I showed up to the T-Mobile store on launch day of the Note 7. I waited in a line of 7, which the T-Mobile folk claimed was the most they'd ever seen for any launch. I intended to the get the blue one, but I settled for the silver one. Afterwards, my experience was alright, this is it. This is the phone I intend to keep for a while. And it was just alright.
When I first switched from the iPhone 6 Plus I had, I intended my next phone to have more useful features. Sure, the iPhone was great, but there was nothing special about it. So the next phone I got was the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Had it not been for the lackluster battery life, it was great. I loved the S Pen, I thought the IR Blaster was convenient as hell, and I just felt like I could do what I wanted with the phone. After a few months I wanted to find a suitable replacement, and I went for a Samsung Galaxy S6 Active. That was great too, better battery life, still had the IR Blaster, but it was noticeably slower. Then I got the Nexus 6P, then the OnePlus 3, and then when I found out about the Note 7, I thought that this would be the phone I would stick with. The idea of having a waterproof phone sounded useful, and all the reviews seemed to make the phone sound absolutely amazing. So I gave it a shot. I woke up early on a whatever weekday it was, waited in line, and got the Note 7.
The Note 7 was a pretty good phone. The camera was one of the best, but not as great as the Nokia Lumia 1520 I had. The screen looked phenomenal, I loved just looking at it, and the design was gorgeous. In the hand, the phone felt so comfortable; the edge display and rounded back made it work well with one-handed use, and because of the edge display, the seemingly thinner screen size was perfect. It didn't feel the fastest in use, the OnePlus 3 was certainly a quicker and smoother phone to use, which is aggravating given that the OnePlus 3 is over half the price. I will admit, I can't speak too much on battery life, because I found out when I got the LG V20 that T-Mobile puts this crapware on all their phones called Lookout which is supposed to be some form of virus protection, but it's just horrid and burns through your battery, no pun intended, so while I found the Note 7 battery life lackluster, I'm certain it was because I never disabled Lookout. The S Pen was great to use, although I found myself forgetting it exists, beyond as just something I could click in and out, which sounded great. The edge display looks great, but I never used the edge stuff, when you slide the menu out. It's great that it's there, but it's really nothing necessary, or memorable. Then the first recall happened, and I was able to get the blue color I wanted. When I got the second Note 7, I was eager to see if the network connectivity issues I non-stop experienced were fixed, and the answer was no. With both phones, I had difficulties connecting to T-Mobile's network, with none of it having to do with reception. All of it had to do with the phone seemingly not having a strong enough antenna inside, or whatever the reason was. The phone would be in my pocket, or I would leave a store where there's no service inside, and when I took the phone out of my pocket, it would take its sweet time reconnecting, and sometimes never would. I would go a half hour not receiving any notifications only to realize after too much time had passed that the phone just lost connection. I would have to restart it, turn on and off airplane mode, and go into the settings to force the mobile network to register automatically just so anything would happen. It was abysmal. Needless to say, this kept me from enjoying my last days with the second Note 7 when the second recall hit. Then I started getting excited about the then-upcoming LG V20.
On pre-order day on October 17th, I set my LG V20 in for pre-order, and received it on the 20th, a full week before it hit stores, and was very excited. Finally, a phone with a removable battery so I can keep it a while and replace the battery should it require such, a phone with an IR Blaster to control every TV with my phone, and the second screen on the top. Admittedly, I thought that second screen was going to be a gimmick just like the edge menu on the Note 7. Why on Earth do I need a second display? Oh, let me tell you, it is incredible. On that second screen, there's multiple sections you can slide through to keep open. There's a memo menu, that shows your name or something important. Mine says "Don't forget to wear pants" because I've been having too many dreams where I forget them in public lately. There's a favorite apps menu, along with the extremely useful recent apps menu. Seriously, this is the most convenient one. Threre's also a quick-toggle menu where you can turn on and off the flashlight, WiFi, Bluetooth, and sound. You can even able a music menu, and a contacts menu. Then, whenever you get a notification, it shows it up on the second screen to keep better screen real estate on the main screen. When you have a full-screen app open like gallery or Snapchat, it keeps the time up on the second screen, as well as whatever app notifications you would have on the notification tray menu. Just reading about the second screen does not do it justice. Actual use is incredibly useful, and I always use it, which is way more than I can say about the signature features of the Note 7. The phone feels very wide in the hand, just like the iPhone 7 Plus, which I'm not a huge fan of. The screen is certainly not as vibrant, and the phone is hard around the edges. I much rather have the fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone, so I'm glad I have that feature back from the Nexus 6P. One thing I really miss from the Note 7 is the interface. Not sure if they still call it TouchWiz, but whatever they call it, it's a lot more visually appealing. LG just makes everything look tacky and dated. It's completely unnecessary, and it takes away a lot from the appeal of the phone, makes it a lot less smooth to use. It is a bit faster than the Note 7, not sure if that has anything to do with disabling Lookout, and with that disabled, battery life is much better, but again, can't knock the Note 7 too hard. The camera on the V20 is not as easy as the Note 7 to use. Pictures can easily come out as blurry on the V20, although the wide angle lens is very nice. I'm sure I'm messing something up on the camera to make it not as easy to use, but when it is all focused, it does take a great picture. One of the key features on the V20 is the HiFi headphone jack, which is still has. I haven't tested that out, but LG is giving away from amazing headphones, so until I get those in my hands, I can't really give a fair test of the audio quality.
Sure, a lot of reviewers are not going to give LG the highest praise, because this is not the most refined phone out there, but it is still a really great one. I really don't feel like there are a lot of compromises that make me want to consider another phone. I'm sure when the next big phone comes out, I'll be intrigued, like when the Pixel was released. At the end of the day, this phone just has a lot more features that I use every single day, like the IR Blaster and the second display. They both set this phone apart, and make it incredibly useful for what I need the phone to do.
If you are looking for a Note 7 replacement that is courageous, but has a headphone jack, look no further. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with this phone. Boy howdy, the Note 7 sure felt better in the hand, but this feels better to actually use.