LG Velvet Review | NDTV Gadgets 360January 14, 2021
LG took a unique approach to foldable smartphones with its LG G8X ThinQ. While Samsung and Huawei were looking at flexible screens that could unfold to turn a smartphone into a tablet, LG simply slapped on a case with a second display to double the screen real estate you get. This had a few advantages, such as cost saving and the lack of a complex mechanism which made the G8X ThinQ a lot less delicate than folding phones. Now, the company has taken this approach yet again with the LG Velvet, also known as the LG Velvet 4G in international markets. The Velvet is a little different from the LG G8X ThinQ, which it’s inspired by, but does it offer the same kind of value? Check out my review to find out.
LG Velvet design
The LG Velvet has a bigger primary screen than the LG G8X ThinQ (Review). It measures 6.8 inches and has a taller 20.5:9 aspect ratio, which makes the LG Velvet tall but narrow. As a result, holding this smartphone isn’t a problem but reaching the top of the display definitely is. The Velvet is relatively thin, measuring 7.9mm in thickness, and light, tipping the scales at 180g. Its display curves around the sides, reminding me of some Samsung Galaxy S series smartphones. The back is curved at the edges as well. The frame of the device is made of metal and is thin on the sides. The LG Velvet does feel premium, overall.
The bezels on the LG Velvet are quite thin but the presence of a dewdrop notch is surprising considering that hole-punch displays are the flavour of the season. You do get an in-display CMOS fingerprint sensor. It is well-positioned, making it easy to unlock the smartphone. I quite like the button placement on the LG Velvet – the power button is on the right side while the volume buttons and the dedicated Google Assistant button are on the left, and they’re all easy to reach. The SIM tray is on the top along with the secondary microphone, whereas the USB Type-C port, loudspeaker, and 3.5mm headphone jack are at the bottom.
At the back, the LG Velvet has a triple camera setup, placed in a corner. Each lens is mounted separately. The primary camera sensor is slightly raised and has a protective ring around it. LG offers the Velvet in Aurora Silver and Black. I had the former for review, and it has a mirror-like finish,which picked up smudges rather easily.
LG advertisers Quick Charge 3.0 25W fast charging support but you only get a 16.2W charger in the box. The Velvet packs in a 4300mAh battery and it is IP68 rated for dust and water resistance, along with MIL-STD-810G certification. The LG Velvet is priced at Rs. 36,990 in India on its own, and it can be bought along with the dual-screen accessory for Rs. 44,990. The accessory on its own costs Rs. 13,000.
LG Velvet specifications and software
The LG Velvet has a big 6.8-inch P-OLED display with a resolution of 2460 x 1080 pixels. The dual-screen accessory also has the same display specifications, including a notch with no camera. Both panels have 60Hz refresh rates, while the competition now offers 90Hz and 120Hz panels. Powering the Velvet is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC which is a little surprising now, considering that it’s dated and will not perform as well as current-day chips. The LG G8X ThinkQ had the more powerful Snapdragon 855 SoC. On the LG Velvet you get 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, with no variants. There’s a hybrid dual-SIM tray which allows storage expansion at the cost of a second SIM. Connectivity options on the LG Velvet include Bluetooth 5.1, dual-band Wi-Fi ac, and dual 4G VoLTE. It also gets stereo speakers which are a good addition.
The LG Velvet runs Android 10 with a few customisations. It got an update to the December Android security patch during this review. The UI is easy to use and I did not face any issues. You can enable an app drawer or have all the app icons on the home screen. Apart from a few LG and Google apps, the Velvet does have some preinstalled bloatware including Facebook, Instagram, Whale browser, Booking.com, Asphalt 9, Modern Combat 5, DH5, and Sniper Fury. The phone did not push any spammy notifications during the review.
LG Velvet Dual Screen accessory
I did use the dual-screen accessory that LG provided with the Velvet, and the overall experience reminded me of my time with the LG G8X ThinQ. After popping the Velvet into the case, you need to enable the second screen using a toggle in the Quick Settings panel. You can use certain apps across both displays like they’re a single large screen thanks to a feature called Wide View. The list of supported apps isn’t huge but several Google apps now support this feature. I used Google Maps and YouTube this way, and while I could see twice as much information, it wasn’t very intuitive. The big hinge between the two displays is definitely distracting when using any app.
While it is easy to pop the LG Velvet into the dual-screen case, it isn’t very easy to get it out. The case sold along with the LG G8X ThinQ had a big cutout at the back which made it very easy to push the phone out. You don’t need to separate the Velvet often though, since the case has pins at the bottom to charge the smartphone. The case comes with a tiny connector that snaps on to your USB Type-C cable and makes contact with the pins magnetically. You can also use wireless charging, which works while the phone is in the case.
The case has another small display on the outside which shows basic information such as the time, date, and battery level. It also shows icons of apps with pending notifications. I like that it lights up when you raise the smartphone, showing you your important information.
LG Velvet performance and battery life
The LG Velvet offers decent performance, but this isn’t a very strong point. The dated processor won’t affect day-to-day usage. I could go about using apps and multitasking without any noticeable lag. With the dual-screen accessory, multitasking is significantly easier as you can have two apps running side by side without any hiccups. If you are a multitasker, constantly switching between apps throughout the day, the LG Velvet might make life easier for you.
The big main display on the LG Velvet is definitely an advantage for content consumption. To add to that, the stereo speakers do make watching videos and playing games more engaging. LG has an audio enhancement called 3D Sound Engine which makes a noticeable difference to audio quality. The in-display fingerprint scanner is quick and never needed more than one attempt to work.
I ran our usual benchmark tests to see how the LG Velvet fares. It managed to score 318,732 in AnTuTu, as well as 516 and 2,209 points respectively in Geekbench 5’s single-core and multi-core tests. In GFXBench’s T-Rex and Car Chase tests , it managed 60fps and 29fps respectively. These benchmark scores are lower than those of the LG G8X ThinQ.
I played Call of Duty Mobile on the LG Velvet and it defaulted to the Very High graphics quality and High frame rate settings. The game was playable at these settings without any issues. However, the battery does drain at a high rate at these settings, and the phone was down by 4 percent in just 10 minutes of gameplay. It also got warm after playing for 20 minutes. You can play games using the secondary display as a controller. Some games support this natively, and for others, you can map on-screen buttons manually. I played Asphalt 9 using the controller and it felt engaging, although not as much as the triggers on some gaming smartphones.
The LG Velvet lasted me about a day and a half with ordinary usage, but the battery life went down slightly when I used the dual-screen case. If you play a lot of games, you might need to plug this phone in for charging a little sooner. In our HD video loop test, the LG Velvet went on for 17 hours and 24 minutes which is good considering its big display and the 4,300mAh battery. Charging times were average, with the phone getting to 38 percent in 30 minutes and taking a little over an hour and a half to charge completely.
LG Velvet camera performance
The LG Velvet has a triple camera system consisting of a 48-megapixel wide-angle primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, and a depth sensor. For selfies, it has a 16-megapixel front camera in the dewdrop notch. The LG Velvet captures photos at 12-megapixel resolution by default, but you do get the option to take them at the full 48-megapixel resolution. The camera app is well laid-out and you won’t struggle to find the right settings. There is a manual camera mode that lets you tweak settings. I found the LG Velvet to be quick to focus with equally fast AI scene recognition. If you have the Dual Screen accessory attached, you can use the secondary display to check photos you’ve just taken. It can also work as a viewfinder.
Daylight shots taken with the LG Velvet were crisp, and objects at a distance also had good detail. The AI enables HDR automatically when shooting in bright conditions. Photos had good dynamic range but the phone unnecessarily boosted sharpness in a few situations. The ultra-wide-angle camera offers a 120-degree field of view but photos were not as crisp as those taken with the primary camera.
Close-up shots turned out well too. In a few shots, I noticed that the AI had boosted colour a bit. Portraits were also good the phone lets you select the level of blur before taking a shot. My subjects appeared sharp in these portrait shots, with good edge detection.
The AI could detect low light and set the camera up accordingly. It would take about two seconds to take a shot, and managed decent details in low light. Toggling Night mode causes the phone to take a long exposure shot, and you will need to keep it steady. Photos taken in Night mode were slightly brighter and had marginally better detail, but moving objects caused motion blur in most photos.
Selfies taken using the LG Velvet had very good detail. There is a portrait mode as well, which managed good edge detection and blurred the background quite well. Low-light selfies with a light source nearby turned out well.
Video recording tops out at 4K for the primary as well as the selfie shooter. Footage shot at 1080p as well as 4K was well stabilised in daylight. There is a Steady Cam mode as well, which uses the ultra-wide angle camera for shooting and crops the frame to reduce shakes. Footage shot in daylight with Steady Cam was stable even while pacing around. Low-light footage was decent, but a shimmer effect was visible in the output as the phone tried to apply stabilisation. There is an ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) shooting mode as well, which bumps up microphone sensitivity to help you record and amplify even mild sounds
While LG’s idea of a foldable smartphone is cost-effective, it does not have the same wow factor as true foldable phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Fold. It will appeal mainly to multitaskers who should be able to take advantage of the dual display setup. The USP of the LG Velvet is its dual-screen accessory, and if you are looking to buy this phone, you should get the bundle. Outright performance is something that the LG Velvet is missing out on though, and if that’s what you want, you could instead consider the OnePlus 8T (Review) at this price level.
The LG Velvet does not have a lot of direct competition given its unique form factor. However, you could consider the LG G8X ThinQ an affordable alternative. The LG G8X ThinQ was recently offered at an enormous discount and is still on sale at a lower price than the LG Velvet.