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LG V30: A gorgeous OLED screen with a camera to match

Announced at IFA 2017, the LG V30 is a gorgeous phone that sloughs away unnecessary features and amps up all its best. It gets a better screen, wireless charging and advanced video features you don't see on a typical phone.

Last year's LG V20 had a secondary screen that defined the V series; in the V30, it's gone, and that's great. In its place is a moveable on-screen tab that includes the shortcuts you used to see on the V10 and V20. I don't mind the tradeoff you get in return. In fact, it's better than any second screen: The V30 has a water-resistant body and wireless charging, which match up to Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Note 8.

But the V30 didn't abandon everything. LG doubles down on audio features and outfitted the V30 with an array of video and imaging tools. Now you can capture, record and edit all sorts of media to be the next Ava DuVernay, Annie Leibovitz or the YouTube or Instagram star du jour. To audio and video die-hards, this is a big deal.

If you have no intention of creating a bunch of videos and whatnot, the V30 may not do it for you. When you pick it up for the first time, its tools do take time to figure out and use fluidly, and while LG hasn't released an official price yet, I anticipate paying a pretty penny for these features -- the V family is typically LG's priciest phone of the year. Then again, the Note 8 and Apple's iPhone 7 Plus ($1,269.00 at Apple) have reached sky-high prices too. As an alternative, LG's G6 is smaller and (typically) less expensive, and there's always LG's rivals: the Galaxy S8, Motorola Moto Z2 Force and HTC U11.

If you do want to make movies on your phone, however, the V30 seems like it might be one of the better choices out there. I got my hands on a preproduction unit and below are my first impressions so far. Of course we'll hold off on our final judgment until we get the final production unit in for review.

In the meantime, the LG V30 is shaping up to be a seriously competitive media powerhouse that hopes to duke it out with tomorrow's best Android phones.

(From left to right): The Galaxy S8, V30 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Sarah Tew/CNET

When and where to get it

The V30 will be available first in South Korea on Sept. 21. North America, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East will follow. So far, US carrier AT&T confirmed it will carry the V30, but gave no exact sale date. I'll continue to update this as more carrier announcements roll in.

As for pricing, nothing is official yet. But LG did say it will cost around the same price as the G6 and the V20, so expect it in the ballpark of $600 to $800, or about £650 in the UK and AU$760 to AU$1,010 in Australia.

OLED? Oh my

With the V30, LG switched to using an OLED display instead of an LCD display (which is commonly featured in its high-end phones). Samsung phones have had OLED displays for a while now and its advantages include less battery consumption than LCD, richer colors and deeper blacks. When I watched videos and images on the V30's 6-inch screen, blacks were indeed blacker (perhaps even "none more black") and colors had more "pop" compared to the G6, especially blues and greens. Then again, LG's LCD screens have always been bright and vivid, and LCD technology is still used by Apple and HTC, so don't expect your life to improve all that much with the switch to OLED.

The overall design is similar to the G6, which is great because I loved how the G6 looks. It no longer has the V series' signature second screen (more on that later), but it has the other huge benefit of being water resistant. Its bigger screen also makes it slightly taller and wider than the G6, but funnily enough it's thinner. I dig how the screen softly curves into its edges too, which makes it more comfortable to swipe across the display. The phone's narrow bezels and Gorilla Glass 5 panels on the front and back also make the phone sleek and glossy -- and, unfortunately, a little slippery.

The V30 is the most mature and elegant iteration of the V series and together with the G6, LG has hit its design stride this year. And though it may be "boring" now that LG isn't adding any more gimmicks (like second screens, modules or quick-release buttons for the rear cover), I much prefer this solidly built, cleaner look.

LG V30

No sweating the rain here -- the V30 is water resistant.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Camera and video: One-stop media shop

Like a couple of LG phones before it, the V30 has both a standard- and wide-angle camera. The 16-megapixel camera has a 71-degree range while the 13-megapixel shooter captures images at 120 degrees. 

Both are protected by a glass lens, which helps with clearer images and more accurate colors compared to plastic, but only the standard camera has optical image stabilization (OIS) and an f1.6 aperture. This is a relatively large aperture, wider than the OnePlus 5 (f1.7) and the Google Pixel (f2.0), which are both known for their low-light prowess. Sure, it's not by much, but having a wider aperture lets in more light, and light is everything in photography -- especially for nighttime or low-light shots.