Premium LG G6 smart lands in Australia (Update with price)

Commencing today LG’s latest premium smart phone, the LG G6, is now available in Australia. As we reported four weeks ago, we ought to think of the G6 as a radical departure from its G5 and G4 predecessors. Radical in the sense of a return to normalcy after their experimental approaches.

You may recall the curved, leather-clad rear of the LG G4, and the modular approach of the LG G5. None of that with the LG G6.

Instead, there’s return to conventional styling in a solid, unalterable package. Want to add a high end digital to analogue converter? Plug it in! A fancy camera? Connect it wirelessly. The phone can talk well enough without needing to be dismantled.

The one potentially important loss compared to the G5 is that the battery is now fixed – “embedded” is the word LG uses.

Not to say that there aren’t advances. This is one of the first phones to go for the new wider 2:1 aspect ratio. In phone world apparently we’re going to have to get used to calling this 18:9, presumably because smaller numbers don’t seem as advanced.

This is a mighty big screen – 5.7 inches – with QHD+ resolution. LG is using that term to mean 1440 pixels across by 2880 pixels down. That vertical count is a significant increase over the 2560 of last year’s models.

Incidentally, one good reason for abandoning terms like QHD+ and just going with the numbers is that nobody knows what they mean without looking them up. The Wikipedia page has 47 listed as headings … so far. Another good reason is that such terms don’t always mean what vendors think they mean. That Wikipedia page says QHD+ is 3200 by 1800 pixels and first appeared in 2013 as the resolution of a couple of notebook computers.

That’s not to say that LG’s usage is wrong. Perhaps it’s right and Wikipedia is wrong. Either way, it’s uninformative.

The LG G6 screen is reportedly not AMOLED so whether it will feature “always on” information is unclear. I’m guessing no. It is rated to support HDR and Dolby Vision, although the extent to which these will improve visible performance remains to be seen.

The good news: excellent IP68 ingress protection – that includes water resistance: “Immersion, 1 m or more depth”. The battery is a generous 3,300mAh. The phone isn’t a whole lot bigger than the screen, with the latter constituting 80% of the size of the former. Internal heat piping manages heat generation within the phone.

LG has packed in two rear cameras – and avoided any camera bump in the 7.9mm body of the phone. Both are 13 megapixels units. One has a standard field of view and an f/1.8 maximum aperture, while the other is an f/2.4 125 degree wide angle unit. The front camera has, as LG describes it: “an expanded 100-degree field of view, so users can take selfies without the need for a selfie stick.” It will be interesting to see if such wide angle selfies might lead to photos with oversized facial features, characteristic of close-ups with wide angle lenses.

Android 7.0 Nougat is installed and Google Assistant, the new and improved Google Now voice assistant, is included. Finger print unlocking is available using the rear sensor.

There’s some whinging around the traps about the use of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor rather than the higher specification 835, but practical implications will be small to non-existent. The processor has 4GB of working memory.

There’s also some whinging about a more significant limitation: only 32GB of built in storage. You can expand this with a microSD card slot up to two terabytes. I hope the camera will support recording video directly to the card. Apparently in some parts of the world it comes with 64GB. Remember, a big chunk of the storage is used by the system, so that translates to around 20GB available to the user out of the box, compared to 52GB.

Alternatively, perhaps (unlike some phones) it will allow you to “adopt” the microSD storage as system memory, a feature that came in with

Also, it looks like we Australians are not getting the wireless charging version. Which is starting to make this phone just a little less premium than it appeared at first blush.

But returning to the good: WiFi supports the 802.11ac, the physical connection is USB Type-C, as it should be, and supports up to USB 3.1. According to the specifications, it also supports HDMI output via MHL, which I thought was a dying standard. We’ll have to see how that goes. Bluetooth 4.2 LE (for low energy) with support for the higher quality aptX audio codec is provided, along with Near Field Communications. And, somewhat surprisingly, an FM radio. And there’s a headphone socket.

Meanwhile, it appears to be available only from Telstra so far, and only on plans. If you go for a $95 plan, you get a free LG 43 inch UHD smart TV with it.

UPDATE: LG tells me that the recommended retail price, when purchased outright from Telstra, is $1008.