While Samsung can be considered as a brand with longest-running Android-based flagship series with its Galaxy S range (started back in 2010), its Korean counterpart LG isn’t far behind with its own flagship range. The brand has come a long way since the LG Optimus G introduced in 2012 to unveil its latest and greatest smartphone, the G6.

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The device also kickstarts the flagship battle of 2017 which will see several competitors ranging from the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 to the flagship killer OnePlus 4. So does the LG G6 has enough firepower to fend them off? Well, we were able to spend some quality time with the phablet during its launch event at Barcelona, and here’s what we think.

When Xiaomi introduced the Mi MIX last year, it ushered in a new era of smartphone designs with no bezels. The LG G6 also seems to be inspired from the same as it has very slim bezels on the sides and minimal bezels at the top and bottom. This results in an impressive screen-to-body ratio (although still not as impressive as the Xiaomi Mi MIX).

The design ethos is minimalistic with the portion above the screen occupied by an earpiece, front-facing snapper and a few sensors. Since the phone offers software-based keys for navigation, the space below the display only features LG’s logo.

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The placement of buttons and ports is typical LG, with the volume buttons on the right and an ejectable tray for holding the SIM card on the left spine. The top hosts the 3.5mm audio interface, while the bottom is home to the USB-Type C port.

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The rear of the LG G6 has dual camera sensors on either side of a two-tone LED flash. Below it, you’ll find the power button that also doubles up as a fingerprint scanner. The latter works 360 degrees and recognises fingerprints accurately and instantly. Towards the bottom you’ll find G6 branding.

LG G6 first impressions - 91mobiles 19The combination of a metal frame and glass back lends the LG G6 a premium appeal. It also manages to stand out thanks to the clever design language opted by the Korean giant. However, the use of glass makes it prone to smudges quite easily, and it also becomes slippery as soon as your hands are sweaty.The glass isn’t fragile and gets a coating of the latest-gen Gorilla Glass 5. the The phone is impervious to dust and water, thanks to the IP68 rating.

LG G6 first impressions - 91mobiles 20With its predecessor, the G5, the company offered a compact device with a screen size of 5.3-inches. With its latest offering however, it’s taking the opposite route as the new phone has been equipped with a large 5.7-inch display. Interestingly enough, it can be used single-handedly as the brand has managed to fit a phablet-sized display in a small frame. It’s also opted for an unconventional aspect ratio of 18:9 with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (almost the same as a QHD display, resulting in a rich pixel density of ~565ppi). Dubbed as the FullVision display, the company believes that it’ll start a new revolution of smartphone displays as it gives the user ability to open two apps side-by-side along with offering an immersive experience. For instance, you can capture a square image while previewing it at the same time. Similarly, you can browse the internet while messaging, or watch a video while using Facebook. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3.

LG G6 first impressions - 91mobiles 12It must be noted that the content needs to be in the 18:9 ratio to enjoy the G6’s display, and a few apps and games have started supporting the same. The LG G6 also supports HDR video – a new format which has started coming to TVs and promises better contrast and brightness while watching compatible content. The device supports both HDR 10 and Dolby Vision standards for the same.

To offer users the ability to use this aspect ratio to the fullest, the company has also reworked the user interface. Apart from that, the customisations on top of Android 7.0 Nougat are just limited to custom icons, etc. Thankfully, there’s no bloatware in the LG G6. The phablet is also the first non-Pixel smartphone to offer the Google Assistant, though the latter will soon be available on all Marshmallow-toting phones.

When it comes to performance, LG has always opted for functionality over numbers. That’s why it introduced the LG G4 with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 hexa-core chipset instead of the faster-but-infamous SD810 chip. For the G6 as well, it has used last year’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, offering two high-power cores running at 2.35GHz, while the low-power cores are tuned at 1.6GHz. This means that LG’s flagship won’t top the benchmark charts considering that octa-core Snapdragon 835 is expected to power several high-end smartphones this year, with Samsung’s Galaxy S8 leading the way. That said, the LG G6 would surely be able to handle everything without breaking a sweat. In our brief usage, the phone flawlessly opened apps and switched between them. The disappointment continues in terms of RAM as well as it’s got only 4GB to offer, which is odd considering 6GB capacity is becoming the norm.

For storage, the LG G6 comes with 32 or 64GB of memory on board, which can be further extended up to 2TB with the use of a microSD card. However if you choose the expansion option, then you’ve to forgo the dual-SIM functionality as the secondary slot is hybrid.

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The company used dual cameras in an interesting manner with the G5 (and V20) last year letting you get a wider frame of view, and its successor has continued with that implementation. Instead of the 16+8MP combination, the LG G6 flaunts two 13-meg shooters with a wide aperture of f/1.8. Unlike last time however, one can manually control the wider view up to 125-degrees. The cameras have all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a flagship – laser autofocus, optical image stabilisation, and 4K video recording, among other things. The front camera has 12-megapixel sensor with a wide-angle lens of 100-degrees.

One thing you’d have noticed in the design of the G6 is that it’s not modular, unlike the G5. Yes, the Korean titan pioneered modularity last year, but having received a lukewarm response, has given it up. That also means that unlike the G5, the battery isn’t removable in the LG G6. You do get a much-needed bump in the battery capacity though as it’s fuelled by a 3,300mAh Li-ion cell – a welcome upgrade, considering that the battery was among the biggest cons of the G5. With Quick Charge 3.0 support, the G6 promises up to 83 percent recharge in just 30 minutes.

The LG G6 seems like a culmination of the brand’s learnings from its previous iterations, making it the most refined flagship from the brand’s stable yet. While it might not appease spec nerds, LG has a first-mover advantage as Samsung is expected to take the covers off its forthcoming flagship more than a month later on March 29th. Now if only the company ensures the timely launch of the LG G6 in India along with good pricing… the brand might have a winner on its hands.

Photos by Ketaki Bhojnagarwala