Phone

LG V30+ Review: Best Audio, Video, and Photo Experience

LG V30+ rear view

LG Singapore will be launching the V30+, skipping the V30 altogether. The difference is only in the storage size: V30+ offers 128GB while V30 only gives you 64GB. Fortunately, the confusion stops there, unlike the G6 that comes with variants depending on region. All V30+ comes with quad DAC, wireless charging.

LG V30+ review by Chester Tan musicphotolife.com

On this day and age, smartphone makers try hard to differentiate from one another. Huawei has the dual camera Leica lenses, Motorola has the Moto mods, Sony Xperia has the super slow-motion, Samsung has the S-Pen.

What does LG V30+ offer?

Key Specifications

  • Chipset: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Mobile Platform
  • Display: 6.0-inch 18:9 QuadHD+ OLED FullVision Display (2880 x 1440 / 538ppi)
  • Memory: 4GB LPDDR4x RAM / 128GB UFS 2.0 ROM / MicroSD (up to 2TB)
  • Camera: Rear Dual: 16MP Standard Angle (F1.6 / 71°) / 13MP Wide Angle (F1.9/ 120°). Front: 5MP Wide Angle (F2.2 / 90°)
  • Battery: 3,300mAh
  • Operating System: Android 7.1.2 Nougat
  • Size: 151.7 x 75.4 x 7.3mm
  • Weight: 158g
  • Network: LTE-A 4 Band CA
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac / Bluetooth 5.0 BLE / NFC / USB Type-C 2.0 (3.1 compatible)
  • Colors: Aurora Black / Cloud Silver / Moroccan Blue / Lavender Violet
  • Others: IP68 Water and Dust Resistant / MIL-STD 810G Compliant / Crystal Clear Lens / 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC / HDR10 / Daydream / Google Assistant / UX 6.0+ / Voice Recognition / Face Recognition / Fingerprint Sensor / Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 Technology / Wireless Charging

 

6-inch QHD 18:9 ratio

LG has taken lessons from the G6 and improved on the new 18:9 display ratio. The top and bottom bezels are thinner while the left-right bezels are slightly thicker to accommodate the 2.5D curved glass to prevent corner distortion. With these design changes, the V30+ appears to be less elongated, feels smoother at the sides with thinner profile compared to G6. Amazingly, despite larger than G6, the V30+ is lighter.

LG V30+ detail view

The use of P-OLED screen means the black areas are absolute black. This adds to the illusion of a more standard display when I opt for the navigation keys below to appear always. It is hard to imagine that the V30+ houses a 6-inch screen, because the phone feels relatively compact.

Ultra Wide Angle, Dual Camera f/1.6

One of the biggest reasons for loving the G5, V20, G6, and now V30+ is the ultra wide-angle camera that shoots 120-degree.

LG V30+ dual camera detail view

The V30+ improves the distortion, although it is still apparent on the photos.

LG V30+ sample image - HDB flat exhibits distortion

The trick is to frame the images properly, and not to place any subjects close to the edges of the frame. I might also apply some perspective adjustments which some apps like Instagram offers to make it less distorted.

LG V30+ sample image - Plaza Singapura

With such wide angle lens, I like to explore and frame my shots to accentuate the dramatic effect.

LG V30+ sample image - cycle vs. footpath

For that, I do not mind some perspective distortion.

LG V30+ sample image - hawker food

It is just so liberating to be able to capture so much more with the V30+, where other smartphones would miss the full picture. I just stand where I am to take the wide angle shot, while other smartphones or mirrorless cameras with “standard” lenses would have to move back, if there is even space to move.

LG V30+ sample image compares to Fujifilm X-E3 18-55mm lens

Even at close proximity, I can capture the entire scene to tell the story.

LG V30+ sample image - kopi stall

The main camera is one of the brightest on the smartphone, at f/1.6. In theory, low light shots are captured at faster shutter speeds. One of the lens elements is made of glass, contributing to the improved image specs.

The front camera offers adjustments to beautify the face. Under low light, the camera removes noise at the expense of details. They are optimised for selfie portraits.

LG V30+ front camera

A new shooting option called Graphy lets you select a preset to shoot photos. I do not find it very useful as I prefer to capture my shots with original tonality then do processing using third party tools like Snapseed if I wanted a colour consistency.

Under low light, the images are well-exposed but lacks details at close inspection.

LG V30+ sample image - night light at Haikou shopping mall

When lighting is too dim, V30+ does not increase exposure duration automatically in Auto mode.

LG V30+ low light sample image compares to Fujifilm X-E3 18-55mm lens

To shoot without excessive noise removal, select the manual photo mode and disable noise reduction in setting.

Another feature that has been removed since G6 is multi-view camera mode, where the phone uses all 3 lenses plus an external camera like LG 360 to create a single shot or video simultaneously. I hope LG brings it back since it should not cost them to keep the feature.

Quad DAC and MQA

Like the predecessors, LG prides itself in delivering high-quality audio experience. Quad DAC delivers clearer and more dynamic audio compared to standard audio processor. The V30+ is the first smartphone that supports MQA audio file, an arguably more superior codec because it is Master Quality Authenticated from the original recording studio. I’ll go into details in a separate post, but in short: MQA audio sounds better, but only if you have good headphones to hear the difference. Here’s a link to download sample MQA files.

The V30+ also can select digital filter to change the Hi-Res audio file characteristics. With a pair of premium headphones, I can hear the difference. Short is my favourite as it creates a more spacious sound, Sharp is natural and less clear, while Slow improves clarity and less bass.

LG V30+ digital filter

I like that I can choose the Bluetooth audio connection type for audio devices that support multiple codecs. When I select “Best Sound Quality”, the aptX HD is enabled on supported device. Unlike other smartphones, the V30+ seems to handle audio streaming without compromise even when I have multiple Bluetooth devices connected.

LG V30+ Bluetooth connection type

I also like that V30+ can connect to 2 Bluetooth audio products at the same time and allow ease of switching audio output among the devices.

LG V30+ audio device selection

Hi-Res Audio Recording

The V30+ is similarly a powerhouse when it comes to audio recording. The front-facing receiver doubles as a sensitive mic that captures better dynamics. Recording in audio and video is supported at hi-res 24-bit, but note that not all players and apps support this format. For instance, when sharing such content over Facebook or Instagram, the audio will be scrambled.

Is the audio quality better than other phones? It definitely cannot beat the professional gear, but it is positively the best smartphone to record events with loud decibels. The camera app is intelligent to detect high volume scenes and activates the concert mode to improve audio.

Manual Video Recording, Cine Video with Log

I am not a cinematographer, so I cannot comment much on the usefulness of this feature, but it provides greater post-processing control when creating video content. I like the point zoom feature that zooms the frame towards the area selected anywhere on the frame, though this is basically a digital zoom. Sadly, wide angle lens cannot be used to record video when I want to enable LG-Cine Log recording.

LG V30+ Cine Video

LG V30+ is one of the few smartphones that has audio monitoring via earphones when recording video in manual mode. It also has options to adjust the audio recording filter, like gain, low-cutoff filter, as well as the bit rate. You can adjust them on the fly during recording.

Things We Take For Granted

USB 3.1 Gen 1, IP68 water rating, wireless charging, 3.5mm audio port, facial unlock. These are features that can be found in V30+. Facial unlock is definitely not as convenient as fingerprint unlock, but it works quite fast and I like it as a good alternative to unlocking. LG V30+ can transfer data at higher speeds than most smartphones but you need to get a separate USB 3.0 Type-C cable. I can even adjust the vibration strength.

LG V30+ adjust vibration strength

UI and Floating Bar

The UI remains largely unchanged from the G6, utilising the 2:1 screen ratio to split the content in landscape mode, like Music Player, Photo Gallery. Using the split screen mode also gives equal weight on both apps, so it does not matter whether you split in landscape or portrait modes.

LG V30+ split screen

With the removal of the second display, LG added the floating bar that slides out to mimic the features of the V20 second display. It lets me pull out the bar from any screen, hence I need not exit the app to say, change music tracks or make a call to selected contacts.

LG V30+ floating bar

There is also that little extra haptic response that makes V30+ feel more analogue. For instance, phone vibrates when you swipe away the notification card, or when you zoom the camera.

The V30+ also occasionally prompts on any usage anomaly, or when it detects moisture, which will then block the USB charging port.

LG V30+ charging port blocked

While the phone generally performs faster than the G6 given its faster processor, I do feel there is some performance pauses on the V30+ that I also notice on the G6, for instance, when starting the camera app. In some scenes, the camera takes a while to focus before firing the shutter, resulting in significant delays. And if you shoot in HDR, shot-to-shot will be delayed as the camera takes a little longer to process the HDR, and might exhibit HDR artefacts when zoomed in.

Mediocre Loudspeaker

Unfortunately, the downward-facing mono-speaker does not match the audio standards offered by the V30+. It sounds like any average smartphones, bright treble, no need bass. At loud volumes, the speaker even makes crackling sound. Let’s hope the next LG flagship phone will feature stereo front-facing speakers, which slowly picked up popularity and found in Sony Xperia, Google Pixel, Huawei. The bundled earphones is LG QuadPlay, not B&O labeled, but pre-order customers will get a free B&O PLAY H3 earphones.

LG V30+ review by Chester Tan musicphotolife.com

Verdict

Having reviewed so many products over the decades, I have found that there is no such thing as a perfect product. Ironic as it seems, with the advent of communications, it does not make the companies any easier to develop the “perfect” product with all the ticks. Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise so that there is no single dominant product that puts others out of business. In addition, every individual needs are different. I do not believe that manufacturers create lousy products intentionally. Every product is designed for specific target customers. Defining this specific target and their consumption pattern is an important factor to product success.

LG V30+ review by Chester Tan musicphotolife.com

The LG V30+ offers a different type of smartphone experience, like all the earlier LG smartphones. It is developed for consumers who love creating and manipulating videos, shoot wide-angle documentary photos, recording and listening to high-quality audio. The IP68 rating will keep the phone operational even under wet conditions. The UI is also more responsive and 3300mAh battery life better than the G6, not better than Google Pixel 2 XL or Huawei Mate 10, but is good enough as a flagship.

Is the V30+ worth the upgrade from G6? Here is a checklist:

  • You find the G6 UI somewhat slow.
  • You shoot a fair bit of video and like to edit footages using professional video editing tool.
  • You are critical in listening high-resolution audio, and think MQA is the future.
  • You find the G6 display a little small, and do not mind a larger phone that is slightly lighter.
  • You are running out of internal storage.

LG V30+ retails at S$1098 and is available in Singapore from 2 Dec 2017.

Official product website: http://www.lg.com/sg/mobile-phones/lg-LGH930DS-aurorablack

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