If there is one thing that 2020’s new tech has shown us, folding screens and dual screens are a popular feature that people want, even if they aren’t always affordable. Smartphones that can seemingly do it all are de rigueur, and sometimes it takes more than just a single screen to make that happen. The 5G LG Velvet starts as an agile, fashionable, and versatile Android smartphone; the addition of its optional and removable Dual Screen case provides a second display for those times when you need a phone that can do more.
I’m going to focus on the AT&T version of the LG Velvet that I received for review, but the Velvet is also available for T-Mobile and Verizon customers. Depending upon which carrier you purchase from, the LG Velvet will come in Aurora Gray, Aurora Silver, Aurora Red, and Pink White; my review unit came in Aurora Silver.
There’s not much included in the box. Inside, you’ll find the phone, a wall charger (labeled “fast charge”), a USB Type-A to USB Type-C cable, a quick-start guide, a booklet with info on product safety and the warranty, and a flyer with how to turn your phone into a digital wallet with LG Pay on one side and information on how to get a second year added to your limited warranty with registration and an upload of your purchase receipt on the other.
The LG Velvet measures 6.6″ tall by 2.95″ wide by 0.33″ thick, and it weighs 6.2 ounces. The phone is quite tall and very thin, with a 6.8″ FHD+ OLED Display (2460 x 1080; 395 ppi) with a 20.5:9 aspect ratio and an uninspiring 60Hz refresh rate. It fits quite well in my hand, but the Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which covers its front and back, is very slick (and a fingerprint magnet) without a case. The glass edges on the front are quite curved, and the display wraps subtely down the long sides; a metal frame holds the glass pieces in place. The overall effect is stylish and sharp. The phone is gorgeous and striking; the back glass reflects light so beautifully, as you will soon see. The Velvet isn’t a flagship phone, per se, but it looks and, for the most part, feels like one.
There’s a 4mm black border at the top and bottom of the display with a 1mm black border on each of the sides. A single front-facing 16-megapixel camera lens dips down from the upper border at the center top of the display. If the lens hole bothers you, LG allows you to set a solid black status bar that stops just below the camera display, but doing so puts an 8mm black border at the top of your screen, and it only works with LG apps anyway, so don’t bother. There is a sizeable in-screen fingerprint reader (it’s been about 95% accurate in my use), but no facial recognition. The Velvet’s display is crisp and very bright, and I had no trouble seeing the display outside. The display dims nicely at night with a Comfort View blue light filter that you can manually set; you can also schedule it to come on from sunset to sunrise, or you can set specific times for it to activate. If you prefer to run your phone in dark mode, LG offers the option to do so. You can also set the otherwise bright white screens to go into dark mode from sunrise to sunset or between specific times. LG also offers the option of an always-on display, and they have an excellent selection of clocks and cute creatures (some animated) with which to personalize.
On top of the phone, there is a microphone and a combination SIM and microSD tray. The LG Velvet comes with 6GB RAM and 128GB user memory (On the AT&T version, about 97GB of that is available to the user from the start), and it can accept up to a 2TB memory card. Because I received the AT&T version, it came preloaded with a vast selection of software, including games I won’t play, premium television services that I don’t pay for, and all of the standard AT&T apps. Some of the preloaded apps can be deleted, including HBO Max, Amazon Shopping, NBA, Bleacher Report, Pandora, Candy Crush Saga, three versions of Solitare, DirecTV, Wish, SmartNews, Gold Fish, NewsBreak, Great Big Story, Puto TV, and Coin Master. But many — like most of the AT&T apps, DC universe, CNN, GOT: Conquest, AT&T ProTech, Booking.com, The CW, and Facebook can only be disabled, meaning they are hidden from showing on the phone, but they are still using ROM. After deleting all the non-LG apps that came preloaded to see what would now be available, I had 98.78GB free.
On the left side, there are two volume buttons and a dedicated Google Assistant button.
On the right side, there is a power button.
On the bottom, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB Type-C port, a microphone, and a speaker.
On the back, there are elegantly descending lenses in this order: a 48-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, and a 5-megapixel ToF (time of flight) sensor followed by an LED flash. I like this simple design, as it is less obnoxious than the square and rectangular camera arrays so many device makers have embraced. The LED flash and the bottom two cameras sit flush with the Velvet’s back, and there is a ~1mm protruding ring around the top lens.
Let’s take a look at some sample photos; I thought the LG did a good job capturing the water lily display in San Angelo. The zoom photos can get grainy, but it’s to be expected.. (Click any picture to open a larger view slideshow.)
The LG Velvet runs Android 10 with LG’s Velvet UI skin running on top; I’ve had several updates arrive since I had the phone with the most recent being on September 24th. The UI is fine; it’s not too heavily overloaded with weird “features,” and I genuinely appreciate that swiping right on the home screen still brings up Google News (unlike the travesty forced on Samsung users to choose Samsung Daily or … nothing, for instance). However, there are still some head-scratching additions to the system; one of them is the annoying reminder not to remove the (non-removable) battery. I mean, when was the last time a smartphone’s battery was removable? Is someone out there actually still trying to do this?
One addition that Samsung Note admirers might like that the LG Velvet works with an active stylus (like this one), but because I don’t have one and my review unit didn’t include one, I wasn’t able to test that feature. It’s just as well, though; there’s no place to store a stylus, so it would just be an extra piece of gear to carry, and I am not sure how often I would use it anyway.
I like that the Velvet supports WiFi calling, as my network coverage at home can be spotty; this is one of those things that is a deal-breaker for me when considering whether a phone could be my primary or not. We don’t have 5G in my area, so I could not test how well it did or didn’t perform with that type of network.
The phone may look and feel like a flagship, but it runs the mid-to-higher-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 5G Mobile Platform. While the Velvet is capable and zippy enough most of the time (opening web pages, playing games, opening apps, etc.), there have been some odd stalls — like when I scroll on certain web pages or when trying to take a photo with HDR.
Battery life has been surprisingly good; even though the Velvet is a thinner phone, it has a 4,300mAh Li-Ion battery that lasts for about 8 hours of semi-solid use for me. The phone has Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0+ and wireless charging, so that’s convenient when it is time to top off.
One thing I was disappointed in was the removal of the excellent Hi-Fi Quad DAC digital-to-analog converter feature that higher-end LG phones utilize when headphones are plugged in. If you usually use Bluetooth headphones, you likely won’t even miss it. Still, I always felt it was a wired-headphone feature that set LG phones apart and that LG made the most of, especially considering that they were one of the few phone makers still including a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Worth noting is that the LG Velvet is IP68 Certified & MIL-STD 810G Passed, so it’s dust, water, and shock-resistant, which is useful for those who like to bring their phone to the pool or hot tub. This is an underrated feature until it is needed, and then it’s something to be thankful for once an accident or dunking occurs.
Like several models of higher-end LGs before it, the Velvet offers the option of adding a Dual Screen Case to give the user an extra display for enhanced multitasking. Unlike the reflective front on the LG V60’s Dual Screen Case, the front of the LG Velvet’s Dual Screen Case is matte silver with a shiny black cover display; the cover display activates when you lift the phone or press the power button, and it shows the time, date, battery status, and various notifications without having to open the case to check the phone. The Dual Screen Case adds considerable weight and bulk to the otherwise svelte Velvet. With the phone installed in the case, it will now measure 6.9″ tall by 3.4″ wide by 0.6″ thick, and it weighs 10.8 ounces; it is only slightly thinner and lighter than the V60’s Dual Screen Case, but it feels perceptively sleeker in hand.
The benefit of adding this extra bulk to your LG Velvet is, of course, the addition of a second 6.8″ OLED FHD Display. On it, you can operate completely separate apps than those you are running on the main screen. I went into heavy detail on the functions and uses of the second screen in my V60 review, but suffice it to say that it is convenient for having a separate area to chat in another app, for instance, when you are in the middle of a Zoom call. It is also handy for checking email when you are watching a video, or pulling up multiple news sources when researching something. When you’re using the Dual Screen features, you can swap screens from the main to the second screen, you can put the main screen to sleep, or you can turn off the Dual Screen completely. The Dual Screen case folds 360º so you can fold the second screen behind the main screen when you need to reply to emails or answer texts with both thumbs; it’s a bit difficult to manage actual keying when the Dual Screen case is open unless you are proficient at typing with your pointer fingers.
As they did on the V60, LG opted to connect the case to Velvet via a built-in USB Type-C charger on the inside of the Dual Screen Case rather than using POGO pins inside the case with an open charging port on the bottom as LG had on the V50. The Dual Screen Case does drain the battery significantly faster than when using the Velvet alone, So you need to be mindful of that when using it.
The design of the case necessitates using an included white dongle that clips onto your regular USB Type-C charging cable and then magnetically attaches to the charging pins on the bottom of the Dual Screen Case.
The optional Dual Screen Case is not necessary, but it is nice to have when you do want it. And when you don’t need it, you can remove it and carry the LG Velvet on its own
If you buy the LG Velvet outright at AT&T, it will cost $599, but if you make the 30-month AT&T installment payments at $10 per month, it is just $300, which makes it an excellent deal. For $300, you’ll get a gorgeous IP68 5G phone with a large, brilliant screen, a decent camera, a fast processor, wireless charging, and the ability to add the Dual Screen Case with a second display for $200 more. That makes the LG Velvet a compelling choice; if better multitasking is what you need from your phone, you’ll likely love it.
The LG Velvet is available from AT&T ($599.99), Verizon ($699.99), and T-Mobile ($588). The LG Dual Screen Case for the AT&T and Verizon versions of the LG Velvet is available separately for $199.99. You can learn more about the LG Velvet here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: 5G support; 3.5mm headphone jack; The LG Velvet’s design is gorgeous and svelte; The screen is brilliant; You can add a microSD card to expand storage; The Dual Screen case is easy to activate, personalize, and control; Excellent battery life (when not using the Dual Screen case); IP68 dust and water-resistance; Battery life is very good; Wireless charging: LG Velvet works with an active stylus (but there is no place to store it if you have one)
What Needs Improvement: The LG Velvet has a 60Hz screen refresh rate in a time when some even mid-tier phones are offering higher; Battery life takes a considerable ding when running both screens; No face-ID; Phone stutters at times; The Hi-Fi Quad DAC digital-to-analog converter feature usually found on high-end LG phones when using wired headphones is not present