LG Velvet 5G 2020 – smooth as!

LG Velvet 5G 2020
9.7

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 9.6/10) or the Motorola Edge (review here 9/105). 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.

  • Australian Website here
  • Price: $899
  • 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

ProcessorQualcomm 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 byOPPO 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
GPUAdreno 620
Codecs: HEVC, H.263/4, MPEG-4, VP8/9, XviD
OpenCL: 3.2, Vulcan 1.1
ModemQualcomm X52 for 2/3/4G and sub-6Ghz 5G
RAMRAM: 6GB LPDDRX4
Storage: 128GB UFS 2.1 (89GB free)
OTG Support: Yes
Micro-SD card expansion: 2TB
Geekbench 5Single: 608
Multi: 1919
Compute: 1246
It is in between the SD845 and SD855 – similar to Samsung S9
Game UseCapable of most games at 30-60fps
Has Snapdragon Elite Gaming features and LG Game mode
CPU ThrottleMax: 168,632 GIPS, Average160,200 – Throttle 13%, Temp 60°
The outside body never went over 33°

Summary: A 2TB microSD slot is amazing. Performs at the higher end of the SD765G showing good thermal design. All you need!

The minor dip at 12 minutes and 14 minutes are not significant

Comms – EXCEED

Wi-FIWi-Fi 5 AC, 2×2 MU-MIMO (Qualcomm WCN3990)
Wi-Di, Hotspot
Signal strength -33dBm/866 Mbps at 5 metres from NETGEAR AX12 router. Excellent – shows good antenna design
BT5.1 LE
Profile: A2DP
Codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX/HD and LDAC
Supports short-range BT Tethering to another BT device
NFCYes – PayWave supports Google Pay and Magstripe emulation
GPSDual-band
Fine for turn-by-turn navigation at speed as accurate to 4m
USBUSB-C 2.0
Does not support ALT DP video
SensorsAmbient light, Accelerometer, Magnetometer (eCompass), proximity, gyroscope

Comms Summary: Missing nothing!

4G/5G/LTE – PASS

4G LTECat 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
Bands1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 12 28, 40
5GSub-6Gz n1m 3m 5m 28m 78
Speed5G in a four-bar area: 230/140Mbps (above average)
SimSingle plus dedicated microSD
OtherVoLTE 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+

Sound3.5mm audio jack
Earpiece speaker
Down-firing (stereo)
AMP2 x TFA9878 D-Class 5.6W each
Mic2
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)
Volume dB  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
Sound SignatureMid 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
Sound stageA little wider than the phone indicating a good match between the earpiece and down-firing speaker
BT and cable outputExtremely clean and strong output to our reference Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. Tested with SBC, aptX/HD and LDAC
3.5mm budsBraided cable buds/mic with a surprisingly good frequency response
Special
Features
LG 3D Sound engine: Optimises stereo sound stage
Live caption display done on the phone
This is excellent

Sound Summary:

Mid-centric means recessed bass. We thing the LG 3D adjustments may be able to assist there.

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

Battery4300mAh battery
 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
TestsVideo-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
ChargeWith 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

OSAndroid 19
UI:
Security Patch: 1 June 2020
SkinLG 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
Mobile
Switch
From LG, Android or iOS copies media and personal data.
GoogleAll apps and Google Assistant
Dedicated Google Assistant button
BloatwareFacebook, Instagram, Amazon, Whale, Asphalt 9, Moden Combat 5, DH5, Super Fury, Booking.com – You can uninstall these via Settings, Apps.
UpgradeNot stated but LG usually provides at least the next Android OS and updates and security patches for three years
SecurityFingerprint 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.

Build – EXCEED

ColoursAurora White or Aurora Grey
BuildGorilla Glass 5
Polished alloy Frame
Back: Unspecified but likely Gorilla Glass 5
Dimensions167x74x7.85mm x 180g
IP RatingIP68 and MIL-STD-810-G
1.5 meter for 30 minutes
It is a keeper
In the box3.5 mm earbuds and mic
Charger
USB-A to USB-C 2.0 cable
AccessibilityA full suite of audio and video tools as well as motor and cognition settings
OptionsSnap-on dual screen

Build Summary: A very well made phone, but I repeat velvet is very slippery.

Security – PASS

Like any smartphone, you must not give too many permissions. During initial setup, you must accept LG’s privacy policy, but you can reject various other policies, including some from Google. Just be aware.

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+

PrimaryMP: 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)
DepthMP: 5
SK Hynix SL556
1.12um
f/2.4
81° FOV
SelfieMP: 16.3
SK Hynix Hi-1634
f/1.9
1.0um
62.2° FOV
Flash: No
[email protected]

Test shots

LG Velvet 1x
1X with good colour and detail.
LG Velvet ultra wide
Ultra-wide sky colours are excellent – perhaps mores so that the primary camera
LG Velvet night mode 2.5
2.5X looks good too
LG Velvet night mode 5x
5X – not bad but noise is evident in the forest background
LG Velvet night mode 10X
10X – again not bad but noise is very evident

LG Velvet macro
This is one of the best macros I have seen with exquisite colour and detail.
LG Velvet night dark
Low light <40 lumens is good with acculturate colour, screen detail and low noise
LG Velvet night mode
The Night mode brightens the shot but loses colour saturation and quite a bit of noise is evident under the desk.

Time Lapse, 3D AR, 3D Photo, stickers, bokeh, night view, panorama, manual, YouTube Live upload.

Camera Summary

LG Velvet

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.

Disclaimer

GadgetGuy is 100% independent and does not charge for reviews. It does not sell any products and does not take part in affiliate marketing click-through programs. You can’t buy a review or our credibility.

Features
9.6
Value for money
10
Performance
9
Ease of Use
10
Design
10
Positives
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
Negatives
Velvety slippery
You need to buy a Quick Charge 4+ for fast charge
9.7