I've now been using the LG V20 for about two days (two half days, one full day), and I'm ready to give you some thoughts and impressions on the newest high-end device from LG.
I didn't review the V10 - Android Police editor emeritus Cameron Summerson had that job - so I'm using the V20 with a fresh set of eyes. What I do know about the V10 is that fans of that phone loved it. Not since the LG G2 and G3 had I seen quite such a positive reaction to an LG smartphone, and I think that had to do with the V10's "no nonsense" approach to the large smartphone market. 64GB of standard storage, "high end" internal audio, a Quad HD display, removable battery, and rear-mounted fingerprint scanner made the V10 feel like the big phone with few compromises, apart from that questionable Snapdragon 808 chipset.
But Android 5.1.1, the aforementioned 808, and relatively meager battery life were common complaints. LG's software layer wasn't great (or terrible, admittedly), either. But the V10 offered expandable storage and a removable battery in the wake of the first Galaxy Note device, the Note 5, not to do so. And I think that gained LG a fair bit of brownie points with scorned Note fans looking for an alternative. With the Note7 making up for many of its predecessor's shortcomings (aside from the removable battery), is there still a place for the V20 as the alt-Note? My gut reaction is that LG makes a strong argument with this new phone that there is.
The design of the V20 is certainly G5-esque, but without quite as large and awkward an off-color "chin" on the front. The V20's chin gently slopes downward, symmetrical with a second chin above the display (the upper and lower are the same color, that's just the lighting) that houses the earpiece speaker. This gives the phone an altogether more balanced and visually appealing look, at least for me. Gone is the "waterfall" curved glass of the G5, too. LG has also nixed the polished aluminum chamfer around the back and flattened out the area around the fingerprint scanner (the G5's is raised).
The V20 still does have that same "surprised robot" look with the camera module, and I do think it's a bit... unfortunate from the back. As you know by now, the metal rear cover pops off for access to the removable battery, microSD, and SIM slot. It's not super difficult to remove, but it's also not extremely easy - the button doesn't give you much in the way of feedback.
LG's modular "friends" are thankfully nowhere to be found in the V20's marketing, and the G5's two modules obviously don't fit on the device. No one will miss them, because of course no one will miss them, because they were kind of bad. Good riddance. This preproduction device does have some rough edges, particularly around the back, so I'd hope those will be sorted out in final retail units.
I'm reserving judgment on battery life until I publish the full review. The phone is still settling in, I still have a few apps I probably want to load, and my results with the battery so far have been too inconsistent to make much of any judgment here. Stay tuned.
As is typical of LG IPS displays, the screen gets very bright, and the whites are ridiculously blue. Thankfully, LG has added a new "comfort view" mode that warms up the white point just enough in "low" mode that I've simply begun to use it all the time. The colors are still comically oversaturated, but at least the phone doesn't sear my retinas like tuna every time I go to use it in dim light or when I'm in bed.
So, how about that ticker display? Here's the weird thing: I... actually like it. Now, I don't really like it for what LG seems to think are its key functions. It's used to display pop-over notifications, but they're tiny and dark to the point of being unreadable, so it's mostly useless for that. It can show your name or any other "signature" text at the top of the phone... which is useless. It can also serve as a mini app tray, which could be useful if the phone wasn't ridiculously tall, making it a real stretch to reach. I can at least see how some people might like this, of course, especially when using the V20 in landscape.
Finally, the tray houses some quick settings toggles. This I like - a lot. My flashlight toggle is now permanently anchored to the top of my display, along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The audio profile toggle is useful, as well, but the "quick note" one seems like it should just be a screenshot button if you ask me. That'd be nice. The only additional buttons you can replace one of the standard ones with is a camera shortcut, so LG seems to leave open the possibility that more toggles will come later in the toggle edit menu, but that's all you get for now. Overall, I find the ticker display a worthy addition. I just wish you could make it default to the quick toggles when the display is off. As is, you have to swipe to them every time. Granted, the clock / calendar / battery / notification tray mode certainly has its place, so I'm not complaining.
LG's UI in general has seen some additional refining (LG calls it LG UX5.0+), and some of it has explicitly been to make the phone look and act more like it's based on Android 7.0. For example, LG's implementation of the quick settings area tracks very closely to Google's in Android 7.0, LG's just adds a few more toggles, settings, and theming. Custom QS tiles work just as they would on a Nexus. The settings app now has a hamburger menu - just like the Nougat you've been using for months on your 6P. LG has nixed its stock Calculator, Downloads, and Weather apps, too, compared to the G5. Even smaller stuff, like the settings app "tips" and notifications, are there. So, is LG edging closer to Google's Android with the V20? I'd say yes, though it's not a quantum leap or anything. But the stuff they have done, especially in the notification area, is exceptionally welcome.
I know you still have more questions: cameras, performance, battery life, audio quality, comparisons to the Note7 and other devices - but those will have to wait for our full review. This is just a taste of the V20, and I hope to have complete thoughts to share with you in the coming weeks. So far, though, I'm impressed.