LG V20 review: Twice as bright

Twice as bright

GSMArena team, 23 September 2016.

Performance

Update (December 15): We've received the final firmware for our V20 review units and we're updating what needed updating. Here, for example, we've rerun all the benchmarks and we'll be comparing the new results, but let's cover the theory first.

The LG V20 is powered by the Snapdragon 820 chipset, the most popular flagship option on Android. It's paired with 4GB of RAM, which is the same amount as the V10 but the new chipset should provide a huge speed boost over the old 808.

LG V20 review

Android 7.0 Nougat provides further optimizations. One cool feature allows it to boot faster after an update - the old "Optimizing Apps" screen that seemed to last forever is gone. Instead, the OS will silently optimize most apps in the background. Since this optimization only touches the parts of apps that actually run, it should improve RAM usage as well.

Android 7.0 also supports Vulkan 3D Graphics API - in fact, it's a requirement for any phone that runs v7.0. Vulcan is the successor to OpenGL, and it's already in use in some PC games where it provides a noticeable speed increase. Knowing Android's update pace, we expect that developers will be slow to adopt Vulcan, though.

Speaking of gaming, the LG V20 also comes with a Game battery saver mode. The default option - Full optimization - adjusts resolution and frame rate, while Base optimization only changes the resolution. You can manually select resolution and frame rate for each game if you like - this also affects performance, though we don't see the Adreno 530 needing help anytime soon.

On to the results, and we're starting with the CPU-focused GeekBench, which the pre-production phones refused to install at all. Here, the LG phablet is one of the less impressive high-end Snapdragon devices. It only manages to outperform the Pixel XL in the single-core test, with all other flagships posting better numbers. In the multi-core test the V20 is again second to last, only this time it's the HTC 10 that's behind it.

GeekBench 4 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3473
  • Huawei Mate 9
    1898
  • OnePlus 3T
    1890
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    1824
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    1815
  • HTC 10
    1708
  • ZTE Axon 7
    1702
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    1696
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    1694
  • LG V20
    1576
  • Google Pixel XL
    1507

GeekBench 4 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Huawei Mate 9
    6112
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    5664
  • OnePlus 3T
    4364
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    4288
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    4278
  • Google Pixel XL
    4152
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    4130
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    4128
  • ZTE Axon 7
    3990
  • LG V20
    3824
  • HTC 10
    3621

Overall performance, as indicated by the Basemark OS II 2.0 benchmark, is again not class-leading. The V20 does inch ahead of the G5 and the Exynos version of the Galaxy S7 edge (also, the consistently underperforming HTC 10), but the S7 edge that runs on the same chip as the V20 is notably faster. With the same SoC the Moto Z manages to equal the higher-clocked S821 in the OnePlus 3T, slightly ahead of the Mate 9 and its in-house Kirin 960.

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3796
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    2690
  • OnePlus 3T
    2678
  • Huawei Mate 9
    2637
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    2381
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2364
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    2352
  • ZTE Axon 7
    2346
  • Google Pixel XL
    2281
  • LG V20
    2159
  • LG G5
    2065
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    2050
  • HTC 10
    1839

In Antutu the V20 is not on the bottom of the flagship bunch. Scoring on par with the Pixel XL and the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, its figures are higher than both versions of the S7 edge, and the Huawei Mate 9. The OnePlus 3T is the Android king of Antutu though, considerably ahead of the V20.

It's worth noting here that the 142K score of the V20 is the highest it can achieve on a first run of the benchmark. Subsequent runs yield progressively lower scores, all the way down to low 110Ks after multiple tests. We also observed the same on the Xiaomi Mi Note 2, and of similar magnitude too.

AnTuTu 6

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    173110
  • OnePlus 3T
    165097
  • HTC 10
    154031
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    151619
  • LG V20
    141945
  • Google Pixel XL
    141186
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    140324
  • LG G5
    134541
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    133242
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    132849
  • ZTE Axon 7
    129926
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    129229
  • Huawei Mate 9
    122826

We experienced a similar drop in test scores in graphics benchmarks too - where typically the numbers are more consistent between runs. For example, in the lightest of GFXBench tests we run - offscreen 1080p 3.0 Manhattan, the V20 can achieve 40fps on the first run, but dips as low as 28fps as the runs mount. Similarly in the other tests.

Also, the V20 isn't among the top performing flagships to begin with. Other than the single shared win in the offscreen GFXBench 3.1 (mostly irrelevant), the V20 best results (which are unsustainable over long periods of time) are on the low side of average for the current crop of high-end devices.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    60
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    49
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    49
  • OnePlus 3T
    49
  • LG G5
    47
  • HTC 10
    47
  • Google Pixel XL
    47
  • LG V20
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    40
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    40
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    38
  • Huawei Mate 9
    30
  • ZTE Axon 7
    15

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    56
  • OnePlus 3T
    48
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    41
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    41
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    31
  • Google Pixel XL
    30
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    29
  • HTC 10
    28
  • LG G5
    28
  • Huawei Mate 9
    28
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    27
  • LG V20
    25
  • ZTE Axon 7
    12

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    39
  • OnePlus 3T
    33
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    32
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    32
  • Google Pixel XL
    32
  • HTC 10
    31
  • ZTE Axon 7
    31
  • LG G5
    30
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    30
  • LG V20
    29
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    29
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    28
  • Huawei Mate 9
    22

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    42
  • OnePlus 3T
    33
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    30
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    27
  • Huawei Mate 9
    23
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    18
  • Google Pixel XL
    17
  • LG V20
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    15
  • HTC 10
    15
  • LG G5
    15
  • ZTE Axon 7
    15

GFX 3.1 Car scene (offscreen)

Higher is better

  • LG V20
    20
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    20
  • OnePlus 3T
    20
  • Google Pixel XL
    19
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    19
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    18
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    18
  • HTC 10
    18
  • LG G5
    16
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    15
  • ZTE Axon 7
    15
  • Huawei Mate 9
    13

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    20
  • OnePlus 3T
    20
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    17
  • ZTE Axon 7
    16
  • Huawei Mate 9
    14
  • LG V20
    12
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    12
  • Google Pixel XL
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    10
  • HTC 10
    9.9
  • LG G5
    8.8
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    7.8

In Basemark X, on the other hand, the test score fluctuations are minimal. Then again, the V20's results are among the lowest for a 2016 flagship.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    37346
  • OnePlus 3T
    36958
  • Huawei Mate 9
    36519
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    36506
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    36322
  • ZTE Axon 7
    32243
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    32160
  • Google Pixel XL
    30861
  • LG G5
    29456
  • LG V20
    29385
  • HTC 10
    28882
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    28480

Same story in Basemark ES 3.1, only here the V20 is the lowest-ranked flagship.

Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    1517
  • Huawei Mate 9
    794
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    733
  • Lenovo Moto Z Droid
    648
  • OnePlus 3T
    641
  • Google Pixel XL
    626
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (S820)
    624
  • ZTE Axon 7
    606
  • LG G5
    587
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    558
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    556
  • LG V20
    526

To sum it all up, the final firmware's take on heat management is similar to that of the pre-production version we tested. The V20 is very susceptible to throttling under sustained high loads, particularly on the GPU.

Reader comments

The second display is just so nice to have, feels like I have an S6 or S7 edge, instead made by LG, so good, only affects about 5% of battery life whilst the phone is sleeping, really cool!

  • Hoffmann

That camera is a killer

  • Lol

Lol like always LG and it's mediocre battery life.