The LG Velvet is a new smartphone from the manufacturer with a suggested retail price of 649 euros. LG opts for a new design and focuses on several unique features. Whether this works out well, you can read in this review.
Read everything in this LG Velvet review
The LG Velvet was officially presented in early March, but for the time being only for the South Korean market. In early June, Tech largest exclusively wrote that the Velvet would also come to the price of 649 euros. Thanks to a pre-order promotion, you will receive various accessories with a value of 275.00 euros until 2 August. For example, you can get started with a second screen, which you can use in combination with the LG Velvet.
In addition to an extensive test with this new device, Tech largest also spoke with Jeroen Peeters, Product Marketing Manager at LG. So in this LG Velvet review, you not only read our experiences but also all kinds of insights from Jeroen.
LG opts for renewed design
The Velvet looks very different from other LG devices. The smartphone has a white back, which resembles mother-of-pearl. The Velvet has a rounded front and back. In addition, the camera module on the back has been significantly modified and it now has the shape of a drop.
A headphone jack, speaker, and USB-C port are on the bottom, while the SIM card slot is placed on the top. There is only one button on the right side, the power button. You use the buttons on the left to adjust the volume or to quickly call up the Google Assistant.
According to Peeters, we will also see this design language with upcoming devices from the manufacturer. The device also supports dual-screen, where you can add a second screen. However, that will be an optionally available accessory, so that the entry price remains lower. However, in our testing period, it was not possible to test this accessory. If you want to read more about it, check out our LG G8X ThinQ review.
The device weighs 180 grams, but feels a lot lighter. This may be due to the small thickness of 7.9 millimeters. This white model has a silver-colored metal rim on the top, bottom, and sides. Finally, it is striking that LG opts for fairly wide black borders around the screen. There is also a notch, in which the front camera is hidden.
Screen is not part of new design
The screen of the LG Velvet is 6.8 inches in size and has an OLED panel. This ensures bright colors and good contrast. The brightness in direct sunlight is also excellent, just like the minimum brightness. This way you can still see everything on the screen of the device in the dark.
In terms of resolution, LG opts for a 2460 by 1080 pixels and that provides excellent sharpness at this size. There is therefore nothing to complain about on the display and the Always On Display function is a nice extra. This allows you to quickly check the time, missed notifications, or the date.
However, the screen refresh rate is 60Hz and we would have liked to have taken that a step higher, especially in this price range. This refreshes the screen 60 times per second, just like any other smartphone. A screen with a higher refresh rate makes the device feel a lot smoother.
In addition, the black edges to call the screen hefty and that is something that does not really fit well with the rest of the custom design. It looks a bit old-fashioned and with many devices that are considerably cheaper, the edges are a lot narrower. The choice for a notch also scores less points and detracts from the design.
The fingerprint scanner is processed behind the screen and positioned nice and low, which is nice. You do have to press your thumb (or other fingers) really well on the scanner, because just a ‘tip’ as with the OnePlus 8 Pro is not enough. This ensures that the Velvet optical scanner is not the fastest on the market, but it works well and reliably for the rest.
Choosing this processor is smart
Under the hood of the LG Velvet is the Snapdragon 765 chip. We find that processor in several smartphones that compete with this LG device. Under the Motorola Edge and upcoming Nokia 8.3 are equipped with this chip.
In terms of performance, we have nothing to complain about: multitasking is not a problem and playing a heavy game is not. The 8GB RAM naturally also plays a role in this. We do not position the Velvet as a real flagship, in our opinion the Snapdragon 865 chip must be on board.
That is for the same or even less money, among other things, in the Poco F2 Pro and OnePlus 8 . However, that chip costs a lot more to purchase and that is also something according to Peeters LG’s reason for the processor choice in the Velvet. All in all, the Snapdragon 765 processor delivers a great balance between power and battery life. You are also ready for 5G , although the real roll-out will take years to come.
Android 10 with many LG adjustments
The device runs on Android 10 with the heavily modified LG UX 9.1 shell over it. That stands out because of the custom icons and the preinstallation of various apps of the manufacturer. For example, the LG Health app can be found on the Velvet, just like its own music app, audio recorder and application for taking notes.
The menus also look a bit playful, but it is clear. However, there are also many own LG options to be found, in our opinion a bit too much of a good thing. Personalizing your device yourself is easy with other icons or themes. By default, there is no app drawer available, so you have to arrange all your apps on your home screens or place them in folders.
If you swipe right on the home screen, the Google app in which you read news or use the Google Assistant opens. You can also call the Assistant by holding down the physical button on the left. There is also built-in support for Wacom styli, so you can operate the screen with a pen.
Clarity about updates
Tech largest has also asked Jeroen Peeters about the update policy of LG devices. That is broken down into two categories: security and version upgrades. With a device like the LG Velvet with a premium price, security updates are released every month. However, during the review period, the June security patch was not yet available for download.
Peeters was clear about an upgrade to Android 11: it will certainly come to the LG Velvet. Whether that also applies to Android 12 is the question. He also said that LG is not always “the fastest boy in the class”, but it does provide clarity to its customers.
With a device in this price range, at least two years of security updates are provided, but often also longer. For devices that are a lot more affordable, security updates are bundled and issued quarterly, Peeters says finally.
Cameras offer no special features
The device has three cameras on the back, where you can actually take a photo with two. The primary variant has a 48-megapixel sensor. By default, however, you take 12 megapixel photos, because four pixels are fused into a single pixel. In theory, this produces images with more contrast, details and better colors.
There is also an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, which allows you to shoot images with a larger angle. That is great for, for example, landscapes, architecture or a photo where you are close to a subject, which you want to capture completely. The third sensor stores depth information, which is used for portrait photos. The subject is sharp in the picture, while the background is somewhat blurred.
It is not possible to take macro photos and that is a pity. A separate telecamera to zoom with is also not on board. Zooming can be done digitally, but quality is lost. All in all, the LG Velvet is quite simply equipped in terms of cameras. For a suggested retail price of 649 euros, that could have been a bit bigger.
Snapshots taken with the LG Velvet
Photos are therefore standard made in a 12 megapixel format and with a lot of daylight often look good in terms of color and dynamic range. Hdr is turned on or off by default, which means that some photos get some sharp edges.
A separate zoom lens is therefore not available, but digital zoom is of course possible. This is also pontifically visible in the interface, so that you can bring objects closer. The quality is fine, but of course there is a bit more noise in the pictures. The gallery below shows three photos, taken with the wide-angle lens, normal lens and with digital zoom twice.
It is striking that the colors of the cameras are not always consistent. In the images above, you can clearly see a very different color of sky with the photos with the wide-angle lens and primary camera. Overall , the colors of the camera with a wide-angle lens are somewhat inflated and a bit less like reality.
There is a night mode, which LG calls “night view”. There is no easy activation of that mode. You first have to scroll to ‘more’ in the interface, to choose this mode in the menu that you will see.
There is much more noise in photos taken in the dark. With ‘night view’ you capture some extra details and colors in the photo, but nothing more. The device does not measure up to the superpowers in this area. The pictures below were taken in a darkened room, with the automatic mode and with the night mode.
Unique camera features LG Velvet
According to Peeters, a lot of content is created during these times of lockdown. This is one of the reasons why many software adjustments have been made to the camera options. For example, you can film with audio zoom, where the sound is recorded harder when you zoom towards a certain sound source. With the help of artificial intelligence, the device also recognizes all kinds of objects, whereby the photo itself is polished somewhat in terms of color or contrast, for example.
Making ASMR videos is also a unique feature. These videos stimulate viewers’ senses and are very popular with a certain audience. Peeters says that this is of course a niche market, but it is a unique feature of the Velvet.
Battery life is reliable and good
The battery capacity of this LG scion is 4300 mAh and that is fine to endure an intensive day. I regularly achieved a screen time of about 6.5 hours, with the brightness set to about half.
In addition to the size of the battery, the other hardware also plays a role. For example, the Snapdragon 765 chip is energy efficient, but so is the screen. Due to the not too high resolution and 60Hz frequency, it does not eat too much power. An AMOLED panel is also more energy efficient than an LCD panel when using black backgrounds and images.
Charging the Velvet can be called slow with the supplied charger in 2020, especially in this price range. Within half an hour, just over 30 percent had been recharged. Full charging takes about two hours. Wireless charging is part of the game, but is a bit slower.
Conclusion LG Velvet review
The LG Velvet is a unique duck. The device does not position itself between the flagships, but the price of 649 euros can be called hefty if we simply look at the available hardware. The design is innovative and different from the manufacturer, but the screen looks and feels old-fashioned on some points.
You can take a good snapshot with the cameras, but the device does not excel. We would also have liked to see more in terms of the possibilities of those cameras. The battery life is reliable and good, but charging is really too slow in 2020.
The software difference can be called busy, which is not everyone’s liking. LG’s update policy is also not the best and certainly something to take into account. All in all, the LG Velvet is temporarily a good choice. The device is available in combination with a nice pre-order deal. If that is no longer the case, we believe there are devices on the market that have more to offer for the same or even less money.