back to article LG’s V20 may be the phone of the year. So why the fsck can’t you buy it?

For beleaguered Android phone makers, you might think a juicy prize has just appeared. For some of them, it could be a life-saver. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 was expected to ship around 20 million units over its lifetime. A flammable battery emphatically put paid to that - with the potential loss of tens of millions of more sales …

  1. gv

    LG

    Having owned an LG phone for over a year, the lack of software updates and security patches means that I won't be buying another one. The hardware is nice though.

    1. Alfie

      Re: LG

      I've had my LG G4 for six months now and its had 2 system updates since I bought it. Better than the Sony I had before this phone.

      1. BillG Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: LG

        1. An inflammable battery emphatically put paid to that - with the potential loss of tens of millions of more sales from “contagion”

        ---

        2. But LG seems in no rush to hype it. M

        aybe you missed the launch

        .

        Seriously, have El Reg editors stopped proofreading articles?

        1. Bloakey1

          Re: LG

          "Seriously, have El Reg editors stopped proofreading articles?"

          aybe, aybe nt.!

        2. Paul

          Re: LG

          El Reg partially fixed it.. correcting aybe to Maybe, but still left the trailing M.

    2. Bloakey1

      Re: LG

      I boght one for my missus and she iis over the moon with it. There are plenty of updates from what I can see and software such as their GPS stuff rivals the Tom Tom or VWs latest GPS kit.

      Good stuff LG keep it coming.

    3. censored

      Re: LG

      I bought the G4 last year, which is a superb phone with a stunning camera.

      It's bootlooped twice I've been without it for a total of more than 2 months while LG support prevaricated. I couldn't in conscience recommend LG to anyone. Although relatively rare in a market of millions, the bootloop issues are very real and the internet is rife with stories. It can happen at any moment and the only cure is a motherboard replacement. It also seems this was a (rarer) issue with the G3 and G5. So something is amiss in LG's manufacturing.

      1. BillG Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: LG

        I've had an LG G3 for the past three years. Rooted with a firewall that blocks, oh, about 100 apps and processes. Installed Xposed with a handful of modules. Very very happy with this phone, fast and reliable.

      2. N13L5

        Re: "the boot loop issues are very real "

        The boot loop happens when that was the only way to prevent the battery from going critical, probably...

  2. Your alien overlord - fear me

    and Clove just says "wait", you can't get it yet.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

    ... and scientifically proven to be completely useless, in double-blind A/B comparisons (that was for 24-bit versus 16-bit).

    The *only* thing it does is reduce the noise floor. From completely inaudible to 65536x less than completely inaudible.

    Still, good for marketing. When can I buy a 64-bit DAC?

    1. theModge

      Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

      Still, good for marketing. When can I buy a 64-bit DAC?

      I hope you're running your 64-bit DAC at 96k samples a second? So as that the bats get the full benefit of the high frequency reproduction.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

        So as that the bats get the full benefit of the high frequency reproduction.

        And cats. And dogs. And won't somebody please think of the dolphins?

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

      At last something to use my Sennheiser Orpheus headphones with!

      Should go well with the new Phil Collins pop tunes!

      1. Case

        Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

        Bateman you nerd.....

    3. Dexter

      Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

      AC wrote:

      ... and scientifically proven to be completely useless, in double-blind A/B comparisons (that was for 24-bit versus 16-bit).

      -------------------

      Shhh. Don't you know double blind trials are anathema to HiFi folks?

    4. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

      >... and scientifically proven to be completely useless,

      No, but the ESS Sabre DAC that they use has been scientifically shown to be the dogs bollocks. True, 24 bit audio for playback for mastered music is useless, but the ability to play it back is a convenience to the owner since it saves them having to transcode any 24but FLAC files they might already have. Anyway, the 32bit capability comes with the DAC, so why should LG hobble it?

      Regardless of how they achieved it, the previous LG V10 is said to have very good sound quality indeed, and all subjective hearings of the V20 suggest it just as good - with the promise of being able to drive an even wider range of headphones (obviously that's the amp part. If you want 'science', then wait for Anandtech to run it past their laboratory kit.

      If a company wants to sell a phone on its sound quality, then it has to somehow communicate the extra money that has been spent on the audio pathway. Customers who are then interested can seek out independent reviews and tests, such as Compared with the quite superb sounding LV V10, the newer V20 DAC and amplifier’s paper specifications are a very close match. The V10’s ES9018 and 9602 amplifier combination offer an ever so slightly better dynamic range and lower distortion characteristics than the V20’s ES9218. However, the ES9218’s new Quad DAC design lends itself to a superior signal-to-noise ratio of 130dB versus 122dB.

      - http://www.androidauthority.com/lg-v20-audio-capabilities-714807/

      - http://www.esstech.com/index.php/en/news/newsroom/ess-technology-brings-advanced-audiophile-features-mobile-devices-first-time/

      1. Gavagai

        Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

        When I got my Huawei P9 after having had the very decent Sony audio I was shocked. It sounded like the audio reproduction was coming from inside a tin box at the bottom of a swimming pool by comparison. I thought I hadn't plugged in the headphones properly.

        Foolishly I hadn't even really given the on-board DAC a second thought when I got my new phone, dazzled as I was by the fun to be had with the new camera on the P9, which is actually quite good.

        Well that opened up an expensive can of worms! Now I have a Dragonfly DAC which works great and better in-ear headphones, though subsequently I've found that Bluetooth and a set of Sennheiser Momentum 2 cans actually gives fairly decent quality, certainly acceptable for everyday use on the train for example. The awful DAC on the P9 really made me pay attention and spend upwards of £600 on "fixing" the audio on a £600 phone. Oh well.

        Anyway, 32-bit DAC from LG and B&O. Something to think about for my next phone for sure. If only their cameras weren't so meh.

    5. 142

      Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

      > useless, in double-blind A/B comparisons (that was for 24-bit versus 16-bit).

      Not really in this context.

      Whilst this is absolutely true in controlled circumstances, with calibrated sound levels, you need 24 bit converters for these sort of applications (or at least 20bit).

      At 16 bits on a consumer output like this, with different headphone iimpedances and different use cases and gain structures, it's very easy to encounter a situation where you'll clearly hear the dither/quantisation noise. You quickly end up in a situation where you're only using 13 bits, rather than the full sixteen available.

      That out of the way... As for 32bit. That's insanity, if it's PCM. I had thought it was physically impossible to produce measurable results from a 32bit DAC at these sort of voltages.

      1. Paul

        Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

        you don't need better than 16 bit DACs for playback, provided you have a variable gain headphone/speaker amp on the output so as to maintain the noise floor.

        anybody who claims to hear the difference between a 24 bit DAC vs a 16 bit DAC, when fed through the same analogue amp and speakers is either a liar or an alien.

    6. censored

      Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

      Useless compared to a decent DAC. But sadly DACs in phones tend to be pretty lacklustre. So while they perhaps didn't need to up the spec that much, by upping the spec at all they might just have made a phone that sounds great rather than one that sounds ok.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

        >Now I have a Dragonfly DAC which works great... ...Anyway, 32-bit DAC from LG and B&O. Something to think about for my next phone for sure.

        Dragonfly use either the ESS Sabre 9010 DAC or the 9016, depending on the model. The LG V10 and V20, as well as the B&O add-on module for the LG G5 also use ESS Sabre DACs. The DACs themselves are 32bit, but Dragonfly say they limit them to 24bit so a not to require the user to install extra drivers.

        Again, these are the same DACs as used in expensive stand-alone kit. They have a reputation for sounding superb when playing back 16bit audio. Why they are capable of greater depth I don't know, but it seems the engineers who created them know their stuff.

        1. Gavagai

          Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

          I have (for now) the Dragonfly Black, which "just works" inline coming out the USB-C port into a headphone jack.

          Of course it makes a very substantial difference.

          ...but then as is the way with Audio you start listening and chasing small improvements. So a decent set of in-ears, then the Sennheiser Momentum 2 over-ears, then using Tidal hifi quality instead of Spotify Extreme.

          Each piece adds extra quality, but each piece adds cost. Fortunately I tend to stop at the high end of consumer and get nervous when it's labelled audiophile. I know when I reach "good enough".

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

        >Useless compared to a decent DAC.

        Care to give an example of a 'decent DAC'? As far as I can find, the ESS Sabre Quad 9018 - as used in the LG V20 - is highly rated, and regularly used in external DAC/amp combos costing thousands.

        The point is, sound quality on a phone will depend on more than the DAC chip - the power supply, shielding and amplifier all play a part.

        - http://www.musicservertips.com/product-reviews/dac-buyers-guide/

        - http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/ess-sabre-9018-vs-wolfson-wm8741-8976/

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "a 32-bit DAC, part of a burgeoning partnership with Bang & Olufsen"

      Someone who knows what they are talkiong about with DACs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Mn5PrnZV-k

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Doesn't have a pen

    However LG seem to bang out lots of phones called Stylo and Stylus. They seem a bit cheap compared to the Note 7 though, if that kind of thing counts against it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Removable battery!

    Old fashioned geezers! If LG had problems with batteries instead of Samsung, they wouldn't lose a whole lot of money.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shame they cant make phones that work and have no customer service...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I partially agree. The FM radio on my LG G4 works fine, until it gets stuck and requires a reboot. The NFC radio has never worked. And after 1 year my LG G4 developed the infamous "reboot loop" issue. It just randomly restarted one day, got halfway through the restart, and restarted again. And again. But customer service was fine for me. I was able to ship it to them, get it fixed under warranty, and have it returned within two weeks.

      Unfortunately LG insisted on using FedEx, and marked it "signature required", and "do not allow holding for pickup." There was literally no way I could get the damn phone back without working from home for a day and _hoping_ (since FedEx can't guarantee) that they would retry the delivery on that day. WTF would you disallow holding for pickup at a nearby store??? Why would FedEx even provide that option?

      1. DrMordrid

        "And after 1 year my LG G4 developed the infamous "reboot loop" issue. "

        Mine developed this a few months ago and it was covered by a recall/extended warranty; took it to my loocal AT&T dealer and had a new phone delivered in 2 days. Swapped the SIM & MicroSD, connected it to my Google accounts and it was off to the races again.

        Love my G4.

        1. jason 7

          Been a LG G4 owner since September last year.

          Not skipped a beat in all that time. Been smoother experience than my Nexus 4 that it replaced.

          Mine is the non US version though.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        NFC

        Had similar problems with the boot loop after the phone overheated during a British summer train journey with no air conditioning.

        Also thought I had the NFC problem for the longest time, then when I took my phone in for boot loop repairs I noticed that the case (back) the phone came with had integrated circuits. Turns out my custom protective case didn't, hence my NFC had never worked. Got the original case back on now and the NFC works fine.

        Just a heads up for anyone who may have been in a similar position.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phone features? What phone features?

    It seems every new phone is marketed on the basis of it's camera or it's ability to play music etc.

    Never once is mention how good it is at making a phone call, how how good the mic is at picking up your voice etc.

    1. cambsukguy

      Re: Phone features? What phone features?

      My last three or four phones have had basically flawless call performance, good signal reception etc.

      Perhaps it is no longer worth mentioning now unless it is appalling, or the reviewers assume it is going to be fine so they don't test it anymore.

      A lot of stuff gets missed in these smaller reviews, actual Optical Image Stabilisation performance, Low light, post-processing, and that's just the camera.

      There really isn't any real, hard-core, comparative reviewing, that I have seen. Then, I don't really look much, I, like most, am biased toward the phone (range/manufacturer/OS) that I already like.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Phone features? What phone features?

        >A lot of stuff gets missed in these smaller reviews, actual Optical Image Stabilisation performance,

        OIS isn't super useful, because often your human subjects will still be moving - their faces will exhibit motion blur even if OIS is compensating for your hand movements. For that reason you should be shooting at 1/30 second or faster, at which speeds most people can hold the camera steadily enough. This is only achieved at acceptable 'ISO' (grainy noise in the image) by having better sensors, bigger sensors and brighter lenses.

        If you want longer exposures of static subjects, you'll usually be better off placing your phone on a solid object.

        Of course there are niche cases where this does not apply, but they remain just that: niche.

    2. Barry Rueger Silver badge

      Re: Phone features? What phone features?

      More to the point, how well the phone functions when you're not in the middle of a major city.

      From downtown Vancouver I can drive 15 minutes and be in the fringest of fringe coverage.

      Tell me how often the phone drops a call when you have one flickering bar.

    3. Alumoi

      Re: Phone features? What phone features?

      It's a smartphone! You don't make calls on a smartphone, You facebook, twitter, whatsapp your 'friends'.

      For making calls there are a couple of feature phones or whatever they call them now. You know, the good old 'last a whole week on one charge' phones.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dual SIM ?

    Having had the joy of an unlocked dual SIM Wileyfox Swift for a year now (one for Vox, one for the best data available) I really wouldn't want to go back.

    1. bengoey49

      Re: Dual SIM ?

      I have been using Wileyfox Swift since last year, for the price it is a good phone except I find that the GPS is not very good ( I use Waze and Nokia Here when I am abroad ). The good thing is now you can buy spare batteries for the Swift. I bought one recently from Wileyfox website.

  9. Hans 1 Silver badge

    I have a LG g4 Stylus here ...

    I tried to copy a file from media card to internal memory ... I seemed to remember I could just, you know, copy paste ... nope. You can copy, cannot paste ... WHAT IS THE BLOODY POINT OF BEING ABLE TO COPY IF YOU CANNOT PASTE ???? This was, afaik, LG "File Manager". There are no options in the various menus either ... share to File Manager, if you "really" insist on using "share" ... which I, personally, think is pants, but ok.

    Useless .... off I go into marketplace (or whatever it's called) to get a decent file manager for Android ... the Acer one had top marks, got that ... and it had "Copy to" which worked .... but baaad memories of another time sprang to life in my mind.

    One Windows cleaner, NT4 MCSE iirc, came up to me asking "how to I copy paste?" I thought it was some practical joke or something, come on, he must know ... went to his workstation, asked him .... ok, how do you copy that file to your desktop .... and the guy went into the explorer menu and pointed at "copy to" ... right above that you had Copy ...

    Back to Android ... why do all phones assume I have a limited data plan while I am connected to WIFI, why do they torture pictures sent via email ????

    Ohh, BTW ... I had this problem with BB10 as well, only for files downloaded using the browser, though .... I am a BB10 fanboy, but that limitation sucks and is soooo very un-BB10, too late to get fixed, I guess ... :-(

    DISCLAIMER: I know you can paste in an email ... a tortured image, yes ... bastards, but to another folder ...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I have a LG g4 Stylus here ...

      So, to recap... Korean software isn't the best, fix easily available from the Play Store. I'm shocked.

  10. juice Bronze badge

    My last phone was a G4, but when it came to upgrade time, I looked at the G5 and jumped over to a Samsung S7 Edge. Not that there was anything specifically wrong with the G5, but the add-on technology seemed pointless and the S7's specs generally had the edge.

    I passed the G4 onto a friend, and then things got a bit complicated, as it stopped working a month or two later due to the "reboot loop of doom", which turns out to be a well-known issue caused by component failure, to the point where LG has actually agreed to fix all affected phones regardless of warranty.

    So. A bit of a pain, but at least we could get it fixed for free - I volunteered to help with this, as my friend's not technical. However...

    I sent an email to their website, asking what was needed to submit a repair request. After two weeks, I got back an automated email apologising for the delay and asking me to resubmit the email if I still needed something...

    In the meantime, I'd raised an RMA request, only for that to sit untouched for far longer than the 48 hours claimed on the website. I eventually rang them, only to get through to a human on an overflow line, who advised me that there wasn't anyone to take my call(!). The day after, I finally managed to get through to someone who could deal with the issue, and he finally got the process moving. He advised me that we'd have to post the phone without any additional items - i.e. no SIM card, memory card - even the back-cover and the battery should be removed.

    Fair enough. Then, I received an email for one of those Inpost automated drop-boxes, printed off the return label, packaged up the phone by itself and popped it into the drop-box after it had scanned the appropriate QR code.

    Two days later, I got another email from Inpost, and went back to discover there was something in the drop-box: some official LG packaging and a note telling us to include the battery and back-cover!

    Thankfully, LG then confirmed that they'd received the phone anyway, and after about two weeks, it finally came back and my friend is happily using it once more.

    Overall, it's put me off using LG for anything else in the future...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      The lesson is to just buy the phone outright. In addition to getting a refund immediately from the retailer should it fail, it also means you take out a rolling monthly SIM-only tariff with your network operator. Doing so gives you leverage against them, i.e: "Knock a couple of my monthly bill or I'm switching to Vodaphone... they offered me much the same as you but for just £12"

  11. Sir Sham Cad

    "Cumbersome" LG G5

    Having read the El Reg review and deliberated for some time I figured I could learn to live without the app drawer feature.

    In the first week I had it, two updates including: bam! Return of the App Drawer home screen.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice upgrade from the G4

    When I'm in the market it's nice to know there's better options than the LG G5. Looks like not much extra bulk over my G4 (2mm and 10mm plus another 20g).

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Nice upgrade from the G4 @AC

      So it's you! You're the one the marketing people keep phoning to ask if we want stupidly thin phones, stop it. :)

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: Nice upgrade from the G4 @AC

        I really like my stupidly thin and curvey G4!

        Especially with the leather backplate to stop it sliding out of my hand. Thoroughly annoyed with slippery phone backs forcing me to add chunky cases, that's what you lot need to stop saying yes to ;)

  13. Down not across Silver badge

    7 meeellllion?

    In the short term, some five to seven million Note 7 owners are looking for an alternative.

    But they only shipped about 2.5 million or so of them.

    I suspect many Note 7 ex-owners are likely to wait and see what happens at MWC in February/March rather than potentially enter into minimum length contract for something else.

    1. andy bird

      Re: 7 meeellllion?

      yeh.. fallen back to my Note 4 till Samsung announce something useful

  14. Rabbit80

    Lost sale..

    This would have been my ideal phone if it was available.. Instead I await delivery of the Pixel XL and just hope for the best.

  15. jb66

    Dont LG want to make any money? Grow some Balls and get this mass produced!

  16. greenawayr

    Looking to stick to a budget this time around, I've actually just ordered the V20's predeccesor the V10. £300 for what is a very high end piece of tech and is now 12 months released seemed reasonable. It was that or one of the excellent mid-range phones you can get nowadays, but the camera and video functionality made me opt for the V10.

    However, to get this I had to go to eBay and get one from one of our lovely friends in Hong Kong. It's bizarre that LG are neglecting the European market in this way.

    I'd have liked to get the V20, but like I said, wanted to stick to a budget and that's likely to retail at around twice what I paid for the V10.

  17. Aseries

    Life's Good with my LG

    From my view LG is on the right track. I recently bought a STYLO2 for $99 mainly because of the 13 MP camera. Sure, it has limitations and as an Android OEM it may never get an update but there's nothing new about that. I refuse to shell out more than a 2 digit price for any smartphone when the technology has the lifespan of a fruit fly. Bleeding edge Smartphone users are pathetic, led by the nose with their tongues hanging out grasping for the latest brand vaporware.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jolts up from snoozing...

    *looks around with one eye*

    Picks up OP3 to check for messages.

    *goes back to sleep*

    I dont care about the hardware anymore. The next real area for innovation is in the software and accessories.

    I want to see an OS with no walled garden and I want to see some innovative none proprietary docking solutions that dont cost a fortune.

    Phone makers should look closely at the new Nintendo device...theres some really interesting ideas there.

    Unplugging your device from a dock and being able to take your current session with you...

    Now if I could do that with a phone dock coupled with an SSH session over Mosh...we'd be in interesting territory.

  19. D Peilow

    Just got the following from Clove in the UK. You have to ask why on earth LG would not launch this given the Note 7 debacle::

    Thank you for registering your interest in the LG V20.

    We are contacting you today to let you know that despite our best efforts we will not be selling the LG V20.

    Soon after launch, LG confirmed it would not be coming to the UK. We have since been working to source a UK compatible device that can be backed up with warranty support over the life of the handset.

    Our intentions were to import the V20 from Europe, like we did with the V10 where supply and support networks existed.

    Whilst interest and demand has been high, particularly since the Samsung Note 7 recall; LG have confirmed that they are not launching the V20 in Europe and are not planning to reconsider this in light of the recent surge in demand.

    Although the V20 has been launched in other regions of the world and whilst we can potentially source from these areas, we are not prepared to do so at the risk of supply, network compatibility and after sales support.

    As smartphone users ourselves we see the appeal of the V20 and have clearly stated just how many customers have expressed interest in the handset (it is one of our most requested, ever). Having presented this information to LG in addition to a commitment to a volume of handsets, LG remain firm that they wish not at this time to launch the V20 in Europe.

    1. 3v1L_D34D

      "Just got the following from Clove in the UK. You have to ask why on earth LG would not launch this given the Note 7 debacle::

      Thank you for registering your interest in the LG V20.

      We are contacting you today to let you know that despite our best efforts we will not be selling the LG V20."

      Had one of these myself, very disappointed.

      I wanted a note 7, lucky i held off, but when that fell through and i caught a glimpse of the v20 i thought it was a nice alternative... then the email came.

      Oh well, eBay or not at all i guess.

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