LG's new V10 aimed at being the one to beat

Korean smartphone maker LG is not calling this its new flagship phone, but all indicators are pointing to the LG V10 as the one to beat.

Having a quad high-definition screen is nothing new, but the V10's 5.7-inch makes it one of the larger devices with an ultra-sharp screen. The new addition here is the secondary 2.1-inch screen that sits above the normal screen.

Placed to the right of the dual front-facing camera, this screen is not just a copy of Samsung's Edge displays on its curved devices, which can show a different list of menu items. Instead, think of this as your phone's notification light, upgraded with a brain.

This always-on display shows you any incoming notifications, such as incoming SMS, e-mail messages, missed calls, and pending updates and events. Instead of just seeing a blinking light that can mean anything, users can now look at the second screen for a more detailed breakdown.

This display is not just a static display, as users get to trigger quick access buttons for the Wi-Fi, Camera and Ringer options. Users can also tap on these icons even when the main screen is turned off.

When the screen is on, more options for this second screen appears. I can move between calendar notifications or swipe to a list of important contacts or a list of five recently used apps. This second screen grants users access to core phone features, even if the main screen is in use, so users don't have to exit an app to make an important call.

The laser auto focus feature on the 16MP camera performs admirably, even if the colours of the photos captured are a shade darker than I would prefer. That's where the Manual Mode comes into play. This has a learning curve to it, but once you get the hang of managing the different settings, the camera on the LG V10 is a capable shooter. It is good enough that I have used it as my primary camera on a vacation. If you want to tweak your photos, the V10 can also shoot in the Raw format.

New to the V10 is a manual video mode for those who want more than just to film short clips. Features such as directional audio and wind noise filters give users better control of their handheld video hardware.

My quibble is that while foreground details are excellent in images, there is some loss in background sharpness and colour to photos.

The front camera has received an upgrade with a wide angle lens, so it can take a selfie close-up or fit more people into a group shot.

Another boost is in the form of a digital to analog convertor (DAC) for high resolution audio playback. Instead of tapping on software, a DAC chip is included. The difference in quality is evident when you plug in your headphones.

Because LG has decided to keep its microSD storage, users can place songs in large capacity microSD cards and bring their music anywhere.

I've been a fan of LG placing its Power and Volume buttons on the rear for quick and easy access with my forefinger when I'm using one hand to operate a phone. The addition of a fingerprint sensor now cements my desire to see other handset makers do the same, since this is now the most convenient way of unlocking a phone using fingerprint.

•Verdict: The large screen means there is a greater drain on the removable battery, but other than that, the LG V10 is a solid addition to the Android family of devices.

sherwinl@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on February 17, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.