We take a look at the all-new LG Q6 – the Korean giant’s latest budget smartphone.
When you first use a smartphone with one of those trendy bezel-less displays, it alters your perception of what a phone screen should look like. Everything that doesn’t then meet a similar aesthetic becomes a step back. You then find yourself buying into the marketing message when trying to relay the benefits of the screen technology to someone who doesn’t yet get it. We’re almost in the final quarter of the year and these displays have remained the playground of the privileged few who can afford flagship hardware. Until now.
LG brought its FullVision (LG’s trademark) display technology and 2:1 aspect ratio to the lower-mid tier of devices. Yes, there are tiers to the mid-range now. At the top are the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 series and the bottom is equipped with 400-series silicon. The Snapdragon 435 inside the Q6 is fine. Not fine like a fine wine, but rather it should be competent at most tasks. It isn’t the battery sipping king like the 630 and it crunches numbers a lot better than the 235.
Let’s jump straight to the pudding of the Q6: this is the perfect smartphone silhouette. Say what you want about the older iPhones, but until the launch of the X model, the smaller version is the perfect size. The LG Q6 is a smidge taller and wider, but in the same ball park, or football field. Where the design then falls down is the rear-facing speaker and the lack of fingerprint sensor and NFC. This price bracket is the most competitive at the moment because you’re fighting for that R350 monthly contract payment sweetspot. Nokia, through some clever deals, could realistically position the flagship hardware-sporting 8 at just above that level before Christmas.
LG nailed exterior design before the iPhone X
In a way I feel for LG. That display technology isn’t cheap to develop. If it was, all the Chinese manufacturers would’ve been flooding the market since June. Cutting costs then becomes the only way to get the device out the door. The facial recognition is probably the fastest I’ve experienced on a phone. But this is more a bi-product of my mistrust in the security measure. I’ll use anything more convenient than typing in a pin or password, in descending order of vulnerability. And then omitting NFC when the back of the device is made of Tupperware (it scratches ridiculously easily) is the type of hell I want no part of. At least Apple offers the W1 chip for easy Bluetooth pairing with certain devices, without fully working NFC my automation tags at home are useless.
A weekend at the bottom of a backpack left the LG Q6 battered.
But I digress. This is usually the part where I talk about the mediocre camera performance and illustrate with the best image I could compose during the review period and I picture of my dogs 20 minutes after sunrise. Two trees that cast the crucial shadows for those images succumbed to Cape Town’s infamous winds, I’m still working on a new place. My commentary then is this: I had a work assignment that involved my family and presented many picture taking opportunities; I never touched the Q6 once. It isn’t a bad camera by any means, but it doesn’t compete well against devices a bit higher in price.
Curiously the Q6 launches on Android Nougat 7.1.1, a newer version of android than the G6. It then steps back in time with a micro-USB charging port. There’s a solitary 13 MP camera on the back and a mediocre 5 MP selfie camera which has a wide-angle mode up front. The power/lock button mercifully migrates to the side of the phone to stop customers from longfully caressing a rear-monunted button in the hopes of finding a fingerprint sensor as on LG’s entry-level K10.
When put next to a traditional 16:9 ratio 5,5-inch screen (Huawei P10 Plus), LG doesn’t maintain the illusion.
Samsung does an infinitely better job showing off the benefits of the 18:9 display aspect ratio.
I’m in love with the idea of a G6 lite. LG have delivered exactly that with regards to design. Then it had to make other compromises and that completely deflates the argument for the Q6. Even the software lets it down by not fully utilising the phone’s USP. The navigation bar is ever-present, which makes steals away from the illusion of more real estate. Samsung at least has the good sense to offer the option of a disappearing navigation bar in all but the lock screen. LG Q6 even gets the basics wrong where app scaling simply doesn’t work, even after you take the time to select it in the settings.
That then leaves the bundle deal with the LG Watch Style Android Wear watch as the only compelling reason to recommend this phone. Yes, you get an Android Wear 2.0 watch bundled in with your purchase. That’s great value any way you slice it. Bonus is that you can use Bluetooth smart lock as a convenient way to use your phone.
LG Q6 is on sale now for R6 500.