Even though LG sent a “digital unveiling invitation” with a May 7 date for its next big smartphone a couple of weeks ago, the company went ahead and revealed pretty much everything about the eye-catching Velvet anyway just a few days later.
Of course, the unconventionally named and unconventionally designed 5G-enabled handset enjoyed a highly unconventional marketing campaign from the get-go, as LG built gradual buzz
around this release by directly divulging stuff
you’d typically expect to be leaked without the company’s approval.
Keep your expectations… high in terms of Western pricing
Although we have no idea if the LG Velvet 5G is set to come to the Western Hemisphere anytime soon, its domestic price is now etched in stone at 899,800 won. That roughly equates to $735 right now, which sounds fairly reasonable but not quite as affordable as many people may have expected. To put the number in context, the LG G8 ThinQ
made its commercial debut a little over a year ago
at a recommended regional price of KRW 897,600.
That’s right, the LG Velvet
is actually slightly more expensive than a Snapdragon 855 powerhouse
that initially carried an $850 MSRP in the US. While that doesn’t necessarily mean the new handset will cost $850 or more stateside (if it ever arrives on these shores), it does definitely crush our hopes of seeing the gorgeous 6.8-incher released at $600 or even $700.
Good but not great specs equal good but not great value
Keep in mind that, while unquestionably beautiful, the LG Velvet makes a number of important compromises compared to the V60 ThinQ
, starting with a downgrade from Snapdragon 865 processing power to a respectable but not remarkably fast Snapdragon 765G SoC.
Meanwhile, we’ll obviously have to wait and see how the 48 + 8 + 5MP triple rear-facing camera system on the back of the Velvet behaves in real life, but at least on paper, that also looks less impressive than the V60’s own triple lens setup including a 64MP primary shooter and a 13MP ultrawide sensor.
It’s also hard to get excited about the 4,300mAh battery under the Velvet’s hood when the V60 packs a 5,000mAh cell, although the new guy is significantly thinner and lighter as a direct result, at 7.9mm and 180 grams respectively. Because the Snapdragon 765 processor is pretty frugal, the actual battery life could be quite remarkable, which still doesn’t fully justify the aforementioned $735 price tag.
The same goes for the “3D arc design” touting “front-back symmetrical curves” and the “Raindrop” camera arrangement, which help the LG Velvet 5G stand out from today’s crowd of eerily similar high-end and upper mid-range Android phones but might not be enough to warrant a big premium over the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy A51
, Apple’s second-gen iPhone SE
, or Google’s fast-approaching Pixel 4a
For what it’s worth, LG and Korea’s leading wireless service providers are joining forces on a number of launch promotions, most notably offering a discount of up to 50 percent on your next handset purchase if you can return your Velvet in good working condition after 24 months. Something like that would definitely sweeten the deal in the US as well, but these types of promos don’t always cross borders easily.