A few weeks ago, LG surprised the world with the LG Velvet, a phone that gives a twist to the brand’s catalog with one of the most minimalist and striking designs currently on the market. The phone comes for what it is, a mid-range model with 5G technology that promises to offer an audiovisual experience of another level, with a screen approaching 7 inches, a stereo speaker system and a microphone that promises to be optimized for ASMR recording. All for a price that starts from 700 euros and the promise of having a 5-year warranty from the manufacturer. Will LG be able to get hooked again to the smartphone market during this 2020? I have had the opportunity to test the device for 3 weeks to answer that question.
|screen||6.8 inches with Full HD + resolution and 20.5: 9 format|
|Main camera||– 48-megapixel main sensor and f / 1.8 focal aperture
– Secondary sensor with 8-megapixel wide-angle lens and f / 2.2 focal aperture
– 5 megapixel depth sensor and f / 2.4 focal aperture
|Selfie camera||16-megapixel primary sensor with f / 1.9 focal aperture|
|Internal memory||128GB UFS 2.1 type|
|Extension||Via micro SD cards|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
6 GB of RAM
|Battery||4,300 mAh with fast charge|
|Operating system||Android 10|
|Connections||Wi-Fi 6, 4G and 5G SA and NSA, NFC, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS, USB type C …|
|Design||Metal and glass
Colors: black, white, green and pink
|Dimensions||167.1 x 74.1 x 7.85 mm and 180 grams|
|Featured Features||IP68 protection, MIL-STD-810G military resistance, on-screen fingerprint sensor, double stereo speaker, USB type C, 5G SA and NSA …|
|Availability||Starting June 26|
Minimalism taken to another level
It is not for nothing that the LG Velvet is one of the most beautiful phones on the market. You just have to see it to realize how charming its design is. The blame for this lies, on the one hand, the minimalism of its lines. And on the other, the lack of elements that recharge the chassis on which the phone is built.
On the front of the device we find a screen that occupies almost 7 inches. Beyond the presence of a notch in the form of a drop of water, the terminal stands out for having a fully symmetrical front. It is true that the frames are not the smallest on the market – probably due to the size of their front speaker – but few phones today can boast of having a symmetrical front.
Right on the sides of the screen we find a couple of curves that in addition to helping improve grip of the one-handed phone, further stylize the design of the terminal. These same curves are present in the back, where the only thing perceived is the three camera sensors, the LED flash and the LG logo. It is done. Neither oversized camera modules, nor logos that indicate the number of increases in optical zoom or any other element that recharges the design of the back case made of glass.
Speaking of glass, the LG’s building materials are based on glass and metal. Nothing unusual so far. The surprising thing about the terminal is that weighs only 180 grams. I repeat, 180 grams. A mobile with 6.8 inches diagonal.
Its weight is so tiny in relation to the size it occupies that looks like it doesn’t have a built-in battery. And that is something that is appreciated in a phone that caresses 7 inches and 17 centimeters high, a size in itself quite exaggerated even for big hands like mine. It is not a mobile suitable for all audiences, although personally I was not too uncomfortable because of the aspect ratio of its screen (20.5: 9), an aspect ratio that lengthens the height to shorten the width and thus improve restraint.
The last point I would like to highlight about the terminal is the presence of IP68 and MIL-STD-810G standard, which gives us a certain degree of safety in the event of a fall or immersion in water. Of course, from the first day I recommend using a case or a screen protector. In the three weeks that I have been able to use the mobile I have noticed small scratches on the screen despite keeping it as gold in cloth.
Another detail that I can not ignore has to do with the press of the buttons. Each of the four buttons that the LG Velvet incorporates in its chassis shows an irregular pulsation. For example, the volume down button has less travel than the volume up button. In fact, it does not also respond like the latter.
A screen that leaves no one indifferent
After the design, what shines the brightest on the LG Velvet is its screen. Specifically, the phone has a 6.8-inch panel with OLED technology and Full HD + resolution. Beyond technical data, the truth is that the experience is really positive, nothing new in a brand phone that aspires to be a super sales.
On one side, the colors on the screen are faithful to those of reality, with a point of contrast and saturation that inherits from OLED technology itself. Regarding the maximum and minimum brightness levels, the panel calibration allows us to fully see the screen content on any stage, both on sunny days and in low-light environments.
Part of the blame for this is the brightness sensor, which in addition to calibrating the panel’s brightness level at all times, shows one of the most agile operations I’ve been able to test on a mobile. I usually choose to set the brightness manually. This has not been the case with the LG Velvet, the calibration is perfect and very fast when the light level varies slightly.
But all that glitters is not gold. The screen does not have a refresh rate of 90 or 120 Hz. It is not something that worries me, to tell the truth, but it is a requirement that is already beginning to be demanded in mobiles that exceed 500 euros in length. Still, the panel experience is good. Not perfect, but quite good.
Experience of use: it is not a high range but it seems
Little by little, the distance between the mid-range and the high-end is becoming shorter, at least in tangible terms. But before talking about the experience of using the LG Velvet, it’s time to briefly review its technical specifications.
The latest model of the South Korean firm is presented with a Snapdragon 765G processor along with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage of type UFS 2.1. Compared to other competitive phones, the truth is that its spec sheet is nothing remarkable. Is this necessarily bad? Nothing is further from reality.
On the left, read and write speed of the internal memory. On the right, phone score in Antutu Benchmark.
The experience of using the phone has been really good after three weeks of testing. The operation of the applications has been as expected, as well as the change between different activities. In fact, he operation of LG’s customization layer surprised me and for the better. Transitions run smoothly and overall software operation is highly polished. Perhaps the aesthetic is not the most pleasant, since it has somewhat inconsistent design lines for my taste. However, performance is truly agile.
Appearance of LG’s customization layer.
As for the performance of the games, the experience in titles such as Call of Duty Mobile or Asphalt 9 has been more than satisfactory. I have tried setting both games to the maximum graphics level and have had no problems. If that I’ve come to notice a couple of slowdowns in a couple of specific moments. I have also noticed a slight increase in the general temperature of the device to around 38º C. Not worrying, on the other hand.
The photographic section does not measure up to a mobile phone for 700 euros
We come to one of the most controversial points on the phone. And it is not for less, because the phone replicates the configuration of lenses that we can find in mobiles are sold today for less than half of what this costs: main sensor, wide angle and “depth” sensor for the mode Portrait. The problem is not so much the lens setup, but the photographic quality of its sensors. Starting with the main camera, a camera that uses a 48-megapixel sensor along with an f / 1.8 focal aperture.
During the day, the image results are correct, with a colorimetry that more or less conforms to what our eye perceives and a decent level of detail. As for the dynamic range of the sensor, here the shortcomings of the camera are somewhat more noticeable. In open field scenarios, the camera is not able to capture all the color of the sky, probably due to limitations with tonal range. The same is true when the contrast between highlights and shadows becomes apparent. I have tried to activate HDR when the application suggested it to me and the results are even less profitable.
Image without HDR.
Image without HDR.
If we talk about night photography, the sensations are even worse. When light is scarce, the phone tends to increase the ISO value to obtain greater luminosity at the cost of losing detail on objects. What we get are relatively exposed images with a butter effect on the textures of the figures.
Something similar happens when we activate the Night mode, a mode that is practically useless on this phone, since it hardly raises the lights even with 5 or 6 seconds of exposure.
No Night mode.
With Night mode.
No Night mode.
With Night mode.
No Night mode.
With Night mode.
All these feelings are transferred to the video section. During the day, electronic stabilization and autofocus show more than decent performance. The same does not happen at night. Although the lighting is maintained, the stabilization system makes a constant “vibration” predominate in the images, which makes me think that the phone lacks optical stabilization. Special mention to the mode Steady Cam, a mode that helps to further stabilize videos at the cost of trimming margins. The result is really good if we use it during the day in controlled environments.
It’s time to talk about the secondary camera. This camera uses an 8-megapixel sensor, a 120º wide-angle lens and an f / 2.2 focus aperture. Far from the characteristics of the main sensor, the sensations with this camera have been very similar to what I have had with the latter.
The wide field of the lens allows us to play with landscape photography. The focus and colors are correct, although slightly more saturated than the main sensor colors. Like the main sensor, the secondary camera shows serious problems with dynamic range, which is understandable when you consider the sensor’s specifications. At night, the camera is less usable if possible than the main camera, since the focal aperture and resolution do not allow us to obtain sharp images or with good lighting.
Where this camera has surprised me is in the video section. Stabilization with respect to the main sensor is maintained, which makes us obtain a cinematographic effect by having a greater visual field. In fact, the camera application of the phone allows us to alternate between the two lenses in the same video without suffering cuts or slowdowns. Good work from LG in this regard.
The third and last camera on the LG Velvet is the one that is intended to improve the bokeh of portrait photography. This camera is made up of a 5 megapixel sensor and an f / 2.4 focus aperture. Frankly, the results of the images when we use the Portrait mode are somewhat irregular. If the light accompanies, the cut is more or less successful, with a somewhat artificial level of blur for my taste and a gradual application of the bokeh. Indoors or in backlights, the results are much more questionable, with an inconsistency at the edges of objects and bodies that makes the photo lose all its charm.
And what about the front camera? Here the overall feel is very similar to that of the main sensor, though there is no blatant lack. It is true that the dynamic range is not the best, but the level of detail and colors are more than correct. The Portrait mode that LG applies to images is quite successful, as well as the stabilization of the videos when we make use of the video recording of the application. Yes, I would have liked to see a larger field aperture, although I understand that LG natively crop the image to improve focus and stabilization.
Superlative autonomy and fast charging that is not fast
Talking about a mobile that is dangerously close to 7 inches implies talking about superlative results when it comes to autonomy. Or at least that’s what the theory says. And it is that despite the fact that the LG Velvet does not have a very large battery for the physical dimensions it occupies (4,300 mAh to be exact), the results are truly amazing.
During the three weeks that I have been able to test the LG Velvet, the average number of hours on the screen has been 9 and a half hours with a day and a half of use approximately. If we reduce its use we can further extend its autonomy until two days of use, with an average of 8 hours of screen. Good job of optimizing LG’s in this regard.
Where the company has not done a good job has been everything that has to do with charging the device. Despite the manufacturer assuring that the terminal is compatible with fast charging (25 watts, specifically), the truth is that the charging times are excessively high. And when I say stop I mean 2.5 hours to complete a charge from 0 to 100%.
I have tried using other chargers of higher capacity and the result has been similar. In fact, the maximum amperage of the phone has not exceeded 1.5 amps after testing with Ampere, a figure far removed from the 3, 4 and even 5 amps offered by other brands. This may be due to the charger itself, quite simple and small for my taste and for what is expected from a mobile phone of 700 euros. That is to say that the phone supports wireless charging of up to 9 watts, although I have not been able to test this feature.
The best thing about the LG Velvet is its sound
With the presentation of LG Velvet, the South Korean company has wanted to put part of the focus on the sound system of the terminal. To be more exact, the phone features a dual stereo speaker system. I will not name the technologies involved in this system, I will only say that we are facing one of the phones with the best sound on the market.
The volume is loud, so much that lLega to saturate in some frequencies if we configure it to the maximum. When it comes to sound quality, the behavior of the two speakers at the mid, high and low frequencies is more than correct. And it even has a native equalizer and a sound mode called 3D Sound, a mode that adapts the frequencies of the speakers according to the type of sound we reproduce (cinema, music, voice …).
LG native equalizer.
The other reason why the LG Velvet stands out above the rest of the phones on the market is for its microphone, or rather, for its microphones. Specifically, the device uses two microphones at the top and bottom that serve, on the one hand, to separate the ambient noise from the sound of the emission source. And on the other, to record ASMR audio. Yes, you read it right.
What this mode does is increase the impedancenance of the microphones to capture the voice with better clarity and volume, in addition to setting the recording format in FLAC. This mode can be activated through the options of the LG recorder. Certainly, the difference from the standard recording mode is quite noticeable: the nuances are much more accentuated and. I have also tried to record a guitar line and the audio quality is really good for being a simple mobile phone, something that can also be seen in the videos.
Finally, it is worth noting the incorporation of a 3.5 mm port for headphones. The bad news is that we did not find headphones in the box. Nothing new, on the other hand, although little understandable if we consider that the sound section is one of the key pieces of this LG Velvet.
Connectivity lives up to expectations
The LG Velvet is accompanied by everything expected in a 700-euro phone if we focus on the connectivity section. In addition to incorporating a 5G module compatible with the latest generation NSA and SA networks, the device has NFC, WiFi 6 dual band, Bluetooth 5.1… The experience with all these components has been correct and expected.
WiFi and Bluetooth range is correct, as well as the stability of the connections and the behavior during long periods of use. In terms of coverage, the level reached by the antennas has been very similar to what I have been able to perceive in other phones with a Snapdragon processor. This also carries over to the GPS antennas, with a almost immediate response time and very accurate positioning in applications that use geolocation through triangulation.
LG, why did you forget about biometrics?
The importance that LG has given to the security systems of the LG Velvet seems to be little. On one side, phone lacks face unlock, something that does not make any sense if we consider that other terminals of the brand integrate it as standard. I do not know if the company will implement a face unlock system in the future, but today the phone does not have any type of option related to face unlock.
On the other hand, the operation of the fingerprint sensor on the screen leaves a lot to be desired. This is something that is perceived when positioning the finger on the sensor: in addition to being slower than other competing sensors, the success rate is not as high as expected from a terminal that starts from the 700 euros . To this we must add that the device is not capable of recognizing the finger when it is wet or with a little dirt. I’ve tried setting the same footprint a couple of times and the performance hasn’t improved too much.
Is it worth buying the LG Velvet? Conclusions and price
After seeing all the points of the phone, it is time to draw conclusions, which depend largely on the price. As of today, the phone is sold at the official LG store for around 700 euros. Is it worth spending such a large amount of money in the midst of falling markets? As I always say, it depends on what everyone is looking for from a phone.
In direct comparison with other options on the market, the LG Velvet falls far below if we consider its specifications. The photographic section also does not help raise the expectations of the phone, not even the lure of 5G connectivity.
By cons, the phone offers an audiovisual experience on par with other phones that exceed 800, 900 and even 1,000 euros. To this we must add that the company promises to provide us with up to 5 years of warranty on repairs, something that no other brand offers at this time. But, are these arguments enough to conquer an already saturated market? No, or at least from my point of view.
Is it a bad phone? Not at all. But in the price range we are in, we cannot afford certain concessions. It is true that we are facing a very balanced mobileBut the competition is tightening and the race to offer the best mid-range mobile phone is getting tougher. The good news is that LG mobile phone prices tend to depreciate over time. For 400 or 500 euros, the LG Velvet can be a good alternative to the flagship killers of other brands. Although the purchase decision always falls on the user, that is, on you.
Other news about … mid-range, LG