For years, the LG G-series has been the Korean company's smartphone effort to outsmart its biggest local rival, Samsung, and do so at a more wallet-friendly price.

But with the less-than-successful launch of the LG G5 last year - largely down to its modular build shortcomings - we assumed that LG would start again from scratch with a brand new series, brushing the remnants of so-called "Friends" modules under the proverbial carpet. We got the latter right, not the former.

Instead LG sticks with the G-series name in the G6, fully redesigning the phone with aplomb. The company is clearly confident in its own new hardware that last year's disappointment will be quickly forgotten.

Fair-dos, we say, because despite a few minor quirks, the LG G6 is 2017's first truly great flagship phone.

  • 5.7-inch, 18:9 display
  • Minimal bezel, glass & metal design
  • 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9mm; 163g

The G6's design and display are intrinsically linked: one couldn't be as it is without the other. It's not your usual case of just having a display plonked in the middle of some bezels; LG's primary aim in the G6 was centred on the idea that you can have a big screen without having to put up with a big, cumbersome device. And the manufacturer may have cracked it.

With the 5.7-inch screen surrounded by bezel that is far narrower on the top and bottom than virtually every phone out there, there's less to distract you from the content on screen. Just how little frame there is is quite remarkable when placed next to other devices. If you get a lighter colour model, you will see a slim, black screen gap between the content and the frame. 

The screen itself also happens to have rounded corners which - while adding a certain aesthetic charm - are designed primarily to make the display less prone to breaking under impact. LG claims that not using right-angled corners with slim bezels makes it more pressure resistant. Adding to that strength, the phone body is also IP68 certified against water and dust.

LG is also keen to point out that there are no pointless protrusions here. The camera unit is completely flush with the body, and sits a finger's width above the fingerprint sensor which also acts as the power/sleep button.

Pocket-lintLG G6 PLATINUM top bezel

The curved glass on the back also ensures that it's very comfortable to hold. However, the entire phone is glossy both front and the back, meaning it's a bit of a fingerprint magnet. Indeed, its ability to attract greasy finger smudges is remarkable. But in the right light, without having been held and with reflections shining off all the curves, it looks gorgeous.

If there's any other downside to this design - and it's only a minor one - then it's the power button. With the phone on its back, you can't reach it at all. Thankfully, LG has implemented the double-tap-to-wake feature, which means you can lock and unlock the phone by double-tapping the screen. Still, we'd prefer the power button to be in a more conventional position on the right edge. 

The only other buttons on the device are the two volume buttons on the left edge. For all the headphone traditionalists, you'll be pleased to know that there is a 3.5mm jack nestled in the top edge, while the Type-C port joins a speaker and microphone on the bottom.

Pocket-lintLG G6 PLATINUM back main

Add all of this together and you have a phone that not only fits easily in one hand, but is durable enough to survive the daily grind. The fit and finish is a much needed and massive improvement over the G5.

  • 2880 x 1440 QHD resolution
  • 1:2 aspect ratio
  • IPS LCD panel

The G6's 5.7-inch screen is larger diagonally than most big phones on the market. The trend, of course, is to launch 5.5-inch phones. But the G6 isn't about going with the trend - it's about trying to carve out a new one.

The Quad HD screen has a resolution of 2,880 x 1,440, meaning its aspect ratio is 18:9 (or, simply, 2:1). That's unconventional for a smartphone. But it's a wonderful sight to behold. Without much bezel it's just you and your favourite media.

Pocket-lintlg g6 netflix 18x9

The display's colours are accurate, details are sharp and viewing angles are good too. Even the contrast is impressive for an LCD panel which, while still not as inky black as AMOLED, is enough to offer plenty of depth to video. It's a brilliant display.

  • HDR and Dolby Vision support at launch

The G6 also happens to be among the first phones to support both Dolby Vision and HDR10 standards, with the Netflix mobile app due to update on launch day. Here's where that 2:1 ratio makes a lot of sense: many of the content provider's Originals series are shot in that aspect ratio, including Stranger Things, House of Cards and more - so no black bars!

Thanks to Android's ability to adjust app resolution, you can have almost any app fill the screen. Frustratingly, this doesn't happen automatically with all apps. Even with Netflix (prior to the app update, at the time of publishing) we've had to go into the settings and manually change apps to 18:9 so that content would fill the screen on compatible titles.

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The same had to be done with all of our most used games like SimCity BuildIt and Temple Run 2. It must be noted, however, that due to the scaling you do lose a slice of the graphics from each side of the game. It's normally inconsequential, but it doesn't look quite right. 

The display's colours are accurate, details are sharp and viewing angles are good too. Even the contrast is impressive for an LCD panel which, while still not as inky black as AMOLED, is enough to offer plenty of depth to video. It's a brilliant display.

To set expectations clearly, it's probably best to think of the 5.7-screen as a stretched out 5.2-inch display, rather than a big phablet screen. It's quite noticeably narrower than the regular 5.5-inch display phones, even if it is taller.

Having a narrower screen has one serious upside: typing one-handed is effortless, especially if you have a flow/glide-enabled keyboard installed.

However, one puzzling default setting was made poignantly clear when launching messaging apps for the first time. LG's keyboard has the number row and predictive text row switched on, and - along with the virtual home, back and multi-tasking buttons - it took up more than half of the screen. That means any users' first experience of this long display is going to be a screen with very little actual message thread on show.

Pocket-lintLGG6keyboard

Things improve dramatically when the LG keyboard height is changed and the number row removed, even more so when we just downloaded the Google keyboard, which takes up far less space and lets you see the conversations more fully. With a small keyboard, you really appreciate the extra screen length.

The only other downside of a mini-bezel screen is that it's all too easy to accidentally touch it, producing a response. There doesn't seem to be any software/firmware telling the phone to ignore accidental touches, like Huawei is attempting in its latest EMUI 5.0 software.

With LG pushing into new territory here, ratio optimisation issues were always going to be there in the beginning. The most important takeaway is that virtually all these minor inconveniences vaporise once you look at the phone in your hand: it's almost all screen, looks gorgeous, and represents the future.

  • Android Nougat 7.0
  • New Square Camera app

As you'd expect from a flagship phone launching in 2017, the G6 runs Google's Android Nougat operating system. Albeit with a slightly different look. As with virtually everything on this phone, the software has been optimised to take advantage of the longer screen, and there are new bespoke apps to go along with it.

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LG's new Square Camera app has a number of shooting modes, each using the top half of the screen as the camera viewfinder, and the bottom showing either a recently shot image or a selection of images. The regular camera app now also has a scrollable gallery at the side of the screen, making it easier to see your camera roll.

Apart from that, there's the usual smattering of apps from LG. There are the basic default apps like the Clock, Calculator, Tasks, Contacts, Calendar, Music and QuickMemo as well as the Smart Cleaning app that helps get rid of any junk bogging down your phone.

Being LG, there are a few added elements to keep things interesting too. You can choose between three default home screen styles. You can go with a traditional home screen with an app drawer, choose a home with no app drawer, or Easy Home which essentially makes things much bigger and easier to navigate. 

There are other features, including Smart Settings which lets you tell the phone to behave in a certain way when you're at home, or away, or tell it to launch an app when you plug in a pair of earphones. There's also an Always-on screen you can activate, giving a permanently visible clock on the lock screen, along with any notifications indicated by small app logos. 

Pocket-lintlg g6 customisation more

Like many other custom versions of Android these days you can download and set different Themes, and - if you press-and-hold an app icon - you can change individual icons that you don't like. You can also choose what colour you want each individual app folder to be when naming it. 

  • Dual 13MP camera system
  • One wide-angle lens
  • 5MP front-facing camera

Apart from the display, the other big talking point with the G6 is its dual camera system on the back. Like the G5, the G6 has one wide-angle lens and a regular lens, allowing you to switch between them with a quick tap of an icon in the camera app.

Pocket-lintlg g6 boat normal vs wide

Unlike the G5, however, they both use exactly the same image sensor. Both are 13-megapixel sensors, with the aim of helping a smooth transition between them and consistent results from whichever camera you happen to be using.

This wide-angle lens makes a huge difference when trying to snap a scene with limited amounts of space. There are only so many steps backward you can take with a regular lens before walking into a road, or off a cliff. Taking a picture with this lens is the difference between shooting a portrait of a boat, and shooting a boat within a much wider landscape. It's really great, and arguably more useful than the iPhone 7 Plus's 2x zoom lens and pseudo-bokeh effects.

Like last year's LG phones, the manual camera mode is one of the best around. It enables you to fine tune elements like white balance, focus and ISO to get the picture you really want, and the sensor and image processor are good enough that you get a great shot almost every time. 

Pocket-lintLG G6 low-light

Results from the camera are generally sharp, natural and noise-free. Of course, you do get some image noise creeping in when the light levels drop, but that's the same of every camera on the planet. It may not give you contrasty instant HDR shots like the Google Pixel, but the photos from the G6 are super. 

  • Snapdragon 821 processor
  • 4GB RAM/32GB storage

Inside the G6's engine room there's a Snapdragon 821 processor coupled with 4GB RAM and built into an internal system that includes a heat pipe to help ensure it won't overheat.

No, it's not the Snapdragon 835 - which features in the Sony Xperia XZ Premium - but the Snapdragon 821 is a brilliant processor. Let's not forget, two of last year's fastest phones (OnePlus 3T and Google Pixel XL) both shipped with the 821. 

Pocket-lintLG G6 PLATINUM back

In real life terms this behind-the-scenes processor means you can zip in and out of apps, scroll through web pages and play any game you like without experiencing any stutter. And it won't be quite such a pull on the battery either.

Even issues that were evident in older G-series phones like stuttering page scrolling or delayed home screen app icons loading aren't at all present in the G6. And this is a pre-launch unit. It's supposed to be buggy, but it's not. 

  • 3,300mAh battery
  • Quick Charge 3.0

Inside the G6 is a 3,300mAh battery which - with Android Nougat's battery smarts - gets through a full day without much trouble. Even connected to a smart watch and battling through a relatively busy day, we still made it to 10pm with over 25 per cent battery remaining. On a moderate day with no smartwatch the battery level was between 35-40 per cent by bedtime.

With Nougat's enhanced Doze mode, the phone uses as little battery as possible by killing background tasks whenever the phone is in standby. Whether it's in your pocket, or on your desk. That means if you decide not to bother plugging it in overnight, you'll still have at least 25 per cent battery left in the morning if it was at 35 per cent before you went to sleep. At least, that was the case in our testing. 

Pocket-lintlg g6 optimisation

If it does drain to worrying levels before the day is up, you'll be pleased to know that the G6 comes with Quick Charge 3.0 support. That means it can get from 0-50 per cent charge after being plugged in for just 35 minutes. In our testing, we plugged in with zero charge and it reached over 80 per cent after an hour at the socket.

Verdict

Despite its up-and-down G-series history, LG has knocked it out of the park with the G6. Enough to make us half forget the modular "Friends" approach of last year's G5. Whether that spotty history is enough to get you back on board with the series is another matter, but as flagship phones go LG is a standout for all the right reasons.

The software is lightweight and easy to customise, the dual camera system offers a lot of versatility and is of comparable quality to the Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. The build, performance and display are all up there with the best available too.

Of its premier features the 1:2 aspect ratio screen might sound bonkers, but its the perfect companion for watching Netflix in HDR with no black borders and, given the design, almost no bezel to get in the way either. The aspect ratio does cause one or two issues with some games and apps, but rescaling them can overcome these teething issues.

All in all the LG G6 is a great phone that's every bit the flagship. It'll give the forthcoming competition a run for their money over the course of 2017 and with Samsung's history dented due to the Note 7 debacle, the stage is set for quite the showdown against the imminent Galaxy S8.

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The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge were two of the best phones launched last year. Samsung pushed the boat with not only some of the best hardware performance around, but also stunningly elegant design that looked good from any angle. The camera also happens to be one of the best all-rounders we've ever seen on a smartphone. 

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S7 review: The unsung hero?

Pocket-lintGoogle Pixel XL screen

If you want a big-screen phone without the weird 18:9 ratio, the Pixel XL is the mac-daddy of phones. It's pure, enhanced Android with all of Google's latest tricks packed in to a fast, powerful device with a brilliant camera and exemplary battery life. 

Read the full review: Google Pixel XL review: Android's new heavyweight champion

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If you want all of what the Pixel XL offers, but without the Android part, the 7 Plus is your best bet. iPhones have long offered a consistently good experience. It's excellently built, has a great dual camera system, last more than a day on one charge and looks stunning in Jet Black. Add that to the best apps available anywhere and software update support for years, and you get a compelling all-round package. 

Read the full review: Apple iPhone 7 Plus review: Big changes from the big iPhone

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