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[Gadget Review] LG Velvet perfect ‘midrange’ phone for photography, binge-watching

May 12, 2020 - 16:05 By Song Su-hyun
An orchestra performance is viewed on the LG Velvet. (Song Su-hyun/The Korea Herald)

At first sight, the 899,800 won ($740) LG Velvet looks like it could be out of Samsung’s premium Galaxy S lineup of phones, especially with its water drop shape notch for selfie camera and the 3D Arc Design on the display.

While some might say the price tag is too high for a midrange phone, the LG Velvet is the tech firm’s flagship phone, pledging to provide greater affordability than Samsung and Apple’s premium phones with comparable entertainment features.

What really stands out in the LG Velvet is when you look at the back of the 6.8-inch phone, where the much-touted “raindrop” design triple camera is located.

Compared to rival phones loaded with protruding cooktop-shaped camera modules, the rear side of the LG Velvet looks sleek with small circular lenses embedded underneath the surface, making them flush with the cover, except for the main 48-megapixel lens.

Although the LG phone lacks premium camera features compared to the Galaxy S20 and iPhone 11, the quality of the resulting images is quite satisfying.

Thanks to the quad-binning technology on the main sensor, which combines four pixels to form one large pixel, photos taken in low-light environments turn out much better than expected.

Compared to Samsung phones, LG phones produce milder-tone pictures said to resemble the pictures taken with iPhones. The Velvet proves no exception.

For video shooting, the LG Velvet includes some interesting features such as an ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) recording feature, time-lapse control and voice out of focus.

Users can increase the frame rate to up to 60 times the regular speed to create more dynamic video clips.

The voice out of focus feature -- the world’s first in a smartphone -- separates background noise and voice sounds, keeping the main speaker’s voice clearer.

The LG Velvet, with its 6.8-inch organic light-emitting diode display and screen ratio of 20.5:9, seems taller than its competitors. But it’s surprisingly light despite the tall screen -- as tall as when the Galaxy Z Flip is unfolded -- weighing 180 grams.

Dubbed “Cinema FullVision,” the wide and large screen is suitable for immersive viewing and gaming.

The artificial intelligence-based stereo speaker system automatically adjusts sound conditions in accordance with the type of content. Such a sound system has typically been found in LG’s OLED TV products.

The exquisite sound quality comes as a pleasant upside when watching piano and orchestra concerts livestreaming on YouTube, a new way of appreciating arts in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. While watching concerts, the sound bar for adjustment appeared on the far left side of the screen, not disturbing the viewing experience.

By Song Su-hyun (