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LG V30 review:

A fantastic phone that nearly does it all

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LG V30 (Cloud Silver)

(Part #: lg-vs996)
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The Good The LG V30 almost has it all: a great camera, speedy processor, huge OLED screen, excellent battery life, waterproofing, wireless charging, microSD storage and the best headphone jack on a phone.

The Bad Ergonomic quirks can make the V30 awkward to hold. You may miss some shots due to slow camera autofocus. Carrier-specific versions come with annoying bloatware and logos.

The Bottom Line The LG V30 is a rock-solid alternative to Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Plus and the Google Pixel 2 XL. If it fits your hands and your photographic needs, you won't be disappointed.

8.6 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 9.0
  • Camera 8.0
  • Battery 9.0

I just want a phone that does everything. Is that too much to ask?

I want a sleek, durable handset that's practically all screen. A device with gobs of performance, loooong battery life, an amazing camera and a headphone jack. How about water resistance, wireless charging, microSD expandable storage and support for any cellular carrier, too?

Until recently, Samsung was the only company that offered such a product -- like the Galaxy S8, S8 Plus and Note. Now, there's the LG V30 as well. It isn't a cheap phone, it isn't a small phone and it isn't perfect. I've used it for a whole month as my daily driver, and I definitely have annoyances to share.

But here's what the V30 truly is: a worthy rival for Samsung.

In test after test against Samsung's similar Galaxy S8 Plus, the V30 held its own -- to the point that you might be happy buying it instead.

What's an LG V30 and how much does it cost?

It's LG's new flagship phone -- a solid step up in build quality and features from the LG G6 released earlier this year.

The LG V30.

Josh Miller/CNET

With a new OLED screen, thinner build, improved dual cameras and a quad-DAC (digital-to-analog audio converter) built into the headphone jack, LG's marketing it as both a luxury phone and a content creator's dream, with particular focus on videographers (who can shoot pro-style Log format video) and audiophiles.

In the US, the 64GB phone costs between $810 and $840 depending on cellular carrier, with an unlocked version compatible with all four major US carriers retailing for $830.

Sprint is the exception: It sells an upgraded V30+ with double the storage (128GB) and a pair of B&O wired headphones for $912.

All about that screen

"Is that the new iPhone?"

I must have heard that question half a dozen times while using the V30, and there's good reason. Like the iPhone X and many other 2017 flagship handsets, the 6-inch LG V30 is a vision made of glass and aluminum.

It, too, has an unusually tall screen that extends practically all the way to the top and bottom edges. It, too, sports a smooth glass back and a shiny aluminum band. And it, too, houses a P-OLED display -- the first on an LG phone in quite a while.

The OLED screen really pops, even if LG's display is somewhat inferior to Samsung.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Why are OLED screens so sought after? Each pixel emits its own light, allowing for more vibrant colors and deeper blacks. And I'm happy to report that LG's 6-inch, 2,880x1,440-pixel screen is crisp and beautiful right out of the box.


The LG V30 does fit in pants pockets. How much it will bulge depends on your pants.

Josh Miller/CNET

(As we've discovered in recent weeks, not all OLEDs are created equal, and some worried that the LG V30's 6-inch screen -- built by LG -- might demonstrate the same ghostly afterimages and muted colors as the LG-built 6-inch screen in the Pixel 2 XL. Thankfully, that doesn't seem to be the case with ours.)

That said, the V30's screen isn't quite the best OLED has to offer. It didn't get as bright or clear as Samsung's screen outdoors -- which honestly made taking photos and video a little difficult. It looks a bit blue when viewed from off-angles, even if the color shift isn't quite as noticeable as Google's Pixel 2 XL.

The V30's screen has some odd issues at low brightness, too: I had a hard time watching Netflix and browsing websites in bed because LG's screen tends to crush blacks when the screen's brightness is set low. Dim scenes in movies didn't just look dim, but positively deathly. Just something to be aware of.

More importantly, I had a few issues holding the phone that surrounds that giant screen.

While I absolutely adore the V30's rear-mounted power button (which doubles as a responsive fingerprint sensor, and triples as a divot that helps me balance the phone), the phone is still so wide, it was hard to grip with a single, medium-size hand. The glass and metal surfaces are smooth enough that it's easy for the phone to slip.

Also, the rough edges of the USB-C cutout tend to dig into my finger, which made my "pinkie shelf hold" problematic. Plus, there lots of times when, trying to grip the phone tightly, my meaty fingers would occasionally brush the edge of the screen, and the display would unknowingly sense two fingers and failed to carry out a tap.

Don't get me wrong, the V30 looks and feels lovely (save the big AT&T logo on the back of my review unit) and the fingerprint sensor placement is way better than the camera smudge magnet on Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Note 8. I just don't think the ergonomics are universally great.

P.S.: If you're coming from a previous LG V-series phone, know you'll no longer find the second tiny screen that used to live on top of the display. But you can get most of the same quick-launch shortcuts by turning on the new Floating Bar in settings. Then, simply swipe in from the screen's edge to capture a region of your screen, create animated GIFs and more.

The camera: It's complicated

Let's make one thing clear: The LG V30's dual cameras take killer photos. They're crisp, full of life, and -- as often as not -- better than ones I took side by side with a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, with more detail and less splotchy noise if you zoom in. You can thank the additional megapixels (16MP vs. 12MP) and slightly larger lens aperture (f/1.6 vs. f/1.7) for that.

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