LG makes great phones – as good as any premium maker. Yet they don’t sell heaps. The new LG Velvet 5G 2020 is going to change that. Or it should.
The LG Velvet 5G 2020is one of the new breed of Qualcomm SD765G 5G phones just like the excellent OPPO Find X2 Neo and Light (review here 4.8/5) or the Motorola Edge (review here 4.5/5). It is the perfect system-on-a-chip enabling mid-range premium handsets to break the $1000 barrier.
Over 100 brands/models are hopping on the SD765G bandwagon – this is a hotly contested segment.
Right now the LG Velvet 5G 2020 blitzes the price bracket at $899, so we set out to find out how it could make an OLED, Qi charge, IP68/MIL-STD, 3.5mm jack, handset that is the one to beat.
Mandatory warning – dodgy online sellers
We have named and shamed the main grey market opportunists here.
You will not get Australia warranty; Australian over-the-air OS and firmware updates; and you cannot make a 000 call without a sim. In fact, as these often do not support LTE Band 28 used by Telstra and Optus, most of the time all you will get is 3G.
Australian Review: LG Velvet 5G 2020, Single Sim, 6/128GB, Model LM-G900EM.AAUSAY
Our reviews use FAIL, PASS and EXCEED against more than 70 test paradigms. These paradigms vary by the class of phone, price bracket etc. So, PASS means it meets what we expect of any phone at that price or level. We also call out any marketing hype, so you get an accurate view of a device.
From: JB Hi-Fi and The Good Guys. Telco plan – TBA
Elevator pitch: LGs very strong attempt to play in the cut-throat mid-range premium 5G handset arena
Warranty: 2-years ACL on phone and battery – must be the genuine Australian model
Country of manufacture: Vietnam
Company info: LG 9Est 1947) is a South Korean company making electronics, displays, household appliances, chemicals and telecommunications.
First impression – Wow! EXCEED
Just like velvet, it is a slippery little bugger! I repeat it is so slippery it slid off the Qi charger pad and nearly out of my hands. Just like velvet on silk sheets! So whatever you do, get a case.
BTW – that it is a compliment. The Aurora White glass back with the highly polished alloy frame and curved edge P-OLED screen look terrific. It’s a shame to cover it with a case!
Other than that its nearly all screen with a teardrop centre notch. Classy.
LG Velvet 5G 2020 is a brand within a brand – a more expressive name that crosses boundaries. Far nicer than its previous numeric series – VXX or GX ThinQ!
But if there is one message that I want to reinforce it is this – and we will start with an example.
When you walk into a typical phone store, the first question is, “Are you an Apple user”. If yes, you go down that rabbit hole. If no, they ask why not.
But if you insist no, they will invariably show you a Samsung – after all, it is the worlds largest smartphone maker. You often have to ask, nay plead, to see an LG or another brand.
We are not suggesting anything other than Samsung is an easier sell. You owe it yourself to read our LG, OPPO, Motorola and other 5G reviews and insist that you see the device at the store.
Screen – EXCEED
Size: 6.8″ – larger than most Resolution: 2460×1080 (395 ppi) – typical of this class Ratio: 20.5:9 – tall and slim* Refresh: 60Hz – there are some with 90Hz Type: P-OLED with slightly curved edges S-T-B-R: nearly 90% – very small bezels * Like all 20.5:9 screens it zooms images to fill the screen. If watching a 16:9 video, you may see sidebars
Colour depth in bit/colours: 16M Modes: Natural, Vivid (sRGB), Cinema (DCI-P3, Custom (RGB and saturation adjustment) and video enhancement – very accurate Typical/Average/Max Brightness: 400/500/600 nits – above average but less than the OPPO Find X2 Neo Contrast: infinite (the difference between pure black and pure white) Colour gamut: 96% sRGB. DCI-P3 (movies) is not rated, but it is very good Delta E: 2.8 (<4 is considered accurate, so this is excellent) White balance: adjustable slider – The colour temperature is 6800° – almost perfect HDR: HDR10/+, HLG decoding. The screen will display some HDR content
Notch: Centre teardrop cutout Screen protection: Gorilla Glass 5 Screen Haptic feedback: no but you can enable audio clicks Fingerprint: Optical under glass
Always on Display: Yes and customisable Widevine: L1 HDCP-2.3, HD/FHD and HDR for streaming content playback Daylight readability: Excellent despite a glossy screen Wacom stylus support – AES2.0 Active Electrostatic G-T-G: 10ms – fine for gamers but you may want to consider the OPPO Find X2 Neo with 90Hz IPS and 5.6ms G-T-G
Screen Summary: It is a great screen with natural colours and great brightness/contrast. I love the 20.5:9 ratio.
Performance – EXCEED
Qualcomm SDD765G 7nmnm Cores: 1×2.4Ghz, 1x 2.21Ghz, 6×1.8Ghz This is the best all-around 5G sub-6Ghz processor for 2020
Also used by
OPPO Find X2 Neo/Lite, Nokia 8.3, Motorola Edge, Pixel 4a 5G, vivo X50 Pro, realme X50, Xiaomi Mi 10, OnePlus Nord and many more
Cat 18/7 in theory 1200/75Mbps 4G in a three-bar: 145/40Mbps (above average) Signal strength -79dBm and found next nearest tower at -110dBm
1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 12 28, 40
Sub-6Gz n1m 3m 5m 28m 78
5G in a four-bar area: 230/140Mbps (above average)
Single plus dedicated microSD
VoLTE and VoWiFi depends on carrier Wi-Fi Calling using your home internet
LTE Summary: This is one of the fasted SD765G handsets we have tested. It has excellent antenna design and suitable for city or regional use. While it has all Australian bands, it loses points for frequent international travellers. They may prefer the Motorola Edge or OPPO Find X2 Neo that have more global 4G bands. In any case, it is not a huge issue as you always have 3G UMTS fallback.
5G summary: If you can get a signal then its slightly faster than 4G but not significantly so. 5G speeds are so variable that during the test we ranged from 8/40Mbps (yes 8) to 230/40 about 25 metres from the 5G tower.
Sound – PASS+
3.5mm audio jack Earpiece speaker Down-firing (stereo)
2 x TFA9878 D-Class 5.6W each
2 Record in stereo Video voice bokeh (slidebar to reduce ambient noise and focus on voice – perfect for Vloggers ASMR video (records whispers and intimate sound in video)
Ringer: 80 Music: 80 Alarm: 80 Handsfree: 75 – good for handsfree Earpiece: 60 External music content: 75 no distortion, up to 85 with some distortion
Mid centric but the EQ can change that to add a little more bass and/or treble. Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – nil Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – hints from 50Hz and building High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – still building Low-mid: 200-400Hz – flat Mid: 400-1000Hz – flat High-mid: 1-2kHz – flat to a peak Low-treble: 2-4kHz – flat Treble:4-6kHz – declining High Treble: 6-10kHz – dip to avoid harshness Dog whistle: 10-20kHz – off the cliff from 12kHz
A little wider than the phone indicating a good match between the earpiece and down-firing speaker
BT and cable output
Extremely clean and strong output to our reference Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. Tested with SBC, aptX/HD and LDAC
Braided cable buds/mic with a surprisingly good frequency response
LG 3D Sound engine: Optimises stereo sound stage Live caption display done on the phone
First, note that the voice bokeh and ASMR are only for video recording.
LG calls it a 3D Sound Engine and Stereo Speakers. That is why it gets a PASS+ instead of EXCEED. It is what we expect from a mid-range device.
We have now reviewed the LG Velvet’s main competitors – OPPO Find X2 Neo and Motorola Edge. The inevitable question is, which sounds best.
The Motorola Edge has Max Audio Waves technology (so we expect a lot), but we found it has a typical mid-verging-on bright vocal sound – no bass, strong mids and treble. To be fair, we will be retesting various EQ settings as soon as we can get the handset back. Its max volume is 75-80dB, and the earpiece is 50dB.
The OPPO has a lovely warm and sweet sound signature best for movies and music. It has an 85dB volume, and the earpiece reaches 65dB. It has Dolby Atmos decoding and is class-leading – EXCEED.
The LG Velvet 5G 2020 has a mid-verging on bright vocal (like the edge). It reaches a similar volume to the OPPO, but we need to explore the 3D sound engine more to see what difference it can make. Goods solid sound.
Battery – EXCEED
Charger: 5V/1.8A and 9V/1.8A (16.2W) Qi: 9W can use any capacity charge plate Quick Charge: Compatible with QC 4+ and PD 3.0 chargers
Video-loop 50%/aeroplane mode: 17 hours YouTube, Wi-Fi and 50% screen – 12 hours Wi-Fi typical office use – 14 hours Screen-on 100% load – 9 hours T-Rex – 429.5 minutes (7.16 hours) and 3362 frames Battery discharge idle screen on: <100mA so expect 20+ days
With supplied charger – about two hours With USB-C PD 3.0 – 1.75 hours Qi 10W – just over 5 hours
Battery Summary: Under typical use with some battery management, you will get two days. It is worth getting a QC 4+ or USB-C PD 3.0 charger as a 2-hour charge is considered quite lengthy.
Operating system – EXCEED
Android 19 UI: Security Patch: 1 June 2020
LG UX 9 – a refined, lightweight skin Can change Nav Bar to Android 9 Buttons Double-tap to wake or sleep LG Health, Game Launcher, LG SmartWorld LG Bridge required to link via USB-C to a Windows PC
From LG, Android or iOS copies media and personal data.
All apps and Google Assistant Dedicated Google Assistant button
Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Whale, Asphalt 9, Moden Combat 5, DH5, Super Fury, Booking.com – You can uninstall these via Settings, Apps.
Not stated but LG usually provides at least the next Android OS and updates and security patches for three years
Fingerprint sensor – 100 % reliable over ten tests but a tad slow No face recognition No other security devices
OS Summary: LG is pretty good with updates, and the skin is very light, allowing you to go back to Android 9 buttons if you wish. I dislike pre-loaded bloatware with a passion, but unlike many handsets, you can uninstall them.
LG Mobile Switch has improved, and it is no effort to copy over from a Samsung Galaxy device and not lose any Google apps.
IP68 and MIL-STD-810-G 1.5 meter for 30 minutes It is a keeper
In the box
3.5 mm earbuds and mic Charger USB-A to USB-C 2.0 cable
A full suite of audio and video tools as well as motor and cognition settings
Snap-on dual screen
Build Summary: A very well made phone, but I repeat velvet is very slippery.
Security – PASS
There are no added layers like Google Pixel Titan M chip, Samsung Knox or OPPO’s faux data exfiltration prevention, but the average user won’t need that.
What’s missing? EXCEED
Nothing. While a dual sim may have been nice (no 5G phones yet have dual 4G/5G use), I will settle for a dedicated microSD slot. In fact so many of its features are what you would expect to pay much more for.
Camera – PASS+
MP: 48 Sensor: Samsung S5KGM2 bins to 12MP, 1.6um Pixel Size: .8um F-stop:f/1.8 FOV: 79° (67.3° after crop) Stabilisation: EIS Focus type: PDAF Zoom: 10x digital HDR: Auto AI: Qualcomm Flash: single Video: [email protected] (or select 48MP not binned for [email protected]) Google Lens: Yes
Ultra-wide and Macro
MP: 8 SK Hynix SL846 1.12um f/2.2 120° FOV (really 97.6° after cropping to reduce edge distortion)
Time Lapse, 3D AR, 3D Photo, stickers, bokeh, night view, panorama, manual, YouTube Live upload.
It is an excellent tri-camera in day and office light. It is pretty good in low light but has a tad too much noise – if you know what you are looking at. The ability to upload directly to YouTube video is excellent and the ASMI and voice bokeh features work well. Its not the class leader but its not too far behind.
GadgetGuy’s take – The LG Velvet 5G 2020 is a winner in every way
Few phones in this price bracket EXCEED most categories, have Qi charging, 2TB expansion and IP68 and MIL-STD reliability. This has it all and its $100 cheaper than the OPPO Find X2 Neo and the Motorola Edge.
The name bears no relation to the fabric, but it’s a perfect marketing name that will stand the test of time more than a bunch of letters, numbers and ThinQ. I look forward to Corduroy, Denim, Velour, Cotton and more.
Now that I have finished the review, I am allowed to read international reviews to see if we agree or are out of the ballpark. The reviews are all positive but many lament the loss of the LG QUAD DAC (sound), only a 1080p screen, and not the SD865+. Well, these reviewers want champagne on a beer budget. These features would send the phone back to A$1500+, and that is not what is selling in COVID times.
No. LG has nailed it with microSD, Qi charge, IP68/MIL-STD and a damned good all-around device that I would be delighted to use as a daily drive.
At the beginning of this review, I said this phone deserves to sell heaps. Please do your part and ask to see it when you next are looking for a mid-range premium 5G handset at a terrific price.
Explaining the LG Velvet 5G 2020 rating
We have rated it at 4.9/5 because it PASSes or EXCEEDs all of our test paradigms. What piles on the points is the $899 price, 6.8″ bright OLED, microSD to 2TB, Qi charge and IP68/MIL-STD that are normally only found in the premium flagship category. It is the current class leader although gamers should look to the OPPO Find X2 Neo for its 90/180Hz screen/touch response. The Motorola Edge is a great all-rounder, and you can’t go wrong if you like the Edge screen concept.
I suspect that we are going to say you will have too much choice in this new 5G mid-range premium bracket.
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Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating9 Votes
Great, big 6.8" OLED display
3.5mm jack, MicroSD slot to 2TB
Premium build and IP68/MIL-STD
Better than average camera with good AI
Solid battery life and Qi charge
The Qualcomm SD765G is all you could ever want
Can use an active stylus and there is an optional second screen