LG V60 ThinQ 5G review: A less exciting but cheaper Galaxy S20 alternative

Available in the US from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, the LG V60 ThinQ 5G is a premium phone poised to compete against the Galaxy S20. Though it’s a lofty opponent to take on, the LG V60 has a couple of things that make it stand out. One is low tech (a headphone jack) and the other is more advanced: a special Dual Screen case that doubles the size of its display. Though the accessory is nice to have and has a handful of useful tricks, it’s definitely not a necessity.

Like

  • Long battery life so far
  • Headphone jack
  • Two screens can be useful

Don’t Like

  • Bulky Dual Screen design
  • Nothing exciting in terms of software

With the case, the phone costs from $900 to $950 depending on the carrier, which is still cheaper than the grand you’ll have to pay to buy the Galaxy S20. (LG has not announced UK and Australia availability for the LG V60, but that’s about £730 to £770 and AU$1,480-AU$1,560.) Without the case, the LG V60 is $800. That’s a $200 difference compared with the $999 Galaxy S20, making it a significant save. 

The LG V60 is a great phone. It takes vibrant photos, has a promising long battery life (though final results aren’t in yet and we’ll keep you updated) and a polished design. But the phone doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of the Galaxy S20 to keep it competitive and interesting. That includes a 120Hz display, reverse wireless charging and a telephoto camera. To me, that’s worth $50 extra (if you plan on buying the V60 with the Dual Screen case). But if you want the V60 without the case, you’ll save $200 from what you would have spent on the Galaxy S20. For that price, the V60 is a great Android device.

LG V60 is big, brawny and blue

With its larger 6.8-inch display (compared to the V50’s 6.4-inch screen), the V60 is huge. While that makes for a comfortable viewing experience when watching videos and browsing the web, it was nearly impossible for me to navigate with one hand without dropping the phone. The case also has these vertical ridges that run down its back, which doesn’t help with the bulk either. I liked V50’s smooth plastic back better.

My gripes with size aside, the V60’s display is brilliant. Colors are rich and vibrant and I found the screen easy to view in sunlight during my short walks of sanity around the neighborhood. I also like the build itself: It’s heavy but it feels luxurious. Compared to the more playful pastel blue of the Galaxy S20, the V60’s cobalt blue variant looks sophisticated with its gold trimming.

Keep in mind that the V60 has a 60Hz display. Because it’s common in most phones, that’s not a deal breaker for me, but if you want to be on the bleeding edge of tech, the Galaxy S20 and the upcoming OnePlus 8 phones, for example, have displays that refresh 120 times a second.

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The V60 in blue and white.


Angela Lang/CNET

Using the V60’s dual display

The Dual Screen accessory comes in handy more times than I anticipated, but that’s usually because I use it as a kickstand — like when I’m propping it on the kitchen counter to look at a recipe (like everyone else, I’m learning new recipes these days), or when I’m watching videos in bed. (YouTubing at night is a bad habit that I recently picked up, and I don’t recommend it.)

Learning how to work the Dual Screen takes time too. Even though I reviewed the V50 last year, it still took me a while to comfortably know my way around the Dual Screen’s control keys, which pop up on the screen once you connect to the accessory. The controls let you turn on and off either screen, multitask on both, or expand certain apps so the whole thing works like a tablet. You can also use one screen as a digital gaming controller. 

When you use that “expanded view” option, there’s still a big hinge that cuts right down the middle, which obstructs videos and apps. Needless to say, with that black line in the center, the V60 doesn’t offer the same kind of seamless folding experience as the Motorola Razr or Galaxy Z Flip. But there are other advantages. I like that I can remove the case, so I can have a phone when I’m on-the-go, or switch to a tablet-like experience back at home.

Note that the way the case comes bundled with the V60 will vary from carrier to carrier, so keep an eye out for any restrictions. Last year, a few US carriers included the case for the LG G8X ThinQ for free. But after a limited time, you had to pay extra for it and carriers such as AT&T ended the two-for-one deal.

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Using the V60’s Dual Screen accessory.


Angela Lang/CNET

LG V60’s dual rear cameras capture great shots

You’ll find a standard and wide-angle camera on the back of the V60. The phone’s photos are vibrant and clear, and the camera did a good job at locking in on moving objects and keeping them in focus. You can see it in the image of flowers blowing in the wind that I’ve included below. The camera’s 10x digital zoom was great at getting up close to this bear sculpture and its Night View mode lit up this evening photo beautifully. Samsung’s Galaxy S20 can zoom up to 30 times, by comparison, but 10x is usually where we draw the line at capturing a usable photo. 

The Galaxy S20 also has a third telephoto lens, unlike the V60. Instead, the V60 has a third time-of-flight camera for AR and depth-sensing applications. You can’t take photos with it by itself, but it’s used to employ effects like stickers and LG’s native 3D photo effect, which is new to the V60. This lets you take portrait pictures with a moving sense of depth — you may have seen similar ones posted on Facebook. The mode is a bit rough around the edges: When I took a photo holding up a peace sign, the depth effect ended up being grayed out and wonky around my fingers and flyaway hair.

Despite being blown back and forth by the wind, this flower managed to stay in focus for this shot.


Lynn La/CNET

This late evening shot was brightened up by the phone’s Night View mode.


Lynn La/CNET

A few bear sculptures in a tree.


Lynn La/CNET

Zooming in 10x on the farthest bear.


Lynn La/CNET

A late afternoon shot of a rose garden taken in evening light.


Lynn La/CNET

On the front of the V60 is a 10-megapixel camera, which takes fine selfies with portrait blur too. In some photos it did a great job of handling the fallout between the fore- and background around tricky parts like my hair and the fur trim around my coat. But there were times when the bokeh effect was patchy and unnatural looking.

Video capture was decent as well. But when I captured footage of a bird about five feet away in 1080p resolution, things got muddier when I started to zoom. The camera can record up to 8K, however, similar to the Galaxy S20.

LG V60’s processor and promising battery life 

Like its competitors, the LG V60 is powered by the Snapdragon 865 chipset, which keeps everything running smoothly. I didn’t run into any hiccups or lag while browsing the web, watching videos or playing games. The camera also launches and captures photos instantly. On paper, the V60 also beat out the Galaxy S20 and took the lead in both 3DMark’s Slingshot Unlimited test and Geekbench 5’s two tests. Their results weren’t far apart, however, and it’s doubtful there’s any difference in speed when it comes to day-to-day use.

3DMark Slingshot Unlimited

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.5.0 single-core

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.5.0 multicore

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

We’re updating the way we run our battery tests this year, so final results aren’t in yet. I will, however, say that so far the V60’s 5,000-mAh battery lasts an exceptionally long time. I ran tests for continuous video playback on Airplane mode and the phone averaged a whopping 31 hours, 14 minutes. For comparison, the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which has the same battery capacity, lasted 21 hours when its display was set to 60Hz. The V60’s run is impressive, lasting longer than any phone we ran in 2019. But we’re going to test it again while streaming video, and I’ll update this review when I get the final results. When times come in, it’s possible my battery observations will change. But things look promising so far.

Lastly, 5G coverage is rolling out nationwide throughout the year and the V60 is a 5G phone. During my time with an AT&T review unit, the 5G indicator was on the whole time and AT&T does have 5G coverage in the Bay Area. However, when I ran speed tests on Ookla, the phone was only able to connect to the carrier’s LTE network. Download and upload speeds were about on par with a 4G LTE phone on AT&T (the V60’s average 194Mbps for download speeds and 36Mbps for upload speeds). As of this report, AT&T is looking into this, so given all the variables involved — different networks, location and coverage — your experience will differ from mine.

LG V60 vs. Galaxy S20 spec chart

LG V60 ThinQ 5G Samsung Galaxy S20
Display size, resolution 6.8-inch OLED; 2,460×1,080 pixels 6.2-inch AMOLED
Pixel density 395ppi 563ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.67×3.06×0.35 in 2.72×5.97×0.311 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 169.3×77.6×8.79 mm 69.1×151.7×7.9 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 7.72 oz; 218g 5.75 oz; 163g
Mobile software Android 10 Android 10
Camera 64-megapixel (standard), 13-megapixel (wide-angle), time-of-flight camera 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 64-megapixel (telephoto), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide)
Front-facing camera 10-megapixel 10-megapixel
Video capture 8K 8K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 64-bit octa-core processor (Max 2.7GHz + 2.5 GHz + 2.0 GHz)
Storage 128GB 128GB
RAM 8GB 12GB
Expandable storage Up to 2TB Up to 1TB
Battery 5,000 mAh 4,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen In-screen
Connector USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack Yes No
Special features 5G enabled; water resistant (IP68); Dual Screen accessory 5G enabled; 120Hz refresh rate; water resistant (IP68)
Price off-contract (USD) $800 (without Dual Screen case); $900-$950 (with) $999