If LG’s G7 ThinQ falls, it’s not be­tween 2 stools

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - TECH -

I’M NOT in the habit of dol­ing out my dwin­dling stock of em­pa­thy to tech titans, but if I were, I’d send some LG’s way.

De­spite pro­duc­ing a string of solid smart­phones and more than its fair share of in­no­va­tions – the par­tially bend­able G Flex and mod­u­lar G5 are two ex­am­ples – the South Korean multi­na­tional’s hand­sets have never en­joyed the pop­u­lar­ity of com­pa­triot Sam­sung’s.

So, it’s per­haps un­der­stand­able that with its lat­est flag­ship, the G7 ThinQ, LG has opted for a more con­ven­tional de­sign aes­thetic. Of course, this comes with its own per­ils and cyn­ics are brand­ing it a bla­tant copy of ei­ther Sam­sung’s S9, thanks to a slightly curved, near bezel-free dis­play, or Ap­ple’s iPhone X, thanks to the notch atop that screen.

It’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Step out­side the box and you’re ham­mered for be­ing gim­micky, go for a crowd pleaser and you’re a copy­cat.

What these crit­ics ei­ther don’t know or choose to ig­nore is to­day’s “gim­micks” are to­mor­row’s main­stream. The ww G Flex, for ex­am­ple, was the trail­blazer for the fully bend­able dis­plays LG is tri­alling in labs. And the pro­to­type roll-up 65-inch TV it de­moed at the CES tech expo in Jan­uary is a tan­ta­lis­ing pointer to a “scroll phone” fu­ture.

As for the copy­cat crit­i­cism, there are only so many ways to as­sem­ble what’s es­sen­tially two slabs of glass and a steel frame into a smart­phone without re­sort­ing to “gim­micks”.

It was against this back­ground, that I re­cently took de­liv­ery of a G7 ThinQ re­view unit. I de­cided I would eval­u­ate it as best as I could purely on its mer­its, both aes­thetic and func­tional.

So, when I opened the box and pow­ered up the phone, I did my best to ig­nore the fact that it re­ally does look like the love child of a Sam­sung S9 and iPhone X and fo­cus on the fact that this makes it ex­tremely easy on the eye.

Granted, the tall and nar­row 6.1-inch screen is an IPS LCD, rather than OLED, but with 3 120x1 440 res­o­lu­tion, it’s both de­tailed and vibrant enough to make watch­ing videos, play­ing games or brows­ing the web a plea­sure, even in bright light­ing con­di­tions.

Yes, there’s a notch, which houses the front-fac­ing cam­era and var­i­ous light sen­sors, but if the Ap­ple re­sem­blance irks you, there’s an op­tion to flat­ten it out into a more con­ven­tional, if ever-so-slightly thicker bezel. I sus­pect you’d be in the mi­nor­ity though and, un­like on the iPhone X, the notch doesn’t pro­trude into videos and other con­tent.

Thanks to its tall, nar­row di­men­sions and sub­tly curved glass back, the ThinQ nes­tled com­fort­ably in my medi­um­sized hands and slipped into even small­ish pock­ets with ease. On the neg­a­tive side, a care­less slip could see you break­ing both the front and rear pan­els, so I’d def­i­nitely in­vest in a pro­tec­tive case.

With the build qual­ity and looks boxes ticked de­ci­sively in the new LG’s favour, I turned to one of the ThinQ’s pri­mary sell­ing points as sug­gested by its name, it’s ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) smarts.

LG has placed an AI short­cut key be­low the vol­ume but­tons on the left side, the same spot that Sam­sung put its Bixby but­ton on Galaxy de­vices. Thank­fully, this calls up the much more knowl­edge­able Google As­sis­tant, giv­ing you one touch ac­cess even when the phone is asleep.

The G7 is no slouch in the per­for­mance de­part­ment ei­ther, pack­ing a beefy Snap­dragon 845 pro­ces­sor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of on­board stor­age, with a 6GB of RAM and 128GB stor­age model also avail­able. It runs a re­cent ver­sion of Google’s An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem, 8.0 Oreo.

Bat­tery life from the 3 000mAh bat­tery was so-so, de­liv­er­ing a full work­ing day’s use un­der medium use, pretty much on par with the Sam­sung S9, but nowhere near as good as the Huawei P20. If you do need a top-up, this can be ac­com­plished quickly thanks to Qual­comm Quick Charge tech­nol­ogy or, at a more leisurely pace, via wire­less charg­ing – I popped it on to my Sam­sung S8 charg­ing pad and it worked per­fectly.

LG’s pleas­ing fo­cus on au­dio con­tin­ues, with the Hi-Fi Quad-DAC au­dio sys­tem, that so im­pressed me on the V30+ last year, mak­ing a wel­come re­turn on the G7. This, cou­pled with vir­tual sur­round sound, pro­duces the kind of pu­rity and power that puts it on par with ded­i­cated mu­sic play­ers.

Those want­ing to make a case for re­tain­ing the head­phone jack in smart­phones need look no fur­ther than the V30+ and, now, the G7 ThinQ.

Turn­ing to the cam­era, I’m pleased to re­port that LG has fi­nally up­graded its front-fac­ing cam­era to 8 megapix­els with por­trait mode, great news for selfie afi­ciona­dos.

On the rear, the LG’s sig­na­ture stan­dard and wide-an­gle dual lens combo is back, although both sen­sors are now 16 megapix­els, which means there’s no longer a loss in res­o­lu­tion when switch­ing sen­sors. The re­sults are ex­cel­lent, with the wide an­gle fea­ture par­tic­u­larly use­ful when at­tempt­ing to cram large ob­jects into shots – without hav­ing to back up per­ilously close to busy streets or pre­cip­i­tous drops.

Less im­pres­sive for me were the new AI cam fea­tures, which are meant to recog­nise ob­jects and au­to­mat­i­cally ad­just the cam­era set­tings to best capture their spe­cific at­tributes. Quite frankly, I more of­ten than not pre­ferred the re­sults from the cam­era’s reg­u­lar auto mode, but per­haps that was just me.

My quibbles with AI fea­tures aside, it’s a solid cam­era, if not quite on par with the likes of the Sam­sung S9, iPhone X or Huawei p20.

Throw in IP68 dust and wa­ter re­sis­tance, a mi­croSD slot for ex­tra stor­age and a fairly com­pet­i­tive price for a flag­ship phone – R13 999 pre­paid and R649 per month on con­tract – and you’ve got a pretty at­trac­tive pack­age.

If you’re in the mar­ket for a high-end an­droid smart­phone, be sure to check out the LG ThinQ, par­tic­u­larly if you con­sider your­self a bit of an au­dio­phile.

Fol­low Cooper on Twit­ter @alan­q­cooper.

LG has opted for a more con­ven­tional de­sign Sound qual­ity puts it on par with ded­i­cated mu­sic play­ers

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.