The LG V20 is an Important Device for LG, and They Don’t Have Room to Fall Short Again
Last month, we did a report on the walking of LG’s product design and how it’s been hurting them in sales. The main takeaway from this analysis is that LG is struggling to hit their stride in product design, and have yet to stick to one design for more than one or two device generations.
In the midst of constantly changing their products, LG put out a head-turning device that got quite a bit of attention, the LG V10. The V10 was unlike all of its previous phone companions in that it sported two of everything on the front face of the phone, was able to maintain a MIL-STD-810G certified shock resistant rating while being (subjectively) aesthetically pleasing, contained LG’s first attempt at a fingerprint reader (if you exclude the Nexus 5X reader), and is arguably the last great flagship phone to feature the classic-style removable battery.
With the successor to the V10, the LG V20 rumored to be released this September, it’s important that LG do not get ahead of themselves and take a look at what went wrong and what went right about the V10 in order to make a truly great V20. I’ve owned and used an LG V10 as a daily driver since January, and have seen first hand many of the pitfalls the V10 came with. I’m hoping that some of these issues are absent from its successor.
One of the biggest issues I’ve faced with my V10 is the software performance and clunkiness. If you’ve never used LG’s software, dubbed LG UX, then consider yourself mostly lucky. To say it’s completely unnecessary is an overstatement, given how LG has provided some useful additions to Android, in the form of QSlide Apps, Quick Remote, Capture+, and other various tweaks including all of the second screen tricks.
However, in changing the way Android works, as well as looks, it feels like LG didn’t give it their best in terms of optimization. The V10 has trouble keeping up with some basic tasks, and in a few not so rare occasions, completely freezes until I remove the battery and restart the phone. This can partly be attributed to the chipset in the V10, with the Snapdragon 808 chips having been notable for hindering performance on many phones. Even then, the G5 was also one of the poorer exponents of the more-recent 820, and even today the relative chunkiness can show through despite the strong hardware. Other times some things just break while not in use, with the “Second Screen has Stopped Working” message appearing often, even when I have the second screen disabled completely.
Another issue the V10 faced was build quality issues. Two major ones that I’ve been stricken with are the light bleed coming from the second screen, and the material on the back cover of the phone peeling off. The light bleed issue seems to be common among LCD panels, and did find its way to the G5. The back peeling issue has not come to the G5 given it has a completely different build material (with its own share of quality issues).
Something else that LG claims is hardware-related is their famous bootlooping issue. This issue first appeared on the LG G4, where a few months after release customer’s phones would turn off randomly and fall into a continuous boot loop. LG had claimed to fix the issue with a slight hardware update to the G4, but unfortunately many users of both the LG V10 and G5 have reported seeing the bootlooping issue on their devices. This is a serious issue, and I’m hoping LG can come up with a real fix before their fourth flagship in a row suffers from this deal breaking problem.
But amidst all of the issues that LG has seen with the V line so far, there are a few things that the V10 did well. It wasn’t the first phone with two screens, but it was the first to really use it in a productive manner. The mix of off-screen quick settings and music controls alongside a clock and notification ticker was very handy, and is something I would definitely love to see expanded upon. The screen-on features weren’t bad either, offering quick shortcuts to favorite apps, favorite contacts, music controls, upcoming events, and a signature if you’re into that.
Another strength in the V10 is it’s camera. LG is known for having outstanding cameras on their devices, and the rear facing camera on the V10 is no exception. The manual controls are such a welcome addition (and so well-implemented) that I will find it nearly impossible to move to a phone without them. The V10 also introduced native manual video controls, offering a much more robust video shooting experience unseen on most other phones. While I’m no professional photographer or filmographer, having these controls is a huge advantage that I hope to see return in the V20.
Alongside these strengths is the V10’s durability. I’ve dropped my V10 on concrete more times than I’m proud of, but luckily have never seen so much as a scratch on the main display. The side rails have had a dent or two, but it didn’t cause the phone to look worn at all. Durability is a huge factor I wish every phone maker would take seriously. The V line, so far, has shown that it can take a beating, and keeping this up with the V20 could help LG a lot.
Despite my earlier gripes with their software, LG has taken some steps in fixing the package, with the update to LG UX that came with the LG G5. The update saw the removal of some of their key features, such as Multi-Window, and even the App Drawer (which was added back after a lot of criticism). They have done this in order to try and trim down on the software’s bloated nature, with the removal of their implementation of Multi-Window possibly being done so that they can have room for Android 7.0 Nougat’s native Multi-Window capabilities. Seeing as how the LG V10 retained the software package from the LG G4, it should be no stretch to expect a software experience similar to the G5 on the V20.
Overall, LG is in a tight spot. With sales slipping they are going to have to pull off something great to avoid total disaster. The company knows it’s not doing well, having already laid off some top executives after the sales of the G5 turned out lower than anticipated. The one thing that can rectify their slipping sales is a great phone, and if they keep up the strengths of the V10 in its successor, while fixing some if its problems, they could very well have that phone that will save them in the long run. The V10 was already considered a breath of fresh air late last year, and LG is now gasping for such a thing as they seemingly drown inside the pit they dug themselves into with the G5. It was sad to see that despite all of its virtues, the V10 didn’t get the marketing attention it arguably should have from LG. But with another year comes another chance, and we hope that the V20 can not only be a worthy. no-nonsense successor to the V10, but also that it can give LG the success and breathing room it needs to become great once more.
What do you hope and/or expect to see in the LG V20? Drop a comment below and let us know!