Call it a symptom of my tech journalist bubble, but somewhere over the past couple of years, I’ve lost the ability to be truly excited about new iPhones. Apple has contributed to this feeling, having kept its design changes incremental or, in the case of the headphone jack, haughtily unfriendly to the user. Apple’s partners have also helped things along by leaking almost everything about each new device, including the latest one to come this September.
Android phones, in the meantime, have been going through a renaissance of ever more sophisticated design and improving camera performance. Witness the Galaxy S8 with its multiaxial symmetry, or the OnePlus 5 with its iPhone-esque refinement, or the HTC U11 in its iridescent Solar Red garb, and you’ll find so much more visual variety and intrigue. And if you want to take great photos, the list starts with the U11, Google’s Pixel phones, Samsung’s flagship, and then maybe there’s a spot for an iPhone.
The above is why I’m finding myself more excited about Android phones as a general class, but what I didn’t expect to be saying right about now is that an LG phone is the most intriguing one to look out for. And yet, the LG V30 is shaping up to be a formidable challenger: f/1.6 lens, 6-inch OLED display, thin as hell, and even slimmer bezels than the G6 from earlier this year. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S8 and leaked photos of the Note 8, the V30 even has its fingerprint sensor in the right place.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, when has it ever been a good idea to get hyped up about an LG phone? Well, the V10 of two years ago had the best camera (in my judgment) at its time of release, and the V20 from last year has become the gold standard for audiophiles that want their phones to also be their portable media players. So LG’s V-series has quietly asserted its technical credentials among niche audiences. It’s just never had the design refinement to match, and early images of the V30 suggest that LG is finally getting that part right. At 6 inches and with no bezels, this is going to be an LG V-series phone that’s actually usable with one hand.
But what makes it truly enticing is the prospect of the LG V30 being the foundation upon which the second-generation Google Pixel XL is built. I’ve made no secret of my abiding love of Google’s camera software on the 2016 Pixel phones, and if I see that matched with a handset as deprived of bezels and as thin as these LG V30 leaks suggest, I’d be somewhere close to heaven. We know it almost as a fact that LG will build the larger Google Pixel this year, which makes my dream scenario rather likely. If there’s any way LG can screw up the V30, it will be through iffy software and camera over-sharpening — both aspects that a Pixel XL built on the same hardware wouldn’t suffer from.
Ultimately, I know that Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 will most likely be a terrific success, one that will easily overshadow the LG V30 in terms of sales and perhaps in terms of quality and performance, too. I’m also confident that Apple will introduce a phone or two next month that will sell like hot aluminum cakes. But those devices are not, at this present moment, exciting. They’ll be predictably great, I’m sure. The LG V30, on the other hand, is a tantalizing promise of an excellent phone from a company that’s always come close but never quite accomplished that feat. It’s fun to root for the underdog, and even if the V30 proves imperfect, it’ll certainly whet appetites for the next Google Pixel flagship to come.