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LG V30 review: LG’s latest flagship needs more polish


Sorry, Oreo fans — while the V20 was the first device to ship with Nougat last year, the LG couldn’t finagle the same sweetheart deal for the V30. Instead, it runs the most recent version of Nougat (7.1.2, for those keeping count). Still, multi-window mode is handy as ever for running two apps at the same time, and they get more room to breathe, thanks to the V30’s 18:9 aspect ratio. Google’s Assistant is present as well, and remains (to me, at least) the gold standard for smartphone virtual assistants.

There are a few things that you’ll need to get used to, though. By default, the V30 doesn’t have an app launcher, so all your newly downloaded apps get splayed across your home screen. It’s easy enough to revive the traditional launcher, and it’s worth the effort if only for the handy app search bar.

And remember how earlier V-series phones had the weird second screen above the main display? That’s gone. LG stuck those shortcuts and controls into what it calls a “floating bar.” It’s off by default, and I’m really not surprised. The ability to change tracks or add an event to your calendar is nice, but since there isn’t a dedicated screen that’s always on to access those shortcuts from, you have to unlock the phone before you can get at them. I appreciate LG trying to maintain some feature parity between its new and older devices, but the floating bar is a poor replacement for a gimmick that was of debatable utility in the first place.

The rest of LG’s built-in apps are as colorful and useful as always, and some widgets have been slightly redesigned to make use of the bigger screen. They’re nothing to write home about, though.

What is worth discussing, however, is the bloatware situation. Our review unit was provided by Verizon, and as such, it’s filled to the brim with apps nobody asked for. There are seven apps in a home screen folder conveniently labeled “Verizon,” two pre-loaded games and four Yahoo apps. (Just a reminder: In addition to owning Engadget, Verizon also owns Yahoo’s media properties. Verizon has no editorial control over us, though, so I’m going to keep blasting it for its obnoxious pre-loaded apps.)

Most troubling is the addition of AppFlash, a home screen panel that offers quick access to frequently used apps, news stories and a search bar that surfaces local hotspots. It sounds useful enough, and it is, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation is firm in its belief that AppFlash amounts to spyware. Thanks, but no thanks, Verizon — it’s all pretty easy to uninstall or disable.

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