If you want a new phone that runs Android 7.0 Nougat, the LG V20 is your only option. That won’t be the case for long, of course. But if you’re the type who considered buying a Pono or ever pondered shooting a feature-length movie on your smartphone, the V20 is trying to get into your pocket.

It’s a handsome phone, and although it (oddly) isn’t waterproof, it’s built to take lumps. With slight bezels and a 5.7-inch quad-HD display (515ppi) stretching edge to edge, the front looks like it’s all screen. That’s because the home button and fingerprint scanner are on the back of the V20, a trait common in LG’s most recent phones.

The durable aluminum and silicon-polycarbonate body can absorb shock, and it survived military-grade tests of drops from 4 feet. The battery is user serviceable, too. Press a button on the edge and the back plate flips up like a cosmetics case, exposing the removable 3,200mAh battery and a MicroSD slot. Inside you’ll find a quad-core Snapdragon 820 chip, 4GB RAM and 64 gigs of storage. The whole thing charges via USB-C.

Underneath all that, this phone is full of audio and video features. At the forefront is a beefier digital to analog converter (DAC) than any other smartphone out there: The 32-bit Sabre ES9218 quad DAC from ESS Technologies. A 2Vrms amp is built into the chip. If you’ve been waiting for a phone that can natively play AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, and WAV files through your high-end Sennheisers, you’ve got a clubhouse leader.

LG built this phone to record high-quality audio, as well. Music Studio Mode allows for better-than-CD-quality recording (24-bit/192kHz), and LG claims the phone’s three microphones can record clear sound at up to 132db—about as loud as a jackhammer. Those audio-recording skills also apply to its video camera. The V20 sports a low-cut filter to help eliminate wind noise, a limiter you can use like a directional mic, and 24-bit/48kHz LPCM recording like big-boy video cameras.

While it’s a follow-up to the V10, its dual-camera setup around the back is more like that of the LG G5. However, the V20 lacks the G5’s modular add-on capabilities. Instead, it has new stabilization features for recording video: A gyroscope-based stabilizer and something that LG calls “image-stream analysis” to keep video subjects in the middle of each frame. LG says the system also fixes the rolling-shutter effect inherent in any CMOS-sensored camera.

A phase-detection AF system should also keep those videos in focus. In still mode, the main camera shoots 16-megapixel super-wide shots with a 135-degree field of view, as well as 8-megapixel stills in “normal” mode.

LG hasn’t finalized the US launch date (look for details within a few weeks), but the V20 is slated to launch this month in South Korea.


LG’s Newest Phone Is the A/V Nerd’s Ultimate Handset