The LG V30 Is As Underrated As The iPhone X Is Overrated – Forbes

Ben Sin

The iPhone X and the LG V30, two very fine phones that are closer in quality that you might think.

In the world of sports — in both professional media and general fandom — the concept of being “properly rated” is paramount. It’s as crucial to newspaper/magazine articles deciphering an athlete’s legacy to league officials determining Hall of Fame eligibility to late night sports arguments at bars between friends. It sounds trivial, but determining if an athlete/sports team is overhyped or under-appreciated is absolutely important to diehard sports fans.

Considering how crowded the smartphone market is and how many great handsets are out, one would think evaluating what’s overrated/underrated would be useful — or at least make for good debate. But mostly, tech media review devices in a vacuum: they get an iPhone, they test the iPhone, they like the iPhone, they tell readers to buy the iPhone, that’s it. And whether it’s due to Apple/Samsung’s marketing prowess or influence, I notice that mainstream media tend to default to those two devices as go-to references. For example, right now the trend of smartphones is a near bezel-less, all-screen front with no buttons and an 18:9 display aspect ratio. This is a trend that LG did before everybody with the LG G6, but you’d be hard pressed to know that if you don’t follow smartphone news closely, because mainstream outlets mostly give credit to Samsung and Apple when it comes to pushing trends. The same goes for using dual-cameras to produce bokeh shots. Huawei’s P9 offered that almost six months before Apple did with the iPhone 7 Plus, but almost all mention of “portrait” bokeh photography is lumped with a reference to the iPhone.

The iPhone X is overrated. There, I said it. This doesn’t mean the iPhone X is not a great phone — it’s just really not deserving of getting 100x more coverage and buzz from media than other phones when it has:

  • that unsightly camera hump that most other top phones have eliminated
  • that notch that takes a chunk out of the screen when viewing videos and gets in the way of apps
  • that high price tag — the $1,000 iPhone X is better than $500 phone, but not twice as good
  • that iOS software that isn’t fully optimized for the new design (having to swipe from the upper right corner to access control center is so not intuitive and awkward it might have made Steve Jobs flip out if he was still around)

Conversely, the LG V30 is underrated. It’s gotten mostly so-so reviews despite being a very good phone. (Many of these reviews are unfairly snarky, scrutinizing LG for things they’d give Apple/Samsung leeway for. Example: Business Insider blamed the V30 for bloatware when that’s the fault of the American carrier; and Wired poked fun at the V30’s supposedly non-nonsensical naming, as if Apple jumping from 8 to X, Samsung going from Note 5 to Note 7, or OnePlus adding a “T” after the 5 in their latest phone make more sense?)

I have both the LG V30 and the iPhone X on me right now and I’ve used both for weeks. Believe me when I say this: the iPhone X may be a more polished device overall, with a better display and slightly better camera, but the gap between them is not big at all. It’s definitely not big enough to justify the jarringly different tone from mainstream tech outlets (gushing for Apple phones, snark and cynicism for LG phones) and not worth the extra $250 that Apple charges if all things are considered.

More on Forbes: Camera Shootout: iPhone X Vs. Huawei Mate 10 Pro Vs. Galaxy Note 8 Vs. LG V30

Most tech outlets raved about the iPhone X’s looks, calling it stunning and gorgeous. Here’s the thing, I think one can make a great case that the LG V30 looks better and is just as futuristic-looking. The V30 doesn’t have a camera bump; it’s lighter and thinner than the iPhone X; and if you factor in the X’s notch, the V30 actually has a higher screen-to-body ratio. I mean look at the two devices side by side, can you honestly say Apple’s phone is significantly more impressive looking? Nah. They’re both great looking phones, but if you read mainstream reviews, you’d only hear one phone get all the praise while the other gets thrown under the bus.

Ben Sin

The iPhone X (left) and LG V30 (right).

Ben Sin

The LG V30 is thinner and doesn’t have a camera hump.

Ben Sin

That bump…

In fact, the LG V30 looks better when viewing full-screen videos on YouTube, Netflix or Instagram. The latter gets on my nerves every time I’m on the iPhone X because Instagram decided that the X’s notch and aspect ratio is too weird to deal with, so what should be full-screen immersive media is cropped. Look at how the same Instagram Story looked on my LG V30 and iPhone X. Which one is more immersive?

Ben Sin

Instagram Stories gets chopped and shrunken down on the iPhone X. On the LG V30 it stretches edge to edge.

Some reviews have pointed out that the V30 has a sub-par OLED panel (brought to attention because Google’s Pixel 2 XL uses the same screen). While I agree LG’s OLED display isn’t as great as Samsung’s OLED screen (which is used on the iPhone X), the problem has been overblown. The blue tint is not that big a deal (my Galaxy Note 8 has a blue tint if I look at the phone off-axis too), and the supposedly muddied-grays are only noticeable in a dark room with brightness set to 0% and viewing an all-white screen. I mean, this is so beyond nitpicking here. These are problems only if you are actively looking for them. The fact is the average joe who purchased an LG V30 will look at the screen and think everything looks great.

The thing is, reviewers know this! They make excuses for Google by defending the Pixel 2 XL with that exact same logic! Yet with LG they don’t cut it any slack. 

Ben Sin

The LG V30 (right) next to the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and iPhone X.

Also, remember when Apple said it removed the headphone jack to make room for a more powerful haptic engine and to make the device sleeker? LG is laughing — the LG V30 has a headphone jack (with hi-fi DAC to boot) yet has slimmer bezels, is thinner, and an equally good haptic engine. Seriously, the vibration feedback when typing on the LG V30 is better than anything I’ve experienced on an Android device before.

In terms of photography, the iPhone X generally produces better shots simply because it’s more balanced (LG’s image processing tend to overexpose lights) and overall is a better camera … if we’re strictly talking about point and zoom. But the V30 offers manual controls (in photography and videography modes) that allows me to tweak images/videos in ways that the iPhone X never can.

More on Forbes: The LG G6’s Wide-Angle Lens Is The Best Travel Camera

There’s also the 130-degree wide-angle lens of the V30 which allows me to capture shots that simply would not be possible on other phones. Here’s an example: I was playing music with my friends over the weekend in a rented band room in Hong Kong. The space was maybe 180 square feet — too small to place a camera far back enough to get the entire band in one frame for the iPhone X, or any other phone for that matter. But since I had the V30 on me, I switched to the wide-angle lens and was able to capture this video below with the full squad. This video would not be possible with any other phone.

Here’s an old example I used in my LG G5 review:

Ben Sin

With a normal phone, this is the most I can capture from this art in an Hong Kong alleyway because I simply didn’t have any more room to back up. Photo: Ben Sin

Ben Sin

With the wide-angle lens, I can capture the whole shot.

I was able to capture the entire piece of street art with the wide-angle lens (second image) when other phones would only be able to produce the first image because there simply wasn’t any more space to back up in a tight Hong Kong alley.

In my review of the iPhone X, I mentioned that I would make the switch to iOS because the iPhone X experience was so fresh, so refined. Well after two weeks I switched back to Android because iOS’s lack of an intuitive one-hand mode drove me crazy. I’m now bouncing between the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and LG V30, both with easily accessible one-hand mode that allows me to use the phone on a busy city street while holding groceries or a cup of coffee with my other hand.

It’s the little things like this that most mainstream generic phone reviews ignore: is the phone easy to use with one hand on a crowded train? Can it help me capture what would otherwise be impossible shots from weird angles and locations? The iPhone X is a fine phone, but if you care about tweaking things and customization and settings and usability, Android wins big time.

Am I saying the LG V30 is a better phone than the iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy Note 8? Not necessarily (I think it’s close). What I’m saying is, based on the general reception and media buzz, the LG V30 has become vastly underrated while Apple and Samsung, as usual, is getting praised to the point of being overrated.

I have a lot more points to back up my claim, but they’re too long-winded to post here. I have a video below for those interested.

 

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