The raw specs show the V30 to be the better handset (or at least they did in previous reviews), but what will I think after a week of using both?
Firstly, here's an up-to-date comparison table based upon our latest testing criteria. Comparing phones is always a somewhat emotive opinion on the part of the person doing the comparison, so I have tried to keep this one based upon facts rather than feelings. Some may argue with some of the decisions and some may need explanation. The winning phone in each category is shown in dark green and gains 2 points. Where no obvious winner exists, "highly commended" scores are in light green and gain 1 point)
|Feature||LG V30||Galaxy S 8|
|Construction||Candybar, aluminium & glass||Candybar, aluminium & glass|
|Size||151.7mm x 75.4mm x 7.3mm||148.9mm x 68.1mm x 8mm|
|Screen||P-OLED 6.0" 2800x1440 538ppi||S-AMOLED 5.8" 2960x1440 570ppi|
|Screen / Body Ratio||81.2 %||83.6 %|
|Battery||3300 mAh||3000 mAh|
|Processor||Snapdraggon 835||Exynos OctaCore|
|Storage||64GB / 128GB + MicroSD||64GB + MicroSD|
|Camera (rear)||Main: 16Mpix f/1.6 (71deg)& Wide: 13Mpix f/1.9 (120deg), Phase Detection Autofocus, Laser Foucs, IOS, HDR10, Assisted Zoom||12Mpix f/1.7, Phase Detection autofocus, IOS, HDR|
|Camera (front)||5Mpix f/2.2 (90deg)||8Mpix f/1.7|
|Connectivity||3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.1||3G, 4G, LTE, WiFi AC, NFC, GPS, Bt 5.0, USB 3.1|
|Operating System||Android 7.1.2||Android 7.1.1|
|Biometrics / security||Fingerprint (rear - middle), face detection, Knox||Fingerprint (rear - left), iris detection, face detection|
|Protection||Waterproof (IP68), Shockproof||Waterproof (IP68)|
|Charging||QuickCharge 3.0, Wireless Charging||QuickCharge 3.0, Wireless Charging|
|Price||£ 799||£ 869|
As can be seen, the phones are very closely matched when comparing the raw specs. The S8 wins out in a few categories purely because it is smaller (weight, screen resolution, screen / body ratio), whereas the V30 wins out in battery size and camera ability (due to having two of them). This means that any "winner" is going to be based pretty much purely on user experience; performance in the real world; and other personal views of the differences between the two.
The S8 clearly has the best screen when comparing resolution and dpi, but the V30 is no-where near as bad as some reviews make out; indeed for 98% of the time it looks just as good as the Samsung one. Sure, it's a pity it can't run at the same resolution as the S8, but that's un-noticable in the real world (I never run my S8 at full res due to how it kills the battery), and the "colour banding / backlight inconsistencies" issues which have been reported regarding the V30 are completely non-existent unless you actually go looking for them, in which case the S8 (certainly in my experience) does just as badly!
This is a clear win for the V30 - in a typical day's usage of commuting, being used at the office and at home, my S8 will go through 60 - 70% of it's battery, sometimes more, getting as low as 10% before it's put back on charge. In the same time periods and with the same overall usage pattern, I have yet to see the V30 use more than 55% of it's battery. The difference in size of the batteries may not be significant, but that coupled with the slightly lower res screen (although my S8 is never driven at full res, whereas the V30 is) seems to make a huge difference to daily usage.
Both these phones support QuickCharge (or technically Samsung's name for the same tech) and both do well. Charging via USB cable, even when plugged in to a PC rather than a "charger" is admirably fast on both handsets; the V30 feeling like it has a slight advantage in speed. However, when charging wirelessly (using one of Samsung's wireless charging pads) the S8 is noticeably quicker and seems to run the charger "harder", as evidenced by the charger's cooling fan coming on frequently. That said, the V30 is still perfectly capable of recharging itself wirelessly over a 4 or so hour period.
This is somewhat more of a personal preference decision... Both handsets are lovely to hold, although the V30 is obviously bigger than the S8, it's shorter although slightly wider than the S8+ and Note 8. The differences are not that significant (1.8mm longer, 7.3mm wider, 0.7mm thinner), but the width feels a lot wider than that 7.3mm would have you believe. It feels more like a "normal" format phone rather than the elongated stick that is the S8. Ultimately this makes one-handed operation a bit harder as there's further for thumb and finger to reach, but it's not uncomfortable by any means. You notice how much thinner it is too. All that said, for my hands, the S8 is the better fit.
UI and UX
Touchwiz hasn't exactly had the best reputation in times past, but it's come a hell of a long way recently. I actually quite like it, and I found myself wishing I could apply it to the V30. That's not to say the V30 UI is bad - it's not. It is far more stock-Android than the S8, but it's still got some useful additions from LG. For example, if you long press on any application icon, the V30 will pop up a context menu for you with the most commonly used functions of that application. And best of all, this works for all applications, not just the pre-installed LG ones.
On the other hand, much as Touchwiz on the S8 is now pretty great to use; Samsung have still been pretty restrictive in some areas - for example it's impossible to change the default Gallery application on the S8, but is very easy to do on the V30, and personally I find their settings app to be confusingly laid out.
Both phones are pretty comparable on features. The V30 obviously has more versatility in it's camera application (due mostly to having 2 rear camera), but the S8 has possibly the better colour reproduction in those photos.
The only significant difference I could find is that the V30 doesn't (yet) allow WiFi calling or VoLTE. Both these features are supported by LG's software, but for some reason they are disabled in the SIM free UK firmware I have. (LG allow the phone's bootloader to be unlocked, so that along with root access will allow you to enable both these features in the phone's build.prop file)
Living with the phone
Possibly the most awkward one to answer - initially on getting the V30 I was disappointed and kept wanting to go back to the S8. However, having used the V30 exclusively for 6 days now, my mind is far less clear. Ultimately I want a mix of the two - the features of the V30 with the UI of the S8. The biggest difference can be seen in the battery performance, and on that count the V30 wins absolutely hands down!
... so which is the winner...?
I fully expected to end up with a firm favourite here, with an obvious decision about which phone to keep. Unfortunately that hasn't proven to be the case and I now like both to equal amounts, albeit for different reasons. Therefore, I'm going to sit firmly on the fence and say ... Both!