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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

LG V30+ review: Sounds better than the pack

Top specs undermined by poor UI and high price

The LG V30+ has exceptional sound quality and a wonderful display, but is let down slightly by its high price and poor Android skin. Courtesy LG
The LG V30+ has exceptional sound quality and a wonderful display, but is let down slightly by its high price and poor Android skin. Courtesy LG

In a world of disappearing headphone jacks, the LG’s V30+ is the saviour device for audiophiles who want the very best audio experience a flagship can provide. The Korean manufacturer has gone overboard on specs in the latest iteration of its premium V series, most notably on its inclusion of a Quad DAC sound system that audibly sets it apart from the competition.

With Apple Music, Anghami and Spotify being among the most downloaded apps in the Arabian Gulf region, having the option to squeeze out a flush listening experience separates this phone from other flagships.

Using wired headphones, listeners experience auditory depth in all musical genres – there was plenty of clarity in The Foo Fighter’s latest riff-heavy album, Concrete and Gold, while driving a trunk-rattling bass on hip-hop tracks.

Away from its audio performance, the V30+ is a delight to hold, with a Gorilla Glass 5 back that resists scratches and drops, and a flat screen beneath a pane of glass that curves just slightly into the frame. It’s available in “Aurora” black or “Cloud” silver.

LG has dropped its interesting-in-theory but largely pointless dual screen set-up of the V20, instead opting for a 6-inch Oled screen, a first for the manufacturer. For those who still find curved screens gimmicky (including me) the V30+ provides an alternative that not only has a flat screen, but a more reasonable 18:9 aspect ratio, compared with the Samsung S8’s 18.5:9 or iPhone X’s awkward 19:5.9.

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As with other LG smartphones, the fingerprint scanner, in the middle of the phone’s back, is snappy and doubles up as the phone’s main button. Some users may find it a bit unwieldy at first; I got used to it, although the button placement is a liability for clumsy users like myself, and isn’t helpful for unlocking the phone when resting on a surface. The placement is better though than the Galaxy S8’s sensor though, with no danger of smudging the phone’s impressive dual camera lenses.

LG wants you to believe that its phone camera technology is capable of taking studio quality images and video, which is stretching it a bit. Nevertheless, taking images and videos with the V30+, as with its predecessors, is an overwhelmingly positive experience, and really shines in low-light situations where the f/1.6 aperture of the main 16MP lens reduces noise and keeps lines crisp. The wide-angle 13MP lens is great for nature shots, or just for getting the most out of a scene.

Battery-wise, the V30+ comes with a 3,300mAh battery that’s bigger (on paper at least) than the Galaxy S8 or iPhone X. As a heavy-user, I experienced a full day’s use without any need to recharge the phones 3,300MAH battery.

All of the above means that the V30+ ticks plenty of boxes that hard-core consumers will look for in a flagship device. But it falls short in two key areas.

First up, LG needs to drop its heavy-handed Android skin. As a Nexus and Pixel user, nothing runs as smoothly and sensibly as the stock Android experience. While it’s understood that companies like LG and others (yes, Samsung, we’re looking at you) need to push their own software, the further companies get from the original OS, the worse the performance.

And secondly, the LG V30+ is overpriced. At an MSRP of Dh3,099 LG is still trying to position itself right up there with the very best (and most expensive) smartphones on the market from Samsung and Apple. But the reality is that LG just doesn’t enjoy the loyal customer-base of their Korean rivals or the fanatical devotion of Apple-users, meaning that the V30+ may struggle to find traction in a competitive market.

That would be a shame though, as the LG V30+ is a solid piece of hardware, and deserves to carve up a dedicated user-base as a specialist phone for its superb audio performance. For non-audio buffs that are looking for a great screen and impressive cameras, its hard to go wrong with this phone.