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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
Surprisingly portable despite the large screen
Good value for money
micro USB port
No fingerprint reader
Poor graphics performance
The LG Q6 is an affordable and attractively designed unlocked Android phone. It’s a competent budget option, but it has a hard time competing against newer phones in its price range.
Flagship phones are expensive these days to the point that many consumers are thinking that surely a good phone need not cost so much. Fortunately, good alternatives to high-end devices do exist, one such being the LG Q6. This somewhat older phone aims to provide the full experience of modern smartphones at an affordable price point. It has a fairly modern design and a nice big screen with specs that are on the midrange side. The question is, can it provide a compelling enough experience to tear your eyes away from newer, more expensive devices, and can it compete against other budget options? Read on to see how it fared in our testing.
The LG Q6 is surprisingly solid, providing a level of build quality not typically associated with phones in its price range. It may not be waterproof or rated for durability, but it feels like it could take a beating. Durability is improved by the largely plastic construction, which should prove less slippery than more expensive glass phones, and is also not going to shatter. However, it picks up fingerprints and scratches very easily, so you will want to invest in a case for it in order to prevent cosmetic damage.
This is a small phone compared to many of today’s phablets. Its 5.5-inch display makes it easy to use one-handed without having to strain your hand reaching across the screen. It fits even in a small pocket. We definitely appreciated its form factor and appreciated the iPhone-esque silver edge of the device.
Volume and power buttons are located in their usual places on either side of the phone, as are the USB and audio ports. Unfortunately this phone does not use USB-C, and instead uses the older micro USB port, so transferring data and charging will be considerably slower. The single rear camera and flash are located in the upper right-hand corner of the back the phone, and a speaker grille can be found in the lower right-hand corner.
Unfortunately, there is no fingerprint sensor, but the Q6 tries to make up for this with the inclusion of face ID. But we weren’t overly impressed by the reliability of its facial recognition technology since it doesn’t use special sensors or IR cameras making it unreliable and easy to trick.
The setup process for the Q6 is simple. This is a very basic Android phone, and you won’t find much difference between setting it up and any other phone with this operating system. Basically, just pick your language, sign in to your Google account, and agree to the licensing terms. The phone will also prompt you to log into Amazon to access the preinstalled apps that come from being a Prime-exclusive phone.
The Q6 required a pretty major update upon initial startup and took a considerable amount of time to complete. Be sure to have the battery charged, or have the phone plugged in when running these updates, and allow an afternoon for them to complete. If you have used an Android phone before, the settings and customization options should all be familiar, as there are no radical alterations of the basic UI.
The 2160 x 1080 display on the Q6 is sharp and boasts good contrast and color accuracy. 1080p is a more than adequate resolution for a 5.5-inch display, and despite only featuring LCD technology and not the richer OLED displays found in higher-end phones, it still provides a satisfying experience. Viewing angles are very good. We didn’t notice the display becoming washed out or color shifted when viewed from an angle. We found it to be very readable in bright, outdoor conditions.
It was immediately clear to us that the Q6 is not intended for mobile gaming. When we launched DOTA: Underlords, the game immediately defaulted to the absolute bare minimum settings, and even at those graphical levels, it could barely handle the task. Much of the game refused to load partially or at all, with many characters missing various pieces of their anatomy. The frame rate at times was so slow as to make gameplay next to impossible.
We did manage to complete a lengthy match before the game went back to the main menu and promptly crashed. It is also worth noting that the phone became extremely hot while playing, and the battery level plummeted significantly. Older and less graphically demanding games ran fine. There’s no problem if you want to play a round of Angry Birds or Candy Crush, just don’t plan on enjoying the latest and greatest games.
Given this poor performance in games, we didn’t expect much from our PCMark tests, and weren’t surprised to find our fears confirmed. The outdated Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor only achieved a rating of 2,977 which is far from impressive. However, it did okay when it came to the photo editing portion of the test with 5,301 though it should be noted that performance in all other areas was less than 3,500 at best, and all the way down to 1,717 for the writing test.
GFXBench gave us similarly unimpressive scores of 2 frames per second (fps) in the Car Chase test, and 12 fps in T-Rex. Both tests were run a 1080p resolution, confirming our poor real-life results in modern mobile games.
Fortunately, this lack of power is still plenty for web browsing, social media, casual games, and most day-to-day use. If you’re not a big gamer and can’t stretch your budget for a more expensive device, the Q6 may be good enough for you.
We tested the Q6 on AT&T’s network and it performed reasonably well in our tests, though in the region of the Pacific Northwest where we tested this phone it was difficult to get a consistent idea of connection quality due to the inconsistent cellular signal in the area. In locations with good signal we were able to get 18.57 Mbps down and 14.23 Mbps up in one location, which fell in line with results from other phones such as the LG Stylo 4 and K30.
YouTube was perfectly watchable at high resolutions, and the Q6 was quite reliable. The Q6 also features Bluetooth and NFC capability.
Sound quality wasn’t too bad. The rear-firing speaker delivers reasonably crisp audio, though it loses a lot of impact and clarity in the bass range. Despite this, we enjoyed listening to 2Cello’s rendition of “Thunderstruck” on Youtube, and we appreciated the decent audio quality while playing DOTA: Underlords. One problem we encountered was we often found ourselves covering the speaker with our fingers by accident, muffling the sound. Fortunately, the phone has a 3.5mm audio jack for easy headphone/earbud listening.
The Q6 handled phone calls well, and neither we nor the people on the other end of the line had a hard time understanding each other. We tested this in a loud, public environment and didn’t have any problems.
The Q6 does not offer stellar photo or video quality. The 13-megapixel camera has a similar resolution to most other smartphone cameras, but it doesn’t hold up to its flagship brethren. The f/2.2 aperture of the lens is fairly dark, limiting its capabilities in low light. In good, bright daylight we didn’t have a problem. Color reproduction is accurate, and images are crisp and clear.
Low light is a different story—expect plenty of noise, lack of detail, and inaccurate colors when shooting in dim interiors or at night. We also can’t recommend it for video, which is limited to 1080p. A weak LED flash is located next to the camera but doesn’t do much to improve images.
You get a basic selection of modes and filters such as Panorama, Food, and a few odd modes like Grid Shot that we can’t ever imagine using even as novelty. We would have liked to see a manual photography mode, but sadly none is present in the default app.
The 5-megapixel front-facing camera is like the rear camera—serviceable yet bad at low light. It includes a Portrait mode that removes blemishes, though it also badly softens your face. The Q6 has the usual array of filters and an interesting Group mode which zooms the camera out slightly to capture more people. The effect is fairly minor, but it could be useful in some situations.
Essentially, this is the most basic set of cell phone cameras you can imagine. They get the job done and no more. However, if you aren’t much of a photographer and just occasionally like to snap a pic for posterity or social media, then the Q6 will likely suffice.
The 3,000 mAh battery was capable of lasting us all day, though playing games drained it significantly. We were able to get about six and a half hours streaming video at 1080p with the brightness at maximum. It took about 90 minutes to charge from empty. Given that most people aren’t constantly using their phone we expect the Q6 to easily last you through a shift at the office.
The Android 9.0 Pie (upgraded from 7.0 Nougat) interface is familiar and LG’s customizations are minor and unobtrusive. Our Q6 came with very little bloatware, with LG SmartWorld being the most obvious extra app. We like to see a phone that doesn’t overload you with shoveled in software that you don’t need. All the Google apps come pre-installed, as do Facebook and Instagram. You also get a calendar, clock app, and a file manager, among a few other useful apps.
The MSRP of the LG Q6 used to be $300, but can now typically be found on sale at $179. At that price, it is not expensive, but you could also get the LG Stylo 4 for the same MSRP, which is a better, more capable phone in almost every way. This is a nice budget phone, but compared to LG’s own product line its value must be called into question.
Fortunately, the Q6 can be found for less than half its MSRP and is much more competitive in that range. For $120 - $200 it provides good value for the money.
The LG Q6, when considered on its own is a very attractive, budget-oriented smartphone. However, in comparison with the company’s own Stylo 4, it becomes significantly less impressive. The Stylo 4 offers more power for gaming and a very useful integrated stylus. The only advantages that the Q6 has over the Stylo 4 are its smaller form factor and more attractive design. Unless you can find the Q6 for significantly less than the Stylo 4, the Stylo 4 is the clear choice.
A good phone in a crowded market if you can get it on sale.
The LG Q6 is a very basic phone that will serve you well so long as you aren’t planning to capture award-winning photos or play the latest and greatest games with it. It is very attractive and has a premium appearance that makes it a decent all-around smartphone that many people should find acceptable. However, it’s getting on the older side now, so unless you can get it on sale, we recommend picking a newer device.