Review

LG Velvet (MediaTek) review: LG's best phone in a while

Yes, I reviewed this phone already. Way back in July, I reviewed the Snapdragon 765G version of the LG Velvet, which was meant for international markets. Later, LG actually sent me the AT&T model, which was the same aside from the cellular bands. But more recently, MediaTek reached out and offered the T-Mobile model, and I jumped on it, because this is a different LG Velvet, and it's super-rare that we see a phone that's available with different choices of chipset.

The chipset offered here is a MediaTek Dimensity 1000C. That means that it not only has a different CPU and GPU, but it also has a different ISP and more. So what does that all mean to you? To be honest, not that much.

What I will say is that the Velvet is a handset that I truly enjoyed the first time, and this time was even better since I was able to get proper cellular connectivity. It has a unique design, a solid camera, and more.

Specs

CPU Octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 1000C, single-core 2.4GHz, single-core 2.2GHz, hexa-core 1.8GHz
GPU Mali-G57
Display 6.8 inches, P-OLED, 2460x1080, 395ppi
Body 6.58x2.91x0.33in, 6.63oz
Camera 48MP f/1.8 + 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide + 5MP f/2.4 depth, Front: 16MP f/1.9
Video capture 4K - 30fps, 1080p - 60fps, Front: 4K - 30fps, 1080p - 60fps
RAM 6GB
Storage 128GB
Battery 4,000mAh
Color Pink White
OS Android 10
Price $588


It was actually a bit hard to find full specs for this device. For example, while MediaTek and LG cite it as having a Dimensity 1000C, the chipset should have four Cortex-A77 and four Cortex-A55 cores, rather than the 1-1-6 configuration that's listed.

Day one

Note that this is the unboxing video for the first Velvet that I received, the international one. I didn't record a video for the T-Mobile model since it would have been much the same, although I never received a Dual Screen accessory for this one. And unfortunately, the Dual Screen accessories don't actually work with other variants of the phone.

Design

I'd love to tell you that this MediaTek-powered version of the LG Velvet is just a new chipset in the old chassis, but that's not actually the case. You'll notice that this one is a tiny bit thicker at 0.33 inches instead of 0.31 inches, and it's also heavier at 6.63oz instead of 6.35oz. This doesn't affect the end user a whole lot; indeed, it didn't even feel different to me and I didn't know until I looked at the specs.

LG Velvet camera system with brick background

But there are some other implications here. For one thing, you really can't swap cases between the T-Mobile Velvet and others. Notably, the cameras actually aren't in the same place. It uses the same raindrop camera design though, which feels unique and stylish to me. The main sensor has a bit of a camera bump, but the rest are flush with the Pink White chassis.

It also bothered me that this wouldn't work with other Dual Screen accessories. But no, LG makes one for the unlocked model, one for the AT&T model, and one for the T-Mobile model.

Again, this really isn't something that the end user isn't going to notice. It's not like everyone has different versions of the Dual Screen accessory. You do, however, have to make sure that any accessory you buy is for this particular variant of the device.

Bottom of LG Velvet showing USB-C port and 3.5mm audio jack

All of the ports are located on the bottom, and along with the USB Type-C port for charging, there's also a 3.5mm audio jack, something you won't often find in premium phones. For a long time, LG kept using 3.5mm headphone jacks because the company made the best headphone jacks in smartphones, thanks to the 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC. But that's not included in the LG Velvet, making it the first high-end device from the South Korean firm to not have the 32-bit Hi-fi Quad DAC in years.

Right side of LG Velvet showing power button

On the right side, there's a power button, as you'd expect.

Left side of LG Velvet showing Google Assistant button and volume rocker

And on the left side, there's a volume rocker and a Google Assistant button. And really, I despise that Google Assistant button, which would look like a power button to anyone that didn't know it was on the other side. I'm not a fan of using digital assistants in my phone in the first place, but surely there are better and easier ways to launch one than having a dedicated button. If you're a fan of virtual assistant buttons, you're going to love it.

I really do like the design of the LG Velvet. It's not big and bulky like many premium phones that we're seeing. It's actually a bit reserved, while still using pretty colors, feeling premium, and looking unique.

Display

The LG Velvet packs a 6.8-inch 2460x1080 P-OLED display, and it looks quite nice even if it lacks the high refresh rates that we've seen in other devices around this price point. This is one thing that really doesn't change from the Snapdragon version to the Dimensity version.

LG Velvet display with snowy background

It's not a particularly large screen, as it's measured diagonally and has an exceptionally tall 20.5:9 aspect ratio. It feels very comfortable to hold, because not only is the screen curved on the sides, but so is the back.

The screen gets to a comfortable brightness for outdoor use, and the colors are nice and vibrant, as you'd expect from one of LG's P-OLED displays. That also means that the black is true black, making it harder to tell where the screen ends and the bezel begins. This makes it perfect for the always-on display feature, which shows the time and date, and there are additional customization options that let you add a second clock, an image, and more.

LG Velvet with Dual Screen accessory

This is the part that I'd love to tell you about the Dual Screen accessory and all of the things you can do with a dual-screen phone, but like I said, I wasn't able to obtain one for this phone. If you want to learn more about how it should work, you can check out my review of the Snapdragon model. I don't want to assume that things work a certain way with this model because if I did, I'd have assumed that the previous Dual Screen accessory would work with this.

Camera

The LG Velvet packs a 48MP f/1.8 camera, along with an 8MP ultra-wide sensor and a 5MP depth sensor. The sensors are the same as you'd find on the Snapdragon one, although obviously, this one has a different ISP. I was kind of curious to see if the ISP would result in different-looking images, but as it turns out, there's no noticeable difference.

LG also has some fun features, such as an AR sticker mode in the Camera app. As you can imagine, it can apply various effects to your face while you're taking the picture. It's not really my thing, but it's fine for people that enjoy it.

As for video recording, you can do 4K 30fps or 1080p 60fps, and what's pretty cool is that you can do it with both the front and rear cameras. Unfortunately, the ultra-wide lens can only do 1080p 30fps. I'd have liked to see 4K 60fps video recording on here. It's something that we've had on the premium end for a few years now and it's time to start bringing it to lower price points.

I had some fun with the unique lighting conditions that are caused by snowstorms, both during the day and at night. It handled it well, much better than the Motorola phones I was reviewing at the time. It's got a night mode too, which is pretty good, and it includes a simple slider to make it nice and easy to decide just how bright your photo will be.

Performance and battery life

When I reviewed the Snapdragon model, that was actually the first Snapdragon 765G device that I reviewed, and I remarked at how surprised I was at how little I missed the flagship Snapdragon 8 series processor. The same goes for the MediaTek 1000C chipset in the T-Mobile version of the Velvet and its 6GB of RAM. Never did I find myself wishing that it was faster than it was.

Indeed, I often like to point out that modern flagship processors offer way more power than we actually need. So, now that flagship phones are getting really expensive, it's worth this new high-end tier existing.

LG Velvet handset on brick

Dimensity is MediaTek's brand for its 5G chipsets, so yes, it supports T-Mobile's nationwide 5G network. In fact, this might be the first 5G phone in the U.S. without a Qualcomm processor. It only supports sub-6GHz 5G, which is fine. MediaTek only recently joined the mmWave market, but both the unlocked and AT&T variants were also sub6-only. It's just the Verizon version that supports both, since Verizon actually had a mmWave-only network for a while.

Honestly, 5G really isn't a big deal right now. Companies want you to think it is, but it's not. Don't get me wrong; your next phone should absolutely be 5G, but right now, it's not going to improve your life in any way, meaningful or not. Sub6 5G really isn't much of an improvement on 4G LTE, and mmWave 5G only works outdoors and in line-of-sight with a base station.

My only real complaint in this department for the Velvet is the battery life. A lot of times, I did have to charge it during the day, and the 4,000mAh battery is smaller than the 4,300mAh one in the Snapdragon model, even though this one is thicker. I don't really ask much out of phones when it comes to battery life, but I do expect them to make it through the day.

For benchmarks, I used Geekbench 5, AnTuTu, and GFXBench. First up is Geekbench 5, which tests the CPU.

Screenshots of benchmarks for LG Velvet

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765G in the other model benchmarked just a bit better than this one on single-core with 615, but the MediaTek processor blew away the other unit in multi-core, where it got 1,953. Next up is AnTuTu, which tests everything.

Screenshots of benchmarks for LG Velvet

The Snapdragon model narrowly came out ahead in the overall test with 321,441, where the MediaTek Dimensity 1000C did better in the CPU and memory departments, but the Snapdragon 765G did better in the GPU department. UX was almost the same between the two.

Finally, GFXBench tests out the GPU.

Screenshots of benchmarks for LG Velvet

As you can see, there isn't a big performance difference between the Snapdragon 765G and the MediaTek Dimensity 1000C. They're both great chipsets, and you won't have any regrets with either one.

Conclusion

The LG Velvet is one of the best LG phones that I've seen in years. It's not filled with annoying software pop-ups, and frankly, I love the design. The previous device from LG was the V60 ThinQ, and while it was nice, it was actually really heavy and bulky. That's not the feeling I get from the Velvet. The Velvet is sleek and comfortable.

LG Velvet held in hand with snowy background

Obviously, it's not perfect, and my biggest complaint is the battery life. It's also a real shame to see LG ditch its 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC; honestly, if that's not going to be included, I'm fine with LG getting rid of the headphone jack entirely. And finally, we're seeing 90Hz screens in sub-$500 phones now, so that's really something I'd have liked to have seen.

But overall, this is just a pleasant device to use. The camera does a great job of taking excellent pictures with minimum effort. Really, it just checks the right boxes, with a stylish design that comes in sexy colors, excellent performance for the price, and more.

If you want to check it out, you can find the LG Velvet on T-Mobile's store here.

 

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