LG V30+ review: A bold premium handset

Alex Kidman 7 December 2017

LG's V30+ shares much of its DNA with the impressive Pixel 2 XL, but it's a premium phone that truly stands on its own.

Quick Verdict
The LG V30+ is a great premium handset for the most part, and easily LG's best own-brand handset for 2017.

The Good

  • Smooth and light design
  • Good video camera performance
  • Good processor performance
  • Great audio quality

The bad

  • Blue tint on screen
  • Garish icon choices
  • Only Android 7 at launch
  • No contract options in Australia

LG was able to grab more of the spotlight than usual at this year's Mobile World Congress for the launch of the LG G6, thanks to Samsung's decision to launch tablets in Barcelona instead. The LG G6 was a fine premium device, but there was no ignoring that it was working off last year's processor technology.

The next LG premium handset to hit the market wasn't specifically labelled as an LG device, but instead as the Google Pixel 2 XL, a superb handset with a rather bland design.

The Pixel 2 XL's DNA is essentially what LG's thrown into its effectively third premium handset for 2017, the LG V30 and LG V30+.

The only difference between the regular and plus editions is the onboard storage. Here in Australia, we'll only officially see the V30+ variant which comes with 128GB of onboard storage where the regular model has only 64GB.

LGV30Plus3_738

Design

Where the LG G6 was all about serious industrial design that gave it a rather serious tone, and the Pixel 2 XL favoured a rather bland finish, LG's gone for a smoother design with the V30+. It's all smooth edges and polished black finish, which predictably does mean it attracts fingerprints like a BBQ steak attracts flies.

That's at least in part because the back of the LG V30+ is glass, in order to enable wireless charging. The rear is also where you'll find the fingerprint reader, which doubles as the power button. It's located well below the dual lens camera, so there's much less risk of smudging it as you can with Samsung's 2017 Galaxy handsets.

Charging is via USB C at the base, and at the top you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, another point of difference from the LG-produced Google Pixel 2 XL.

Along the left-hand side, you'll find the volume controls, while the right-hand side houses the dual SIM tray. As is common in so many phones, you've got the choice of either two SIM cards, or one nano-SIM and a microSD card for storage expansion.

As is the style of the day, you're faced with an 18:9 display measuring in at 6 inches, although as with all phones with that aspect ratio, it means it's rather taller and thin in the hand.

From a resolution viewpoint it's sporting a 1,440x2,880 OLED display, and specifically a P-OLED of the same type as found on the Pixel 2 XL. That means it's also got the same blue shift tint issue as the Pixel 2 XL. When you tilt the LG V30+, there's a noticeable blue tint on the display, especially for content with a lot of white in it such as web pages.

As with the Pixel 2 XL, it's not a killer issue, but a regrettable one for what's meant to be a premium handset. While some reviewers have commented on uneven lighting or a grainy effect at low brightness, I can't say I've hit that particular issue with my review handset.

Unlike the Pixel 2 XL, LG's opted for a rather more colour-saturated look to its display. It's much in line with competitors such as Samsung, Sony or Huawei, and while it's not entirely realistic, it's definitely eye-catching.

The LG V30+ is a large phone, measuring in at 151.7 x 75.4 x 7.3mm, but its carrying weight is only 158 grams, which means it's one of the lightest "big" phones released this year. When I first started testing the LG V30+, it took a while not to think I was picking up one of those dummy handsets beloved of phone shops.

LGV30Plus2_738

Camera

LG has long opted for dual camera arrays featuring one primary and one wide-angle lens, and the LG V30+ is no exception. It features a Dual 16 MP f/1.6 standard + 13 MP f/1.9 wide angle lens, and that's a fascinating technology mix, especially that f/1.6 primary lens. That should, in theory, give it superior low light performance, although that's somewhat mitigated by a sensor with a 1.0 µm pixel size, a fair degree smaller than on competing handsets.

LG's pitch for the V30+ rests on both its still and video performance, with cinematic effect app Graphy hard-baked into the default camera app. While you could load Graphy onto just about any Android handset, having it there by default does give you an easy range of fun effects to apply to your video, whether you're shooting for realism, Hollywood blockbuster or dark noir tones.

Rather predictably, the combination of a standard and wide lens means that the V30+ is better for landscape style photography than it is straight up portrait shots. Indeed, it's one of the very few premium handsets to ship in 2017 without a dedicated "portrait" mode effect on board. Here's a sampling of some comparative shots from the LG V30+:

LGV30SampleShot5_738 LGV30SampleShot4_738 LGV30SampleShot3_738 LGV30SampleShot1_738

Performance

Where the LG G6 had to make do with the Snapdragon 820, the V30+ can benefit from the full power of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 SoC, alongside 4GB of RAM.

Not surprisingly, that puts it in essentially the same performance arena as every other Snapdragon 835 phone released this year, and there are plenty of those. Here's how the LG V30+ compares using Geekbench 4's CPU test:

HandsetGeekbench 4 CPU Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 4 CPU Multi Core (higher is better)
Apple iPhone X418510319
Apple iPhone 8427010272
Apple iPhone 8 Plus411310221
Huawei Mate 10 Pro18886787
Samsung Galaxy S8+20206690
Samsung Galaxy S819896628
Huawei P10 Plus18636544
Nokia 819326529
OnePlus 519766506
Samsung Galaxy Note 820246490
LG V30+19266387
HTC U1119196362
Sony Xperia XZ Premium19086324
Google Pixel 2 XL19146254

And here's how it compares using 3DMark's Ice Storm Unlimited test:

Handset3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
Apple iPhone 864461
Apple iPhone X61256
Apple iPhone 8 Plus59205
HTC U1140239
LG V30+40154
Sony Xperia XZ Premium40086
Google Pixel 2 XL39551
OnePlus 539497
Samsung Galaxy Note 832277
Huawei Mate 10 Pro30765
Samsung Galaxy S828409
Samsung Galaxy S8+28120

The V30+ baseline performance is fine for a premium handset without being noticeably exceptional in the way that, say, the highly optimised Pixel 2 XL is. That may well be a function of the fact that LG has shipped the V30+ running Android 7.1.2 ("Nougat"), rather than 8.0 ("Oreo"). LG says that Oreo is incoming, and perhaps that will make a performance difference. The V30+ certainly isn't slow, but it's not noticeably more rapid than other Snapdragon 835-based handsets either.

It's also noticeable for LG's default user interface, which is noticeably garish, with iOS-style rounded icons and a candy-like look. It's not to my taste, and while it does stand out, it's arguably not for the right reasons. LG at least takes a fairly light approach to additional apps and features beyond those that make sense anyway, such as a rescaling option for displays that don't work well within an 18:9 ratio.

LG's V-series phones have long had fixed app bars, similar to the concept behind Samsung's "Edge Display", but with the V30+, LG has opted to take the app bar into a floating position. By default, it's not even on, and if you didn't know it was a feature you might never notice. It's simple to enable and works quite well if you like quick app launchers to speak of.

The LG V30+ is notable for the inclusion of a headphone jack with an inbuilt DAC for superior audio quality. Pair it up with a decent quality set of headphones and some high-quality tunes and the difference really is noticeable. It's again another argument for why manufacturers should leave the headphone jack onboard premium handsets because it's precisely the market that's likely to be more fussy about audio quality, not less.

LGV30Plus4_738

Battery life

The LG V30+ features a 3300mAh fully sealed battery, as sadly the days of LG premium phones differentiating themselves with removable and replaceable batteries are long gone. However, that does enable water resistance, so there's a decent tradeoff there.

Battery life is always a variable matter depending on usage. However, in anecdotal testing, the LG V30+ acquits itself well, with an easy day's usage even in moderate circumstances. That's backed up by its battery performance using Geekbench 3's battery test. Here's how it compares to a range of premium handsets:

HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
Apple iPhone 8 Plus15:27:409276
Galaxy S8+14:55:308955
Google Pixel 2 XL14:22:308625
Apple iPhone X12:46:507652
LG V30+12:46:507668
Nokia 812:22:107421
Sony Xperia XZ Premium12:06:407266
Samsung Galaxy Note 812:00:507208
Motorola Moto Play Z 211:50:507107
Samsung Galaxy S811:47:507078
HTC U1111:42:407026
Huawei Mate 10 Pro10:50:306505
Apple iPhone 810:30:00DNF
OnePlus 59:33:305735

The V30+ supports charging via USB C, including Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 for direct top-ups, as well as wireless charging using both the Qi and PMA standards, although that is noticeably slower.

LGV30Plus1_738

Verdict

The V30+ is a really nice handset, and easily LG's best of the year under its own branding. However, it arrives in a fiercely competitive premium space late in the year and the fact that it's only available for direct purchase here in Australia may give some pause for thought before investing in a handset.

If you're in the market for an outright handset buy, the LG V30+ is competitively priced and certainly worth considering.

LGV30Plus6_738

Alternatives

The LG V30+ has a lot of competitors offering similar features, and the fact that you can only buy it outright means that you've got plenty of choices to consider.

The most obvious direct comparison has to be with the Google Pixel 2 XL, and the appeal of the V30+ will very much depend on what you want from a handset. The Pixel 2 XL is very pure Google for better or worse, where the V30+ may have some more appeal thanks to the presence of a dual camera and a lower outright purchase price.

Samsung's closest competitor would be the Galaxy Note 8, although there are now frequent bargains available on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ as we await the reveal of the Galaxy S9. On the impressive camera front, Sony's Xperia XZ Premium deserves consideration at a similar price point, as does HTC's U11. If all you want is Snapdragon 835 performance at a low price point, consider the OnePlus 5, if you can find one to buy that is.

LGV30Plus7_738

LG V30+: What the other reviewers say

SiteCommentScore
Ars Technica"LG's choice to do the exact same thing as Samsung makes it hard to recommend."N/A
TechRadar"The LG V30 is a confident step forward, not just for LG’s experimental smartphone branch, but for its flagship devices in general."4.5/5
The Verge"The V30 was better as a promise on paper than a phone in real use."7/10
CNET"A fantastic phone that nearly does it all."8.6/10

Pricing and availability

LG sells the V30+ in Australia on an outright basis only for $1199, with no currently available carrier options for picking one up on contract.

LGV30Plus8_738

Specifications

Product Name
LG V30
Display Size
6.0 inches
Resolution
2880x1440 pixels
PPI
537 ppi
Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM
4GB
Storage
64GB/128GB (V30+)
Operating System
Android 7.1.1
Front camera
5MP
Rear camera
Dual 16 MP f/1.6 standard + 13 MP f/1.9 wide angle

Battery

3300mAh
Dimensions
151.7 x 75.4 x 7.3mm
Weight
158g
Price
$1199

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