Can a serious YouTuber reasonably use a mere phone to shoot all her videos? That’s what LG promises as consumers weigh options in a crowded marketplace for super-sized phablets.
LG finally went public with the specs and features of its 5.7-inch V20 super-phone on Wednesday, and much like last year’s V10, the new model is geared toward “storytellers”—folks who depend on their phones to capture audio, still images and video.
Sure, the V20 is the first phone to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat. And LG is introducing yet another battery-swapping scheme (which I tested during my hands-on). But more than anything else, LG is banking on a bunch of fancy components and algorithms to convince content creators that the V20 is the only reasonable choice among supersized phablets. Let’s dig in, and see what’s inside.
Flagship specs with a new wide-angle camera
First, some raw (if familiar) specs. The V20 comes with a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. You can increase storage by another 2TB via a microSD card. The removable battery is rated at 3,200 mAh, and the phone supports QuickCharge 3.0.
The 5.7-inch IPS display has a 2560×1440 resolution that’s good for a pixel density of 513 ppi. Like the V10, the V20 also has an always-on second screen that sits above the primary display. It shows you notifications, shortcuts and other elements when your phone is off, and this time around, the second screen is noticeably brighter than LG’s implementation on the V10.
The V10 had wide-angle support for its front-facing selfie-cam, but now LG is adding wide-angle to the back of the phone as well, thanks to the addition of a second camera lens. The standard-angle rear camera is higher quality with 16 megapixels and an f/1.8 aperture. But if you want to shoot in 135 degrees of wide-angle majesty, you can opt for the 8-megapixel camera, which has an f/2.4 aperture.
Improved video image stabilization
Still images are nice, but YouTubers care about video quality. So LG’s storytelling story starts with Steady Record 2.0, a collection of techniques that smooth out video that’s been shot with an unsteady hand.
On the front end, LG uses improved EIS (electronic image stabilization) from Qualcomm that reduces latency in the interface between the phone’s gyroscope and the video image. Then on the back-end, during post-processing, LG’s DIS (digital image stabilization) improves smoothness even further, using algorithms to compare multiple frames in a sequence, and applying adjustments that make objects appear in the same position.
The video camera has the same great manual controls found in the V10, and this time around LG is adding nine new effects that mimic the look of traditional film stock. These effects were available to the still camera in the V10, but can now be applied to video in the V20. The phone also introduces a three-stage autofocus system that’s available to both still images and video.
But wait. Audio quality matters too
LG touts the V20 as the first smartphone to feature a 32-bit quad DAC. The upshot? Any music played on the phone should sound damn good. The V20 supports a variety of lossless audio formats, including FLAC, DSD, AIFF, and ALAC. But even more intriguingly, it offers 75 different volume increments, and control for L/R balance. LG also says the quad DAC reduces distortion and ambient noise by up to 50 percent.
The audio story carries over to content creation as well. For starters, LG claims its 24-bit/192kHz audio recorder promises 6.5x more accurate sound than 16-bit alternatives. What’s more, there’s a Music Studio Mode that let’s you add your own audio track to pre-recorded content.
Beyond that, three microphones on the V20 help with audio capture when you’re shooting video in loud environments. Specifically, LG says it has improved audio capture in the challenging 120dB to 132dB range, so when you’re shooting happenings in concert halls or sports stadiums, you’ll hear clearer audio with less clipping.
The LG V20 will come in three colors: Titan, Silver and Pink. The front and back of the phone are wrought from Aluminum 6013, a sturdy allow that held up well during my hands-on demo. All in all, the V20 looks like serious competition for Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 and the inevitable iPhone 7 Plus—two other phones that share a supersized display size.
Sure, Samsung has all the marketing muscle, and Apple has captured the world’s attention like no other tech company. But perhaps serious Android enthusiasts—and, of yeah, content creators—will give the V20 a fair look.
So when, exactly, will the V20 arrive and how much will it cost? LG says the V20 will be available in Korea sometime in September, but hasn’t announced specific U.S. pricing or availability. Hopefully I’ll have more information soon. LG tells me a “pre-production” version of the V20 is imminent, so if nothing else, I can begin making video magic ASAP.