Update: July 22, 2020:Â We have updated our LG Velvet review with details on availability in the US. The phone is now on sale from AT&T for $599.99. Check it out below!
LG has had a rocky couple of years. While it has undoubtedly been producing phones that play to the interests of its core customers, the company has lost a lot of brand cache. Part of this is due to stagnation in design, some is due to an unwillingness to switch up its software.
With the LG Velvet, the company is attempting to redefine itself in the smartphone space. LG is shedding the G series and V series, instead creating unique product designs with their own identities. But can LGâ€™s first swing at a new style be a home run?
Find out in the Android Authority LG Velvet review.
Design and display: New and fresh
- 6.8-inch Full HD+ (2,460 x 1,080)
- 20.5:9 aspect ratio
- Teardrop P-OLED
- 60Hz refresh rate
- 167.2 x 74.1 x 7.9mm
- IP68 water and dust resistance
- Optical in-screen fingerprint reader
The design of the LG Velvet is probably its most important feature. For years, LG flagships have remained mostly unchanged, with only small shifts in design generation over generation. While this isnâ€™t inherently a bad thing, it left the companyâ€™s phones feeling a bit outdated. The LG V60Â is by far LGâ€™s most modern design, but it still left a lot to be desired.
The LG Velvet, then, feels like a total reinvention for LG. From the shape of the body to the camera array to the colors, the Velvet signals something totally new.
The back of the device is fairly minimalistic, covered in colorful Gorilla Glass and a new camera array. The cameras are supposed to represent a falling droplet of water, and I think it looks great. LG did a good job using various sized cameras to its advantage to aid in the design. Iâ€™m a fan.
This is one of the thinnest phones I've used.
The rails of the LG Velvet are exceedingly thin; this is one of the thinnest smartphones Iâ€™ve used. At just 7.9mm thick, itâ€™s almost difficult to hold. I can see why LG did this, though, in an attempt to make the Velvet a fashion icon. I would normally fault LG for this if it traded thinness for battery capacity, but it was still able to fit a fairly sizable 4,300mAh cell in this device.
The right side of the phone houses the power button, while on the left youâ€™ll find volume buttons and a Google Assistant key. Iâ€™m a huge fan of the dedicated Assistant key, and it makes it less cumbersome to get the Assistant up and running if you donâ€™t want to use the hot word. The button cannot be remapped to another function.
On top of the phone, youâ€™ll find a SIM card tray with microSD card expansion, and on the bottom youâ€™ll find a USB-C port, speaker, and a headphone jack. Unfortunately, LG decided not to include the quad DAC often found in its high-end phones. That said, LG includes a 3D Audio Engine that helps make music sound more full. I can confirm it works very well. I tested the Velvetâ€™s audio quality directly against the LG V60, and I couldnâ€™t tell a difference between the 3D Audio Engine on the Velvet and the Quad DAC on the V60. This is with aÂ huge caveat that I am no means an audio enthusiast, so youâ€™ll want to test it out for yourself if this is something you really care about.
The display of the LG Velvet is a 6.8-inch P-OLED with an aspect ratio of 20.5:9 and a resolution of 2,460 x 1,080. It looks really nice with bright, vivid colors. In our testing, we found that it has highly accurate color temperature, in fact, one of the most accurate weâ€™ve seen this year. The sides of the display are curved, which certainly looks modern, and adds to the perceived thinness of the phone.
At the top of the display, youâ€™ll find a teardrop-style notch cutout. This is probably the most outdated aspect of the device in my opinion; a hole punch cutout would have looked more modern, though this is subjective.
There is also an optical fingerprint reader under the screen and itâ€™s quite bad. It was slow and inaccurate, and usually more of a nuisance than a convenience.
Performance & battery: Fine at best
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
- X52 5G mobile platform
- 6GB RAM
- 128GB storage
- microSD card expansion
- 4,300mAh battery
- Qualcomm QuickCharge 4+
- Wireless charging
The LG Velvet is not quite as capable on the hardware front as the LG V60. LG opted for a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G instead of the more powerful Snapdragon 865 chipset, but there are benefits to LG using this chip. For example, it has an integrated 5G modem, which saves both space and cost. This helped LG keep the phone thin while still covering sub-6GHz 5G spectrum.
Fortunately, the rest of the specs arenâ€™t half bad. LG included 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage in the device. These specs are effectively the default for a â€œgoodâ€� phone in 2020, and while they arenâ€™t jaw-dropping, they certainly get the job done.
The phone didn't feel as snappy as other flagship devices on the market today.
In day-to-day use, the phone didnâ€™t feel quite as snappy as other flagship devices on the market today. I noticed some delay and stuttering when switching between apps, and opening menus was often delayed. This isnâ€™t a deal-breaker, but itâ€™s also not what weâ€™d expect from a new phone in 2020.
Benchmarks mirror real-world performance. The LG Velvet notched 2,718 in Geekbench 4 single-core and 7,571 in Geekbench 4 multi-core, for example, while the OnePlus 8 Pro scored 4,195 and 13,142 in Geekbench 4 single and multi, respectively. Thatâ€™s a pretty huge performance delta.
Another performance issue I found was the digitizer. The phone would sometimes not register touches or swipes, and scrolling acceleration seemed slower than it should be. For what itâ€™s worth, I asked other reviewers if they experienced this issue and none had, so itâ€™s possible my unit is just a dud. Still, it warranted a mention.
LG was able to fit a respectable 4,300mAh battery into the Velvet.
LG was able to fit a respectable 4,300mAh battery into the Velvet â€” a surprise since the phone is so thin. In contrast, the Huawei P40 Pro Plus sports a 4,200mAh battery but has a thickness of 9mm vs the Velvetâ€™s 7.9mm. That might not seem like a huge difference, but itâ€™s definitely noticeable in use.
In the real world, battery life on the LG Velvet was about average. I got just over six hours of screen-on time, with 25.5 total hours of use. Itâ€™s not ground-breaking by any means, and doesnâ€™t come close to the two-day battery life of the LG V60, but itâ€™s fine for what it is, especially in a phone this thin.
Charging is another story. Even with the included 18W charger, the LG Velvet took two full hours to top up. While the LG V60 isnâ€™t the fastest charger either, it only took 92 minutes to fill to 100%. Disappointing.
Fortunately, the LG Velvet supports wireless charging. This is especially handy for me, as I have wireless chargers littered around the house.
Camera: Form over function
- Main: 48MP f/1.8
- Wide: 8MP, f/2.2
- Depth: 5MP, f/2.4
- Selfie: 16MP,Â f/1.9
The LG V60 has three camera sensors on the back and one on the front. This is the expected arrangement for a high-end phone.
Images from the LG Velvet are okay, but nothing special. Dynamic range is good, but the phone tended to underexpose images until you zoomed in to 2x. Other than brightness, each camera did maintain a similar color profile, which was nice, but some colors would be too low on luminance while some were too high. For example, deeper blues were made even darker, and yellows and reds looked washed out.
Images from the LG Velvet are ok, but nothing special.
In general, images also looked soft, indicating the cameras arenâ€™t getting enough light. Unlike other manufacturers, LG isnâ€™t using a big sensor on this phone, so that could be an explanation for the softness. Overall, photos just looked muddy.
Photos fell completely apart when zooming further than 2x. The phone allows you to zoom up to 10x, but I wouldnâ€™t recommend this in any but the most dire of circumstances. Images captured at at 10x looked super soft and washed out at the same time. There are plenty of other phones that offer better image quality when zoomed in.The selfie camera seemed quite good in evenly lit scenarios, but in contrasty spaces it couldnâ€™t balance highlights and shadows at all. While the image would correctly balance for skin tones, any and all highlights were completely blown out. While I was happy with the selfie camera in general, itâ€™s no good for contrasty situations.
Overall, the camera system on the LG Velvet gets the job done, but itâ€™s far from one of the best systems youâ€™ll find today. If you want a top-class camera on your smartphone, youâ€™ll have to look elsewhere.
If youâ€™re interested in taking a look at full resolution photo samples, weâ€™ve uploaded them here.
Where video is concerned, the Velvet can record at up to 4k resolution. Video looked fine, but there are phones that do a better job with both stabilization and quality. LG Does not list a frame rate while shooting at 4k. Weâ€™ve reached out to LG to find what this frame rate is.
Software: Same old
- LG UX 10
- Android 10
The LG Velvet runs LG UX 10 based on Android 10, and itâ€™s effectively the same as youâ€™ll find on the LG V60. While there are several convenient features like built-in screen recording and LGâ€™s 3D Sound Engine, its icons still feel a bit cartoony. There is a lot of neon in LGâ€™s UX design, which feels a little outdated compared to other Android phones.
Fortunately, LG leveraged a lot of Googleâ€™s apps for the Velvet. Apps such as Google Podcasts, Google Photos, and Google News are pre-installed on the Velvet, which could be seen as bloatware to some, but I prefer them to third-party versions of these apps. Otherwise, there is a huge amount of actual bloatware installed on the phone, such as Booking.com and games. This could easily vary by carrier, though.
There are also relics of the past that LG simply hasnâ€™t cleaned out yet. For example, my unit showed a persistent notification that warned me not to remove the battery while the phone was unresponsive. Considering you havenâ€™t been able to remove phone batteries for a long, long time, this notification needs to go away.
Just because the LG V series is going away doesnâ€™t mean LG is ditching the Dual Screen accessory. LG brought it back for the Velvet, with a slightly thinner design that better fits the phone. Itâ€™s still got the ribbed back and ambient display on the front, but this time itâ€™s white.
The Dual Screen is still a hassle to use.
Otherwise, the Dual Screen hasnâ€™t changed much. It still connects awkwardly via the USB-C port, itâ€™s still hard to remove, it still leaves a wide gap between the phone and the headphone jack which wonâ€™t allow many 3.5mm cables, and, probably worst of all, itâ€™s still using the proprietary POGO pin adapter to charge the device while in the case.
The Dual Screen offers the ability to run different apps on each screen, expand apps to fill both displays at once, or use the dual-screen as a keyboard. In my opinion, itâ€™s not very useful, unless youâ€™re keen on watching videos and reading articles at the same time, which, to be fair, some people do like to do. But expanded apps often look terrible when split across screens. Itâ€™s a toss up.
While I personally havenâ€™t found a lot of use in the Dual Screen, some people may love it. Dual-screen phones are a great option if you like the idea of foldable phones but donâ€™t want to buy into them just yet, and they can be legitimately useful for things like Nintendo DS emulators. Iâ€™ve talked to a few different reviewers who love the concept, so itâ€™s really a personal thing if you want to buy into it or not.
LG added pen support to the LG Velvet, even integrating a particular Wacom Bamboo pen. This is pretty cool since the pen has multiple buttons to which you can assign actions, and it feels nice and fluid to use on the display. Personally, Iâ€™d avoid picking it up since itâ€™s another accessory Iâ€™m bound to lose. But if you like to doodle on your phone, it could be useful, especially when used across two displays. Iâ€™m glad they added stylus support rather than not including it at all.
LG Velvet review: Specs
|LG Velvet specs|
|Display||6.8-inch Cinema FullVision display
20.5: 9 aspect ratio
LG Dual Screen functionality
|Processor||Snapdragon 765 5G|
|Cameras||Triple rear cameras:
|Connectivity||4G and 5G|
Value and competition
- LG Velvet: 6GB RAM, 128GB ROM â€” $599.99
In the United States, the LG Velvet retails for $599.99 on AT&T. In Germany, the phone retails for around â‚¬650.
This pricing puts LG in a bit of a tough spot. While the design of the Velvet is no doubt gorgeous, there is a lot of competition that is more powerful for the same price or less. Itâ€™s clear LG isnâ€™t necessarily going for power users with this device, but rather people who value the beauty of their smartphone.
If youâ€™re willing to spend more at $799, you could get a OnePlus 8, which has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor, 90Hz display, and faster 30W charging.
The LG V60 has some of the best battery life this year, the 865, and a quad DAC for $799 (or $899 with the Dual Screen.)
LG Velvet review: Should you buy it?
The LG Velvet wonâ€™t offer you any fancy bells and whistles such as a high refresh rate display, super-fast charging, or periscope cameras. That doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s bad, it just leaves a lot to be desired in a world where competition is sky high. Almost every phone on the market has at least one killer feature that would make you buy it above other devices. The LG Velvetâ€™s best feature â€” its design â€” isnâ€™t on the spec sheet.
So if youâ€™re someone who wants a bright, flashy phone, loves the headphone jack, and can deal with the lack of a killer feature, the LG Velvet is worth a look. But for most people, youâ€™ll probably want to look at theÂ competition.
What do you think about our LG Velvet review? Please add your thoughts to the comments below.