AT&T LG Velvet hands-on: Affordable 5G phone with dual display option and compelling design features Review

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The LG Velvet is one of the most affordable 5G phones available today and after spending a couple of weeks with one it is going to be difficult for me to pay twice as much for a flagship phone today.

Last month ZDNet’s Cho Mu-Hyun posted a detailed review of the LG Velvet that was released in Korea. For the past couple of weeks I have been evaluating the first US version of the device, the LG Velvet 5G from AT&T, that is now available to purchase for $599.99.

The LG Velvet 5G is currently only available in the US from AT&T, but will be coming to T-Mobile and Verizon sometime this summer. US customers will be able to pick up the LG VELVET 5G in Aurora Gray, Aurora Silver, Aurora Red, and Pink White. AT&T offers the Aurora Gray and Aurora Silver models with my time spent with the Aurora Silver color.

Also: LG Velvet Review: A competent phone with a different look

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with the LG V60 ThinQ on T-Mobile and my SIM card keeps finding a secure home in that device in large part due to the practical and useful Dual Screen cover accessory, long battery life, and overall design.

The move to drop the odd ThinQ branding was a good one and I also look forward to seeing more from LG in naming future devices outside of the traditional G and V series.

AT&T LG Velvet specifications

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
  • Display: 6.8 inch, 2460 x 1080 pixels resolution OLED 20.5:9 aspect ratio (395 ppi)
  • Operating system: Android 10 with LG UX 9.0 UI
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB internal with microSD expansion card slot
  • Cameras: 8MP ultra-wide (120 degrees) f/2.2 f/1.8 and 48MP rear cameras with 5MP ToF sensor. 16 megapixel f/1.9 front-facing camera.
  • Water resistance: IP68 water and dust rating
  • Shock resistance: MIL-STD 810G
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS, NFC
  • Battery: 4,300 mAh non-removable with Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0+
  • Dimensions: 167.2 x 74.1 x 7.9 mm and 180 grams

Top ZDNET Reviews

Looking at other flagships that cost hundreds more, the LG Velvet 5G has lower specifications for the processor, RAM, and display refresh rate. However, unlike the rest of the smartphone world, the LG Velvet has 3.5mm headset jack and an option to easily add a fully capable second screen.

While I loved the original Galaxy Fold and am considering the $2,000 successor, the option to add a fully functional second display for those times I need to increase my efficiency is tough to beat. I can also pop the LG Velvet out from the Dual Screen cover and rest assured it will survive running with me in the rain.

LG Dual Screen cover specifications

  • Display: 6.8 inch, 2460 x 1080 pixels resolution OLED 20.5:9 aspect ratio (395 ppi)
  • Outside cover display: 2.1 inch mono
  • Hinge: 360 Freestop

In regards to 5G, the T-Mobile and AT&T LG V60 ThinQ models support Sub6 (low-band) and mid-band (Sprint is currently using it) networks. The Verizon model supports the faster, shorter range mmWave 5G (high-band) technology, but not these other bands so it is not as universal as the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus and Ultra.

Also: LG V60 ThinQ 5G review: Modern network, two screen option, reasonable $900 price

Hardware

Cho did a fantastic job walking through the lovely design, cameras, and other hardware features of the LG Velvet in his earlier review so please check it out for all of those details.

While I am a fan of the LG V60 ThinQ, I like the slightly narrower feel of the LG Velvet. The Dual Screen cover is better too as it only has a narrow band for the display on the front rather than a full glass panel that is subject to breaking.

The LG Velvet does not have a 90 Hz or 120 Hz high refresh rate display as we see on the latest flagships, but as long as you don’t use one of those devices first then you are likely just fine. I’ve been a bit spoiled by 120 Hz displays lately and am not sure I can go back to 60 Hz as a daily driver.

Software

While I appreciate the opportunity to finally test out AT&T’s 5G service, I am not a fan of what AT&T does to a phone by loading it up with apps, utilities, and services it is pushing onto consumers. Some of these are helpful for AT&T customers, but many others duplicate Google services or add unnecessary bloatware that consumes onboard storage.

There are also a few LG apps installed on the device, including an image gallery, LG Health, LG Pay, music player, HD audio recorder, and QuickMemo+.

LG still has a terrible application launcher and I hope that some day they will hear my cry and improve in this area. There are plenty of ways to customize the device and you can hide most of the AT&T apps even if they cannot be deleted.

Also: The LG V60 ThinQ challenges the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 for stylus champ

Daily experiences and conclusions

When I first heard about the LG Velvet, I was expecting a device full of compromises and a launch unworthy of LG. I’m pleased to report that the LG Velvet is an excellent 5G smartphone and a great value at $600.

The cameras performed very well, the battery took me through more than a full day, AT&T 5G was fast and coverage was great when I was out and about, and I never saw any lag or performance issues on the phone. I love the Dual Screen cover that makes consuming media an awesome mobile experience. With the extremely capable stylus support on both screens, the LG Velvet gives you a good look at what you can expect in the Microsoft Surface Duo device.

Business customers looking for a productivity device will love the capability of the LG Velvet with the Dual Screen cover. It’s easy to get work done when you have two 6.8 inch displays to work with and can store a ton of files on a microSD card. LG should finally receive some long-awaited respect with the LG Velvet and I personally cannot wait to test out the T-Mobile version later this summer. Look to see the LG Velvet soon appear on my 10 best smartphones list.

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