Before LG set about re-imagining and rebranding its smartphones, the mouthful that is the LG V60 ThinQ 5G, with a “UW” appended in some cases, landed in the US before all hell broke loose around the world. To some extent, it is the last of its kind, closing a chapter in LG’s history. It sadly wasn’t that celebrated, thanks to numerous reasons, but now owners of the last “V” phone have another reason to celebrate as it is the first LG phone in the US to get the much-awaited Android 11 update.
To be clear, the LG V60 ThinQ 5G is first only in the US. The overall title of first to Android 11 belongs to the LG Velvet but that update was confined to South Korea only. The company became largely silent after that, however, so it’s definitely a pleasant surprise to hear more action on that front.
In the US, the V60 ThinQ 5G was made available from carriers, especially from Verizon where it took advantage of its Ultra-Wide Band mmWave 5G, hence the “UW” in its name. The Android 11 update has so far been spotted for T-Mobile and Verizon, though AT&T probably won’t be that far behind.
T-Mobile is pretty slim on the details other than the fact that it also includes the February 2021 security patches. Verizon has more to share, listing a few of the key changes brought by Android 11 itself, like official chat bubbles support and a redesigned Quick Settings panel. Unfortunately, it also only has the January 2021 patches.
In addition to its historical significance, the LG V60 ThinQ 5G could be considered to be the last “high-end” LG flagship, as far as specs are concerned, that is. Most of its traits, however, have been carried over to the LG Velvet, like the Dual Screen accessory, while the LG Wing and upcoming LG Rollable take LG’s smartphones in a different direction.
Update 2/26:LG has provided ballpark pricing for the V60.
You don’t actually need to see the LG V60 ThinQ 5G with Dual Screen to know what it is. Based on our experiences during a recent briefing and hands-on opportunity in New York, the V60 clearly looks like LG’s V50, V40, G8, and G7. It has a few gimmicks and some unnecessary carrier compromises. And it has a headphone jack.
In short, it’s an LG phone. It’s not entirely clear whether it will be the only flagship of 2020 from LG, but if there is a G9 in the works, my guess is that the only difference will be screen size. For better or worse, LG has a formula, and it’s sticking to it. I’m not really sure what, if anything, the ThinQ surname even means at this point, but you won’t find the G8’s 3D face unlock or touche commands, nor the V50’s tailored intelligence services in this iteration.
That said, the LG V60 ThinQ 5G is a perfectly fine 2020 phone. With a 6.8-inch screen and more bezel than the Galaxy S20 Ultra has, it’s a bit too big for my tastes, but LG is merely following the big-screen trend line. The Dual Screen case that we first saw on the G8X has some useful features, but it still feels like a very cheap imitation of the Galaxy Fold.
But if you’re looking for an Android phone with premium specs, the V60 checks off most of the boxes. We don’t know yet how much all of those components will cost—one of LG’s irksome carrier capitulations—but it’s certainly ready to go head to head with the S20 on paper:
Those are all perfectly fine specs, though the 1080p 60Hz display will certainly show its inferiority alongside the S20 and upcoming OnePlus 8. LG has lagged somewhat with its smartphone displays, having only recently made the switch to OLED—so the V60 feels a bit behind the times, even with a screen size nearly as big as the 6.9-incher on the Galaxy S20 Ultra.
The same can be said of the design. While the corners are a bit more rounded, the V60 follows the same basic language LG introduced with the G7, and it very much looks like it’s stuck in 2018. The camera cutout at the top of the display is significantly smaller than the G8X’s, but the V60’s sizable top bezel doesn’t do it any favors. The chin is just as large, and the side bezels, while not as big as the top and bottom, are still distractingly thick.
Speaking of thick, the phone is pretty chunky at nearly 8.8mm, though its slight teardrop shape does well to hide it. At 218 grams it’s a bit lighter than the S20 Ultra (222g), though it’s less top-heavy due to the horizontal camera array. When you add the Dual Screen case, however, it tips the scales at nearly 350 grams.
Around the back, LG has ditched the V50’s telephoto camera and brought back the bump, two decisions I’m not all that happy about. The lack of a telephoto lens is particularly head-scratching for a phone in 2020, but I’m more perplexed by the bump. The V50’s most unique design element was its flush, smooth camera array that was completely encased under the glass, so the bump on the V60 feels like a step backward.
I don’t quite understand the decision—it’s not like the phone isn’t thick enough—but such as it is, the V60 has very little to set it apart from other phones in its class. LG says the V60 has “a sleeker quality to it” with “a little more elegance,” but the return to the camera bump says otherwise.
The lack of a telephoto lens aside, the V60 will record in 8K, and LG has beefed up its night mode using AI as well. We didn’t get a chance to test it in the well-lit briefing room, but low-light photography is an area where LG has lagged Apple and Google, so we’re anxious to try the V60 at night.
The second screen tells the story
The V60’s claim to fame, as with the G8X, is its dual-screen accessory. LG still hasn’t committed to going all-in on the case, so it may or may not come with your purchase, a choice that will “depend on the carrier.” In fact, LG won’t be offering an unlocked version of the V60, so whatever bundles are offered will be entirely at the carriers’ discretion.
But my guess is the Dual Screen will come with all V60 purchases because it’s so central to the experience. When attached, the Dual Screen supplies a second 6.8-inch Full HD display that mirrors the V60’s, notch and all. Based on my experience with it on the G8X, it’s not nearly as well-conceived as the Galaxy Fold or even what we’ve seen of the Microsoft Surface Duo. It’s still easily the V60’s most compelling feature, especially since LG has added the ability to use one screen as a full keyboard like a mini-laptop.
With 5G and a second screen to power, the V60 is going to need a lot of battery life, and it certainly has the capacity at 5,000mAh. That’s a thousand more milliamp-hours than the G8X, resulting in an additional eight hours of use, per LG. In my G8X testing, I got around 9 hours, which is acceptable, but 17 hours would be mind-blowing. LG also claims that a 30-minute charge will deliver 18 hours of use, but we’ll need to test these claims, especially with 5G on board.
Speaking of 5G, LG is using the newest Snapdragon X55 modem, but the experience will differ across carriers. On Verizon models of the V60, you’ll get mmWave and sub-6GHz support. AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile subscribers will only be able to tap into sub-6GHz networks.
When all is said and done, the main reason why most people will choose the V60 over the S20 or the iPhone 11 is the headphone jack. LG is one of the only premium Android phone makers that hasn’t gone all-Bluetooth. The 32-bit Quad DAC will be a breath of fresh air for anyone clinging to their wired headphones.
For audio purists, LG has also added four “brand-new, high-performance microphones,” along with a feature called Voice Bokeh “that minimizes background noise and boosts the user’s voice, allowing content creators to place more focus on the subject while reducing excess noise.”
What we don’t know about the V60 is how much it will cost. LG did say that the V60 will come in “under the cheapest Galaxy S20 with the Dual Screen included,” so assuming that means $950 or so, that’s a good deal cheaper than the $1,400 Galaxy S20 Ultra and one of the cheapest 5G phones you can buy. That’s even cheaper than the V50, which started at $1,150 without the Dual Screen accessory, so LG is definitely pushing value with the V60. Whether it’s worth it, however, might be a tough sell.
Ben Patterson contributed to this report.
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