YouTubers take note. If you’re looking for a great smartphone to further your video ambitions, the LG V20 could be the phone for you.
With advanced video and photo capabilities, the phone is a videographer’s dream. I had a chance to play around with the V20 for a couple weeks to test and review.
Checking out the LG V20 Android smartphone
Unusually for some smartphone users the first thing you’ll need to do is insert the battery. There’s a small back panel release button on the bottom right-hand side of the phone where you think there might be a power button. Push the button to release the back cover then slip the battery in.
Interestingly and quite smartly in my opinion the power button is on the centre of the back cover. Right where your index finger naturally rests so turning the phone on and off is easy and intuitive.
What you get with the LG V20 phone – Second Screen display
The phone is slim and sexy, with a nice wide display. Right away I love the innovative “second screen” display that runs along the top of the 5.7” Quad HD Display screen. You get instant info like time and battery life plus app notifications along a 4mm banner. That means you’re not wasting battery lighting up the whole screen when you just need quick info. The second screen also dims after a while, and then will come to full brightness with a tap.
You can customize which of these tiles will show up by unlocking the phone, and pulling down on the top window shade. Click the small arrow on the far right side to open the menu, then turn the notifications you like on or off.
The LG V20 runs Android’s Nougat operating system. Some of Nougat’s features include a split-screen multi-window for multi-tasking, streamlined notifications with direct reply, and improvements to battery performance (which will only be enhanced by the less draining second screen).
Great display + screen options
The beautiful 5.7-inch Quad HD Display is great for watching videos. It’s got brilliant colors, sharp resolution and deep contrast. The screen, like other tech manufacturers are doing, has a night mode option to switch off the screen’s blue light in the evenings, which is said to improve sleep.
I really liked the screen, it’s wide, bold and vibrantly colouful. I tested it out watching videos and they’re so crisp and lifelike. I put the LG V20 up next to my Apple iPhone and even though the screens are in essence the same size, the V20 seemed bigger and bolder. Perhaps it’s just a trick of the eye thanks to the bezel configuration, but even so…
Split screen mode is made for multi-tasking
One of Android Nougat’s coolest new features is split screen mode. It’s the same feature I wrote about in my review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3.
The ‘multi-function window,’ as it’s called, is a bit weird to get used to using. When an app is open in full screen view, just press and hold the recents key (the small squares on the lower right of the screen). This will fan out a display of open apps. Select another app to open by tapping the double rectangle in the top right corner of the second app.
How to close or disable multi function window
I was mystified about how to close the multifunction window. I thought I could do it by following the same procedure that I did to open it, but not so. You’ll need to grab the blue slider bar that splits the screen, and drag it up and right off the screen. The second window will wipe away.
Customize your V20 – buttons, fonts
Interestingly, you can also change the colour of your on screen home button to either black or white, plus you can change the phone’s font and size easily too which means you can make your phone fully configurable for you.
How to take a screenshot with LG V20
Need a screen shot? To screen capture, just push and hold the power button on the back and the ‘volume down’ button at the same time.
LG V20 camera is outstanding
There are front and rear-facing cameras built into the V20. On the front, you get a wide angle, 5MP lens. There are dual rear cameras; one with a 16 MP Standard-Angle Lens camera (75 degrees, 1/2.8″ image sensor, f/1.8 low light) and 8 MP Wide-Angle Lens (135 degrees, 1/4″ image sensor, f/2.4 low light).
LG V20 Camera & Photography settings
There are several Modes you can use for photography including Panorama and something called Popout, which layers your main photo over itself, providing a picture in picture effect that seems to work best in landscapes. You can further adjust the popout effect to blur the background layer for a more subtle look.
The camera actually has a rabbit hole of settings for photos; create a tiled photo collage by snapping three photos almost at once with the multi-view setting. This effect uses the three cameras on the phone (1 front, 2 rear) to hint at a 360 degree effect.
There are a host of film filters and effects too.
A feature I love is the ability to take a photo hands free by saying “kimchee” or “cheese” or something that rhymes with that. That works great when you’re using a selfie stick or taking a wider photo.
Enhanced Video, Audio and Editing capabilities
The video quality starts with the improved cameras; what they’ll do for photos they’ll do for video. Start by configuring your Video Screen Ratio, Subtitle Settings, Playback Speed, and Video Auto-Close Function, then use the Live zooming function which lets you zoom in or out of your videos as they play. Three built-in microphones allow higher quality audio that’s meant to more closely match the quality of your video.
More LG V20 photo & video features:
• Auto Shot1 – face detection automatically initiates a 2-second countdown timer to take a selfie
• Gesture Shot1 – take selfies with a simple hand gesture
• Gesture Interval Shot1 – make a fist twice to take four selfies in sequence
• Gesture View1 – transitions between camera mode and preview mode automatically when phone is lowered
• Selfie Light1 – screen illuminates around the photo preview for well-lit selfies
• Beauty Shot1 – adjustable setting softens facial features
• Tracking Focus – track and maintain focus on a moving object
• Zoom Out. Zoom In. – zoom continuously between standard and wide-angle lenses1
LG V20 Audio improvements
Audio capabilities have also been improved on this phone. LG says it’s made significant improvements in performance and distortion. Plus with three microphones inside it’s got better recording capabilities too, which you can test out with the built-in HD Audio Recorder.
Recordings (I did interviews on the phone) are crisp, clean and realistic, with none of that audio hiss or buzz you can sometimes get on smartphones. When it comes to the audio on your video recordings, this too has been improved, and more closely matches a proper camcorder so your video won’t just look good, it’ll sound great too.
Removable battery & expandable memory
Unlike some smartphones, the LG V20 has a removable battery; a smart feature in this day and age where batteries have a limited lifespan that can result in your needing to replace your whole phone. It also means that if you’re so inclined, you can always carry a spare.
Also smart, you can add memory to the phone. LG’s expandable memory might allow you to extend the life of your phone, where other smartphones would have you dumping content constantly as they near the end of their lifespan.
Overall review of LG V20 smartphone
I really, really like this phone. There wasn’t a lot I could find to complain about. The size is good, it’s nice and thin, the screen is a joy to watch and fills the phone’s face. The fingerprint scanner on the back is natural and makes a tonne of sense from a design standpoint. I also appreciate (as a regular Apple user) how configurable and customizable the phone is.
The camera is also great quality and as someone who spends plenty of time shooting video and social sharing content, I can appreciate the bells and whistles in the camera.
The phone isn’t cheap, which may be its biggest knock. In Canada it sells for $999 or $849USD.
Overall if you’re looking for a solid quality Android phone to upgrade to, this is a great pick.