With the G6, LG's going big (and unibody) - Stuff

With the G6, LG’s going big (and unibody)

With the G6, LG’s going big (and unibody)

Smartphones with wafer-thin bezels are set to be a trend at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017, and first to show off a device that demonstrates this is LG. At its unveil event in Barcelona on Sunday afternoon, the South Korean company showed off its new flagship device, the G6. Of course, new features need new names, so LG’s dubbed the G6 display a “FullVision” display.

As expected, the modular design of last year’s G5 has been abandoned in favour of a unibody device. And it’s a good call — The G5’s accessories were uninspiring and required users to turn off their device to change modules. Moreover, the removable bottom of the handset compromised it’s ruggedness, and meant even a little steam could turn it into a brick (we found this out firsthand).

Of course, that means no more bragging about swappable batteries. Again, this is really LG catching up with its rivals. Instead of replaceable batteries, consumers now expect high-speed charging.

The G6’s new 5.7in display, as per the rumours, offers an 18:9 aspect ratio, which the company says is in line with the ratio in which theatrical releases are increasingly being put out, and which it expects to become the new standard for media. (Why it’s not called 2:1 is anyone’s guess.) Given LG’s previous assertion that modular phones were going to become the new standard, it’ll have to forgive us if we don’t hold our breath.

Whatever the excuse, we’re all in favour of more screen real estate without a bulkier phone. And the added space should be great for viewing or editing pictures and videos.

One of the few surviving features of the G5 is the dual camera setup — our favourite feature of the G5 — except this time, LG’s had the sense to make both the wide-angle and regular focal length cameras 13MP ones (on the G5 the wide-angle was backed by a noticeably inferior 8MP sensor). Both rear cameras can also be used to capture 4K video.

Another survivor from the G5 design cull is the fingerprint sensor/power-and-lock button on the rear of the device, centred beneath the pair of cameras.

The G6 get’s an IP68 rating, which means it should survive shallow water. We wouldn’t take it swimming, but then, that’s true of every smartphone that claims waterproofing (with the possible exception of Cat’s super rugged offerings). LG also took the change to have a dig at rival Samsung’s recent battery woes by assuring attendees the G6’s 3300mAh battery has been rigorously tested against heat and drops.

LG spent an inordinate amount of its presentation defending its design decisions, from screen size and dimensions to the rounded corners of the display and interfaces, and even bezel dimensions. Everything, if you believe LG, has been ergonomically optimised.

That may well be the case, but we also can’t help feeling LG’s at pains to point out how much time, effort and market research has gone into making this handset. Perhaps because, despite its arguments to the contrary, the G5 was unmistakably a misstep. With Samsung’s mobile phone business at least a little bruised (if not quite on the ropes, to claim that would be a step too far) you can’t blame its country mate for wanting to capitalise.

On paper the G6 looks great. We’ll let you know if it lives up to the hype once we’ve had more than the brief hands-on we got at the launch event.

Craig is Stuff magazine's editor. He provides tech analysis and commentary for TV stations like eNCA, CNBC Africa and BusinessDay TV, and radio stations like 702, CapeTalk, PowerFM, MetroFM and Classic FM. You can contact him via craig@stuff.co.za

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