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LG Velvet review: Svelte design marred by AT&T bloat

When I pulled the LG Velvet out of its box, I was stunned. The look and feel of this phone is what I hope LG continues to move towards.

Techaeris Rated 8.6/10

LG. The company makes some of the best devices out there, and they’re in the hands of millions of people. When I first got the LG Velvet in for review and opened the box, I was excited. I haven’t seen an LG look this svelte and beautifully made in a long time.

That’s not to say that phones like the V60 ThinQ are ugly, they’re not. It’s just that the LG Velvet is a real departure from the company’s most recent design language. I mean, it’s a really big departure. Put the V60 ThinQ next to the Velvet and you’d think two different manufactures were at play here.

When I pulled the LG Velvet out of its box, I was stunned. Looking it over and holding it was a great experience. Sadly, powering the device up you’re greeted with the AT&T logo and everything is downhill from there. Ok, I’m being a little hyperbolic here, but there is a lot of truth to this.

I’m honestly disappointed that LG chose to work with AT&T on this phone. I really think this device needs to be offered unlocked. The Velvet isn’t to blame for the software experience or lack thereof. Rather it is AT&T who marred the beauty of this device.

Read on for the full review of the LG Velvet, the AT&T variant.

Specifications

The LG Velvet has the following features and specifications:

  • Operating System: Android 10
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 5G (7 nm)
  • GPU: Adreno 620
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Battery: 4,300mAh
  • Battery-life: All-day
  • Charging: USB Type-C port; wireless charging Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0+, Fast charging 25W, Fast wireless charging 9W
  • Security: In-display fingerprint sensor
  • Display(s): P-OLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 6.8 inches, 109.8 cm2 (~88.6% screen-to-body ratio), 1080 x 2460 pixels (~395 ppi density)
  • Rear Main Camera(s):
    • 48 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 8 MP, f/2.2, 120˚, 15mm (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
    • 5 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
  • Front Camera: 16 MP, f/1.9, 29mm (standard), 1/3.06, 1.0µm
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Dimensions: 167.2 x 74.1 x 7.9 mm (6.58 x 2.92 x 0.31 in)
  • Weight: 180 g (6.35 oz)

What’s In The Box

  • LG Velvet
  • USB-C charging cable
  • USB-C Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0+ wall wort
  • Dual display and magnetic charger if you buy the bundle
  • Manuals and Documentation
LG Velvet AT&T phone bloat
This is a lovely phone.

Design

The first thing you notice about the LG Velvet is just how much it doesn’t look like an LG phone. That’s not meant to be a slight at previous designs, rather, it’s refreshing and surprising. When a company puts out the same look year-after-year it can be risky to change. In this case, LG did some amazing things here.

I’m not saying devices like the V60 ThinQ aren’t modern looking, but the LG Velvet design certainly takes it up several notches. The look and feel of this device ushers LG into the same arena their competition is competing in. The phone is super thin and feels very natural in the hand.

Like most smartphones these days, it is constructed of two slabs of glass bonded together with a shiny metal bumper. Our silver color is brilliant with a rainbow effect in certain light. All of the materials feel premium, way beyond its mid-range price. This is a device that you WANT to hold without a case, it feels that good and looks that good.

On the back, you’ll find the triple camera system along with the LED flash plus AT&T’s obnoxious logo. I absolutely love how LG kept the cameras flush to the body, the main camera is the only one with a bump. I would have liked all of the cameras flush to the body but at least the bump here isn’t over-pronounced. There is also an LG logo, which I don’t mind, but the AT&T logo needs to be dumped.

At the top of the LG Velvet you’ll find the SIM card tray along with one of the microphones. Along the right side is the power button which is placed perfectly for your thumb. Along the left side you’ll find the volume rocker and Google Assistant buttons. I do wish they would have placed the volume rocker lower and the Google Assistant button higher. I’d rather be able to reach the volume rocker easier than the Assistant button.

Along the bottom, you’ll find the speaker, USB-C port, and of course, the headphone jack. Yes, the LG Velvet continues LG’s commitment to the headphone jack. But, unlike previous LG phones, this one does not have the high-end DAQ that helps make your digital music better. It still works great, but some audiophiles might miss the DAQ.

The front houses the lovely 6.8″ display that has a notch, which I don’t mind and it’s not huge. The display falls off the right and left edges giving it a waterfall look. The top and bottom bezel on the LG Velvet are pretty non-existent. This is as modern as you’re going to get right now and it looks great.

Overall, LG really did an amazing job of design on this phone. It’s not only a very good looking phone, but it’s also super comfortable to hold and feels nice in the hand. It also feels solid and well-built with materials that feel more like a flagship. LG scored big points in my book with this design, look, and feel.

LG Velvet AT&T phone bloat
A great display for a mid-range phone.

Display

The FHD+ P-OLED display on the LG Velvet is fantastic for a midrange phone. LG is in the business of displays, so it’s no surprise that the Velvet has a great display. It’s not as vibrant and punchy as the one found on the LG V60 ThinQ 5G but it holds its own.

Reviewers have been throwing shade at LG over the use of FHD+ displays and not including a higher refresh rate, but I think that’s a bunch of BS. While I can agree, to some extent, on using a higher refresh rate, I think FHD+ is actually a good resolution for a smartphone. Would a higher refresh rate be nice, yes but not necessary.

This display differs from the V60 in the way it’s housed in the phone as well. Other LG phones have a rounded rectangle look to them with some bezels on the sides. The LG Velvet goes for that waterfall edge look and does it really well. What surprised me is, I usually don’t like this type of display because my hand inevitably triggers the screen somewhere on the edge when holding it.

I was surprised that I didn’t experience this on the LG Velvet nearly as much as I thought I would. The screen has that tall and narrow aspect ratio, which most Android phones are moving to, and I like it. Out of the box the screen colors are set to natural but you can jump into settings and choose from vivid, cinema, natural, or custom to tweak the colors.

Brightness is good and I had no issues using this display in bright conditions including in direct sunlight. Is it perfect in direct sunlight? No. I would say no smartphone is perfect in direct sunlight, but I could see what I was doing well enough to get things done.

As with the V60, the LG Velvet has the option of adding the Dual Screen case with it. That second display is nice to have, allowing you to watch a video on one side while reading emails on another. Or basically whatever you want to do. The other display pretty much mirrors the main screen in specs. It is touch-enabled and it works really well. The colors are vibrant and the blacks are deep. One thing I noticed about the Dual Case experience versus the V60 experience is that it is much thinner. Using the Dual Case on the V60 adds a lot of bulk. The LG Velvet Dual Case feels thinner. It still adds significant bulk but not like the V60.

Overall, the LG Velvet display is a great for a midrange device. It doesn’t have a high refresh rate and it’s only FHD+, but it looks really great. Most users aren’t as snooty as the mainstream tech media who have been spoiled and regular folks will love this display.

LG Velvet AT&T phone bloat
Slick looks!

Software

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this portion of the review. Android 10 is what you’ll get on the LG Velvet and I think its pretty damn good. Android has grown so well over the years and even the skin from LG is now tolerable and doesn’t interfere as much as previous versions.

Dark mode is fantastic, the always-on display feature is great, and even the user interface looks great. I still wish manufactures would allow for using 3rd party icon packs, maybe some day.

You may have noticed I gave the software section a very low score and that really brought the overall score down a lot. Well, I can’t blame LG so much for this. The blame they shoulder is the fact they worked with AT&T on this device. The low software score is mostly the fault of AT&T, so I broke that out into a separate category below.

Android is fantastic here and LG’s UX/UI is great, it reminds me of the V60 and I loved that. Let’s move on to AT&T.

AT&T

I broke this out into its own section because I didn’t think it was fair to rail on the software and blame it all on LG. I do think LG has some fault here by allowing AT&T to have free reign over the device. We don’t know the details of the agreement between the companies but we do know that LG’s customers will get the short end of the stick.

The LG Velvet (AT&T version) is literally CHOKING on so much AT&T bloatware that it just makes the user want to scream. There are so many useless games pre-installed along with useless AT&T-centric apps, you’d think you purchased a used device that wasn’t wiped.

Some of these apps can be uninstalled, mostly the games, but many of them can only be “disabled.” I’ve been using Verizon for the past 3-years and before that T-Mobile. I haven’t used AT&T in a very long time but this software experience brought back nightmares.

This is exactly what I remember from AT&T. So much bloatware and none of it I ever used. This is the same case here. AT&T seems to be so full of themselves to think customers want their software or even need their software. You would think in 2020, carriers would understand that less is more. Adding these apps is actually hurting the customer not helping us.

I’m sure AT&T has some sort of deals with the game developers whose games are added here and they’re making some money from those deals. But it sure would be something if carriers maybe, you know, thought about their customers first?

I’m sorry that LG felt the need to work with AT&T first but I will say this, if LG offers this phone unlocked, buy that. Or switch to Verizon and buy that version. Verizon does have some apps bundled in but from my experience, it’s nothing like the train wreck that is AT&T. I really hated to have to add this section but I felt users needed to know. If you’re already an AT&T customer then you know the struggle and you may be okay with it, that’s fine too.

LG Velvet Gallery

Performance

Whew, that last section was rough. Moving on to performance. Some of my fellow reviewers have complained about some lag and stutter on the LG Velvet. I have to say, I did experience some stutter and lag but it wasn’t consistent.

Mostly the lag or stutter was noticeable when unlocking the phone and opening an app. There seemed to be a short pause for the app to open and scrolling would be laggy. But it smoothed out very quickly. I found it slightly annoying but not unbearable. Everything worked smoothly once the phone was awake for a few seconds.

The processor and GPU here are certainly not flagship and more midrange so this was expected. Most everything worked well from my experience. Other than that initial lag and stutter, nothing else had issues opening and gestures/navigation were mostly smooth.

Gaming on this phone was decent, certainly not as great as a flagship with a high refresh rate but decent. The Dual Screen allows for a virtual controller that helps gaming out a lot.

Overall, performance is mid-range level. I did find it odd that there was a brief lag and stutter almost every time I unlocked the phone. 98% of the time that would clear itself up within a few seconds, a handful of times it took more than a minute. I don’t think it’s a deal breaker and is mostly expected from a mid-range phone.

LG Velvet AT&T phone bloat
Dual Screen

Speakers/Sound

The LG Velvet does have stereo speakers just as other flagship phones have. Stereo speakers are a huge improvement for any phone and that’s the case here as well. The sound is fairly decent and certainly better than one mono speaker alone. But the sound does lack clarity, especially at higher volumes, and it lacks the punch in the low end.

These are certainly fine for some YouTube consumption, podcasts, phone calls, and gaming, but they’re certainly not immersive. To be fair, most smartphone speakers are going to fall short so this isn’t just an issue with the Velvet.

There is a headphone jack and it works great, it just doesn’t have the DAQ that has been traditionally on LG phones. I think many audiophiles are going to see this as a con. Overall, the speakers are decent but they still lack clarity and punch, not unlike the competition.

Mount Rushmore

LG Velvet Camera Samples Gallery 1

Camera

The cameras on the LG Velvet are certainly not flagship specified but they still do a fantastic job of capturing images. There are 3 lenses on the back and one selfie lens. Here are the specifications for all 4 cameras:

  • Rear Main Camera(s):
    • 48 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 8 MP, f/2.2, 120˚, 15mm (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
    • 5 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
  • Front Camera: 16 MP, f/1.9, 29mm (standard), 1/3.06, 1.0µm

The main 48MP wide angle camera is probably going to be the one most people use and it does a great job. In good light and outdoors, it produces great images with outstanding color, focus, and clarity. The ultrawide camera also does a good job but you do lose the MP count with this one. The 5MP depth sensor does a decent job of portrait mode but not the best.

The front 16MP selfie camera does a decent job of taking good selfies.

All of the cameras do suffer a bit in lower light and start to show a lot of noise in very low light. Again, this is a mid-range device and all of this is expected from a phone at this price range.

Like every other manufacturer, the LG Velvet has all of the usual extras you can play around with in the camera settings. I feel most people just stick with the main camera and rarely, if ever, go into the extra settings and gimmicks.

Overall, I think most people will be happy with this camera. Most people use the camera in normal lighting conditions and rarely in very dark situations. This camera performs decent enough in moderate to low light and most users will be happy with the results.

Front facing camera.

LG Velvet Camera Samples Gallery 2

Reception/Call Quality

Reception and call quality is fine, not much to cover. The LG Velvet uses the AT&T network which has coverage in most all of the areas I roam in. I did find that I felt AT&T started throttling pretty quickly when streaming media. But that may just be the plan I am on. Overall, the call quality and reception is industry standard and acceptable.

Battery Life

The LG Velvet has a 4,300 mAh battery, smaller than the V60 but the Velvet is much thinner. Still, the 4,300 mAh battery lasted me all day without an issue. It did drain faster when streaming media like YouTube and Netflix or playing games. That’s also expected and not out of the ordinary. Battery is also drained faster when using the Dual Display, also not out of the ordinary.

I think the choice of only a FHD+ display here helps battery life. Less pixels to push results in better battery and I think more people are interested in battery life over pixels.

Overall, this phone should last you most of your day but it also depends on your use case. Heavy users may see this needing recharging by afternoon but thankfully it has quick charge.

Love the flush camera array, only the main camera has a slight bump.

Price/Value

So it comes to this. The AT&T LG Velvet is priced at US$599 and you can add the Dual Display for an upcharge.

Here’s the deal. I think this phone is well worth the money. I think the design and hardware are a great value. But when it comes to AT&T and their awful software and bloated game additions. Well, I have a problem with that.

Some of you reading this are probably already using AT&T and are likely used to it. I am sorry for you.

I think, if you’re on AT&T and have no issues with the bloat, then you’ll love the phone. But if you’re not on AT&T or are thinking of switching, then go with Verizon. Hopefully LG will offer this unlocked without bloatware, because it’s a great device.

Wrap Up

I think the LG Velvet is a new direction for LG and it’s a great direction. Their one misstep was working with AT&T on an exclusive first release. They should have just made this unlocked and useable across carriers. AT&T’s bloatware was godawful and sullied my experience. But there are a lot of redeeming qualities if you can muscle past the AT&T mess. I still think this is a phone to consider but you just need to understand what you’ll be walking into with the AT&T version.

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LG Velvet

US$599

Design

10.0/10

Display

9.0/10

Software

5.0/10

Performance

9.0/10

Speakers/Sound

9.0/10

Camera

9.0/10

Reception/Call Quality

9.5/10

Battery Life

9.5/10

Price/Value

7.5/10

Nailed it

  • OMG! The best looking LG phone in a long time
  • Premium materials and feels nice in the hand
  • Wonderful display
  • Good camera, for the price
  • Great battery life
  • Affordably priced

Needs work

  • AT&T bloatware, I can't say enough bad things about it
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