A year is a long time in technology, as we are so fond of saying. A year ago, if you had told us that a OnePlus device and an LG flagship would be going toe to toe in the market because of similar pricing, we would have inspected your breath for traces of (lots of) alcohol. However, today, the OnePlus 5 and the LG G6 find themselves battling for the title of “most affordable high-end Android flagship.”
The reasons are twofold: OnePlus has been ascending the price ladder even as LG has been descending it. And the result is that at the time of writing, the high-end (8 GN/ 128 GB) version the OnePlus 5 is retailing for Rs 37,999 (USD 590 approx), while the LG G6 is being sold for Rs 39,999 (USD 620 approx). That is a price differential of less than ten percent, putting both squarely in each other’s sights. But if you have about USD 600 to spend (Rs 35,000-40,000), give or take a few Dollars on either side and want one of the best phones out there, which is the better one to go for? Well, here’s a comparison:
Design and looks: Those bezels do it!
In the past, this would have been a gimme for the OnePlus device, thanks to LG’s penchant for being plain and relatively predictable in design terms. However, with the G6, LG has turned a corner of sorts, and the result is a device that is definitely more striking than the OnePlus 5, with its glass front and back. Yes, the G6 is likely to pick up a few more smudges than the OnePlus 5 in the short run, but it does feel more “solid” and not slippery at all (a vice the OnePlus 5 suffers from). Mind you, we can see a lot of people preferring the more curve-y and slightly slimmer (7.3 mm as compared to 7.9 mm) OnePlus 5, with its all metal build, as compared to the more box-y G6, but for us the real clincher was the near bezel-less design of the G6, which allowed it to sport a 5.7 inch display in a frame that was much shorter than the OnePlus 5, which has a 5.5 inch display – the G6 is 148.9 mm long and 71.9 mm wide as compared to 154.2 mm and 74.1 mm of the OnePlus 5. And we think the slightly heavier G6 actually
Winner: LG G6
Hardware: Chip power against pixel might
This is a formidable battle. Many might think that this would have a doddle for the OnePlus 5 with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 8 GB RAM against the Snapdragon 821 and 4 GB RAM of the LG G6, but a closer look at the spec sheet shows that the G6 has a few aces of its own up its ample hardware sleeves. For one, it has a larger display (5.7-inch as compared to 5.5-inch) in a more compact frame (those near-absent bezels!), and with a higher resolution as well (quad HD with Dolby Vision as compared to the good old full HD on the OnePlus 5). The LG flagship also has the gift of expandable memory, something the OnePlus 5 lacks. Add the little matter of water and dust resistance, and the gap between the G6 and the OnePlus 5 in hardware terms tends to really narrow down.
Both devices have 3300 mAh batteries with their own versions of fast charging, fingerprint scanners (on the front for the OnePlus 5, on the back for the LG G6), and largely similar connectivity options (4G, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, Wi-Fi), although the G6 does add an infrared port to the mix. However, we think that the OnePlus 5 just edges it courtesy those dual 20 and 16 megapixel dual rear cameras and front facing the 16-megapixel shooter, which tends to dwarf LG’s dual; 13 megapixel rear cameras and 5.0-megapixel selfie snapper. In the end, we really think that the OnePlus 5 wins on account of the newer processor (although the 821 is no mug) and larger RAM reservoir which we think makes it just a little more future proof at the time of writing. But yes, we can see many who value a high-quality display considering the G6 a gimme!
Winner: OnePlus 5
Software and UI: Stock Oxygen or well-stocked with features?
This is just as engrossing a tussle as hardware was. On the one hand, you have the Spartan, near stock Android Oxygen UI from OnePlus, on the other, the feature-laden overlay of LG. Both devices run Android Nougat, but OnePlus has a newer version 7.1, as against 7.0 on the G6. Both devices come with the delights of the Google Assistant, but at the end of the day, this really depends on your own preferences. We have seen a lot of the geek brigade profess their love for stock Android, in which case, the OnePlus 5 is a runaway winner, but we also have seen more “generic” users express their preference for a relatively more feature laden interface, and the G6 does come with some very neat tricks like the always-on display, and the QSlide feature which lets you access a set of apps by hitting a single button which can be placed in the navigation button area (the G6 incidentally lets you place as many as five buttons in the navigation area). It is simply a battle between the simple and the slightly complex. We would have called it a tie but for OnePlus’ reputation for regular software updates, which we think gives it the edge over the G6. A narrow win again for the OnePlus 5.
Winner: OnePlus 5
Camera: Two of both, but which tangos?
Again, a formidable battle this. Both the devices come with dual cameras, although with different megapixel counts. The G6 has two 13.0-megapixel cameras, while the OnePlus 5 has a 16.0-megapixel and a 20.0-megapixel pair of cameras. LG claims to deliver a zoom with one camera and a wider view with the other, while OnePlus 5 claims to deliver 2x “lossless” zoom with one of its cameras and better depth of field for a “portrait” mode. And both sets of cameras deliver some terrific results. At its very best, we think the OnePlus 5 has the edge over the G6 as it seems to have slightly brighter colors and those extra megapixels do seem to get more detail in, but on the flip side, the same pair of shooters is plagued by a curious inconsistency that can make results vary.
The G6, on the other hand, can at times look a little washed out in the color department but is terrific at detail and thanks to the presence of optical image stabilization, is a better proposition for capturing moving objects and in low light conditions. We also feel that the G6 comes with a slightly richer camera interface than the rather Google-ish one on the OnePlus 5.
A close fight it is not in the selfie department, however, where the OnePlus 5’s 16.0-megapixel front facing camera totally outgunned the 5.0-megapixel selfie snapper on the LG G6. It is a battle of actual and potential here – we think the G6 at the moment has the Force going with it, but the OnePlus 5’s dual shooters are just an update or two away from camera greatness. At the time of writing, however, we will score this narrowly for the G6. (You can see camera samples of the two devices in our reviews of the LG G6 and the OnePlus 5)
Winner: LG G6
Gaming and multimedia: Frame drops? What frame drops?
This turns out to be a slugfest between the newer processor and greater RAM of the OnePlus 5 and the higher resolution display of the LG G6. And it is a fascinating encounter because while the Snapdragon 835 does grind out better benchmark scores than the G6, in real life situations, the difference in performance is not discernible – there we said it. We saw no killing difference in the way in which the two devices handled high-end as well as casual games, and no, there were no lags. Both devices delivered an absolute Android flagship-level performance in gaming and were evenly matched. When it came to video and audio, however, we must confess that we feel that the G6 pulled away with better sound over both headphones and speaker, and well, in terms of pure visuals, that quad HD, near bezel-less display easily topped anything that the OnePlus 5’s very good full HD AMOLED display could deliver. Another round to the G6.
Winner: LG G6
General performance: Playing them battery blues and routine stuff
With the kind of specs they sport, both phones are expected to handle routine daily tasks with a fair deal of elan. And they do so. Be it checking social networks, checking mail, running a dozen apps at the same time or doing lots of photography (and those dual cameras will tempt you into snappyland); both these phones can handle it all without breaking into a sweat or even showing any major signs of heating up. Both come with 3300 mAh batteries, and both can be charged pretty fast – the OnePlus has its much-advertised Dash Charge support, while the G6 comes with Quick Charge 3.0. Either way, you can get close to half the battery charged in about half an hour. We just felt that Dash Charge was slightly faster, but the difference in speed is not massively significant. What is, however, significant is the fact that the G6 manages to squeeze more out of that battery than the OnePlus 5 does – the OnePlus 5 easily sees off a day of usage, but the G6 can go well beyond that. This is remarkable when you consider that the G6 has a larger quad HD display. We suspect it is some secret sauce LG possesses. Whatever it is, it does hand this round to the G6, as does the fact that we felt that call quality on the G6 was superior (again not by a telling margin) as compared to that on the OnePlus 5.
Winner: LG G6
Conclusion: The Geeks have it, and so do mainstream users
On paper, this is a 4-2 win for the LG flagship. Which might come as a bit of shock to some people, but most of the rounds are so close that a matter of individual preference could sway them – we know some might prefer the design and/or the dual cameras of the OnePlus 5, for instance. And significantly the two areas where the OnePlus 5 did best the LG flagship were crucial ones – hardware and software. No, we do not subscribe blindly to benchmarks and spec sheets but there is no denying that in terms of sheer hardware heft and given OnePlus’ track record for updates (barring the OnePlus 2 aberration), the OnePlus 5 does seem to be a better long-term investment. Those specs are neither going to get matched or outdated soon. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the G6’s display, multimedia, and battery are in a different zone and the sheer feel of the G6 too seems still better than the OnePlus 5 – is it those near spent bezels or simply a design with more heft?
Either way, you are unlikely to be disappointed. But if we were pushed to make a choice, we would recommend the OnePlus 5 for the spec sheet loving geeky crowd, while for the more general users, it would the LG G6.
And that indeed reflects how much things have changed. A year ago, no matter how outgunned the OnePlus device would be (and they normally had a rough time in multimedia and cameras), it would always have what Raju PP calls its “suraksha kavach” (protective armor) – that of a surprisingly low price. With the OnePlus 5, that has been lost to an extent. Which actually gives the competition a lot of breathing space. It is not just the G6 that comes into contention, but a lot of other devices too (check some out here). In fact, stretch that USD 600 budget a little and even the iPhone 7 looms on the horizon. Unthinkable a year ago.
But then, as we said, a year is a long time in technology…