The price of LG’s new smartphone is expected to be consistent with the pricing of the company’s previous flagships, which usually launch at around $700. The Pixel XL is currently available from $649, so the two smartphones are close in price even though there’s a year of difference between them, which is an eternity in the smartphone world.
Design and Display
The 6.0-inch P-OLED capacitive touchscreen on the LG V30 is meant to amaze. LG calls it “an extraordinary revolution,” and the company isn’t exaggerating. With its 2K resolution and 81.2 percent screen-to-body ratio, the Gorilla Glass 5-protected display sets a new benchmark for flagship displays in 2017 and beyond. When contrasted with Pixel XL’s 5.5-inch AMOLED display with a similar pixel density, the LG looks like it’s an entire generation ahead. Bezel-less displays have become the new norm in the flagship category, and even the best traditional displays now fail to excite.
The same lack of excitement is caused also by the design of the Pixel XL. The most interesting part is the two-tone back, with metal down the bottom and glass on the top. The rear camera sensor is recessed and placed inconspicuously at the top-left corner, and the fingerprint reader is located in the center of the smartphone, an inch below the camera sensor. Unfortunately, Google forgot to make the Pixel XL water resistant, putting it at a great disadvantage compared to other flagship smartphones.
The LG V30, on the other hand, is IP68-certified, which deems it fit enough to withstand dust, dirt, sand, and submersion up to a maximum depth of 1.5 m underwater for up to thirty minutes. Despite its large display, the V30 is also smaller than the Pixel XL in every dimension, and it even weighs 10 grams less. The back panel is made of glass, and it houses the rear dual-camera system and a fingerprint reader.
Both smartphones have a 3.5 mm headphone jack, but the LG pairs it with an audiophile-grade 32-bit DAC.
Winner: The LG V30 shows just how much can flagship smartphones evolve in just one year, beating the Pixel XL in terms of design, build quality, and display performance.
Performance and Battery Life
The thing that’s great about flagship smartphones is their ability to meet the performance requirements of new apps and websites for much longer than mid-range or budget smartphones. So, even though the Pixel XL doesn’t come with the latest and greatest chipset, the Snapdragon 821 still performs exceptionally well. The Pixel XL’s 4 GB of memory will be more than enough for several more years, as well.
The LG V30 does come with the latest and greatest chipset, the Snapdragon 835, and its performance is unsurprisingly flawless. Just like the Pixel XL, the V30 has 4 GB of memory and up to 128 GB of storage space. But unlike the Pixel XL, the V30 also features a slot for an up to 256 GB microSD card.
Because the Pixel XL has been around for a while now, we know how mediocre its battery life is. It’s possible to squeeze almost half the power of the 3,450 mAh battery in less than an hour of watching YouTube over Wi-Fi. The LG V30 has a non-removable 3,300 mAh battery, and we’re afraid that the smartphone’s battery life might be similarly pathetic. At least it’s possible to charge the V30 wirelessly.
Where the Pixel XL lacks behind the LG V30 the most is audio quality. The Pixel XL is definitely not a good smartphone for multimedia consumption since you would be lucky to hear the tiny sound coming from the single mono speaker. The V30 was designed with multimedia in mind, and its stereo speakers are loud and surprisingly detailed.
Winner: Despite the V30’s superior chipset, you would be hard-pressed to notice any real difference in terms of how quickly apps open and how responsive the user interface is. The absence of stereo speakers on the Pixel XL is a letdown, and we don’t understand what was Google thinking considering the smartphone includes Google’s new voice-controlled personal assistant.
The LG V30 promises to bring the “superior sharpness and color clarity previously only offered by high-end DSLR cameras.” To do that, the smartphone has a rear dual-camera setup with one 16 MP sensor with f/1.6 lens and one 13 MP sensor with f/1.9 lens. The two sensors together offer 25 percent wider color gamut and outstanding separation of color and smooth gradients.
The rear camera can record 2160p footage at 30 frames per second and 720p footage at 120 frames per second. The V30 allows users to capture 24-bit/192kHz stereo sound while recording video, making the smartphone a true dream-device for content creators, journalists, and everyone who is after the highest video and sound quality possible. The front-facing camera has 5 MP and f/2.2, and it takes sharp, wide-angle shots even in less than ideal light conditions.
The Pixel XL has a single 12.3 MP sensor with f/2.0 and dual-LED flash. Its video-recording capabilities are even better than LG’s, offering 1080p video capture at 120 frames per second and 720p video capture at 240 frames per second, but there’s an option to record high-bitrate sound. The front-facing camera on the Pixel XL has 8 MP and f/2.4, and it’s slightly better than V30’s front-facing camera.
Winner: If you don’t care about video, the LG V30 is a clear winner. The rear dual-camera setup offers fantastic picture quality, and we love the ability to take wide-angle shots provided by the second sensor. However, things are less clear when it comes to shooting video. The V30 can record high-bitrate audio, but the Pixel XL has better slow-motion recording capabilities.
LG has made a few cosmetic and functional changes to the Android 7.1.2 (Nougat) the V30 ships with. Users can unlock the smartphone using the front-facing camera and even though voice recognition. The Pixel XL is perhaps the purest Android smartphone on the market, and the Android 7.1 (Nougat) (upgradable to Android 8.0, Oreo) is essentially unaltered. You get fewer features, but marginally better performance.
Still, the Pixel XL offers one extra feature the V30 doesn’t: Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant developed by Google and announced at its developer conference in May 2016. Google Assistant can engage in two-way conversations and help you organize your life or get answers to any questions you might have.
Winner: Personally, we like the purity of stock Android, but we also don’t mind what LG has done with the operating system.
The LG V30 is a killer smartphone, and the best device LG has ever released. The company clearly understands what users want and is able to deliver exceptional features that tick all the boxes of what makes an excellent flagship smartphone in 2017.