The LG G7 ThinQ is a nice phone. All the basics you’d expect in a 2018 flagship are there such as Snapdragon 845, glossy glass back with fast fingerprint sensor under the dual cameras, portrait mode (fake bokeh) and a tall narrow display with notch, however it’s arrived too late to the 2018 party. The LG G7 Thinq is a smartphone that is pleasant to use but lacks a certain “wow factor” to help it stand out from the crowd of strong competitors.
The G4 was the last LG phone I spent money on and I loved the great camera: unfortunately it died a boot loop death after a year. To be fair LG tried to be different with its G5 modules but the lack of success has caused them to stick to the middle of the road since then.
|Key Specifications:||LG G7 ThinQ|
|Release date||June 2018|
|Screen technology||IPS LCD|
|Resolution||3,120 x 1,440|
|Rear camera||16MP + 16MP|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845|
|Core config||4x2.8 GHz and 4x1.7 GHz|
|MicroSD||Yes, up to 2TB|
|Connector||USB Type-C 2.0|
|Android OS||Android 8.0|
|Vendor skin||LG UX|
|Dimensions||153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm|
Unboxing and Setup
Inside the box you’ll find the usual: phone, charger, earphones, warranty, quick setup paperwork and a recycling post bag for your old phone.
The setup process was quite smooth including data transfer phone to phone via WiFi using the LG mobile switch app and restoring from my Google Cloud backup.
Once set up, the LG UX launcher works quite well and there are lots of wallpapers themes and icon etc choices once you enable the LG Smartworld app. The G7 ThinQ has no app drawer by default, this can be enabled in settings. The only reason I switched to Nova launcher is because it lets me fit a lot more icons on my home screen.
What It’s Good At
The LG G7 ThinQ excels at all audio tasks whether it is transmitting/receiving voice calls, playing music, used as a speakerphone or receiving Google Assistant commands.
According to Shawn Scarlett, Director of Marketing at ESS Technology, the ES9218P used in the LG G7 ThinQ is the best headphone System-on-Chip (SoC) available today.
Scarlett explains that the “hi-fi audio system in the new G7 ThinQ is built around advanced Quad DAC technology that allows for multiple DAC elements to run in parallel and to seamlessly recombine the signal in a way that rejects the noise created by any one individual element. The result is a clear signal that is a true as possible to the way it was created and the 2V output amplifier can support even the most demanding headphones”.
Listening to music with good quality headphones connected to the headphone jack is an excellent experience. The catch is that many people use Bluetooth headphones these days or cast music from their phone to speakers so a lot of people won’t benefit from this advanced DAC.
According to reader Greg the trick to using the Quad DAC with Bluetooth “is to get headphones that support aptX HD Audio or Sony LDAC. The LG G6 and G7 support this”.
The far field voice recognition microphones are top notch which is useful for Google Assistant and speakerphone.
Speaker phone call conversations work well especially if you place the phone on a hollow object like a box to take advantage of the boombox speaker that LG has used hollow space in the phone for — Just don’t expect music to sound good through the single phone speaker, listen via a real speaker using Bluetooth or Chromecast instead.
Graphy Camera App Feature and Wide Angle Camera
The LG camera app has a little known feature called Graphy that’s only enabled in Manual mode. What Graphy does is use AI to figure out what kind of photo you’re taking, once you choose the correct option eg in this case “Night view”, Graphy will adjust your white balance, ISO and shutter speed settings to optimise them for best image quality.
The LG G7 ThinQ’s 16MP f/1.9 fixed-focus wide angle camera is a clear differentiator, however most people don’t know how to use wide angle to its full potential. A really wide angle lens is most useful when you’re close to a subject eg: a large building or big group of friends you want to all fit in one photo, not for landscape where the main subjects are far away.
This Vivid Sydney photo I took is a good example. I was close to the AMP building and with the wide angle lens I could capture it from top to bottom as well as surrounding buildings and get light trails from passing traffic. The normal lens photo couldn’t fit in anywhere near as much.
Here’s another example where I was standing in a narrow lane way facing an artwork. The wide angle lens could capture the entire frog painting but the normal lens could only capture a corner of the painting.
Here’s also a wide angle shot of the skyline in Green Square, and a regular angle shot for comparison. The wide angle shot across the road shows you much more, the normal lens can’t fit in enough to tell the story visually.
The LG G7 ThinQ’s LCD screen blitzes the competition with a top temporary brightness of 1000 nit. Under the normal Auto setting I had no trouble reading the screen inside or outside under bright sunlight. The 1440 x 3120 pixel screen has a notch at the top that can be hidden using software. Personally I don’t get why people hate notches, I have no problem with them, especially when they can be “hidden” with software.
Strong Google AI Integration
During the phone launch event LG commented that their number one priority was connectivity between devices and artificial intelligence with lots of Google AI integration across the board for products. As an Android focused site we applaud this focus and it’s good to see a Google Assistant/Google Lens launch key on the side of the LG G7 ThinQ. You can disable it if you don’t like it.
Although the phone launch didn’t mention it, you can use the Google Assistant key and give it commands like “take a photo with food mode”. More example commands are listed on the LG website.
Another plus point is that the LG G7 ThinQ uses Google’s own Messages app for SMS. Hopefully in the future LG also uses Google’s standard calendar and clock apps rather than adding their own branded duplicate apps.
The front 8MP f/1.9 front selfie camera does it’s job well, whether you prefer the fake bokeh look (left photo) or don’t use the depth of field portrait mode (right photo).
LG gets a thumbs up here as they’ve used Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back. According to its maker Corning “Gorilla Glass 5 raises the bar for protection against drops, surviving 1.6-meter, shoulder-height drops onto hard, rough surfaces up to 80% of the time. That’s up to 4X better in drop failure height than competitive glasses”.
IP68 is a very high rating for dust, sand and water sealing. Note that I’m not a fan of phone manufacturers using people swimming as an example of ruggedness because most people don’t read disclaimers and the pictures encourage unrealistic expectations. This doesn’t just apply to LG, lots of manufacturers do it but then deny warranty claims due to water ingress after people have swum for too long or in too deep water.
Since the LG G7 ThinQ hasn’t been picked for contract sale by any of our phone carriers they’re able to sell you the Dual SIM version of the phone. This is handy for travellers and people with Home plus Work SIMs who don’t want to carry around two phones.
No need to fret about your data speeds as both SIM slots support 4G. Note that the second SIM slot has a dual function so you an use it for another SIM or a MicroSD card slot (but not both at once).
What Needs To Be Better
Too Expensive and No “Wow” Feature
The LG G7 ThinQ is a pleasant phone but at RRP $1,099 it’s over priced by about $200-300. The quad DAC and wide angle camera are good differentiators from other phones but they’re not new, just variations on previous DAC’s and wide angle lenses in the last few LG phones.
As we mentioned at the beginning of 2018, LG is switching to a strategy of releasing phones ‘as needed’ rather than matching the yearly cycle of other brands.
What LG’s mobile division needs to do now is decide whether it wants to “go big or go home”, competing at the hardware and software level with the Samsung and Apple flagships, or step back and try and win a leadership position in the mid-range sub $1000 market currently focused on by brands such as Motorola, Nokia, OPPO and OnePlus.
Standard Angle Rear Camera
Camera quality is very important for a flagship smartphone. The LG G7 ThinQ’s standard angle 16MP f/1.6 rear camera is good but not brilliant. As a rule of thumb larger image sensors result in better quality photos, better HDR and better performance in low light or fast moving subject situations but not as much in this instance. LG continues to use smaller 1/3.1″ camera sensors compared to flagship phone competitors and this drags photo quality down. In comparison Sony is using 1/2.3″, Samsung 1/2.6″ and the Huawei P20 Pro has a huge 1/1.7″ main 40MP image sensor.
Battery Size and Charging Speed
The LG G7 ThinQ’s battery size of 3,000mAh is the minimum a flagship phone can get away with.
If you have battery saver off, light to medium phone users should be OK for a day’s use but heavy users will need a battery top up before leaving work to last through the evening. As the example stats below show the battery was full at 8am and flat by 5pm.
Disappointingly, while the phone supports fast Qualcomm Quick Charge 3 the bundled charger is only the slower Quick Charge 2. Using this charger the phone estimates 1hr 39min to recharge from 5% to 100%.
Narrow Body Tall Screen
The LG G7 ThinQ has a non standard 19.5:9 ratio (564 ppi density) screen. Some people love the idea but I’m not sold on the narrow tall phone design trend because some apps don’t fit on the full screen and therefore part of the screen gets wasted. See the black empty area at the bottom of screenshots below. This applies to recent narrow phone designs by other brands as well not just LG.
Should You Buy The LG G7 ThinQ?
If you use good quality wired headphones all the time then you’ll love LG’s Quad DAC. I was discussing the phone with an audiophile recently and they thought the sound quality while listening to their music collection was amazing.
Another audience who’ll like the G7 ThinQ are wide angle photographers like me who will find the wide lens very useful when trying to capture more of a scene than a normal angle lens can see.
Unfortunately for LG these are quite niche audiences and selling to them as well as loyal LG brand fans isn’t probably enough to sell a lot of this phone model.
In Australia the mobile phone market share is dominated by Samsung and iPhone at the top end and value focused brands like Alcatel (TCL) at the budget end with many competitors vying for a piece of the market in between. Literally right next to the LG G7 ThinQ display at my local JB Hi-Fi you can compare the Huawei P20 Pro which for the same RRP $1099 has the world’s best triple back camera (more cameras, bigger and better sensors), 4000mAh battery (1000mAh more), 128GB storage onboard (64GB more), and 6GB RAM (2GB more).
Sorry LG but a merely “nice” phone is not good enough to compete at the moment. For the vast majority of prospective phone buyers, the Huawei P20 Pro is far better value for money than the LG G7 ThinQ.
LG has allowed Ausdroid to keep this review device to monitor updates and review accessories