LG packs serious power and a glaringly bright screen into the LG G7 ThinQ
Tipped to arrive earlier in the year, the launch of the LG G7 was reportedly pushed back by Seong-jin, as the vice chairman and CEO of LG Electronics wanted a complete redesign. The question is, has it been worth the wait? Absolutely.
LG’s new flagship phone is a real looker and brings with it a number of desirable new features, but what catches the eye most is the screen. Not because it has a notch – although yes, that is very much the case – and not because it has a tall, slim 19.5:9 aspect ratio, because every modern smartphone has one of those.
It’s because the screen is incredibly bright – able to hit an incredible 1,000cd/m2 – for everyday use, and not just while watching HDR video.
LG G7 ThinQ review: Specifications
The LG G7 ThinQ backs the screen up with some serious specs and it’s good to see that the mistakes of the LG G6 haven’t been repeated here. Instead of hobbling the phone with a behind-the-times chip, the LG G7 has the very latest tech from Qualcomm, with a super snappy Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage (expandable up to 2TB via microSD card).
- 6.1in, 3,120 x 1,440 IPS RGBW 19.5:9 display
- 2.65GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage (expandable 2TB via microSD)
- IP68 dust- and water-resistance, Mil-spec tested
- 3,000mAh battery
- Dual rear camera: 16MP, f/1.6, 106˚; 16MP, f/1.6 71˚ (wide angle); OIS/EIS across both cameras at Full HD
- 8MP front camera
- Price: TBC
- Release date: End of May 2018
LG G7 ThinQ review: Why the odd name?
First, let’s talk about that name. Originally thought to be the LG G7, the company decided to throw a curveball and add the ThinQ branding into the mix. Revealed just ahead of CES 2018, the world’s largest tech event, the ThinQ name was created for a single purpose: to denote LG devices that are linked with artificial intelligence.
In the LG G7, there are several “AI” driven features, including a dedicated Google Assistant button and AI camera functions, similar to what we’ve seen recently on the Huawei Mate 10, P20 and P20 Pro phones. I’ll get onto the camera features later, but the Google features are pretty straightforward: the LG G7 gets a button on the side, just below the volume buttons, that can launch various voice-recognition and AI functions.
Holding it down, for instance, triggers Google Assistant without you having to say OK Google first. You don’t have to use it, though: if you’re across the room from the phone, the phone offers help here, too, including far-field microphone technology to pick up the wake phrase from over five metres away.
LG G7 ThinQ review: Display and design
That screen is the headline, though, and boy is it bright. Measured with our X-Rite i1 Display Pro calibrator, the phone achieves an eye-piercing 951cd/m2 and while the Samsung Galaxy S9 is brighter, at 996cd/m2, it can only do so in auto-brightness mode and when a small amount of white is displayed onscreen. The LG G7 hits the heights across the whole screen and can be forced manually to do so, with a tap on the Boost icon situated to the right of the screen brightness adjustment slider. It’s no surprise that the phone’s display reverts down to a less blinding level after a few seconds, although LG says this is still a very respectable 850cd/m2.
If you can still see after experimenting with the Boost brightness button (it really is that bright), you may or may not be irritated to see that the LG G7’s display is also marred by the presence of a notch. I can’t say I’m a fan of notches on phones, but LG does at least include the option to hide it using a black bar at the very top of your screen. In fact, there are a few options here, one of which involves a gradient on either side of the notch to make the overall experience just that bit more bearable.
Aside from this, the LG G7’s screen is pretty darned good. It measures an impressive 6.1in across the diagonal and is both bold and colourful to look at. Despite the size, the phone remains easy to hold in one hand thanks to its tall, thin 19.5:9 aspect ratio.
The screen has a resolution of 3,120 x 1,440, too. This is normally a recipe for disappointing battery life, but LG says this won’t be a problem. In fact, LG says the 10-bit display on the LG G7 is 30% more efficient than the LG G6’s at the same given brightness (500cd/m2). This should hopefully mean a better battery life overall, although it’s also worth noting that the LG G7’s battery has a smaller 3,000mAh capacity, down from 3,300mAh in the LG G6.
Other than the display, the phone looks pretty slick. It has Gorilla Glass 5 at the back and the front, and it will be available in blue, black and grey. Unfortunately, the colourful “raspberry rose” edition won’t be coming to the UK.
LG, much like Samsung, has opted to include a fingerprint sensor around the back of the phone, beneath the vertical dual-lens camera module. Oh, and it has a 3.5mm headphone jack as well. No need to use any silly dongles for your headphones; thank you, LG. The jack sits alongside a USB Type-C port and a speaker grille, which are all located at the bottom. The power button sits on the right-hand edge.
Finally, there’s IP68 dust and water resistance, so you won’t have to worry about dropping it in the sink. And with the extra bonus of a Mil-spec rating, the phone ought to withstand a little bit of abuse as well.
LG G7 ThinQ review: camera and audio
As mentioned at the top of this article, LG – like Huawei, Honor and Asus – has added AI elements to its camera software, with the idea being to identify objects and scenes, and optimise the camera settings on the fly to suit the subject matter.
As ever, LG puts its own stamp on scene recognition, though. As well as performing whole scene recognition as the Huawei camera app does, you see the algorithm in action on the LG, with words that fade in and attach themselves to objects within your scene in real-time.
In brief initial tests, the phone could correctly identify flowers, the sky and cityscapes, but object identification within the frame was patchy, with the camera identifying a deep red carpet as “wine” and a bookshelf as a “document”.
As for the camera hardware, that’s reasonably impressive. You get dual 16-megapixel rear-facing cameras, both with an aperture of f/1.6 and both with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and electrical image stabilisation (EIS) at Full HD. Instead of a zoom, the second camera on the LG G7 delivers wide-angle shots, with the main camera capturing a 77-degree field of view and the secondary camera a 122-degree field of view.
Much like its rivals, there’s a portrait mode that blurs out the background around your subject. Again, there’s a degree of cleverness in the way LG does this because you can see a preview of the effect as you take the shot, with a slider that allows you to adjust the intensity of the blur.
If you love taking photos in low light, you’ll be pleased to know that LG has a ‘SuperBright camera’ mode. Here, the phone uses pixel binning to capture as much detail as possible in low-light conditions (down to one lux). This sounds great on paper but, in practice, I found images were rather over-saturated and unnatural-looking.
Finally, LG has improved the phone’s sound quality over its predecessor, the G6. the phone’s new Boombox speaker is, apparently 25 times bigger than the speaker unit used inside the LG G6 and the result is louder, surprisingly clear audio pumping through the phone’s single speaker grille. In another neat feature, the LG G7 can also use the surface it’s placed upon to reinforce the sound at lower frequencies.
LG G7 review: Early verdict
Last year’s LG G6 wowed me at release, but it was quickly overshadowed by its rivals. This year, LG has avoided the undercut, instead biding its time and the result is a much more impressive handset. The LG G7 ThinQ is swanky, has top-spec internals and keeps all the much-loved features from previous-generation phones.
Whether it’ll be as popular as Samsung, Huawei and Sony phones remains to be seen. It will all depend on a few key elements: how good the camera is in extensive testing, and how long the battery lasts in day-to-day use.
If it can tick these key boxes, then LG could have a winner on its hands. Stay tuned for my full review in the upcoming weeks.