Life is getting weirder and scarier, and we’re clinging to what we can for happiness. In some of us, that comfort is found in gadgets, and my current comfort gadget is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. It is so damn cool it makes me forget what’s going on outside, just for a few seconds. Yet as hard as it was to leave this safe haven and step into the brave, not-so-new form factor of the dual-screen LG V60 ThinQ 5G, I’m glad I did. This is a deeply, deeply flawed phone, but it’s packed with the kind of charm that will leave a gadget lover bedazzled.
It was enchanting to find productivity so easy and comfortable to pull off, and when I stopped working, it was a delight to play games with a second-screen controller. Even more seductive is the price. $900 gets you both of these screens, and while it may not look as svelte as Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, it’s also less than half the price. That doesn’t come without some sacrifices, though.
Yes, it’s a bit clunky-looking in the included Dual Screen case, not to mention the notable added weight — the V60 and its case both sport tall, 6.8-inch OLED displays with FHD+ (2460 x 1080) resolutions — but if you’re the type that likes a big phone, the case isn’t the deal-breaker, it’s the star. Besides, you can always leave the case in your bag when we’re all allowed to commute again and snap it on for some quick work or gaming during your commute.
At home I found the quirky design to be quite liberating. I was able to easily do research, take notes, and even procrastinate while laying in bed or on the couch. I was very pleased with the work I got done and enthralled with how casually I was able to do it. When a notification came in, I was able to respond to it and get right back to my workflow quickly and easily.
At one point, I was at my desk using my laptop with a second monitor when my neck started to hurt. I was writing in two Word documents and browsing the web on the other display, but I closed the laptop, opened up the V60 ThinQ, and in a few taps I was lying in bed doing the same exact thing.
Unfortunately, the V60 doesn’t support dual app instances for productivity apps like ZTE’s ill-fated 2017 foldable, the Axon M. You can duplicate messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Telegram, but I had to figure out a workaround for Microsoft’s Office suite. Using the standalone Word app and the new Office 365 all-in-one app, I was able to edit two documents side by side via Android’s native multiwindow function. All the while I had Chrome open on the top screen. I finished my work for the day doing research and taking notes this way for at least an hour.
The two-screen design is also more ergonomically pleasing to hold than a tablet. I tried to do the same thing with my iPad Mini, which is roughly the same size as the unfolded V60, but it just couldn’t measure up. The Mini can’t support multitasking with three apps in as usable a way, nor can it run multiple instances of an app. The hinged mechanism of the V60’s second screen also makes it easier to hold because you can bend it, tent it, set it down like a laptop, or even remove it entirely.
You will have to get used to a certain level of glitchiness in the dual-screen OS, though, which I did. A beat or two (or sometimes three) of lag was something I came to expect when reorienting the two screens from portrait to landscape or multitasking between them. Animations aren’t always super smooth when multitasking either, and this is where it could’ve really helped to have 12 or 16GB of RAM like most 2020 flagships, rather than the 8GB that LG chose. Still, these were rough edges I was mostly unbothered by after the first day.
Enough about work—this thing is also a blast to play games on. Any mobile game that supports controllers will automatically recognize LG’s Game Pad software on the second screen. Crucially, you can also build a gamepad for any game that doesn’t have controller support.
It was so satisfying to finally have a controller on my favorite guilty pleasure Gods of Boom (find me at ThisGameStealsMoney) which, like many, resists natively supporting controllers. Setting it up wonked out the game a couple times as I built my controller, but once it was done the gamepad worked flawlessly.
The display doesn’t have a super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate, just the regular 60Hz, but you do have the latest flagship-level Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 running the show, so things run pretty smoothly otherwise. With the FHD+ resolution, text in games can look a bit smudgy, and the lines not so clean, but the overall experience with controller support could mitigate this bit for many.
When you’re not using the second display as a gamepad, it’d be nice to watch videos or do some web browsing on the other screen without it automatically pausing the game. Especially with games that make you watch ads, I’d really love to use that second screen to do anything other than give that ad my undivided attention, but alas, short of putting the phone down, I cannot.
And how about that camera? Well, it’s not the greatest when it comes to phone photography, but in optimal situations, it can take some decent shots. With a 64-MP main camera, a 13-MP wide-angle, and a ToF (time of flight) sensor for depth information, the V60 can deliver some impressively detailed and accurate shots. But as lighting dwindles, so too does this strong photographic veneer.
Color and detail capture are exquisite in daytime. There’s an option to capture in full 64-MP resolution and, at first, I was constantly checking back to make sure I didn’t have this enabled because the default 16-MP photos were coming out so crisp. The camera focuses quickly and adeptly in photo and video capture, so snapping gorgeous pics was pretty effortless, even with a moving subject.
I hate my sister’s dogs (except for that angel, Izzy) but I took pictures of them that I truly love.
Without a telephoto lens, there’s not much difference when it comes to detail capture in 2x zoom shots versus photos from the iPhone 11 Pro or Pixel 4 which both have 2x optical zoom. At 2x, details are still sharp on the V60, but colors get a tad colder and focus accuracy dips just enough to be somewhat of a nuisance. Get up to 5x zoom on the V60 or iPhone and expect similarly grainy shots, whereas the Pixel 4 maintains its composure better. None of these match up to the 3x, 5x, or even 10x zoom we’ve seen on the Huawei P40 or Galaxy S20’s, though.
The V60 does well with color accuracy on both the wide-angle and regular cameras, but it could do a better job of capturing colder tones. This becomes more pronounced in lower-light situations, where the colors can sometimes look greenish, purple-y, or overly warm. Sometimes that wasn’t an issue, though. I’d say about one out of every three came out fine.
Dynamic range isn’t the best either. Bright areas can get blown out a bit, as it did in a couple sunset shots I snapped. The V60 also tends to prioritize focus on the brighter part of an image, so tapping to focus on your subject is almost always needed in these lower light situations.
Night View, LG’s dedicated night mode on the V60, doesn’t do much better. You can, very rarely, come away with a neat-looking shot, but it can’t pull off the magic iPhones and Pixels do. Even when it gets close there’s often too much trouble with focus, ruining the shot entirely. Don’t expect to capture great photos of the starry night sky with this one. It’s unfortunate to see LG and Samsung still lagging so far behind here, and LG’s making a strong case for last place among the four.
As for selfies, the 10-MP front-facing lens doesn’t capture very flattering shots, either. While portrait mode does an alright job of blur application, skin tones come out very yellow and washed out.
I ran into the same trouble when shooting videos—even in 8K. In daylight, details looked good and colors did too, albeit a bit cold, but dim the lighting and the quality drops with it. In daytime, even without the super steady mode enabled, it avoids the harsh image jitter we’ve seen in Samsung’s S20’s and is closer to the iPhone 11 Pro’s stabilization, though still a step or two behind.
Super steady polishes things up just a smidge more, but it isn’t at the iPhone’s level in terms of mitigating human error while limiting its own computational image aberrations. Get into lower-light situations and you’ll see the iPhone’s video advantages double in every aspect—color, detail, stabilization, the works. 8K on the LG doesn’t look half as good as 4K on the iPhone 11 Pro, and comparing apples to apples, 1080p video is the same story.
There is 5G support on the V60 for all three major carriers, but guess who doesn’t have any kind of 5G service where they live? That’s right, me—and probably you, too. Verizon and AT&T’s 5G networks offer particularly sparse coverage, but if you happen to be in T-Mobile’s range, you can get moderately faster connections than you do with LTE. It’s still far short of life-changing at this point, though.
With a beefy 5,000 mAh battery, I was able to last about a day and half without charging, on average, but could get a full two days on particularly light usage. Considering this, and the commendable 21 hours (second screen detached), it turned in on our standard battery drain test, it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll get a solid day’s use out of the V60. Running our battery drain test with both screens in use cut this down significantly, to about 12 hours. It’s not likely you’ll be using both screens consistently for 100% of your day, though, so even with mixed usage, I’d expect a full day of battery life.
Oh, and you still have to use that silly, easy-to-lose, MagSafe-esque adapter to charge the V60 when it’s in the Dual Screen case. So it’s a good thing I haven’t had to charge it much.
I rarely do work on my phone and hate when I have to, but if that were important to me, the V60 ThinQ would be a contender. It’s the one device that actually didn’t send me into immediate laptop withdrawal when I used it for work. The gaming aspect is another good reason to consider the V60, as the second screen is the simplest way to use a controller on any mobile game, supported or not. It’s not the best camera for every situation, so if a phone’s camera is an important feature for you, you should look elsewhere. But if multitasking is your thing, the V60 ThinQ offers powerful productivity features at less than half the price of anything comparable like Samsung’s array of folding phones.
It was a fun little ride taking the V60 ThinQ for a spin, but as someone who loathes big phones, I can’t wait to pop my SIM back in my Z Flip. The V60’s a big phone even without the case attached. And then you pop that on and you’re basically carrying around a folded tablet that’s a better replacement for an iPad or a Kindle Fire than an iPhone or Pixel. It’s a fun device to use, but unless you’re really set on having a tablet that you can fold in half, there’s probably a better use of your $900.
- It’s really easy to multitask on these two screens.
- I’m grateful for a universal gaming controller, but there’s better gaming performance out there with 120Hz screens and sharper resolutions.
- The camera takes strong, lovable photos in optimal conditions, but things fall apart pretty quickly outside of those circumstances.
- If you like big devices and working on your phone, $900 is hard to beat.
- The battery life’s hard to beat too.