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LG Velvet 5G Review: Less Expensive, But No Less Fantastic
How much can LG pack into a mid-range phone? Quite a bit, turns out.
LG’s V60 5G is among my favorite flagship phones in 2020. It is a mid-range, 5G Android™ phone that's big on utility and usability.
I think it really deserves more shine than it has received, but for many it's the price point that may keep them from reaching for its large format, dual screen deliciousness. LG has eliminated that concern with the less expensive, but no less fantastic LG Velvet 5G. You can cuddle up to all this velvety goodness for $200 less than the LG V60, at $600 for the LG Velvet 5G. The V60 is a beast of a machine, however, at this discount, what do you get with the LG Velvet 5G?
5G Android Phone with Snapdragon 765
With a lower price point, you are going to deal with some sacrifices which are going to be imperceptible to the average user, in my humble opinion. LG employed a few cost-saving measures to bring the price of the Velvet 5G down, and one of them was by going with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765 processor instead of the top-of-the-line 865 processor, however both support 5G. But what does that actually mean for you?
In the scheme of day-to-day use, not a lot. While it's slower on paper, I haven't noticed a significant decrease in speed in average use. This Velvet 5G phone is fast enough, equipped with 6GB of RAM, compared with 8GB on the V60. Both screens are 6.8 inches, 2460x1080p, with a density of 395 pixels per inch.
LG Velvet 5G Charging & Battery Specs
You're going to get a smaller battery here on the LG Velvet 5G at 4,300mAh compared to the massive 5,000mAh on the V60. But with quick charging, which put me to 45% in just 30 minutes, I don’t think you’ll miss that 700mAh difference too much. Battery life is still outstanding as I benchmarked the phone at nine hours screen-on time for 13 hours off the charger, and still had 4% battery life left. If you're a heavy caller, that’s probably the place you'll most feel the loss of those 700 milliamp hours of capacity.
The LG Velvet 5G supports wireless charging. One quirk I've found with the dual screen accessory case and wireless charging, is that with the case on, wireless charging worked with only two of the three wireless chargers I have on hand. Two were charging pads where I laid the phone down on the charger, and one is a charging stand. I believe it was the design of the charging stand which kept it from working because the phone recognized it was on a wireless charging stand, the little light came on initially and it began charging, but then it lost the connection after a few moments. All three wireless charges were from different brands.
Aesthetically Pleasing Design
The Velvet 5G features LG's new Raindrop design, where the main camera barely sticks out of the back while the other two sit flush with the phone. Two things with this design. One, it is aesthetically pleasing and preferable to the large camera modules you’ll see on competing phones. And two, I generally don't complain about camera modules being unwieldy because the vast majority of users will be placing their phones in a case anyway.
The fingerprint sensor is as good as it's always been on LG devices. Once you get used to where you hit the sensor, you’ll have an easy time of it. Along the bottom of the phone, you’ll find a USB-C port, one of the phone's microphones, a 3.5mm headphone jack and half of the stereo pair of speakers.
LG Velvet 5G Audio is Nothing to Sneeze At
There's no digital analog converter on this phone, but the audio directly from the speakers themselves is nothing to sneeze at. LG's 3D AI audio engine is brilliant when it comes to movie content. It really does provide an immersive experience while watching content like The Witcher.
The sound coming from both of the Velvet’s speakers is tuned well enough that the nuances in the banquet hall are all there. Room echo and spatial imaging,that audio mixing process which makes people across the room sound like they're actually across the room, are all there. The nuances in the Urbance trailer make all the sounds audible.
When it comes to listening to music, I suggest turning off the 3D engine, which you can do right from the shortcuts in the notification shade. With it on, music sounds like it has an artificially stilted amount of reverb. I listened to Esperanza Spalding, Thundercat, and Zap Mama, all of which sounded very well on these small speakers without needing any enhancements. The bass was a bit more hollow on these speakers than the more expensive handsets, but I liked the sound from these more than the much pricier iPhone 11 Max.
LG Velvet 5G Pen Support
This phone can actually do quite a bit of what Samsung's Galaxy Note can, which I think I’ll have to compare head-to-head in a future article. Being an anime and robot-mech nerd, these LG phones, for me, are much akin to my favorite transformer, Soundwave. He was a master spy with a condor and panther cassette, and he was a master of communication himself, transforming into a boombox. His usefulness and utility to Megatron and their cause were not to be ignored.
In similar fashion, the LG Velvet 5G Android phone, a single screen phone can transform with some tricks which expand its utility and usefulness. Just like the V60, the Velvet supports the dual screen accessory, which I've found to be a very functional multitasking add on. For those of you who appreciate pen input, you’ll also get active pen support. I tested the Velvet 5G with the somewhat pricey Wacom Bamboo Ink Plus. You get some pretty cool functionality out of the pen input features on the LG Velvet, much like you do with the LG V60. My favorites are the screenshot tools, which allow you to do the normal things, like markup screen grabs, and more advanced activities like turning anything playing on your phone into an animated GIF.
Screen memo is a great feature for me as well. I can see it working well for anyone who works with multimedia or is in the creative industry. It allows you to watch a video and write notes over it at the same time. From a content creator standpoint or someone who's just really active on social media, the added functionality is a welcome addition. I may have to do a tips and tricks video just on these features alone.
Dual Screen Accessory Case
The LG Velvet’s dual screen accessory is, in my opinion, an upgrade over the V60. No, you don't get a larger display window for that outer cover display, but what you do get is a solid color front instead of the fingerprinted smudge magnet that was this mirror finish glossy black front cover on the LG V60. Instead of a soft touch material on the back of the case of the dual screen accessory, this time it's more slick so you get a little less grip. In terms of functionality it's all there, for the most part. You're going to get notifications on the 2.1 inch monochrome outer display. It has a magnetic dongle that allows you to charge the device while in the case, and the magnet on it is really strong. Also, the case protects the front and the back of the phone.
As for software, you'll have a quirk and some upgrades. With the V60, when the phone is locked and you flip the screen open, both sides are activated, and you see your wallpaper on both screens while the phone is still locked. With the Velvet 5G, both screens do come to life and become active when opening the displays. However, your wallpaper shows only on the main screen until you unlock the device. Perhaps this is where that difference in RAM comes in, or maybe it's just a software update issue.
LG Velvet 5G Multi-App Features
One new feature I like is the ability to pair apps to launch simultaneously using the multi-app feature. In a folder placed on the home screen of the second screen, LG has already paired a few apps for the multi-app launch shortcuts for you. When you go into the multi-app shortcut settings menu, any further multi-app shortcuts you create will be placed on the home screen.
Aside from that, the features I've described in previous articles about the V60, they're all herewith the LG Velvet 5G, even the ability to work in tandem with your camera app so that you can see shots you've just taken. The ability to use the second screen for the video game controller, and the ability to view apps across both screens, despite still dealing with the hinge being in the middle of your content, it's all there.
In a future review article, I’ll be taking a look at two other phones in this price point, which are also 5G devices so you can decide which will work best for you. $600 for the LG Velvet 5G phone that is feature packed, is it worth it? If near-flagship specs and 5G are your raspberry jam, this may just be the phone for you.