September brought many major device announcements, though with so many leaks and reports, nothing seems like a surprise anymore.
Earlier this week, Google took the wraps off its latest Nexus smartphones: the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P. Both were heavily rumoured and pictured days ahead of their debut, so their official unveiling at the event seemed all but customary rather than necessary.
Today, at LG's "Premiere" event in New York City, the same holds true. Although the company just unveiled the LG V10 smartphone and the LG Watch Urbane second-edition, LG prematurely announced its new devices in advance.
But now things are official, with LG's event showcasing the V10 as well as the new Watch Urbane.
The first thing to note about the V10 is simply how similar it is to the LG G4. Each share a Snapdragon 808 processor, 16MP back shooter, 3,000mAh removable battery, and a display resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. As soon as you see and hold the device though, as we did at LG's event, the differences between the two phones from LG immediately become apparent.
LG V10: Hardware
The LG V10 features an all-new design that upgrades the plastic back of the G4 to a more premium metal and silicon chassis. The back is highly textured and feels akin to squares of brail. LG boasts that the V10 meets military-standard drop test requirements, meaning that it is able to withstand a 4-foot drop from 26 different angles on both plywood and concrete surfaces.
The sides of the device are reinforced with stainless steel, which LG claims is double the cost of aluminium, but a "worthy investment". Weighing in at 192g, it's the same weight as the new iPhone 6S Plus, but noticeably heavier than both the Nexus 6P and G4, which weigh 178 and 152g, respectively. If drop and durability performance is as good as LG claims, we think the weight should be a complaint to no one.
One of the main features of the new V10 is its dual displays. LG describes them as "entirely separate displays". The whole concept is very reminiscent of Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge, but LG (while never comparing the devices directly) said the difference is in the fact that the second display can be always on. It can be toggled to display quick actions, such as quick app shortcuts, as well as battery life, weather, notifications, and more.
It's customisable too, so you can decide what's on there and what isn't. Initially, it sounded gimmicky, but after playing with it, it does seem like LG has put some thought into it and could actually be useful day-to-day for quicker multitasking and glancing at notifications.
The main display comes in at 5.7-inches with a resolution of 2560 x 1440, giving you 513ppi. The secondary display, which is set above the first, measures 2.1-inch wide. It is also 513ppi. Other basic specs of the new phone include a microSD slot, which supports up to 2TB flash storage (think: SanDisk's new 200GB microSD), and 64GB of storage.
The V10 comes with three camera - two on the front and one on the back. The dual front-facing cameras are both 5-megapixel, but one has a 80-degree field of view, with the adjacent upping it to 120 degrees. The point of this is to "say goodbye to the selfie stick", as wider front-facing photos allow more people to be in the shot, lessing the requirement to move the camera farther away from the subjects.
You can switch between the two angles with a tap too, depending on what your needs are. The back shooter measures in at 16-megapixels, which unfortunately lacks dual-tone flash, but it does include laser autofocus (a feature first introduced by LG on the G3).
Back again this year are manual camera controls from the G4, which LG said this year can not only be used for still photography but during video as well. Yes, that's right, you can adjust the colour, lighting, and focus manually while recording, so if your subject suddenly moves into a darker or lighter room, you can adjust accordingly. From what we could tell, the feature works as advertised, but while recording, it's difficult enough to keep the video straight and focused as it is. We doubt many will be lusting over the ability to manually change everything.
So, hopefully, auto video will be good enough. On the subject of keeping video straight and preventing hand shake, LG has included two features to combat this: "steady hand mode" and traditional OIS. Steady hand mode is entirely software-based. It crops the video significantly inward and uses stitching methods to give the effect of an entirely still shot.
OIS on the other hand doesn't crop footage at all but results in more minor camera stability. Finally, LG spent a good amount of time discussing audio. Included on the phone are three distinct microphones: one on the headset, one on the bottom, and one on the top. Strangely, there isn't a microphone facing outwards from the back camera, but LG said you can manually adjust the audio, allowing you to move a few sliders in order to tell the phone which microphone to take most of the audio from depending on where the sound source is.
They've also included a "wind noise filter", which LG said will make outdoor shooting more professional and crisper sounding than ever.
After playing with the device for a little bit, it's clear this phone is a speed demon. The Snapdragon 808 wasn't causing any complaints on the G4, and so LG opted not to upgrade the CPU to the newer 810 found on the Nexus 6P. It does come with 4GB of RAM though - an improvement over the G4's 3GB. To really test how well the phone runs when genuinely put to the test though, further analysis will be required.
V10: Price and availability
LG said the V10 will be available for purchase starting 8 October in South Korea. It'll slowly expand into more markets, including the US and UK, sometime shortly after. It'll be available on AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile in the US, woefully leaving Sprint out.
It'll also come in three colours: Space Black, Lux White, and Opal Blue (which is more like baby blue in person). No word on pricing yet, but it's fair to say it'll be marked similarly to any other top-tier smartphone on the market today.