LG V20: What we know so far about the first Nougat phone
The successor to the LG V10 is just around the corner. Here's a primer on what we know so far.
In any other year, the LG V20 might have been just another Android phone. But the follow-up to the decent but underappreciated V10 has one unique trick up its sleeve -- it'll be the first handset to arrive with Android Nougat preloaded. And that turns what might've been just another Android "phablet" into a milestone device for the platform.
Ahead of the September launch event, let's take a look at what we know so far about LG's next big thing.
1. The first phone shipping with Android 7.0
Google's Nexus devices are already starting to get Nougat, but the honor of first phone shipping with the new version of Android goes to the LG V20. LG -- a company that's proudly boasted of software "firsts" in the past -- has announced that its device, not any future Nexus phone, will be the first with Android 7.0.
The V20 is even prominently promoting the V20 on its Android Nougat website, showing a holographic cutout of the phone.
That render also pours cold water on hopes that the LG might have switched to a more barebones UI atop Nougat; instead the screenshot shown on Google's page looks almost exactly like the UI of the LG G5.
2. It'll probably be modular
One of the more reliable leaks to surface thus far points to the V20 being LG's second modular phone, following in the footsteps of the G5. While that handset didn't achieve universal acclaim -- our Phil Nickinson described it as "great cameras attached to a modular mess" -- LG was likely already committed to a modular V20 by the time the first reviews emerged.
Expect a cross between a V10 and a G5.
CAD renders of the phone leaked by Steve Hemmerstoffer (a.k.a. @onleaks) show a G5-style camera protrusion, a secondary display and another release switch for plug-in modules.
If the renders are accurate — and Hemmerstoffer has a decent track record here — then we're looking at a more angular handset than the G5, but with a similar dual-lens camera setup around the back, a larger display (estimated around the 5.6 to 5.7-inch mark) and secondary ticker display, along with a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. But the real surprise? It's looking increasingly likely that the V20 will be LG's second modular phone.
The renders show a G5-style release switch on the bottom right side of the phone, and what appears to be a clean join between the bottom section of the phone and the body. It sure looks like we're in for another LG phone with swappable modules.
3. Big screen, secondary ticker display
Of course the whole point of the V20 is that it's a big-screened counterpoint to the G5, and as such we're expecting a similar 5.7-inch screen size. (And, we'd hope, a battery that at least matches its predecessor's 3,000mAh cell.) The V10 was also the first mass-market phone to feature a secondary ticker display above the main screen which can be used for app shortcuts, notifications or cutesy messages. This feature got a mixed reception last year, but it looks like LG is undeterred, as leaked renders from Evan Blass reveal a similar setup in the V20 -- alongside a relatively subdued dark grey chassis
It's difficult to make out fine details in an image of this size, but it also appears that the V20 will lose its predecessor's twin selfie cameras, instead most likely using two cameras around the back, like the G5.
4. Killer audio output
As LG continues to trickle out nuggets of information ahead of the V20's launch, one of the more interesting revelations has centered on the phone's audio capabilities. It'll purportedly be the first smartphone with a 32-bit quad DAC (digital to analog converter) for improved high-resolution music playback. The component comes from audio firm ESS, which provided the 32-bit DAC for the V10.
LG is also talking up a continuation of the partnership with Bang & Olufsen, which created the B&O Play module for the G5. The company claims the V20 will "feature best-in-class audio functions developed in partnership with B&O PLAY." It's possible that means another plug-in module from B&O, though that's not explicitly mentioned.
5. Launching September 6 in San Francisco
LG's launch is sandwiched between IFA and the new iPhone.
LG will hold the V20's launch event in San Francisco on Sept. 6, within days of the major announcements taking place at IFA 2016 in Berlin, and perilously close to Apple's expected iPhone 7 launch event. That means we can expect the phone to be widely available in the U.S. -- and likely LG's home country of Korea as well.
However we've heard nothing official on any Euro release plans for the V20, and given that the V10 never got a widespread European launch, we'll just have to wait and see what happens.