We have some really great phones from a variety of manufacturers in 2015, and the Nexus 6P, LG G4 and LG V10 all fit the bill. While they all share some similarities like big screens and excellent cameras, they are also very different in other areas.
We're going to have a look at all three and hopefully we can help you decide which one would work best for you.
Why lump the V10 and G4 together?
That's easy. We can't decide which one we like better just yet. The V10 may be the newest on the block from LG, but that doesn't mean the G4 isn't a solid choice right now. While the two are different enough to warrant a different model name, they also feel very much alike when using them. We like them both, and both have things going on we dislike. Until we can decide which is the "better" LG flagship, we'll talk as if both are great.
When a specific feature from one model makes a difference, we'll be sure to mention it.
Radically different design
While the LG G4 may be slightly smaller than the V10 or Nexus 6P, none are what you would call a small phone. And the V10 has a design that's different than anything we've seen from anyone.
The Nexus 6P is tall and narrow. It's also pretty thin, checking in at just 7.3mm thick. The V10 is also tall and narrow, but thicker at 8.6mm. It also feels far more substantial than any other phone with its rugged rubber Duraskin back. The G4 isn't quite as tall and narrow, but the curved back makes it handle very well. The three phones feel very different when you're holding them.
For some, the slick metal of the Nexus 6P is a bit too slippery. I find the width of the phone makes it easy to hold, but we all hold things differently. If you want a phone that feels like it fits well against your palm while holding it, you may not like the 6P.
The V10 feels solid in your hands, and there's nothing slippery at all here. Thick, heavy and coated with rubber, the V10 is not ashamed to be a tank of a phone. Nor should it be. It's extremely well constructed and I love that LG built it the way they did. The V10 feels like the phone that will survive anything, and looks good at the same time. It's not advertised as a super-tough rugged model though, so try to treat it gently if you can.
The G4 is one of the best ergonomically designed phones I've ever used. When you pick it up and hold it, you'll find it fits well between your thumb and fingers, and the swell of the back rests against the palm of your hand. It alleviates the fear that you'll drop it by being in contact in more places. It's also slightly smaller, so it may be easier to use than either the V10 or the 6P.
Both the V10 and the G4 have the power button and volume up and down buttons on the back of the phone. LG's been doing this for a while, and I've noticed that people either love it or they hate it — there is no middle ground. I'm in the "love it" camp, because the buttons are at just the right spot for my index finger. This makes things easy to find and use, and it only took a few hours to train myself to know exactly where the buttons are on both models. The people that hate rear buttons have equally valid reasons, and all our hands are made differently. After all the words have been typed, and everything is said and done, you will need to hold the V10 or the G4 in your hands for a bit and decide if they are for you. When you're spending this much money, make sure you're not buying something you'll hate.
The V10 and the 6P both have a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, though they aren't quite the same when it comes to usage and functionality. The LG V10's allows you to unlock your phone, access locked gallery images and QuickNotes, and will support any app that uses LG's methods for authentication. The Nexus 6P's scanner is tied to Nexus Imprint, which uses the standard Android APIs for fingerprint authentication. We hope that LG includes standard Android API support when they update the V10 to Marshmallow.
There's no gentle way to say this — the Nexus 6P fingerprint scanner works better, too. It's faster, more accurate and works with a case. LG has some work to do if it wants its fingerprint scanner to work this well, and there should be a few software tweaks to make it better.
The G4 and the V10 both have a great LCD screen, while the 6P has an AMOLED panel. All three have a good, sharp screens that leave very little to complain about, but the difference between LCD and AMOLED is apparent. In general, AMOLED screens are a little more saturated to appear more pleasing to the human eye, while LCD screens offer "truer" color reproduction. It's a difference you can see, and your tastes make all the difference.
The V10 also has a small ticker-like second screen at the top of the display. It's useful for camera controls, and can store things like quick contacts or app shortcuts. Right now, It's a little limited and is as much a distraction as it is functional.
|LG G4||LG V10||Nexus 6P|
|Operating system||Android 5 Lollipop||Android 5 Lollipop||Android 6 Marshmallow|
|Display||5.5-inch IPS LCD, 1440 x 2560||5.7-inch IPS LCD, 1440 x 2560||5.7-inch AMOLED, 1440 x 2560|
|Processor||Snapdragon 808||Snapdragon 808||Snapdragon 810|
|Front camera||8MP||5MP (dual)||8MP|
|Battery||3000 mAh||3000 mAh||3450 mAh|
|Dimensions||148.9 x 76.1 x 9.8 mm||159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6 mm||159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm|
|Weight||155 grams||192 grams||178 grams|
|Wifi||802.11 b/g/n/ac||802.11 b/g/n/ac||802.11 b/g/n/ac|
Here are the specs for those that want to know them. As usual, they don't tell the whole story. But they can be important, especially when it comes to being more future-proof. Other odds and ends:
- The Nexus 6P gets better battery life, partly because the battery is bigger and partly because of Marshmallow.
- The Nexus 6P and G4 seem pretty equal when it comes to reception (voice and data on T-Mobile), and both seem slightly better than the V10.
- Both the Huawei watch as well as the LG G Watch R (see how I did that?) connect and perform as expected on all three phones.
- The V10 consistently locks on to more GPS satellites in my front yard (14 versus 11), but location is accurate on all three phones.
- The back buttons, especially on the G4, are glorious and I really wish the Nexus 6P had them.
- The Duraskin back of the V10 is a much nicer covering than the leather backs for the G4. Both are more "grippy" than the smooth aluminum on the Nexus 6P.
- Even after all the updates, my G4 still won't stay connected to Wifi and has touchscreen issues. Others report no such issues. The V10 and the 6P also have bugs some people are seeing, while other aren't. This happens with every phone, and nobody can ever figure out why some are buggy and some are not. All three of these phones have a warranty or return period, and if you have problems you should use either or both. Don't keep something if you're not happy with it.
- The Nexus 6P has a USB Type-C power and data port, as well as its own new-fangled fast charging method. This is a blessing (yay future!) and a curse (new cables and chargers).
This gets a special section here, because all three of these phones have a great camera. They have large apertures for good low-light images, have laser-assisted focus, and will crank out results that you'll really like.
There are two things that stand out. In low light, the Nexus 6P takes a better picture if everything is in automatic mode. Not a lot better, but if you're picky (and being picky is OK here), you'll notice.
The other difference is the camera application. LG, especially on the V10, has nailed it. You'll need to visit Google Play and install several apps to get the features that LG offers in its camera app if you want that sort of thing on the 6P. More importantly, you can manually control everything about taking a picture from LG's camera app, and it works really well. Again, a visit to Google Play is in order to do the same on the 6P.
If I were buying a phone based on the camera, I would buy the G4. The video mode settings and features in the V10 are neat, but the G4 consistently takes excellent pictures and can be had for much less. The Nexus 6P has a very nice camera as well, but the native controls and settings from LG are just better.
Here's where things drift apart. LG fills its phones with settings and things you may or may not use, and this affects the performance of everything else. Google keeps the base software on the Nexus 6P to a minimum, allowing you to install only what you want or need. Since many of us would be buying a carrier-specific version of the G4 or the V10, this gets even worse, or better, depending on your view of extra software.
One approach is not better than the other, but one might be better for you. Take our camera app example above. LG's app has a lot of stuff in it you'll probably never use — crazy filters and stickers and such — but the parts you will use work great with the camera hardware.
The same goes for things like QuickNote+ on the V10. If it's something you want and will use, it works really well. But if it's not something you'll use, you either find a way to disable it and all the assorted hooks into the operating system, or let it run and use resources. We can't say which approach is better, but we can talk about the differences.
The Nexus 6P is blazing fast out of the box. It's literally the fastest and smoothest Android phone made when it comes to navigating the UI and zipping through the app drawer. But it's pretty bare in there. On the other hand the G4 or the V10 won't give you that butter-smooth performance in the UI, because there's a lot of stuff going on. You have to decide if the stuff that goes on is worth the performance cost. Don't listen to anyone else here. You need to decide, because you're the one using this phone every day for a year or so. Consider what apps and services you will need to use, and how many you would need to install from Google Play. Every app you install has the potential to affect performance, and if you installed a hundred apps to the 6P to make it do the things the V10 or the G4 do, it would probably slow down a bit and be pretty comparable.
Carrier apps, on the other hand, are all horrible and need to die. The 6P won't have any, and you can disable or uninstall quite a few of them on the G4 or V10.
Last, but not least, we talk about updates. The G4 and V10 will get Android 6.0 soon, or are in the process of being updated, depending on your region. Marshmallow is a nice update, and things like Doze or the fingerprint APIs are welcome additions to both the G4 and the V10.
But the Marshmallow update is not the important update. The critical updates, that every manufacturer needs to be sending out, are the security patches and bug fixes. While not very glamourous, these are the updates you need to keep things running smoothly, and keep you and your data safe.
LG is doing better here than expected. Google has made things easier to keep track of by posting a monthly digest of security fixes to the Android source code, so those small "security enhancement" updates now have a better changelog. When we can see what needs fixing, we can be more vocal about it. This means companies like LG will feel more pressure to keep things up to date. While they aren't doing as well as we would like with all their models, the G4 and the V10 are high-profile phones that should get updates in a mostly timely manner.
The Nexus 6P will get monthly security updates for its lifespan, and will see full platform version updates for at least 18 months. We hope the G4 and the V10 are handled the same way.
Which should I buy?
I can't tell you that. I can tell you which I would buy, and why, though.
I would buy the Nexus 6P. The performance and the updates make it the phone for me. I would be giving up the G4 and V10's awesome camera applications, and that's a big deal to me — the LG camera app on the G4 is still my hands-down pick for best smartphone camera ever.
But I wouldn't miss any of the other baked-in features from LG. I just don't use them.
That's the thing each of us needs to consider — do you want the extras that come with your phone, or would you rather find only what you need from an app store?
All three of these phones are ones I could recommend. The V10 has rugged good looks and makes me feel like I'm holding a well-engineered piece of equipment. The G4 offers a huge bang for the buck, and has the best smartphone camera on the market. The 6P is the ultimate Google phone, is fast as hell and will stay updated. You can't go wrong here.