LG’s new Q-family of phones — that includes the Q6 Alpha, the Q6 and the Q6 Plus — brings the flagship G6’s marquee feature, that is its unusual 18:9 Full Vision display, to the masses. If you’ve liked — I know I did — the G6 and its big screen that fits, chances are, you’ll be right at home with LG’s new Q-series phones. Even more so, if you’re someone on a tight budget. The Q6 Alpha, the Q6 and the Q6 Plus, for your reference, are quite literally the same deal and differ only in terms of RAM and internal storage. While the Q6 Alpha ships with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage, the Q6 and the Q6 Plus come with 3GB RAM/32GB storage and 4GB RAM/64GB storage.
LG has launched the Q6 in India for now with the Q6 Plus expected to arrive here sometime in early September. “We have always brought marquee features in our flagships and we have gone ahead, made much more efforts by our R&D to bring those features into slightly lower mid-end segment,” Amit Gujral who is head of corporate marketing, LG Electronics India explained to me not long ago. The Q6 — as also the Q6 Alpha and the Q6 Plus — as a result comes with an unusual 18:9 Full Vision display — instead of a regular 16:9 — much like the G6. But unlike the G6, which was launched at a price of Rs 51,990 (now retailing for as low as Rs 40,000), the Q6 costs just Rs 14,990.
Design and build quality
The Q6 is an all-plastic phone. But, it feels really solid. And reassuring. This is because LG has made use of high-quality materials to build the Q6. The Q6, as a result, feels nothing like LG’s other run-of-the-mill mid-level offerings. It feels more premium. From every nook and corner. The Q6 — although it has an all-plastic body — boasts of 7000 series aluminum — the same material that Apple uses in its iPhones — on the sides and a shock-dispersing design that when combined together, give the phone a ‘built like a tank’ quality, more or less on the same lines as the G6.
The Q6 isn’t just about fancy gimmicks though. It comes with well-optimised — if a little cluttered — software and a pretty capable rear camera
The Q6, in addition, has also passed Military-grade MIL-STD 810G tests which include 26 different angle drop tests from chest height, LG claims. LG’s phone is as flat as they come, and also it has sharp corners that are a little raised out so the phone could bear accidental drops and come out unscathed. The front, meanwhile, comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. But because the Q6 has been designed for the mid-level segment, there is obviously some cost cutting. You may not miss a G6-like IP68 certification for dust and water resistance on this one, but, you’ll most definitely loath not having a fingerprint scanner on-board even though you do get facial recognition tech for cheap. While we are on that, well, let’s just say, a fingerprint scanner would have been much more convenient. Using your face to unlock the Q6 is not a very pleasant experience. In fact, it’s frustrating. A) It’s not perfect B) It’s slow C) It’s almost impossible to use in low light D) It’s not safe. Clearly, it’s everything that a phone unlocking mechanism shouldn’t be and yet it is the only way — apart from using the old-school PIN and password — to unlock your phone on the Q6.
LG doesn’t make slim phones. It doesn’t make light-weight phones either. The Q6 is no different. Good thing is, not a lot of phones around Rs 15,000 can really brag about paper thin dimensions, so you’re more likely to overlook this aspect on the Q6 as well. What really adds another dimension to the Q6, however, is its ‘big screen that fits.’ The phone comes with ridiculously slim bezels allowing the display to take up over 80 per cent of its front side.
The unusual 18:9 aspect ratio — on-board the Q6 — makes phones longer than wider and is harbinger of edge-to-edge screen design that in turn leads to more real estate on a compact form factor. The LG Q6, likewise, is a 5.5-inch phone, something that would make you believe — going by its specs — that it would be a huge phone. Only it isn’t. LG has shaved off the top and bottom bezels, as well as the side bezels, stretching the screen on all sides so it occupies a much smaller footprint than a regular 5.5-inch phone. The flat surface and sharp edges on the front, meanwhile, ensure the phone sticks to your hand and stays put, like no other in and around its price segment.
What really concerns me, though, is that the rear of the Q6 is extremely prone to scratches. It may survive a fall or two, but, it will most definitely leave a mark.
Moving on, the Q6 has its power button on the right, while the volume rocker and dedicated slots — for two SIM cards and storage expansion — lie on the left. The phone uses micro-USB 2.0 port for charging and data syncing and comes with a mono speaker vent on the back.
The 5.5-inch FHD+ 18:9 Full Vision display of the Q6 boasts of a 2160×1080 pixel resolution. Just like the G6, colours on-board the Q6 also appear muted and peak brightness levels leave a lot to the imagination. The screen is also prone to some reflection. All in all, the Q6 display may seem adequate indoors, outdoor legibility especially in direct sunlight could be a challenge. Viewing angles are quite good though.
The mid-level Q6 looks every bit as futuristic as LG’s flagship G6. It feel as good, if not better, and is built from scratch to take a beating something that not a lot of phones at around Rs 15,000 can really brag about
The star, of course, is LG’s hallmark Full Vision display. It’s true that content suitable for the Q6’s unusual aspect ratio is less — for now — but we’re now gradually seeing more and more companies toying with the idea of bezel-less screens so it is only about time the content starts catching up big time. Videos that don’t support the Q6’s native 18:9 aspect ratio will play fine, but, with letter-boxing (black bars on either side) of the screen. The same is true for games as well. Web pages work fine though. In fact, the Q6 with its long screen is best suited for web-scrolling, jotting down notes and browsing social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The Full Vision display of the Q6 when combined with LG’s Android Nougat-based UX software allows users to run apps in two perfectly square windows side by side. The feature, which seems to be a gradual progression of Android Nougat’s split-screen multitasking capabilities, has been extended to the camera software as well. It’s cool, but again, not many apps outside LG’s stock support it yet.
The camera app in the case of the LG G6, similarly, comes with a specialised Square mode that has been designed to make best use of the phone’s one-of-a-kind aspect ratio. It allows users to take a picture and then simultaneously review the same in a square — 1:1 — identical to the one offered by the view-finder.
LG’s UX software may not be the best looking in the business — in fact it’s ugly and cluttered — but at least it’s well optimised with the available hardware. It’s smooth sailing 9 out of 10 times, but, LG should think about getting rid of some of the bloat or unwanted apps along the way as well.
Moving on, LG’s new phone gives you a spring board of apps and widgets spanning multiple home screens much like it is in the iPhone to begin with. There’s a way around LG’s approach to bring back the app drawer for those who like a more stock Android look and feel. That it can be done without deploying any third-party themes is a plus. You can either use the pre-installed EasyHome theme or download and install the Home 4.0 launcher from its app store.
Still, LG’s take on Android isn’t entirely a lost cause especially when you compare it with the UIs employed by certain Chinese OEMs who blindly follow the iPhone with no thought or logic. LG’s UX, save the no app drawer thing, is totally different from its peers in look as well as functionality. It may take some time getting used to initially but once you’re through that phase it’s pretty much a smooth ride. The software also offers a lot of customisation options, which should impress those who like to tailor-make the way their phone looks.
The Q6, in addition, comes with something called as App Scaling that lets you manually adjust the screen size of downloaded apps. You can chose to run them in standard or full screen format.
Performance and battery life
The LG Q6 is powered by a 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor coupled with Adreno 505 GPU and 3GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of internal storage which is further expandable by up to 128GB via a dedicated micro-SD card slot. The dual-SIM phone supports 4G LTE (VoLTE-ready) and USB OTG.
Core hardware is where the Q6 really fails to shine, even more so because you get similar specs at roughly half the cost in a phone like the Xiaomi Redmi 4. Don’t mind me, the Q6 is mostly quick and responsive with no over-the-top visible lags or stutter while navigating between home screens and/or multitasking, but at the end of the day, you’ll have to understand that the Q6 — even though it costs Rs 15,000 — carries an entry-level processor that has its limitations. Also, being based on an older 28nm manufacturing process means it’s not as thermal efficient as phones powered by say a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625. At its price point, a Snapdragon 625 would have been ideal.
Instead, you get a Snapdragon 435 which although fairly neat and efficient, has lots of room for improvement. This means the Q6 is prone to some lag and stutter especially during extended usage. Opening too many apps at the same time, or too many tabs opened in the Chrome browser all at once, would entail in a not so seamless experience. Basic games are handled well, but GPU-intensive games are prone to lag when being played at maxed out settings for longer periods. The phone, in addition, also has a tendency to get warm on occasions.
The mono speaker on-board the LG Q6 is average at best. It gets loud but there is often some digitisation observed at peak volume. Also, its rear placement means the sound gets muffled quite a bit when the phone is placed back facing down. Voice quality during calls made with the Q6 was excellent.
The 3,000mAh battery inside the LG Q6 should last for at least a full working day for most users with more generalised usage, although there are phones with bigger and better batteries now at lower prices.
The 13-megapixel rear-facing camera on-board the LG Q6 captures some good-looking photos in good light with good amount of detail and mostly spot-on (if a little oversaturated) colours. LG’s phone is also able to capture well-enough photos in tricky light situations with good detail. Low light photos are prone to noise.
I really liked the camera — and its neat software tricks that make use of the phone’s unusual aspect ratio — of the Q6, even more so considering its price point, but it’s surely not perfect. The Q6 has some serious trouble focusing on the given subject and even though it gives you a fancy view-finder — akin to a DSLR — while taking photos, unless you go about manually focusing on your subject, be prepared for some really blurry out of focus shots. Also, the shutter speed goes for a real toss when lighting is inadequate.
The 5-megapixel camera on the front that comes with a ‘wide’ field of view meanwhile is average at best.
Should you buy it?
The LG Q6, for all intents and purposes, can be considered as a mini G6. The mid-level Q6 looks every bit as futuristic as LG’s flagship G6. It feel as good, if not better, and is built from scratch to take a beating (although that plastic back is susceptible to scratches) something that not a lot of phones at around Rs 15,000 can really brag about. Its 18:9 Full Vision display, meanwhile, adds a third dimension to the Q6, much like the G6. LG has even gone on and added the same set of software gimmicks to it, to make that unusual aspect ratio count, as the flagship G6. Unlike the G6, however, the Q6 costs just Rs 14,990.
The Q6 isn’t just about fancy gimmicks though. It comes with well-optimised — if a little cluttered — software and a pretty capable rear camera.
It’s surely not perfect. It’s not as powerful as some of the other phones in and around its price range for instance. It could have done with a bigger battery as well. Not to forget, it’s missing out on a fingerprint scanner. When you look at competition, it’s giving you pretty much all of this at lower prices save that gorgeous Full Vision screen. That, only LG, can offer at this point of time. If you’re someone who fancies that, the Q6 wouldn’t disappoint. But if I were you I’d wait for sometime. LG is known to slash the prices of its phones more frequently than others in the trade so it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the Q6 gets a price cut soon enough. For everybody else, there are certainly better options in the market right now.