I challenge you to tear your eyes away from the G6's screen, its rounded corners or the mere sliver of bezel running around it all. The phone is basically all screen, and it feels like a revelation. In fact, with a screen this prominent, the rest of the G6's frame fades into the background (especially on our low-key black review unit). That's fine by me; the G6 is a well-built machine, but it's pretty plain-looking.
LG's minimal design aside, the company squeezed a whole lot of screen into a modestly sized body. It's remarkably comfortable to hold and use for long periods of time. Between the not-quite-finished model I received at Mobile World Congress and the consumer-ready, AT&T version LG later provided, I've been using this all-screen design for over a month. In a nutshell: I'm never going back. You'll still shimmy your hand up the phone's body to reach the top corners with your thumbs, but the G6 is surprisingly comfortable for one-handed use.
To top it all off, it's surprisingly durable. One night, while perhaps a little tipsy at dinner, the G6 slipped from my grasp and fell about 15 feet from the restaurant's upstairs table to the hard tile of the ground floor. I felt like a tremendous idiot, but the phone suffered only a few nicks around the edges. Seriously, LG: well done.
Display and sound
Since the screen is the single biggest change to LG's G Series formula, let's dig a little deeper. It's a 5.7-inch IPS LCD running at 2,880 x 1,440 (that's an 18:9 aspect ratio, for those keeping track). As far as LG is concerned, this super long FullVision display is the way of the future. After all, it seems well suited to multitasking, and filmmakers (like La La Land's Damien Chazelle) have already embraced wider-than-widescreen formats. Even better, the G6 and its screen support standards like Dolby Vision and HDR10 for more-vivid video. It's just too bad that finding content that takes full advantage of this screen is still pretty difficult.
And don't forget about those curves. The corners of the panel are actually round, which supposedly helps disperse the blunt force that comes with a careless drop. It's equal parts clever and cool-looking, which I love. None of this would matter if the screen itself was lousy, but that's thankfully not the case: Text and images are crisp and precise, colors are lively without veering into over-saturation. Viewing angles are excellent too, which is crucial: What good is a long screen if it's hard to glance at?
So yeah, LG clearly paid a lot of attention to the G6's display -- too bad it didn't spend as much time on the phone's audio. There's a single speaker wedged into the phone's bottom, and its output is anemic at best. It's a good thing LG kept the classic headphone jack around, but even that isn't as good as it could be. See, despite the company's commitment to high-quality audio with its V Series phones, the G6 lacks the Quad DAC that made devices like the V20 such great media players. I guess I shouldn't be that surprised: You had to buy a separate "Friend" to squeeze high-fidelity audio out of the G5, and it was never available in North America anyway. There's still hope for you audiophiles: The Asian version of the phone has that DAC built in if you don't mind scouting for foreign devices online.
Remember the days when LG's custom interface was terrible? Yeah, so do I. These days LG is into restraint, and while it's still a long way from stock Android 7.0, the company's skin and apps add more value than headaches. Does that mean it's for everyone? Hell no, but it's progress.
That progress can be tougher to spot if you've used the G5 or the V20, since almost all the usual tricks are back. You can still turn on the screen with a double-tap, rearrange your navigation keys or ditch the traditional Android app launcher in favor of an iOS-style app free-for-all. The most noticeable changes are cosmetic -- here's looking at you, wallpapers and "squircle" icons -- but the biggest ones are meant to take advantage of that super long screen.
Consider the calendar and the contacts list: They look normal enough when launched, but rotating the phone reveals another view that displays extra information in two side-by-side square panels. Handy. Still another included app lets you change how other apps are scaled to fit on-screen. Fiddling around with it can get certain apps looking more natural on the G6's 18:9 display, but in my experience, you could ignore this feature completely and not miss out on anything. Google's also got your back: It's been encouraging developers to build native support for 18:9 screens into its apps.
Speaking of Google, the G6 was -- briefly -- the only non-Pixel smartphone to come with Google's virtual Assistant. Google kind of spoiled LG's fun by rolling Assistant out to compatible devices shortly after the G6's announcement, but hey, a good voice interface is a good voice interface. If you were expecting differences in performance between the Assistant here and the one running on Google's first-party hardware, don't worry. After a few initial moments of sluggishness, talking to the G6 was as pleasant as talking to the Pixels. That's good news for those of you with burning curiosities and a fondness for chatting with inanimate objects.
The AT&T model we tested is loaded with bloatware. Maybe the strangest change is AT&T's use of Firefox -- not Chrome -- as the default web browser. Some of you won't mind, as Firefox is a perfectly good alternative. Beyond that, we're left with 13 preloaded apps no one ever actually asked for and a persistent notification that keeps insisting I set up the DirecTV remote app. News flash, AT&T: I don't use the service and wouldn't use this app even if I did, so for the love of God, stop shoving this notification in my face.
Dual cameras have gone from gimmick to flagship feature, and LG was one of the first companies to make them feel valuable. The work began with last year's G5, which combined an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera with a 16-megapixel main camera for more-flexible shooting. It was a solid first attempt, but this year's approach feels much more elegant.
For one, this time the normal and wide-angle cameras shoot at the same 13-megapixel resolution. Now we have resolution parity, and they both turn out crisp, detailed images without much fiddling. There are still differences between the two though. The main camera has a f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization and phase-detection autofocus, all of which the wide-angle camera lacks. In other words, you should probably steer clear of those wide-angle shots at night: They too often come out fuzzy and improperly exposed.