After the dual camera rage, the next big thing in the industry seems to be bezel-less displays with an 18:9 aspect ratio. The likes of Samsung, LG, Micromax, and Xiaomi have launched smartphones with little or no bezels around the screen. And just like dual cameras which initially seemed like a high-end feature and then made their way to the mid and budget segment as well, this new trend is also making its way from the high-end zone to the mid-segment.
After launching the high-end bezel-less LG G6 back in February, LG has now introduced the LG Q6, which has definitely taken inspiration from its big brother in terms of looks. The smartphone comes with an almost bezel-less front, but can it sail through the mid-segment storm on the looks boat alone or does it have other tricks up its sleeve?
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Almost bezel-less looker
Let us just get one thing out of the way: the LG Q6 is one of the most gorgeous looking smartphones in the mid-segment. It has a 5.5-inch full HD (but 1080 x 2160), almost-bezel-less display that fits into a very compact 142.5 x 69.3 x 8.1 mm body (much smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus, which has a similar sized display). The front is obviously all about that display, with thin bezels above and below it. The slim bezel below the screen holds the LG logo while the one above carries the front camera, the proximity sensor, and the ear piece. The screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 but the phone is missing out on the 2.5D curved glass. There are onscreen touch buttons for navigation purpose. The Q6 is all about that screen and although it is full HD and has that high-end 18:9 aspect ratio, the colors on display looked a little pale and washed out. The colors did not seem vibrant enough, giving the display a dull look.
The handset not only looks distinct from the from the front but has a different take on the back as well. The Q6 comes with a glossy plastic back that curves out on the edges. Unlike the majority of the smartphones in this price bracket, the Q6 does not have antenna bands on its back. It has a smooth and glossy back that sports the primary camera and the flash on the top left side of it while the speaker is placed on the bottom left. There is also a Q6 branding on the back which is placed just above the speaker. But not all different things are good. And in this case, we do not like the placement of the speaker. Because it is placed on the back, a YouTube buff (like myself) had to compromise on the sound whenever we were not holding the phone in our hands – tables and other surfaces muffled that speaker’s sound. Then there is the texture of the back. While it looks beautiful at first glance (glossy and shiny), that back is a fingerprint and scratch magnet which reduces its charm over time. The glossy back is a bit slippery and can cause a few accidental drops if one is not careful.
The power/lock button is placed on the right, while the volume buttons are placed on the left side, which some (especially non-iPhone users) might find unusual. Both are easy to reach and use, thanks to the compact design of the phone. Along with the volume keys, the left side also holds the SIM card slot and the MicroSD card slot. There are two slots on the left; the first one comes with a nano SIM card slot while the second one has the space for another nano SIM card and a dedicated microSD card space. So, you will not have to compromise on one of your networks for extra storage or vice-versa.
Both, the 3.5 mm jack and the micro USB port are placed on the base of the phone while the top is relatively plain. The Q6 is neither feather light or brick-heavy and sits comfortably at 149 grams. Design wise, the phone, as we said, is one of the best-looking devices out there. The fact that it has managed to encase a 5.5 inch full HD screen in a device of this size wins it some extra points. The phone is compact and yet has a big display, which makes it very comfortable to hold and use as compared to the other phones with similar screen sizes. And that display does give it a premium front.
The Q6 scored well in the looks zone, but as they say, one should not judge a book by its cover. The Q6 did not really do that well, in the performance department. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor coupled with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB integral storage that can be expanded up to 256 GB via microSD card. While the phone worked well on our daily routine tasks, it sometimes got stuck in multitasking assignments. The phone breezed through casual gaming apps like Temple Run and Subway Surfer but had a few issues in the high-end gaming race. Games like Asphalt Xtreme and NFS No Limits had stutter problems. They took a while to launch, and the apps did crash every once in awhile. There is a “game battery save” mode on the phone which when enabled saves battery on your device by reducing the resolution of the games and as the feature reduces the resolution, it also improved the overall gaming experience (we faced fewer frame drops), but then that seems to defeat the purpose of having that wonderful display. You can also pause a game in the middle by using a feature called “break time” and continue from where you left it.
Apart from this, the Q6 seems to tend to heat up and scored a mediocre score of 32439 on the AnTuTu benchmark. Yes, the display is great for viewing content, but in terms of performance, the Q6 comes well behind the likes of the Lenovo K8 Note and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, and even the Moto G5 Plus.
A very mixed bag of cameras, with grains
In terms of numbers, the LG Q6 comes with a 13-megapixel primary camera coupled with LED flash and a 5-megapixel front facing camera for selfies and video calls. The primary camera on the Q6 is pretty decent. The camera works well for landscape and close up shots. It definitely hits a home run when it comes to color. The colors produced by the Q6 in most pictures seemed similar to the real ones. The detailing in the photos, however, was sometimes not as good as we have seen in some of the smartphones in the same segment – photographs often got pixelated when we had barely zoomed in. But for most routine photography, over all the Q6 camera works pretty well.
A tip: do NOT go by what you see in the viewfinder. The view through the camera app looks noisy, but the picture somehow turns out to be better (Oh hey noise compression software)
The phone just offers three different modes:, the Auto mode, the Panorama mode, and the Food mode, which seems a little underwhelming, when you consider the plethora of modes being offered on other (non-stock Android) devices. The phone comes with a bunch of filters, but apart from that, you cannot tweak your pictures any further. As detailing isn’t the strongest suit of the Q6, picture quality in low light deteriorates even further. Noise creeps in, in pictures taken in low light. The camera also fails to handle glare, even though it tries hard to capture all the color and the essence of the scene.
The story is not really different in the case of the front facing camera as well. Selfies seemed a little grainy and a bit animation-like even without beauty mode. And we certainly did start looking like an anime once it was fully on.
Clean-ish UI, mediocre battery…and no fingerprint scanner
The LG Q6 comes with Android Nougat 7.1.1 out of the box which has been customised by LG. The UI is clean and organized. There are apps on the home screen that are classified in folders which make it easy on the eyes. The phone also hands out many tips and a lot of tutorial advice pop up from time to time. While useful, this can be a tad annoying after a while. There is no app drawer, and all the apps are on the home screen, but you can choose to have one and change it in the settings. There are four on screen buttons that can customise as per the need of the user and you can choose to remove the fourth one which allows you to switch between networks. Some would like the relatively clean UI, but it made us wonder about the point of having it at all if the changes to stock Android were not too many.
The call quality on the Q6 seems good, and we did not face any call drop issues while we used it. The connectivity options on the device include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, radio, and NFC. There is, however, no fingerprint scanner on the device which is pretty much hygiene now – another spec disappointment.
The LG Q6 comes with a 3000 mAh battery which may not look like a great number but worked okay-ish in our daily routine. The phone comes with options like “game battery save” and battery saver mode to help that battery last longer. But during our review period, the phone lasted for just about a day and sometimes died before that as well. It can see around 15-18 hours of heavy usage at a stretch and can last for over a day with normal usage. The phone also does not have a fast charging support which again is a minus point in this segment.
A thing of beauty, but not a joy forever
There are no second thoughts about the fact that the LG Q6 is one very good looking device. But priced at Rs. 14,999, it faces some tough competition from the likes of Xiaomi, Moto, Lenovo, Huawei, and even Samsung. Apart from the 18:9 screen ratio, there is nothing particularly outstanding in the device. The camera is decent, the battery is average, and the overall performance is not that great. You get a similarly specced device (minus that display but plus a larger battery), the Xiaomi Redmi 4 under Rs. 10,000, and if we move into the Q6’s price range, then the likes of the Lenovo K8 Note, the Redmi Note 4, the Honor 6X and the Moto G5 Plus start making their presence felt, more than matching it in all departments other than that display. The Q6 definitely looks future proof, but its performance and price hark more to a period of the past.