The LG Velvet was a strange move from LG. Instead of getting the LG G9 this year, we’ve seen an earlier-than-usual V series phone, and a midrange but premium phone to fill out LG’s lineup.
While it’s clear that the Velvet wasn’t designed to replace the LG G9, it tries to tackle an emerging segment of the market that’s heating up for other companies. It’s competing more with the Google Pixel 5, any OnePlus phone, an iPhone 11, or anything else that’s not busting up against the $1000 price barrier.
But that’s a crowded field with some really good phones. Can the LG Velvet compete? Let’s find out.
This is probably the area where LG tried to make the Velvet stand out the most. Despite its relatively cheaper price tag and midrange specs, you’re still getting something that’s built like a $1000 phone. Mostly.
It’s a 6.8-inch display that’s plenty big for just about anyone, and it uses a nicer glass body that allows wireless charging. The edges are curved, which seems to be the standard for all premium phones these days, and it feels pretty good. It doesn’t have the same weight that a similar premium phone would have, but LG phones seem like they’ve always been a little lighter than average. The bezels around the display aren’t tiny, but again, they’re fine; it’s all fine.
It just doesn’t stick out. I reviewed the silver color, which doesn’t particularly stand out, and it just looks like an uninspired slab of a smartphone with a big screen. There’s nothing wrong with that, but on paper the LG Velvet doesn’t have a lot going for it. It needs to stand out in some way, and design should’ve been the answer. Instead we got something that is, once again, fine.
On the bright side, you’ll find a headphone jack alongside the USB-C port at the bottom, offset by a small set of speakers. The power button is on the right side while the volume buttons/Google Assistant button are on the left. Those sides really show off a sharp curve for the LG Velvet, which is actually the opposite direction that Samsung’s been going with the Galaxy S line.
|LG V60 ThinQ|
|Released||March 20th, 2020|
|Display||6.8-Inch P-OLED 2460×1080 display, 60Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, Gorilla Glass 5|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G Octa-core, 64-bit, Adreno 620 GPU|
|Storage||128GB, UFS 2.1|
|Rear Cameras||48MP main camera, 8MP ultrawide, 5MP depth sensor, LED flash, gyro-EIS|
|Front Camera||16MP selfie camera|
|Security||In-Display Fingerprint Sensor|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.1, WLAN: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, OTG, 5G|
|Charging||Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0+, USB PD 3.0|
|Dimensions||167.2 x 74.1 x 7.9 mm|
|Colors||Aurora White, Aurora Green, Aurora Gray, Illusion Sunset, Red, Pink|
LG opted for a Snapdragon 765G to keep the price of the Velvet more reasonable, but that fortunately doesn’t mean you get too much of a performance trade-off. In fact, for most people I don’t actually think you’d be able to pick out a difference between a Snapdragon 865 or a Snapdragon 765 if I didn’t tell you ahead of time. 6/8GB RAM configurations are enough for multitasking, too.
It’s a standard 60Hz refresh rate on the screen, but the display is genuinely pretty good. It’s bright and crisp, and great for playing games and watching movies. The speakers are okay, but LG has dropped the Quad DAC of its other flagship phones. It’s a mixed bag here, but at least the vibration motor is solid and responsive.
The battery life on the LG Velvet is pretty good, but I’ll preempt this by mentioning that I’m not in a 5G area. LG is using the Snapdragon 765G with an integrated 5G modem that should allow for more efficient 5G connectivity, but I don’t have a way to test that. We’re basing this all off 4G, so your experience may vary a bit if you’re chasing the fastest network speeds around.
Getting through an entire day and then some wasn’t uncommon with the Velvet, and it supports wireless charging (come on, OnePlus) and fast charging if you’re still using a cable. All in all a very good experience, probably thanks to the phone’s bigger size and efficient chipset.
The LG Velvet is running Android 10, and with LG’s upgrade habits and carrier interference, it might be stuck there for a while.
We’ve discussed Android 10 on LG phones before, which you can see in our other reviews. I don’t want to repeat myself too much so we’ll list some of the things that those other phones do that are identical here.
Dark mode is finally here natively in LG’s software, and it works like you’d expect out of Android: schedules, auto-changing, etc.
The new UX focuses a little more on floating notifications and cards, which also seems to be the trend for newer Android skins, and LG has their own implementation of contextual actions. You can set up specific profiles for your location, like when you’re at home or at work, and you can have certain apps launch when you plug headphones in or connect a Bluetooth device. You can have your favorite music app when you connect your headphones, for example, or launch a certain game when your Bluetooth controller pairs with your phone.
LG’s software definitely feels like it’s improved over the last few years, but it still kind of feels like something’s missing. LG has fallen in line with making their skin more in line with regular old Android, which is fine for most people, but it does make it hard for their phones to really stand out anymore. Samsung flipped TouchWiz on its head and everyone’s felt really great about One UI, so it’s not a huge stretch to think LG could pull off a similar software redesign.
The camera is another thing that ends up just being fine on the Velvet. You can get some pretty good (albeit slightly oversharpened) phones out of this thing, but I don’t know if it’s enough to stave off competition from the Pixel or Galaxy S20 FE.
Regular shots turn out well, although they can seem a little muted in certain environments.
Outdoor shots are passable. It doesn’t seem to capture as much light as some other newer midrange phones, but you’ll still easily be able to use this outdoors or at a bar.
This one’s a tough recommendation. I generally do like LG phones, but very few things about the LG Velvet wowed me enough to make it seem like a smart purchase, especially this late in the year.
If you know you like LG phones and you’re just itching for an affordable 5G, it’s not a bad phone. But LG and its partner carriers are asking upwards of $600 for this phone before any deals, and that’s a really tough sell when you can get a Galaxy S20 FE or Pixel 5 for around the same price, both of which offer either better cameras or better processing power. Let’s not even get started with updates.
The premium midrange segment of the market is really exciting, and I’m glad LG is addressing it. I don’t think their first attempt really panned out, but an LG Velvet 2 could be a winner.