Hands-on: LG's V10 is a phablet made for videographers

Whether you like to make short home movies or full-length features, the V10 offers some amazing manual controls for doing so.

The LG V10 is actually not as hokey as it sounds—and I’m not just saying that because Joseph Gordon Levitt was part of the presentation. Sure, no one asked for dual front-facing cameras, but in a selfie obsessed world, it’s nice to have the option between a regular- and wide-angle shot.

That’s not the only new feature of the V10. It offers complete manual camera controls and a new second screen feature. And although I’m not entirely sold on that second screen, I like LG’s new smartphone. The V10 appears to be a solid phablet release and I’m really looking forward to delving into those camera controls when we get the device in for review. For now, here’s a sneak peak at what it has to offer.

About those manual controls

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The V10’s manual controls for video.

If you’re familiar with the G4’s manual camera controls, you’ll have no problem with the V10’s. It has all the same offerings: you can adjust the ISO, exposure, shutter speed, and white balance even as you’re recording video. You can also choose the frame rate and bit rate, as well as adjust individual audio controls. It’s a neat feature, and will prove extremely helpful if you’re filming a video and the sun is blaring down or you’re switching to another room with different lighting. However, the best feature of the V10’s manual camera controls is its image stabilization capabilities. No matter how hard I tried to shake the phone, the camera would immediately adjust itself to stay focused on the subject.

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The V10 even offers individual manual controls for audio.

When you’re done filming your video segments, you can choose to option to have all of your individual clips jumbled together into a 60-second narrative. I didn’t have time to use the feature myself, but it reminds me of HTC’s Zoe, though without the ability to add in still shots to the video collage.

An unnecessary second screen

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The second screen with the display off.

I hate to say it, but when I heard about the V10’s second screen, I immediately thought about Samsung’s edge display. It’s not an exact copy, but it does function similarly. When you’re on the Home screen or in another application, you can use the second screen as an application launcher. In the camera application, it functions as another menu screen. And when the display is off, it’s a notification ticker that you can also use to display the date and time or fire up the flashlight.

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The second screen in use inside an app.

I like the ability to store shortcuts and the extra bit of room the second screen adds for menu items, but it’s weird that it’s an entirely separate display. What’s worse: when you drag icons from main display to turn them into shortcuts, they don’t conform to the rounded-edge icon standard unless they’re LG-made applications. Bummer.

Dual-cameras for better selfies

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The 120-degree wide-angle selfie looks similar to the Galaxy S6’s.

I’m a big fan of the Galaxy S6’s 120-degree front-facing camera, but I can’t turn it off. When I take regular selfies by myself, my face tends to look a little distorted. The V10 can switch between a regular 80-degree selfie to a 120-degree one, so if you need to squeeze in a few friends in between shots, you can easily do so with the tap of a button.

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The switch between 80-degree and 120-degree selfies.

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The front-facing camera's Multi View feature is fun to use.

What’s it like as a phone?

The V10 is like the G4 in so many ways. It has a Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM, a removable 3,000mAh battery pack, and a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera. The biggest difference is its size and build: rather than opt for another phone with a leather back, this one has a ruggedized rubber one. It also has a 5.7-inch screen, which makes it a tad bit larger than the 5.5-inch G4 and tips it over into phablet territory.

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The V10 in black.

The V10 is really dense. It’s heftier than most Android smartphones and my arm actually grew a bit tired from holding it up to record video. Off the bat, that’s not a good sign for other videographers out there, though I’d hope that if you’re planning to be that serious about phone videography you’d invest in a tripod. Also, while the V10 is comfortable to hold, but the rubber backing actually adds a bit of bulk. At the very least, the phone is really sturdy.

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It’s thin enough, but that’s easy to ignore when you consider the phone’s heft.

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At the very least, the baby-blue version is really good looking in person.

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The V10 features a rubber backside that’s actually quite comfortable, though I imagine it’ll make it difficult to slip into a pocket.

Overall, I like the design on the V10 way more than the G4; it looks like it appeals to more than just one particular demographic of smartphone user.

The V10 will be available later this month at Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. We’re looking forward to getting the device in for review and really putting its new video modes to the test.

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