LG V60 ThinQ 5G with Dual Screen Review: imperfect, yet magical

What is the form-factor future of smartphones? That's a damn good question. Will smartphones with foldable screens really become the norm? I'd like to think so, but as of today, the technology is just not ready. Sadly, these devices with screens that fold are far too delicate. Even when they don't break entirely, they often have an unseemly crease on the screen. Not to mention, they tend to be quite expensive too. Until those issues can be ironed out (pun intended), consumers won't be willing to part with their hard-earned money.

So, what should a consumer that likes the idea of a foldable screen do today? Well, LG has a suggestion -- the V60 ThinQ 5G with Dual Screen. Rather than use a foldable screen for an enhanced user experience, it leverages two screens with a hinge in the middle. In other words, you can experience proper multitasking without dealing with a fragile or creased screen. While that sounds great on paper, the question is, how is it practice? I have been testing the T-Mobile variant of this device, and I am ready to share my feelings on it.

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Specs

  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform with Snapdragon X55 5G Modem
  • Display: 6.8-inch 20.5:9 FHD+ P-OLED FullVision (2,460 x 1,080 / 395ppi)
  • Memory: 8GB RAM / 128GB ROM / microSD (up to 2TB)
  • Rear Camera: 64MP Standard (F1.8 / 0.8μm / 78˚), 13MP Super Wide (F1.9 / 1.0μm / 117˚), Z Camera (ToF Receiver / Emitter)
  • Front Camera: 10MP Standard (F1.9 / 1.22μm / 72.5˚)
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Operating System: Android 10
  • Size: 169.3 x 77.6 x 8.9mm
  • Weight: 218g
  • Network: 5G / LTE / 3G / 2G
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac, ax / Bluetooth 5.1 / NFC / USB Type-C (USB 3.1 Compatible)
  • Biometrics: In-Display Fingerprint Sensor
  • Color: Classy Blue, Classy White
  • Others: Stereo Speaker / 4Ch Microphones / AI CAM / 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC4 / LG 3D Sound Engine / HDR10+ video capture / Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ / IP68 Water and Dust Resistance / LG Pay / FM Radio

Unboxing

Impressions

As you can see from the above unboxing video, my initial impression of the V60 was very positive. The phone not only looks great, but it feels like a quality device -- it oozes excellence. As you can imagine, with a 6.8-inch screen, the phone by itself it is quite big. Believe it or not, however, since it is thin and tall, it doesn't seem excessive in my smallish hands. With the second screen attached, however, it does become rather chunky and heavy. Don't get me wrong, it is not shockingly hefty -- I expected it to feel heavier, actually -- but you will notice it in your pocket.

Those large screens are worth the heft, however, as they are absolutely gorgeous -- excellent for watching video or general use. True the screen is lacking compared to the Galaxy S20 in both resolution, refresh, and technology, but let's be honest, Samsung's offering is also much more expensive. Quite frankly, we are now at a point where pretty much all phone screens look great.

Do I wish the LG v60 had 120Hz refresh? Sure, but I wouldn't be willing to pay a premium for it. Specs on paper aside, the V60 screens look amazing. Not to mention, it is far better to have two screens that are slightly lower quality than just one with better specs. That's fact.

That's the thing. folks, having two screens is not a gimmick at all. It is a legit boost to productivity. Having the ability to have, say, Slack on one screen, and a web browser on the other is incredible. I particularly like dedicating one screen to Apple Music when I am relaxing, with Twitter, Facebook, or some other app on the other.

That second screen greatly improves the Android gaming experience too. You see, you can use one screen as a dedicated game controller. Some games support it natively, which is great, but even if they don't, you are not out of luck. You can very easily map on-screen taps to buttons on the virtual controller, essentially making any game work. You can even customize where the virtual buttons are placed and how big they are. It is really remarkable.

Are there any negatives to the second screen? Not really. I mean, hell, the screen doubles as a case that protects the phone -- how cool is that? But not all is perfect. The ability to stretch one app, like a web browser, across both screens is essentially useless, as you have the bezel in the middle making it look terrible. Not once did I find value in this. Also, when the phone goes into low battery mode, the second screen automatically shuts down. I get why this is, and it makes sense to conserve power, but it becomes very annoying to have a bulky blank screen serving no purpose.

With that said, battery life is really good, even with the second screen in use. LG packed in a massive 5,000mAh battery, which easily gets me through a full day of heavy usage. You will obviously get even longer life without the second screen, but that is not recommended. The magic of the V60 is that second screen accessory.

With the second screen attached, you cannot charge by USB-C, as you must instead use Qi or the included magnet dongle. That dongle is actually really cool, as it just plugs into any USB-C cable. It then attaches to the bottom of the phone, much like Apple's now-discontinued (but beloved) MagSafe chargers. Believe it or not, data can be transmitted over the magnet adapter -- not just power. I was able to connect the V60 to my Windows PC with a USB-A to USB-C cable with the magnet dongle attached. I was then able to transfer video and images from the phone.

Speaking of photography, the LG V60 takes phenomenal photos, although it is lacking an optical zoom. LG suggests just cropping images taken with the 64MP camera (digital zoom, basically), but I don't see value in that solution. As you can expect, you will see digital noise in your images, and it simply doesn't compare to an optical zoom. You do get a wide angle lens, however, which can be beneficial. I am not sure why LG excluded an optical zoom, except maybe to save money. It is not the end of the world, but it is very much missed. I do love the ability to review images on the second screen while taking photos using the main screen, though.

Video recording is quite exceptional though, and like some other flagships you can record in 8K. This is a gimmick -- as it is on all phones. Most people don't have 8K displays to watch such content, plus the file sizes are enormous, making it not realistic for using regularly. At least you can expand storage with a micro SD card. 8K is also limited to 24 frames per second, which simply does not look good. I still find 1080p60 to be the sweet spot as it looks good and produces reasonable file sizes.

Sadly, despite LG touting the V60's use of 4 high-end microphones, I found the audio quality on my videos to be surprisingly bad. While passable, audio sounded a bit muffled and lifeless. My old Sony point-and-shoot digital camera provides much better audio quality, which shocked me. You can check out the video above which I shot in 8K as a test. The audio -- which is only my voice -- is pretty bad.

Listening to music, however, is phenomenal -- especially when using the high-end DAC with 3.5mm headphones.  Yes, there is actually a headphone jack on a flagship in 2020! The V60 is definitely the phone to get for audiophiles.

When shooting videos, I love that the second screen can be used as a makeshift "tripod." If you open up the phone at a 90 degree angle, you can place the second screen on a flat surface and shoot video with the camera on the actual phone. It doesn't provide the same flexibility as a proper tripod, but it works great in a pinch.

For security, you get an under-screen fingerprint reader that works damn-near flawlessly. Once you train your brain to remember exactly where it is, it unlocks pretty much 100 percent of the time without fail. It is fast too, making it an almost mindless task. I much prefer this to facial recognition.

The LG V60 is the first phone I have tried with 5G, and that excited me very much. I was even more elated when I discovered 4 bars of T-Mobile 5G in my house. The 5G coverage in my area actually seems stronger than LTE. So, I was about to experience some super-fast speeds, right? Um, no.

Believe it or not, 5G, for me, is pretty damn slow. In my area (Suffolk County on Long Island), the 5G download speeds on the V60 never exceeded 10Mbps! Apparently, the V60 is limited to the slower sub-6GHz 5G. I suspect I would get much better performance in Manhattan. Call quality is great, however, if you still communicate by voice. It is worth mentioning that the Verizon variant should offer much better speeds, but it does cost more.

So, do I recommend the LG V60? Only if you are willing to live with some compromises, and only if you buy the second screen accessory. With this phone, you don't get an optical zoom, audio recording is poor, and 5G on T-Mobile is very disappointing. But that second screen... that second screen is magic, causing all of my grievances to melt away. My productivity is enhanced exponentially by having two apps opened side by side. It even works wonders for gaming. Without the second screen, however, there are better options out there.

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