LG V30 vs. LG V20: Does the new outshine the old?

lg v30 vs v20 3
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

LG’s V series have always been the South Korean phone-maker’s technical best, often outdoing its more popular G series in specs and capabilities. Last year’s V20 had a secondary screen, and a Quad digital-to-analog converter (DAC) for higher quality music playback. This year’s LG V30 has dropped the second screen, but it offers far more screen real-estate.

So that brings us to the real question: How does LG’s newest contender match up to its predecessor? We take a look.

Specs

LG V30

LG V30

LG V20

lg v30 vs v20

Size 151.7 × 75.4 × 7.3 mm (5.96 × 2.96 × 0.29 in) 159.7 x 78.1 x 7.6 mm (6.29 x 3.07 x 0.30 in)
Weight 5.57 ounces (158 grams) 6.14 ounces (174 grams)
Screen 6-inch OLED 5.7-inch LCD
Resolution 2,880 × 1,440 pixels 2,560 × 1,440 pixels
OS Android 7.1.2 Nougat Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Storage 64GB 32GB or 64GB
SD Card Slot Yes Yes
NFC support Yes Yes
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
RAM 4GB 4GB
Connectivity GSM / HSPA / LTE / CDMA GSM / HSPA / LTE / CDMA
Camera Front 5MP wide angle, Rear Dual 16MP and 13MP wide angle Front 5MP wide angle, Rear dual 16MP and 8MP wide angle
Video 4K 4K
Bluetooth Yes, version 5 Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Other sensors Gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor Gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor
Water Resistant Yes, IP68-rated No
Battery 3,300mAh 3,200mAh
Charger USB Type-C USB Type-C
Quick Charging Yes Yes
Wireless Charging Yes No
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Color offerings Silver Black, silver
Availability Unlocked, unannounced Unlocked, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint
Price Unannounced Starts at $770
DT Review Hands-on review 4 out of 5 stars

In the LG V30, you’ll find Qualcomm’s latest high-end mobile processor: The Snapdragon 835. It’s the same chipset that powers the Samsung Galaxy S8, HTC U11, and OnePlus 5. It edges last year’s Snapdragon 820 found in the V20, both in terms of overall performance and energy efficiency.

The phones are more similar in other respects. Both feature 4GB of RAM, which is ideal for multitasking, as well as 64GB of internal storage alongside a MicroSD card slot for even more space for apps and media.

The V20 will be plenty powerful for most users, and is right on par with LG’s newest flagship in terms of RAM and storage space. But if you’re looking for the latest, greatest, and fastest — likely the case if you’re considering a V-series device in the first place — look no further than the V30.

Winner: LG V30

Design, display, and durability

LG V30 back offset

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The LG V10 was big, bulky, and brutish in its construction. The V20 scaled that aesthetic down considerably, and the V30 has toned it down further still. The new phone doesn’t look all that different from the LG G6, with a similarly styled edge-to-edge display and rounded corners.

The V30 could be the sleekest and meanest looking handset LG’s ever produced. The way the glass blends into the sides makes the overall product look much more polished than the V20 and its mashup of different materials. LG has fit a slightly larger display into the V30’s chassis than what was featured in the V20. You get a 6-inch FullVision panel, with an 18:9 aspect ratio and 2,880 x 1,440 resolution. The V20 managed a 5.7-inch LCD with a more conventional 16:9 aspect ratio.

This year, 18:9 displays have been popping up more frequently in high-end smartphones as they fill more of the available real estate on the front of the device. On the V30, it means LG has extended the display, and gotten rid of one of the V series’ defining features: The second screen.

In the V20 and V10, a 160 x 1040-pixel resolution secondary screen sits above the main display. You could customize it however you want, but it mainly allowed users to access shortcuts, quick toggles, and notifications. The V30 offers more screen real-estate, and there’s even a new software feature called Floating Bar that mimics the same functions of the secondary display, but on your home screen instead.

One considerable advantage the V30 holds over the V20 is how it is IP68 rated, meaning you can take it underwater up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes. The V20 is not waterproof. At the same time, the V30 is all-glass, so it’s more susceptible to damage from accidental drops, unlike the V20.

Winner: LG V30

Camera

LG V30 dual camera

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Both of these phones feature dual-cameras at the rear, with one of them being a wide-angle lens ideal for landscape shots. It’s a unique perspective that’s rare among smartphones, and certainly makes LG’s products stand out from the pack for mobile photographers.

The V30 combines 16- and 13-megapixel sensors, with the latter being the wide-angle one. At the front, you’ll find a 5-megapixel shooter for selfies, which also utilizes a wide-angle lens. The V20 combines its 16-megapixel primary sensor with an 8-megapixel one next door, and another 5-megapixel on the front.

We were really pleased with the V20’s cameras, but we can expect a better experience from the V30. LG said it has improved the aperture on the V30, so wide-angle photos should see reduced distortion, and images should be brighter. LG has also added a new Cine Video mode where you can add color-graded themes to videos, and point and zoom into specific objects. These features easily put the V30’s cameras ahead of the V20.

Winner: LG V30

Battery life and charging

LG V30 usb c

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Battery life was solid on our V20 in testing — not outstanding, but a bit better than you’d find in last year’s Galaxy S7 Edge and the iPhone 7 Plus. LG shoved a 3,200mAh removable battery into the V20, which kept the phone chugging away for about a day-and-a-half after a heavy amount of use.

Fortunately, the V30 improves on that formula with a slightly larger 3,300mAh battery — though it is embedded into the device and cannot be removed. That’s a disappointing decision, as the ability to easily swap out batteries can make phones cheaper to own and longer-lasting over time. It won’t matter to everyone, as removable batteries began disappearing many years back, but it was one of the V20’s unique perks.

In our testing, we’re seeing phenomenal battery life on the V30, easily ending a busy day with 50 percent remaining around 6:30 p.m. The V30 also supports wireless charging, which the V20 missed out on.

Winner: LG V30

Software and features

LG V30 music

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Last year’s V20 was the first smartphone to launch with Google’s Android 7.0 Nougat. Unfortunately, you won’t find Android 8.0 Oreo on the V30 just yet. The new device ships with Android 7.1.2 out of the box. What’s more, LG says the Oreo update is currently in testing, and should ideally release shortly after the device reaches customers, so that’s a very encouraging sign.

The software experience on these two phones are very similar, and you also get the Quad DAC again, a technology designed to deliver a better audio experience. We found it effective in testing, and were happy to learn LG has brought it back for the V30. The aforementioned Floating Bar feature also replicates the secondary display well.

The V30 also has more ways to unlock your phone, with Voice Imprint — you can set your own phrase to unlock the device — and the ability to unlock your phone with your face. There are also a few special OK Google commands you can use with Google Assistant to perform certain functions.

Winner: LG V30

Price and availability

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After a year on the market, the LG V20 can be had for much cheaper than at launch, going for as low as $370 from B&H. Other retailers are hovering around the $400 mark, and the four major carriers are charging much more.

We’re expecting major carriers to sell the V30 when it launches later this year, but LG hasn’t published pricing and availability. Either way, there’s no way it can match the V20’s price out of the gate. Because the V20 is easier to find unlocked at reasonable price, we have to give it the victory here.

Winner: LG V20

Overall winner: LG V30

If the V20’s price makes more sense to you right now, you should have no reservations about pulling the trigger on it. It’s a great big phone. But if you want the better device, there’s no argument: it’s the V30. The performance, design, and display are all better, and it’ll be supported with software and security updates for longer.