It’s been a long while since LG featured in the top mobile phone vendors in Australia. That’s not to say they haven’t had their hits though. The original LG Optimus G was a masterpiece which I loved, and their V-series phones have been well received, though haven’t sold well, evidenced by the lack of the V60 launching in Australia. 

LG, obviously aware of the lack of sales, not just in Australia, but globally, announced earlier this year that they would re-focus on design. 

The result is the LG Velvet, a phone which includes design focus flourishes like the ‘Raindrop camera’ which moves the camera layout away from the large camera island we see in flagship phones these days to an interesting layout which is reminiscent of a falling water drop. LG has also refined the design of the traditional black rectangle with what they call ‘3D Arc Design’, which better melds the front and rear of the phone making it easier and more comfortable to hold. 

The design focus has meant that specs take more of a backseat, though not too much with a decent spec list including a 5G compatible Snapdragon 765 processor, a massive 4,300mAh battery, gorgeously large 6.8-inch display with a centred selfie camera notch and a triple rear camera array that is headlined by a 48MP sensor. 

LG says the Velvet sits at the price-point of what they call mid-range, but at $899 is getting more into what most people would argue is akin to flagship range. Is it worth the price? Let’s see. 

Hardware and Design
I’ll admit to scoffing at the thought of 3D Arc Design, but once the LG Velvet was in hand I had to admit they might be onto something. The symetrical curved glass on both front and back make the phone seem thinner than it advertises, and it’s comfortable to hold. The volume rocker, Google Assistant buttons and power button all sit almost flush with the metal rail holding the front and back together but have a good tactile feel when you press them. 

On the subject of buttons, the dedicated Google Assistant button is handy. I use the ‘Active Edge’ squeeze on the Pixel to wake the Assistant, and transitioning to the button was easy. Of course we’d love to be able to map the button to any function, however apps like Assistant Shortcut explicitly state that LG and Samsung phones aren’t compatible – boo.

The phone comes in both Aurora White and Aurora Grey, and while the grey looks a little boring, the white has a lovely pearl-like shimmer which adds a certain je ne se quois – though the gloss is an absolute fingerprint magnet, so find a case. While the White is nice, I am a little disappointed that we only get the two colour options out of the rainbow of glorious colour options available in other markets – seriously, that Illusion Sunset is just amazing.

The Aurora White colouring isn’t marred by big, obvious branding, though there is an LG logo on the back it’s subtly inlaid in white so it’s more a flourish than a punch in the face. The main feature on the rear is the camera array laid out like a water drop falling. I’m neither loving, nor hating this design affectation, it’s there, but when it comes down to it, how often are you looking at the back of the phone?

What you do spend time looking at is the front of the phone which is essentially made of a 6.8-inch, fullHD+ resolution OLED display. 

The display includes the notch for the selfie camera and a fingerprint scanner in the display. There’s minimal bezel around the screen, though there’s a little at the top and bottom – it’s not enough to detract from the look, and it’s fairly immersive if you start playing a video.

I’ve gone beyond demanding QHD resolution in phones, it drains battery and for the most part, I can’t usually see a big difference, so the 2460×1080 resolution is just fine. The brightness is decent, with the auto-scaling working well when you step outside, amping it up, or dropping it down when you’re in darker areas.

The fingerprint scanner embedded in the display is nice, fast and works decently well. There’s no face unlock on the phone, but without the IR LEDs used for face mapping, that’s probably a more secure option in the long run.

A bonus for anyone a little clumsy with their phone with the inclusion of IP68 water and dust resistance. The phone also carries a MIL-STD-810G rating for dust, water and shock resistance. I haven’t dropped the Velvet (and don’t plan to!) but accidents happen, and LG has done really well design wise including this level of protection in a phone that’s still nice to look at and hold.

Performance wise, the SD765 processor and 6GB RAM does a decent job, though there was some stuttering under heavy load – mostly when quickly switching apps. The inclusion of the SD765 means you get a decent Application Processor as well as 5G support – but with 5G still very much in limited areas, perhaps we don’t need the 5G connectivity just yet, still it will be nice to have when it’s available more broadly.

Power wise, the Velvet packs a punch with its 4,300mAh battery. It works well with the SD765 processor and I can quite happily recommend the Velvet as ‘an all-day battery life’ phone. 

LG says the phone includes ‘Super-fast charging takes you from 0 to 100% rapidly’. This is due to the phone supporting Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0+ to achieve this, so it’s handy for a quick top-up before heading out. You could also leave your phone on a wireless charger with that option supported too, though it’s not a fast charge. 

LG has long been known for including a Quad-DAC (Digital-Analaog Converter) in their phones which has made them somewhat legendary with audiophiles. LG dropped the Quad-DAC for the Velvet, but the audio is still pretty decent.

There is good news though, with LG bucking current trends to include a headphone jack, which is always welcome by anyone who cares about audio quality.

I’m at the point where I can hear the difference made by the Quad-DAC on the LG V and G-series phones, and while it’s disappointing to see it left out, it also costs more, so it had to go.

LG has included a 3D Sound Engine to automatically sense what audio you’re listening to and apply appropriate settings, which is supposed to enhance the audio, but it was too subtle to make a difference to me, though it could be my aging ears. 

What could be more useful to you is the improved audio recording on the LG Velvet. A Video Bokeh mode means the audio engine focuses on the audio rather than background noise when recording, and this is actually implemented really well. There’s also an ASMR video which picks up ‘delicate whispers and crinkling paper to soothe ASMR fans everywhere’ – it’s there, but I’m not an ASMR type person, so it’s not really floating my boat.

It’s of course the camera which most people want to know about on phones these days, and the 48MP main sensor on the LG Velvet is ok, while the wide lens on the 8MP sensor offers you a broader 120˚ field of view, but at a reduced resolution. The 5MP depth camera helps out with the Bokeh for the main sensor giving softer tones to the background while leaving the main subject in crisp focus. 

The photos from the main sensor are often lacking in a bit of brightness, though the quality is good. The images are about where I like, though seem a little overly sharp. 

I wasn’t super impressed by the night shots on the Velvet, with the ‘Night View’ mode not offering a lot when compared against the night mode of flagships like the Pixel, and even Huawei’s P40 Pro/Pro+. 

I appreciate the Ultra-Wide angle lens on the camera array, but with a fairly wide aperture on the main camera it’d be nice to have an optical zoom when needed.

LG’s camera app is easy to use, with most of your features and functions easy to find and access. The Voice Bokeh and ASMR audio recording in Video are also easy to access and switch on or off. 

LG has been playing around with directional audio for some time, so they’ve made some good ground on this front. The Voice Bokeh would be great for any vloggers, as would the ASMR mode. It’s an interesting feature, but ultimately a very targetted feature for those wanting it. 

Accessories – or lack thereof.

For the past few years one of the big winners for LG has been their dual-screen accessory. Unfortunately that won’t be coming to Australia with the Velvet. Instead we are getting these nice cases, but it’s a little disappointing to see you can’t even order the dual-screen accessory – unless you import it.

Also not an option is a stylus. Despite showing the Velvet with a stylus on their website, you can’t buy an LG stylus for Velvet, instead LG recommend one of the WACOM branded Bamboo stylus.

In terms of first party accessories like cases for the Velvet, when asked if they’d be ranging any LG advised ‘We don’t have any LG-branded accessories launching with this model, however we have seen strong support from third-party accessory manufacturers around the world which gives our consumers a good selection of peripherals such as cases.

I love buying new accessories for a new phone, so not having that option is a little off-putting. Hopefully LG review this decision, but for now, it’s over to third-parties and importing.


The LG Velvet runs Android 10 with ‘LG UX’ overlaid. The Velvet comes with the June 2020 security patch out of the box.

In terms of future updates for LG Velvet, LG wouldn’t give any assurances
LG regularly updates Android OS and security settings on its smartphone range, however we don’t have any information on future updates at this point. So we’ll likely see updates, but there’s no schedule.

LG phones have never been fantastic with software, preferring a rather more colourful aesthetic than I personally prefer. The software has gradually been drawing back towards the look of stock Android design, but it’s not quite there yet. The settings and notification panel show signs of having been painted with an ‘LG’ brush, and even things like missing the app drawer show there’s still some ways to go – you can enable the app drawer in settings, but it’s off by default. 

The phone comes with a LOT of what I coin ‘bloatware’ pre-installed. There’s ‘useful’ apps like the phone clone app, audio recorder etc. but then you also get Gameloft games like Asphalt 9 and Modern Combat 5 pre-installed. The fortunate thing is you can delete all these apps, so if you don’t like them, they’re easily gone.

The UI isn’t quite what I personally prefer, but it’s usable and that’s what counts.

Should you buy it?
LG has taken a different tact for launching a phone with the Velvet, concentrating on style over the flashy new specs, and they’ve somewhat succeeded. 

The phone is a decently priced 5G option, and it has excellent battery life. The phone itself performs pretty well, and it definitely looks and feels like a high-end device. 

Where it falls down is the camera, which is good, but not great and is missing the night mode option that is becoming almost ubiquitous with smartphones these days. 

There’s the niggle of no Quad-DAC, but LG has done something pretty nice with that Voice Bokeh and ASMR mode which is great for content creators, but for the audiophiles out there, those features, and even the inclusion of the 3.5mm headphone jack probably won’t be enough.

The LG Velvet is a good option for anyone who does want a 5G phone with great battery life, but at $899 LG is looking at stiff competition in the marketplace with higher end phones like the OPPO Find X2, or Pixel 4 XL priced only $100 more at just $999, both of which come with better camera, though the Velvet does crush the Pixel 4XL battery life.

Despite the flaws I like the Velvet, and could use this phone daily. I like where LG is going with this new focus on design rather than just the specs. If an LG Velvet 2 is on the cards next year I can’t wait to see what they do. There’s some signs of brilliance here and given some time to refine the concept – and the camera, LG could really be onto something here.