something that spans the full screen, like Instagram’s "stories," aka its wannabe-Snapchat thing. Take a look at the image below.

The LG V20 (left) and LG G6 (right). Photo: Ben Sin

Doesn’t that white row of buttons below on the G6 take away from the immersion? Even on the LG V20, released only four months ago, I could hide the bottom row of buttons.

Like: Wide-angle lens very useful

When the LG G5 introduced the 135-degree wide-angle lens, some critics dismissed it as a gimmick. Nah, they’re wrong. The wide-angle lens is useful for capturing a big group of people or a wall of graffiti. I’ve used this example several times but I’ll use it again here: I like to take photos street art in Hong Kong, and these are usually found in the alley. There is usually not enough space to back up to capture the whole shot, so with every other phone, I’d have to shoot from a side angle, or just take an incomplete picture. With the wide-angle lens, I can capture the whole piece of art.

With a normal phone, this is the most I can capture from this art in an Hong Kong alleyway because I simply didn’t have any more room to back up. Photo: Ben Sin With the wide-angle lens, I can capture the whole shot.

Dislike: LG also took away the one-handed mode

I know why LG did this. The marketing campaign for the G6 centers around the phone being a large-screen device that’s usable one-handed, so leaving a one-handed mode in the software would be contradictory.

But even though the phone, because it’s so narrow, is very easy to type with one hand and access general areas, the display is still too tall for easy one-handed access. So let’s say I’m in the Facebook app, and I need to hit the search bar up top. I can’t do that with one hand unless I contort my grip. This is where a one-hand mode would come in handy.

Like: The Always On Display is still great, still better than Samsung’s offering

I read a lot of mobile writers, bloggers, reviewers, and this is one of my litmus test to determine if the person I’m reading knows what the heck he/she is talking about. If any tech writer out there say Samsung’s Always On Display is better than LG’s (and I have read several from major tech sites), I know that person hasn’t tested it long enough. The reason is simple: LG’s AOD shows you third party notifications, and when you get a new one, it flashes a giant icon that should catch your eye if you have the phone lying face up on the desk. The AOD on the Samsung Galaxy S7 is, for the lack of a better word, trash. All it shows is the time and first party Samsung apps, which nobody should ever use. By the way, yes, I am aware that the Galaxy Note 7 had an AOD that showed icons from third party apps — but that phone is not around anymore. At least we know the S8 will likely carry that over.

Dislike: The glossy back that attracts fingerprints

I wish it was matte black. I think that color looks the best by far. Just my opinion though.

That’s it for now. Most of the dislikes I have are of the nitpick variety, and they’re fixable anyway because they’re software issues. So far, I’m liking the G6 very, very much. I’ll have a full review in a week or two.

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