LG’s Velvet will be available in the US starting tomorrow, July 22nd, following its launch in South Korea and several European countries. The midrange phone will debut online at AT&T with support for its 5G network, costing $20 per month for 30 months (totaling $600). For a limited time, the carrier is offering the phone for half that monthly cost if you buy one on an installment plan with a new line of service. AT&T will carry the Velvet in stores starting on August 7th.
T-Mobile and Verizon will support it later this summer. LG noted in its press release that the Velvet is compatible with Verizon’s mmWave ultrawide band 5G network as well as its sub-6GHz network, which Verizon currently plans to have ready later this year. LG confirmed to The Verge that it won’t be selling an unlocked version of the Velvet.
There’s just a single configuration of the Velvet that has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage with microSD card support. While $600 seems like a decent deal, it’s certainly not as aggressively priced as previous flagship phones, like the $699 LG G8X that included the dual-screen attachment by default. If you want the Dual Screen attachment for the Velvet, it will cost you an extra $199. LG says that you’ll be able to visit this page to purchase one.
Compared to LG’s past flagship phones, the Velvet isn’t attempting to go head-to-head in terms of power with Samsung, Google, OnePlus, and other popular manufacturers. It comes with the Snapdragon 765G, which has a built-in 5G modem, much like the new OnePlus Nord. While certainly not as fast as the Snapdragon 865, it allows the Velvet to be more affordable while still having 5G connectivity. The Velvet features a 4,300mAh battery, and with this chipset, most people shouldn’t have an issue making it through at least a day or more under normal use cases, though connecting to 5G will probably severely impact it.
In terms of design, it’s right up there with the most appealing Android phones available now. It has a striking new look for LG, complete with a 6.8-inch OLED screen and IP68-rated waterproofing. The Velvet features a headphone jack, but unfortunately, it lacks the Quad DAC hardware for hi-fi music that most flagship LG phones from the past handful of years have had. My colleague Sam Byford reviewed the Korean variant of the Velvet, which has the slightly slower Snapdragon 765. He noticed some performance stutters, but generally, it’s not as much of a compromise as you might expect. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a breeze to use. Here’s a snippet from Sam:
Apps load quickly, web pages render as expected, games run fine, and so on. But the Velvet still somehow feels slow, whether it’s the 60Hz display or the stuttery scrolling in certain apps. I don’t know if it’s the chip itself or LG’s software, but it doesn’t match up to other 2020 flagship Android phones.
Update 1:43PM ET July 21st: LG responded to comment about the Dual Screen attachment and whether it would sell an unlocked phone.
Correction: The author erroneously referred to sub-6GHz 5G spectrum as “sub-600Hz”.