Four rear cameras. Two phones. Which one offers the better deal? That's what we're going to find out.
Ahh, gimmicks. What would the Android world be without them? Fortunately for OnePlus and LG, the dual rear camera setups on their respective flagship smartphones are quite innovative in their offerings. Regardless of whether you pick the OnePlus 5 or LG G6, you're choosing from two devices that each offers two rear cameras for the price of one.
We're not comparing apples-to-apples here, however. Both smartphones run on different processors and offer their own distinct Android experiences. But they're also somewhat similarly priced, and if you're in the market for something that strays from the usual Samsung or Google experience, then you'll want to look at the OnePlus 5 and LG G6.
Svelte or boxy?
OnePlus 5 (left) vs. LG G6 (right): What's your flavor?
It's not like you're choosing between two colors of the same sweatshirt here. These are two very different Android-powered smartphones, and though they're both outstanding on their own, there are some design and specification disparities you'll want to take into account.
16MP (IMX371), f/2.0, 1-micron pixels, EIS 1080p 30 fps video
5MP, f/2.2 100-degree lens
One-touch fingerprint sensor
One-touch fingerprint sensor
154.2 x 74.1 x 7.25 mm 153 g
148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm
Slate grey, Midnight black
Black, white, platinum
For one, the LG G6 runs on a slightly older processor — not that it isn't capable, but compared to the OnePlus 5, you're tapping out at last year's hardware. Two, the OnePlus 5 comes with 6GB of RAM right off the bat, so there's an extra bit of buffer there to account for any rampaging apps and games (you can even spend $60 for 8GB of RAM, though there's no actual need). There is no extreme performance difference between the two devices, however, though the OP5 feels smoother because of its lighter UI effects. The G6's interface seems cumbersome in comparison.
You're also choosing between two drastic design paradigms. The OnePlus 5 is svelte, matte, and cool, while the LG G6 is boxy and industrial, with a shiny, metal chassis that hearkens to the days when The Matrix represented a newfound ideology. It'll require more hand to handle the latter, as it's considerably thicker. Conversely, the OnePlus 5 is a slippery little bugger, and its fingerprint sensor placement on the front might become the catalyst for why you drop the phone.
The G6 (top) is a tad thicker than the OnePlus 5 (bottom).
That's the other thing: the G6 has fewer buttons for you to fiddle around with, as its rear fingerprint sensor is also a handy power button. But the OnePlus 5 has that nice alert slider on its left side that makes it easy to silence the device without a second thought. Ultimately, it's your choice: do you like the idea of convenience, or would you rather fewer opportunities to drop your phone?
Yes, you could take the G6 into the shower if you wanted to.
Don't bring the OnePlus 5 into a water fight, because it would not last. This smartphone isn't impervious to water dunking, nor is it protected against an errant drop into a toilet (gross). The G6, on the other hand, is water-resistant to 5 feet of water for up to half an hour.
Yes, you could take the G6 into the shower if you wanted to, though remember to keep it quick.
Double the cameras, double the fun
The OnePlus 5 and LG G6 are both equipped with dual rear camera setups, though they're not the same configuration. The G6 has dual 13-megapixel cameras, the second of which employs a 125-degree lens and shoots in wide-angle at a fixed focus. For the most part, the G6's wide-angle camera is best when the need tickles your fancy, so if you're often out in the wild or you're a fan of the splayed photo effect, having the ability bundled into your smartphone may seem like a worthy addition.
From one angle (left) to wide angle (right).
The OnePlus 5, on the other hand, employs one 16MP camera that shoots at a 24mm focal length, along with a 20MP secondary camera that shoots at 40mm. The idea is that if you need to zoom in a little closer physically, you can do so with that second camera without much loss in quality — hence why it's referred to as the "2x" camera. It also has a smaller aperture so that you won't get much use out of it after dusk or at the bar.
From 24mm (left) to 40mm (right).
The OP5's second camera is also particularly useful when it comes to achieving the "Portrait Mode" depth effect. You can use this mode to create a faux blurred background effect on your photos. It's the same bokeh effect exhibited by DSLRs, and since the ability seems to have taken iPhone 7 Plus users by storm, the OnePlus 5 is definitely for those who might be feeling a little feature envy.
The OnePlus 5's depth effect — or "portrait mode" — is a subtle effect with dramatic results.
How do the two camera setups compare?
Yes, the LG G6 has bigger pixels, but they're not that much bigger, especially when compared to its competition with similar sensor offerings. In fact, at 1.12-micron pixels, they're the same size as the OnePlus 5's 16MP camera. The G6 has optical image stabilization, however, while the OP5 does not. There's also a slight difference in aperture at play here: f/1.8 and f/1.7 for the G6 and OP5, respectively.
OnePlus 5 (left) vs. LG G6
The G6 was quite insistent on how it skewed its color profiles. The palette was brighter and more saturated than the OP5's final product. In some instances, the HDR was also a bit too much, as it would ramp up the photo's color profiles without taking in the rest of the composition into consideration.
Magenta flowers shot with the OnePlus 5.
Magenta flowers shot with the LG G6
The histogram of the magenta flowers.
I pulled the histogram results of the photo above from Adobe Lightroom, and the results only further solidified my observations from above: the OnePlus 5 is a bit darker and more subdued in its color profiles, while the G6 skews a bit high on either end. It's especially apparent if you go by the burst of sunlight in the background of the first batch of photos. The sun blows out most of the surrounding scene in the G6 whereas the spread appears to be more controlled in the OP5's final product.
The OnePlus 5 (left) versus the LG G6 (right).
You'll see that theme resonate throughout the last two sets of photos, too. The cacti appear more detailed and sharper from a distance in the OP5's result, though the detail starts to dissipate around the more complex cactus plants. Overall, the G6 seemed to be the most consistent at maintaining detail, including shadows, for the bunch. I'm pleased with both results.
Light fixtures look nice between the OnePlus 5 (left) and LG G6 (right).
Performance is on par in low light situations between the OnePlus 5 and LG G6. You'll see that the OnePlus 5's camera produces a considerable amount of grain, though G6 isn't any better when you zoom in. The latter's image processing is a major help when the lights are down low, though, since it's working to balance the color profile of the photo even as it's pulling in a little light. The G6's results appear to be the most balanced of the two despite its smaller sensor size, likely because it has the advantage of optical image stabilization working in its favor.
My experience with the OnePlus 5 echoes our review: I'm impressed by the device's ability to shoot in low light situations, though I have to remember that the lack of OIS and large pixels mean I've got to take a second before snapping the photo. I also like that it leaves the picture alone and lets me choose how to process it. LG's camera algorithm is a bit too presumptuous for my tastes, and though it helped make daylight photos pop and nighttime photos visible, there were some situations where its 13-megapixel camera just wasn't enough. Just look at the fireworks photo at the end of the sample corral: the G6 makes the sky more yellow, while the OnePlus 5's result is more pleasing. If you zoom in, you'll also see that the G6 struggled to maintain detail, whereas the OnePlus 5's product appears sharper — those few extra pixels came in handy.
One of these selfie cams is not like the other
There is a significant difference between the OnePlus 5 and LG G6's front cameras, too, so if your concern for buying your next phone is whether your Instagram Stories will look good enough to share, you'll want to read on.
The OnePlus's 16-megapixel front-facing camera is higher resolution than most other smartphones — thank goodness for beauty mode!
The OP5 offers a 16-megapixel front-facing camera. It's majorly high-resolution, at least when compared to what other smartphones currently offer, but it's meant to help make your selfies and "grouphies" as editable and shareable as whatever you shoot with the rear camera. The problem with that, however, is that if you're a self-conscious individual, the accuracy of the camera may cause you personal discomfort. There's a reason I'm not sharing any un-beautified selfies here — the OnePlus 5's front-facing camera simply reveals too much! The good news is that there is at least a bundled-in beauty mode so that you can soften your face for those days when you'd simply rather not.
The LG G6 may only be 5-megapixels, but it's just as fun to shoot with as anything high-res.
The G6, on the other hand, tops out at 5-megapixels on the front, though it makes up for that lower resolution with an incredible amount of added features. You can set up a virtual spotlight, for example, to help illuminate your face when the surrounding light isn't doing it for you, or you can switch into the wide-angle camera mode to capture more of the scene behind you. There are also some filters to choose from, and you can use the screen as an external flash when you're in need.
Android of some other kind?
The OnePlus 5's Android interface (left) vs. the LG G6's (right). The latter is longer because of the G6's 18:9 screen ratio.
If you're choosing between the OnePlus 5 and the LG G6 for your daily driver, then you'll want to choose your Android experience. If you prefer to use what Google would like you to experience, the OP5 offers its home-baked Oxygen OS 4.5 built on top of Android 7.1.1 Nougat. There are a few additional features, like gestures and capacitive button customization, that you won't find on other phones, and there's a shelf that lives off to the left-most home screen with quick access to your favorite people and frequently used apps.
If you're choosing between these two for your daily driver, then you'll want to choose your Android experience.
LG takes a few more liberties with its take on Android, not to mention that, depending on your carrier, you could sit with Android 7.0 for a while. LG's version of Android is different than what you'd get with a Nexus or Pixel, not to mention that there are remnants of its past self still present throughout the interface. Namely, if you're not a fan of circle icon containers or separated menu screens, you're not going to like tapping through the G6.
The OnePlus 5's camera interface (left) vs. the LG G6's (right).
The camera apps are also different, so if you're a stickler for using the default camera app, then you'll want to read along. Whereas the OnePlus 5's camera app takes its cues from stock Android's camera app, the G6 runs rampant with LG's own concoction. There are easy toggles for switching between the wide and regular rear cameras, though you'll also see a preview gallery at the top of the last roll of photos you've snapped, as well as a helping of menu items below to inspire you to do more than just point and shoot. That breadth of offerings can be overwhelming when all you want to do is shoot a picture, and I've personally found that keeping the camera app simple and easy to use is the better choice.
It's worth mentioning that both devices come with a manual shooting mode, which is something you still don't get by default with a Google-made Android device.
Lastly, don't forget that software updates for the G6 can vary depending on how you purchase the device G6. LG's flagship is sold both unlocked and through a carrier; if you choose the former method, you'll only have to rely on LG pushing through the update, but if you decide the latter, it's your carrier that holds the update cards.
Alternatively, the OnePlus 5's update cycle is largely based on whether OnePlus has done the deed of updating its software. The company has a pretty consistent track record over the years of getting to the next version of Android, however, even if there have been some major delays in the past. Either way, you're not getting your updates directly from Google; they have to pass through a third-party first.
Which one to consider?
There are plenty of factors to consider if you're choosing between the OnePlus 5 and LG G6. For one, both phones run on entirely different processors, hail different amounts of memory, and offer entirely different Android experiences.You'll also have to compare what you're getting at each price point: The OnePlus 5 starts at $479 for the 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage base, but if you throw in $60 you'll get 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. You still won't have water resistance, though, and for the G6's new sub-$500 price tag, the ability to bring your phone near the lake may be reason enough to forgo the OnePlus 5's slightly better camera.
Speaking of which, you'll really want to ruminate on which camera experience suits you best. The G6, coupled with its wide-angle camera effects and a bevy of filters, seems more geared towards the naval-gazing millennial on an endless journey to shoot something worthy for social media. The OnePlus 5 is more curated with its features and it shoots well enough that it'll satiate even the most selective enthusiast. Regardless of which smartphone you choose, you're bound to have lots of fun with either one.