The LG G7 ThinQ has a horrendous name. But thankfully, that’s its worst characteristic. The hardware is right in line with other high-end 2018 smartphones. There’s a display with a notch and glass on the front and back, sandwiched between a metal frame. What’s nice about this build is that it supports wireless charging, which actually saved me several times when I forgot my USB-C cable at home and only had a Qi wireless charger with me. The downside is that it’s extremely slippery and prone to damage. I don’t have the exact numbers with me but I imagine if you crack the back of this glass panel (or even the front), it’s going to be a pretty penny to replace. There is a headphone jack, a 32-bit Quad DAC and DTS:X virtual surround sound, which helps improve the listening experience. In my testing, music sounded incredible. It’s much more rich and loud than on the iPhone X or even the Pixel 2, which requires you to steam via Bluetooth or listen to wired music via a lovely adaptor. If you’re not able to cut the cord just yet, you might actually really like what LG has done here.
There is only one speaker so you don’t get stereo sound. But LG does have a feature called Boombox, which uses a resonance chamber within the phone to increase the sound level by more than 6 dB with twice the amount of bass. It does get very loud, don’t get me wrong, and the bass is certainly more noticeable than most other mobile handset speakers that I’ve used or listened to. But I would still like to see LG include some sort of dual stereo speaker setup in its next flagship. I just really value having audio face directly toward my face.
The Google Assistant button on the left hand side of the phone really had me excited when it first leaked because I’m an avid Google Assistant user. I love Google Home and the whole concept. So all you have to do is just press the button in speaker command. But it doesn’t work sometimes. Meanwhile, a double press will open up Google Lens, which provides information about the objects it identifies. It’s actually one of the first phones to support Google Lens and it works pretty well. What frustrated me was just how many times Google Assistant failed to recognize my voice or registered my voice when using it. It’s nowhere near as consistent as the squeeze feature in the Pixel 2 XL, which brings up the Google Assistant in a similar fashion. Also what’s neat about the Pixel 2 XL is that you can just whip it out of your pocket, squeeze it, start speaking your command, and then unlock your phone to view the information. It’s just more seamless in my opinion than pulling your phone out, unlocking it, and speaking your command. With that said, I will say what we have here is so much better than Bixby and I’m really glad LG decided to go with the Google Assistant route instead of develop their own AI.
My preferred way to unlock the phone was via the fingerprint scanner. It too, though, wasn’t very consistent. For a premium smartphone, it should unlock the phone almost instantly but it does take longer than some other phones worth half its cost. There is a voice recognition feature that will let you unlock the phone with your voice and it should help you more easily use the Google Assistant. You can ask G7-specific commands like “Open camera with AI cam” or “Take a photo with low-light mode”. It’s these AI camera features that really help the LG G7 earn its ThinQ name.
The AI cam is supposed to automatically adjust settings, depending on the scene. But generally speaking, it seems to just bump up the saturation. With that said, images look great with plenty of detail and vibrancy. The G7 uses a 16-megapixel main shooter with an f/1.6 aperture, optical image stabilization, and face detection auto-focus. There’s also a 16-megapixel wide-angle sensor with f/1.9 aperture. I’m very pleased with the results of the images captured from the wide-angle sensor, although I will say the novelty is kind of starting to wear off now that this is the fifth smartphone of theirs to launch with a wide-angle sensor.
A couple of other comments I want to make is that the low-light performance is solid but not quite as good as some of its competitors. I also noticed some camera lag when taking photos, which should be eradicated by now. It’s 2018, after all, and there’s plenty of power to keep the phone running lag-free, at least in theory.
Powering the G7 is a Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor with 4GB of RAM that is upgradeable to 6GB of RAM in the 128GB model. The phone is able to open up apps and multitask quickly but some frame drops and choppiness can be expected. It can be attributed to the heavy skin running on top of Android 8,0 Oreo, which is running out of the box. Android P should be coming in the future but nobody knows the exact timeline.
The 6.1-inch display is right in line with the trend of 2018 smartphone displays. It features a 3120x1440 resolution and a cutout for the 8-megapixel front-facing camera sensor and various other sensors. What’s neat is that you can black out the notch and/or add some flair to it. It’s a status symbol though that I think some will like. It’s a relatively new trend and is certainly eye-catching. But others will not like it as it takes up space that would be otherwise used to show notification icons and it is distracting on the eyes. Personally, I don’t have an issue with the notch. The only thing I didn’t like about this display is that it’s an LCD panel as opposed to an AMOLED panel so it loses out on some battery-saving capabilities and superior contrast ratios. One perk of this LCD display is its 1000 nit brightness that improves outdoor visibility.
Before I wrap up this review, I did want to mention the 3000mAh non-removable battery that supports quick charging and wireless charging. It’s not big enough to really expel my range anxiety. I was able to get to about halfway through my day on a single charge before I started to worry about whether or not I have enough juice to last me through the rest of the day. I don’t like that.
So after the G7 was announced, I was eager to get my hands on the phone because of how many features it packed. What I didn’t realize, at that time, was that many of these features are half-baked and don’t work as well in practice. Also, what I didn’t know about the phone, at the time of its launch, was its price. It starts at $750, which is $30 more than the Galaxy S9. As much as I like to support smartphones from companies that don’t have dominating market shares, it’s tough to recommend the G7 ThinQ when it doesn’t have any one feature that clearly separates it from the competition. We live in a time when a smartphone can have almost every feature imaginable but still be nothing special.