Review: LG V60 ThinQ 5G
Double the screen, double the fun
Available at AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon
The LG V60 ThinQ 5G is for folks who want a Samsung-capable smartphone without spending over $1000.
Spend the extra $150 on the extra screen. You might barely use it, but it doubles as a little stand, and it’s nice for protecting the phone if you’re planning to toss it into a bag.
The LG V60 ThinQ 5G…is a mouthful. Just call it the V60. It’s a bonafide all-in-one, everything-you-need kind of smartphone. At its $800 starting price point, it’s cheaper than some of the other flagship phones out there, too. Though LG bills it as a dual-screen device, it acts like a wannabe. The second display is optional and included in the package only if you fork over the extra $100-$150 for the case accessory that makes this magic happen. The cover display is merely a clock, which is fine except for the complete missed opportunity for customizable animation. You can fold it back to use the V60 as a single display device or to carefully prop up the phone on something soft (you don’t want to scratch the screen!). But if you do that, you can’t use the rear-facing camera. The case also comes with a proprietary magnetic attachment to charge the V60 while it’s inside. I didn’t find much difference in charging times between using the adapter and plugging it in normally, though I did find the latching charging port a bit tedious.
There’s a learning curve to figuring out the dual-screen situation. I had a hell of a time getting the “expanded view” to work. I thought it’d be akin to the experience I had with the ZTE Axon M, where you could tap a button in the navigation bar to expand any app across the two screens. Instead, it uses a “floating” action button, which I constantly managed to tap on accident while navigating the interface. Only certain apps are compatible with the dual-screen mechanism and a majority of them are LG’s apps that I’m not inclined to use. I’m also still trying to figure out if I can use the two screens to read an ebook across two pages. It doesn’t work with Google Play Books, or my favorite reader app, Moon+ Reader Pro.
The LG V60 has plenty of other redeeming qualities: a ginormous display for binging YouTube TV under the covers, a long-lasting battery life that took me nearly a week to run down, and a rather impressive set of front- and rear-facing cameras. It also offers a headphone jack, which is a near goldmine for audiophiles in this day and age, as well as Hi-Fi Quad DAC—a term that means, damn, music on this thing sounds good. Social media content creators who can’t shell out a ton of money for separate cameras and machines will like some of the V60’s feature perks, including the capability for 8K video recording, manual camera and video modes, ASMR sound recording, and a native screen recording mode.
The LG V60’s primary camera takes vibrant, clear photos. It was much better than my experience with the LG G6 last year, which produced color-faded, grainy results. The V60 also has a secondary wide-angle camera on the back that I barely remembered to use. The phone is capable of up to ten-times digital zoom, but as you’ll see in the camera samples, that’s nothing compared to the optical zoom you’d get with something like a DSLR lens. Faraway things remain blurry when you shoot them. Also, the portrait mode on the V60 is fine for social media, but it looks overtly digitally-produced compared to the way the Google Pixel does it.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a screenshot is worth at least a hundred. I feel like the best way to walk you through the experience of using a phone is to accompany it with visuals. Here are snippets of what the interface is like on the LG V60.
You’re not getting a “pure” Android experience with the V60. Instead, you’re getting what LG deems best. I don’t have as much disdain for it as maybe some other reviewers do, though it’s a step away from what Google has attempted to present with its Pixel launcher. I used an icon changer for the main Home screen and slapped on wallpaper from an artist I subscribe to on Patreon to spruce it up a bit.
If you’ve used an LG phone before, the camera app hasn’t changed much. You can adjust the brightness from the viewfinder, and there’s a little AI icon in the bottom-left corner to tell you the mode the phone is shooting in. Pinching and dragging will flip the cameras as soon as you reach the requisite zoom point. I like the accompanying Gallery app and the way it categorizes folders by media type. Still, I find myself defaulting to opening Google Photos when I need to locate a photo or screenshot.
The dual-screen abilities of the LG V60 are available anywhere on the interface. There’s a small floating “action button” that follows you around from page to page once the phone is seated in its second-screen case. Tapping it expands it and gives you all the viewing options available for each app. Snapping screenshots in dual-mode will appear extended across the display as if you’re viewing the content on a tablet, but it’s all a ruse. There’s still a large partition between screens cutting off the middle of your content.
As for the ability to use either screen as a keyboard: it works only with the LG keyboard app. I don’t like that app, however, and I am bummed to see that the Google Keyboard doesn’t offer the same expandability. However, if you enable both keyboards in the settings panel, you can switch between the two apps as you need by long-pressing the space bar.
The idea of a device that could facilitate productivity while also bringing me back to the PDAs of yore is a nice thought. The Android tablet wasn’t working out; the Chromebook-turned-tablet effectively crashed and burned out of the sky. The LG V60 seems like an excellent consolidation of compromise without pushing the idea of the foldable form-factor on those of us who aren’t ready for that kind of change in interaction. I do wish LG would put a little more thought into its software, though, and not bloat its version of Android the way it does. Maybe for some people, that makes the interface a little friendlier. Regardless, the V60 this device lends credence to the idea that there’s a future for convertible devices. We just need more apps that support that kind of usage.