LG G7 ThinQ Review

Price
Euro370

LG G7 ThinQ Review

LG G7 ThinQ Review


Introduction

LG's latest flagship device, LG G7 ThinkQ is their best phone in years, coming very close to being a great phone. Packing top of the line specs, a modern design and a bright new display, it has a lot going on in hardware department, however, there's lack of any strong visual identity that sets up top phones apart. There are several reasons why many LG fans worldwide will enjoy this phone and considering that it will be priced lower than an Apple iPhone X or Huawei P20 Pro, there's a good chance LG can get some market share with this phone. Whether or not this latest device from LG is capable to get LG back on track, let's find out.

Design

First thing that you will notice looking at this phone is that it looks like a smaller version of LG V30, which is a compliment. Design of this phone is based on standard formula of glass and metal sandwich. Front and back of this phone is made of glass which are held together with a metal frame in between.

Back is slightly curved and corners are rounded, giving phone a sleek pebble-like shape which makes it comfortable to hold. There's no texture on glass or metal but somehow LG has managed to make this phone not feel slippery. Back of device is very prone to fingerprints, as is the case with any glass back phones, so keeping a case can come quite handy.

On front of LG G7 ThinkQ, you'll find a large display with a notch and a thin bezel at bottom. There are tiny bezels on sides of phone as well, with a notch at top that houses front facing camera, earpiece and sensors. At back, you'll find a vertical dual camera setup placed at top middle of phone with a fingerprint scanner right beneath it. Some G7 ThinQ branding is also found below fingerprint scanner and rest of phone is kept clean, with LG logo at bottom of device. At right side, you'll find a newly placed power button which was previously placed on rear facing fingerprint scanner with volume keys on left side. At bottom of this phone, there's a single speaker, USB Type-C port and highly appreciated 3.5 mm headphone jack.

A major design change is addition of a quick access AI shortcut key. This button sits right below volume keys on left side. Pressing this button launches Google Assistant even when phone is asleep, which isn't something you can do with on-screen Google Assistant shortcut. AI button can also be held down like a walkie-talkie for duration of your voice dictation and released when you're done talking. You cannot remap this button to some other functionality though, at least for now.

For protection, LG has used Gorilla Glass 5 on back and front of the phone. LG G7 ThinQ comes with an IP68 dust and water resistance rating, together with MIL-STD-810G compliance which means that phone won't break easily when dropped from hands.

Overall, build quality of LG G7 ThinQ is fantastic. Phone is solid, sturdy, and its smaller size makes it easier to use in one hand as compared to other big phones like LG V30 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

Display

Most prominent design change on LG G7 ThinQ is its edge to edge display with a notch. Like most smartphone manufacturers, LG has submitted to trend of having a notched display. Phone has a 6.1 inch Quad HD+ Super Bright LCD display with a resolution of 1440x3120p, aspect ratio of 19.5:9 and pixel density of 564 ppi.

LG calls top screen space to left and right of notch its 'New Second Screen'. It is not like how it was on LG V10 and LG V20 second screen which showed detailed notifications. This is simply where time, battery percentage, and small notification icons live. Notch is also LG's way of expanding screen to a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. If you're not a fan of notch, LG's software allows for area around it to be turned black, effectively camouflaging it as a normal bezel. Area around notch can also be customized with different colors and gradients, however, such customization makes notch stand out even more.

Despite notch, LG G7 ThinQ's display is phenomenal. Screen is crisp and sharp and despite being an LCD and not an OLED panel, it is vibrant, colorful and a pleasure to use for consuming media. Colors of display can be tweaked to your liking through display settings with RGB and color temperature sliders, as well as a variety of display modes. Default setting is plenty satisfactory on its own though.

LG calls this display a Super Bright Display due to its capability of going up to 1,000 nits in brightness. LG achieved this by adding a white subpixel to standard RGB subpixel arrangement to boost brightness. This can be enabled by tapping brightness boost toggle next to the brightness slider allowing screen to go beyond slider's maximum brightness. Brightness boost is especially useful outdoors in direct sunlight where screens can be most difficult to read. At over 1,000 nits, LG G7 ThinQ's screen is one of the brightest displays on any smartphone at this moment, beating both Apple iPhone X and Huawei Mate RS. Super Bright Display mode lasts for three minutes, a cap meant to save your battery and not overheat device. That is just enough time to read messages while walking outdoors in direct sunlight

According to LG, it meets true HDR 10, not the mobile HDR standard seen on most flagship phones such as Samsung Galaxy S9. Blacks were suitably deep and pleasingly free of the greyish quality which is usually seen on many competing IPS LCD screens. Display on LG G7 ThinQ also appears to be pretty well calibrated and a clear step up from LG's previous V30-series of OLED devices. LG also quotes screen as covering 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut used by most movie makers. If true, this means pictures and videos such as blockbuster movies, will display on screen exactly as the photographer or filmmaker intended. Phone also comes with a ridiculous seven separate screen modes in its settings. Like company's TVs, these include color optimization (default), gallery, eco, cinema, sports, games and expert options. Personally, I found Cinema mode to offer much accurate colors than other modes. Another impressive feature about this display is that even though it is an IPS panel, it supports Always On display, something we have only seen with OLED panels.

Display is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 which means it won't easily break or scratch and being one of the brightest display on any phone, it gives LG G7 ThinQ an edge over its competitors. For people who stay outdoors a lot, this a great phone to have.

Hardware

LG's latest flagship boasts some top of the line specs you will find on a flagship smartphone in 2018. Phone is powered by Snapdragon 845 processor and Adreno 630 GPU, coupled with either 4 GB RAM with 64 GB on-board storage or 6 GB RAM with 128 GB on-board storage. For extra storage, you get an option for storage expansion through MicroSD card slot up to 400 GB.

Phone performed as expected, with fast and fluid animations, excellent touch response, and quick performance all around when launching applications or playing games. Jumping through multiple applications posed no problems and it can run any game you'll find in Play Store with excellent graphics and smooth gameplay. Real world performance certainly lives up to benchmark numbers as LG G7 ThinQ didn't struggle with any task I threw at it. On AnTuTu Benchmark, phone gained a score of 243955, which is higher than Huawei Mate 10 Pro's score, but doesn't come close to Samsung Galaxy S9 or OnePlus 6.

With LG G7 ThinQ, LG has continued to put a big emphasis on audio experience. LG's signature quad DAC is back again which provides for higher quality sound, less distortion, less noise, and better dynamic range. It is a feature that owners of high quality headphones will greatly appreciate as it changes entire audio experience you will get with your headphones on. LG has also implemented DTS:X 3D surround sound which is a virtual surround sound system. This is designed to give you a surround sound experience through stereo speakers or headphones (in case of LG G7 ThinQ). At this moment, it's more of a future proofing feature as content that you watch or listen needs to support DTS:X which isn't readily available just yet. It can still give you a surround sound-like experience with non-DTS :X files by altering the sound stage.

Most significant audio improvement on this phone is a speaker called Boom Box speaker. It is an interesting single bottom-firing speaker built by LG that apparently boosts audio quality by using every bit of spare space in phone as a resonance chamber. This apparently lets it offer a significantly chunkier low-end and a maximum volume that's twice as loud as that of most competitors. When tested in noisy background, speaker turned out to be louder by smartphone standards and more than powerful enough for basic YouTube and Netflix streaming. Only downside to this speaker is that it's single firing and can be covered with your hand, dimming volume. To be fair, this is a very impressive addition by LG, as not many flagship smartphones come with a speaker this loud having such audio enhancement codecs.

On hardware level, LG seems to have hit the sweet spot on their brand-new flagship device and little hardware improvements and additions will enable LG to gain some momentum in smartphone market.

Battery

Battery on LG G7 ThinQ is one area where most people won't be impressed. Phone comes with a mid sized 3,000 mAh battery which isn't small, but many competing flagships in its class have larger batteries, even last year's LG G6 had a bigger battery. Regardless, LG G7 ThinQ can last a full day but only till early evening. It's not going to get you into late-night hours without a recharge unless your usage is kept fairly light.

If you're a big mobile gamer or you stream a lot of content on your device, expect to charge LG G7 ThinQ at least once throughout the day. Fortunately, charging can be done rapidly via Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 or through wireless charging, as phone supports both wireless charging standards.

During my battery test, phone gave a screen-on time of just around 5 hours on moderate usage, which is fairly low. With Quick Charge 3.0 charger included in box, LG G7 ThinQ was one of fastest to recharge in my test. Although, things started out slow at 12% in 15 minutes and 37% in 30 minutes, battery reached a 100% charge in just around 100 minutes. Wireless charging, however, takes longer to charge, as one can expect.

Most users won't find issues carrying this phone throughout the day, but if you're a heavy user, it is recommended to carry Quick Charger with you.

Camera

LG has upgraded cameras on LG G7 ThinQ as phone now comes with dual 16 MP sensors having an f/1.6 and f/1.9 aperture respectively. One of those sensors is an ultra-wide field of view for wider shots and the other is a regular sensor, having Optical Image Stabilization,

What LG G7 ThinQ is bringing on table is an impressive camera hardware and it combines it with Artificial Intelligence in an effort to actually understand what's in front of you. Machine learning tech categorizes subjects into 19 different shooting modes, tweaking colors and brightness along the way. At times, scene detection is right and AI adjusts camera settings accordingly, while other times it's way off. There have been times when AI wrongfully labeled food as dogs and toys as plants.

LG is introducing 'Super Bright Camera' which is more precise, automatically detects low-light situations and amps up brightness by four times compared to conventional pictures, and even twice as bright as LG V30S ThinQ 'Bright Mode'. Trade-off here is that photos are going to be 4MP, and 4K video is cut down to 1080p. Huawei P20 Pro does something similar too with its 40MP camera, outputting 10MP photos. Photos turn out to be brighter in those mode, but also grainy. You won't regret 4MP pictures over shadow-filled dark photos, though, but you won't be impressed either.

Photos from main camera setup are very good with pleasant colors that aren't overly saturated and crisp details. Dynamic range is well above average, preserving a good amount of detail in shadows and highlights. In low light situations, camera maintains plenty of detail and color, keeping noise to a minimum, at least on main sensor. Results from wide-angle lens tend to be more washed out with excessive noise. Its narrower aperture and lack of OIS means it has to rely on higher ISOs to create a brighter image.

An interesting thing about LG G7 ThinQ's cameras is that sensor size is smaller than ones found on Samsung Galaxy S9 and Google Pixel 2. LG says it doesn't need larger sensors to achieve impressive results, but when you test phone side-by-side its competitors, results beg to differ. LG has a really great camera, but it's just not as good as its primary competitors. At fault is the thinner design and lack of a significant camera bump on back. It came down to a battle between LG's design team and camera team. In the end, design team won with an elegant, smoother look to phone, but everyone else lost with photos that are poorer than they had to be.

However, what I really liked about this phone's camera is that it can do something no other recommended phone can do right now: take wide-angle photos. I am able to capture more of what's in front of me, thanks to 107-degree field of view (FoV) of second rear lens (a typical camera lens has a field of view of 71 degrees). I only wish this wider camera also had optical image stabilization that is on main camera.

LG also added portrait mode into LG G7 ThinQ, first for LG phones. It's a great addition if you want that artificial background blur for a more professional look, but it isn't perfect. There are times where it inaccurately blurs foreground, blurring out parts of hair, glasses, or ears. In most situations, though, blur is convincing. Portrait mode results on rear camera feels more consistent, as it does a better job separating complex subjects from background. This is likely due to two cameras being used to achieve this effect instead of relying on software with front camera.

On front, you will find an 8 MP selfie camera with an f/1.9 aperture, and honestly, this is a much needed upgrade from previous 5 MP selfie shooter. It is a new sensor, Hynix SF846, instead of usual Sony sensors. Colors and skin tones appear accurate in photos taken from front camera, though lack of Super Bright Mode on front-facing camera means you need ample light. When there is enough light, details in photos are on par with what you get out of Samsung Galaxy S9's front-facing camera.

Video recording is another small highlight on this phone as it's able to record 4K at 30 fps, this time with HDR video capture to absorb more color and use LG's cinematic tools. It was a treat testing LG G7 ThinQ's ability to slowly and smoothly zoom into any part of screen, not just center in a jerky motion like on every other phone. Super Bright Mode is present here as well, if you're okay with 1080p. You'll also find that you can record video at 240fps in 720p for slow motion. It's not super slow mo that I've seen on newer Samsung and Sony phones, but videos look fine here in HD as well.

What LG G7 ThinQ provides in camera department is everything we've seen in other phones, plus a little more. Even with all these features, it lags behind Google Pixel 2 or Huawei P20 Pro's cameras, and that's something LG needs to work on in future.

Software

Software experience on LG G7 ThinQ is similar to LG's previous flagship phones, with less bloatware, a cleaner interface, and better app design. It's fairly easy on the eyes, with a muted color scheme throughout the UI elements, fluid animations, and easy-to-read fonts. Phone ships with Android 8.0 Oreo with a planned upgrade to Android P.

There is a huge bunch of options to customize User Experience the way you want it. By default, launcher does not have an app drawer, but a traditional app drawer button can be added or a more Google Pixel-like swipe up gesture can be used. LG's theme engine allows for further customization with additional wallpapers, icon packs, UI themes, and always-on display clocks. Phone also have floating bar which was previously introduced in LG V30 to replace old hardware-based secondary screen. This gives quick access to selected applications, music controls, contacts, and other quick actions such as taking a selfie. Many of LG's other software features, like Smart Bulletin, KnockON, and gaming tools are just like they were in other LG phones, while some of them have received a slight face lift. Smart Settings has been renamed to Context Awareness, though its functions for automating tasks when certain conditions are met remain same.

Other than that, LG has kept everything same on this phone with the only exciting thing about phone's software being that LG promises it'll be better at rolling out software updates. LG G7 ThinQ isn't part of special Android P beta, but I'm hopeful it won't take almost a year to get this new version of Google's operating system when it launches.

Conclusion

LG G7 ThinQ is available to pre-order, starting from $750 for 64 GB variant. It's available in 3 colors: Aurora Black, Platinum Gray and Raspberry Rose. Phone has a lot going for it. It has a beautiful build quality, a gorgeous display with extra brightness, a dedicated Google Assistant button, 3.5-mm headset jack for old-school audiophiles and an AI-powered camera that takes pretty great photos. It does have some faults as notched display might annoy some users, and though "New Second Screen" does help, it doesn't solve the issue entirely. While AI camera is great when it works, detection can be hit-or-miss, and lastly, though I appreciate how loud its speakers are, it doesn't really translate to great audio quality.

I personally still think that LG G7 ThinQ is a great phone, and I can overlook some of these flaws, but when you compare it to rivals like Samsung Galaxy S9 and Google Pixel 2 that are equal or better in some areas, LG G7 ThinQ still has a number of obstacles to overcome.

Some might argue that phone is priced very high given there are plenty other phones in market for less than $600 that come close to this phone, like OnePlus 6. What those phones might not have are features you'd expect from a flagship device such as wireless charging, IP68 rating, etc. In the end, it depends on your liking and what you're looking for in a phone. For LG fans, this is definitely a phone they should go for, as this is LG's best phone to date.