LG G7 ThinQ

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Hot on the heels of the V30S ThinQ is the G7 ThinQ, LG’s other flag­ship phone for 2018. There are many sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween th­ese two, but also a cou­ple of sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences.

First, the G7 has an IPS screen rather than OLED, and it ben­e­fits from the newer, faster Snap­dragon 845 pro­ces­sor. It also gains the abil­ity to take por­trait pho­tos with blurry back­grounds (which the G6 lacked) and has a tra­di­tional head­phone socket, yet is wa­ter­proof. LG has also beefed up the au­dio with a big­ger, louder speaker and used some nifty screen

tech­nol­ogy to make the screen one of the bright­est around. With a sen­si­ble price, the G7 could be the An­droid flag­ship you’ve been wait­ing for – though the OnePlus 6 (see page 4) is a good chunk cheaper if you can live with its com­pro­mises.

Don’t worry about that ThinQ brand­ing: it’s a suf­fix LG is now us­ing for all of its prod­ucts that have ‘ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence’. We’ll get to the AI later.

De­sign

LG has clearly stuck with the G6’s de­sign and re­fined it for the G7. It’s a Go­rilla Glass 5 sand­wich: a curved glass back is or­der of the day for 2018 flag­ships, and un­like the Huawei P20 and OnePlus 6, the G7 sup­ports QI wire­less charg­ing, so the glass isn’t sim­ply there to look pretty. (But you can keep it look­ing pret­tier for longer with th­ese cases).

There’s IP68 wa­ter re­sis­tance, but whereas other man­u­fac­tur­ers have used this as an ex­cuse to drop

the head­phone jack, not LG. Au­dio is one of the key fea­tures of the phone, so it’s great to see a 3.5mm jack on the bot­tom next to the USB-C port.

Pre­vi­ous LG phones have had their power but­ton in­te­grated with the fin­ger­print scan­ner, but the G7 ThinQ has a nor­mal sleep/wake but­ton on the right­hand side. Un­usu­ally for an An­droid phone, vol­ume but­tons are op­po­site, like an iPhone.

Be­low the vol­ume but­tons is an­other that’s ded­i­cated to the Google As­sis­tant, a bit like Sam­sung’s Bixby but­ton. If you find this an­noy­ing you can dis­able it, but it’s a much eas­ier way of call­ing up the as­sis­tant than hold­ing the on-screen home but­ton.

You can press and re­lease, or press and hold to speak to the As­sis­tant a lit­tle like you were us­ing a walkie-talkie. A third mode lets you dou­ble-press the but­ton to launch Google Lens. Plus, thanks to far-field mics, you can say “OK Google” from across the room just as you would with a Google Home.

One of the most no­tice­able de­sign fea­tures is the screen notch. It’s by no means the only An­droid phone with a notch: Huawei’s P20 se­ries has one, as does the OnePlus 6 and Asus Zen­Fone 5.

Here the notch is a lit­tle longer than the P20’s, but not as large as the iPhone X’s – we’ve com­pared the G7 ThinQ and Ap­ple’s hand­set sep­a­rately. The notch houses an 8Mp selfie cam­era and the ear­piece speaker, plus an am­bi­ent light sen­sor.

LG calls the sec­tions of screen ei­ther side of the notch a ‘sec­ond screen’ – a ref­er­ence to the real sec­ond screen on the V-se­ries phone from a cou­ple of years ago. You’ll find op­tions in the Set­tings app

to hide the notch by mak­ing the screen black, but you can also opt for dif­fer­ent colours or some nifty gra­di­ent that make it blend dif­fer­ently.

Some will be miffed that there’s both a notch and a small ‘chin’ at the bot­tom, but LG says that it’s dif­fi­cult to make the bot­tom bezel as thin as the top one be­cause of the elec­tron­ics re­quired for the IPS screen.

Over­all, the G7 ThinQ looks and feels ev­ery inch the flag­ship phone.

Dis­play

The screen has an as­pect ra­tio of 19.5:9 and a res­o­lu­tion of 3,120x1,440 pix­els. It’s tricky to mea­sure its di­ag­o­nal ex­actly be­cause of the rounded cor­ners, but LG quotes it as 6.1in.

Rather than use the tra­di­tional sub-pixel ar­range­ment of red, green and blue, the G7’s MLCD+

dis­play adds a white pixel to boost bright­ness with­out us­ing more power. You might there­fore ar­gue that a quar­ter of the pix­els don’t add any­thing to pic­ture qual­ity – and you’d be right – but res­o­lu­tion is higher than some com­peti­tors al­ready and it looks nice and sharp. It of­fers a Su­per Bright mode, which raises bright­ness to 1,000 nits for a max­i­mum of three min­utes, aid­ing screen read­abil­ity when out­doors in sunny con­di­tions. To en­able it, you have to move the bright­ness slider to 100 per­cent, then tap on the sun icon which ap­pears to the left of it.

We took the G7 out­doors in very bright con­di­tions and it’s no­tice­ably brighter than all its ri­vals. And it’s much eas­ier to view a web page, read and re­ply to a text mes­sage or use the di­aller to ring some­one. It’s also use­ful when us­ing the viewfinder to frame a photo, but it’s not meant to be used for long pe­ri­ods:

it turns off af­ter three min­utes to pre­serve bat­tery life and pre­vent over­heat­ing.

It’s a shame that you have to en­able it man­u­ally (the AI smarts clearly aren’t up to the job of mak­ing this process au­to­matic for some rea­son) and it’s also slightly an­noy­ing that you won’t get the max­i­mum of 1,000 nits un­less it is ab­so­lutely daz­zling out­doors.

We used our Spy­der 5 col­orime­ter to mea­sure peak ‘Boosted’ bright­ness indoors and were baf­fled that it var­ied be­tween around 630 and 750 nits. It was only when we took the setup out­side and al­lowed the sun to shine on the G7 that we fi­nally saw 971 nits. With Su­per Bright mode dis­abled, the bright­est you’ll see is around 500 nits.

Aside from the high bright­ness, colours looks vi­brant and there isn’t a re­ally no­tice­able colour shift when tilt­ing the phone and view­ing off axis.

In the Set­tings app there’s a choice of six colour modes, sim­i­lar to those you’d find on a TV: Eco, Cinema, Sports, and more. By de­fault, the mode will be cho­sen au­to­mat­i­cally based on the app you’re us­ing. There’s an Ex­pert mode where you can fine­tune the set­tings man­u­ally, even down to ad­just­ing the red, green and blue lev­els in­di­vid­u­ally.

Thanks to that high bright­ness, the screen sup­ports HDR 10 con­tent, and cov­ers 100 per­cent of the DCI-P3 gamut, so it can dis­play all the nec­es­sary colours. Un­for­tu­nately, re­fresh rate is fixed, so there’s no dif­fer­ence whether you pick Game mode or Cinema. The screen de­faults to quad HD out of the box, but you can choose a lower res­o­lu­tion if you want to try and eke out more bat­tery life.

Pro­ces­sor, mem­ory and stor­age

As be­fits a flag­ship An­droid phone in 2018, the G7 has the lat­est Snap­dragon 845 pro­ces­sor. De­pend­ing on re­gion, it’s paired with ei­ther 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of in­ter­nal stor­age. The UK model will have the 4GB/64GB combo, but as there’s a mi­croSD slot in the SIM tray, you can ex­pand that stor­age eas­ily.

In Geekbench 4, the G7 scored 8979 in the multi-core test and 2312 in the sin­gle-core. So it’s cer­tainly quick. In JetStream, it man­aged 86.5, an­other top-end score.

We couldn’t run GFXBench on the G7 that LG sent us to re­view due to the way the op­er­at­ing sys­tem had been in­stalled for test phones, but we know

from other 845-equipped phones that it should hit the screen’s 60Hz limit in T-Rex and Man­hat­tan. In Man­hat­tan 3.1, ex­pect a lit­tle over 50fps, and around 30fps in the more de­mand­ing Car Chase test.

As you’d ex­pect, all the sup­port­ing hard­ware is the lat­est stan­dard in­clud­ing 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Blue­tooth 5. There’s NFC too, which you can use for Google Pay.

Con­nec­tiv­ity and au­dio

De­spite hav­ing a mono speaker in the bot­tom edge rather than stereo speak­ers, the G7’s sounds bet­ter than you’d ex­pect from a phone. That’s be­cause the ‘res­o­nance cham­ber’ is 17 times larger than pre­vi­ous phones. Any empty space in­side the phone is used, and the wa­ter-re­sis­tant tape forms a seal that ef­fec­tively makes the whole phone a speaker cabi­net.

This means the back of the phone vi­brates when sounds or mu­sic is played. Bass is cer­tainly bet­ter than any other cur­rent phone, but it’s no Blue­tooth speaker re­place­ment. We lis­tened to a va­ri­ety of gen­res on it and found that pi­ano and bassier stringed in­stru­ments such as cel­los sound much more full-bod­ied than on any other cur­rent flag­ship.

Be­cause the phone it­self vi­brates, sound (and vol­ume) im­proves if you place it on a sur­face. You’ll no­tice the most dif­fer­ence if you put it on some­thing thin such as a card­board box or – as LG did in demos – a gui­tar. This am­pli­fies the sound much more than it does with other phones, but you’re un­likely to hear the ben­e­fit on a hard­wood kitchen work­top, desk or a din­ing ta­ble as they’re gen­er­ally too thick to vi­brate. Putting the G7 in a case will dampen this

‘boom­box’ ef­fect, es­pe­cially if you pick a sil­i­cone case or any­thing that isn’t rigid.

As with the V30S, a quad DAC is used. This hi-fi kit was miss­ing from the UK ver­sion of the G6, so it’s good to see it in the G7 and – from our tests with var­i­ous pairs of wired head­phones, this is a great­sound­ing phone. There’s sup­port for MQA files, which is used for hi-res au­dio (in­clud­ing stream­ing).

The G7 is the first phone to have a DTS:X 3D sys­tem, which turns any head­phones into a vir­tual 7.1 sound sys­tem. It’s cur­rently ex­clu­sive to LG, which says you don’t need spe­cial video which has DTS:X 3D sound. In­stead, it will work with any video, in­clud­ing YouTube and Net­flix streams. In prac­tice, we found it hard to no­tice any dif­fer­ence in most videos, even in ac­tion scenes when bul­lets are fly­ing around.

Cam­eras

With most phones shar­ing sim­i­lar in­ter­nal com­po­nents, man­u­fac­tur­ers are in­creas­ingly try­ing to dif­fer­en­ti­ate by adding more cam­eras. The G7 takes the same ap­proach as its pre­de­ces­sors: one stan­dard cam­era and one wide an­gle. The main cam­era is the same as the V30S’s with a 71-de­gree field of view. It has a 16Mp sen­sor and op­ti­cal sta­bi­liza­tion. The wide-an­gle cam­era has a 107-de­gree field of view and re­duced distortion com­pared to older phones. There’s no OIS, partly be­cause you don’t need it with such a wide an­gle. It’s also fixed fo­cus, un­like the main cam­era which has auto-fo­cus. There’s an ‘AI’ mode that can iden­tify 19 dif­fer­ent types of scene, which are au­to­mat­i­cally se­lected if one is rec­og­nized. In each, it will ap­ply colour fil­ters, bright­ness and rec­om­mends the wide-an­gle cam­era or Su­per Bright Cam­era (see

page 26) when ap­pro­pri­ate. Un­like the P20 Pro, the AI Cam­era is a com­pletely sep­a­rate shoot­ing mode, and it isn’t on by de­fault. Pro­cess­ing the scene is done on-de­vice, but takes around 1.5 sec­onds. And af­ter you take a photo there’s a one-sec­ond de­lay be­fore you can take an­other photo. To be clear, with AI CAM turned off, there are no per­cep­ti­ble de­lays when shoot­ing in good light.

The Su­per Bright Cam­era is for use when it’s re­ally dark. It uses a tech­nique called pixel bin­ning, which helps to get bet­ter re­sults from the cam­era, but it means that you get 4Mp pho­tos rather than 16Mp.

If you’re tak­ing video, hav­ing Su­per Bright en­abled in the set­tings means the same method is used, so you get full HD qual­ity rather than 4K in low light. You can

also use the wide-an­gle cam­era in Su­per Bright mode, and the AI CAM mode, too.

Get­ting back to video, the G7 tops out at 30fps in 4K, but you can record video in HDR. There’s also a nifty ‘Cine Video’ mode which ap­plies some Hol­ly­wood-style fil­ters to make your footage look more cin­e­matic. Which­ever mode you choose, sta­bi­liza­tion is avail­able not just at 1080p but also 4K.

Por­trait mode is an­other key fea­ture, as peo­ple ex­pect their new phone to be able to blur out the back­ground for a nice DLSR-style ef­fect. The G7 keeps the same field of view as when shoot­ing with the main cam­era, un­like most phones which use the zoom in and have a much nar­rower view.

Slo-mo is unim­pres­sive for a 2018 flag­ship as the G7 ThinQ can record 240fps at 720p. We’d have ex­pected this to be 1080p, and the op­tion to record in short bursts at 960fps.

Over­all, im­age and video qual­ity is good. The Su­per Bright mode pro­duced some im­pres­sive look­ing shots, but only if you don’t look too closely. They are low res­o­lu­tion to start with – 4Mp – but when you zoom in cer­tain ar­eas look like an oil paint­ing with no de­tail at all. The bright­ness is re­mark­able, though, as the above im­age was taken when there was very lit­tle light.

Ob­vi­ously, the main ben­e­fit of the G7 is the widean­gle view that lets you cap­ture more of the scene

with­out us­ing Panorama mode. But we can’t help feel that we’d pre­fer a tele­photo cam­era: ri­vals that have a 2x or 3x zoom let you get closer to the ac­tion as well as giv­ing you the op­tion of tak­ing a panorama when you can’t move fur­ther back.

Bat­tery life

The 3,000mAh bat­tery is smaller than some ri­vals, but LG is con­fi­dent this is enough be­cause of the more power ef­fi­cient screen.

In gen­eral use, we found the G7 would just about last a day with nor­mal use in­clud­ing tak­ing lots of pho­tos. If you’re a mo­bile gamer, pre­pare to carry a USB power­bank around with you as you’ll need to top up be­fore too long.

Us­ing Geekbench 4’s bat­tery run­down test, the G7 man­aged 5 hours, 46 min­utes with the screen set to 120 nits. That’s not a ter­ri­ble re­sult con­sid­er­ing the ca­pac­ity, but it is no­tice­ably less time than you’ll see from the OnePlus 6 and its 3,300mAh bat­tery. The G7, though, sup­port for QI wire­less fast charg­ing, and with the Quick Charge 3.0 adap­tor in­cluded in the box it charges to just over 50 per­cent in 30 min­utes.

Soft­ware

LG’s tweaks to An­droid 8 are ex­ten­sive, but you’ll no­tice them most in the Set­tings app which looks dif­fer­ent from stock An­droid. Use­fully, they’re di­vided into Net­work, Sound, Dis­play and Gen­eral which means it’s easy to get to the com­monly used set­tings.

The notch isn’t an is­sue for apps, as noth­ing ex­tends into that ‘sec­ond screen’ area when you ro­tate

the phone to land­scape mode. When watch­ing videos full screen, for ex­am­ple, they have rounded cor­ners on both sides, and the ex­tra bits of screen act as a black bor­der. In por­trait mode, con­tent does ex­tend into the ‘ears’ but is over­laid with a grey bar and the usual An­droid no­ti­fi­ca­tion icons over the top.

In the set­tings you can en­able LG’s Smart Bul­letin which ap­pears when you swipe left from the main home screen. This is a com­bi­na­tion of alerts and re­minders as well as au­to­ma­tion, LG Health info and a mu­sic player wid­get.

Pocket Brief­ing sum­ma­rizes the stuff that’s im­por­tant to you, and the idea is you can check it when you go to bed and / or get up in the morn­ing.

Pocket Ad­viser of­fers tog­gles for re­mind­ing you about var­i­ous things you might have for­got­ten such as birthdays, peo­ple you haven’t called back af­ter you de­clined their calls and even favourite contacts who haven’t been in touch for three months.

Au­to­ma­tion lets you choose set­tings based on lo­ca­tion, so you can pick a pre­ferred Wi-Fi net­work when you ar­rive home, a sound pro­file to use, and which app to open when you plug in some head­phones. All of this is done with­out call­ing back to a server, so it could ap­peal to those who don’t like the pri­vacy im­pli­ca­tions of us­ing a more in­tru­sive ser­vice such as Google Now.

There are quite a few pre­loaded apps in­clud­ing LG Health, a file man­ager, LG’s own mu­sic and gallery apps, Smart clean­ing – for op­ti­miz­ing mem­ory use, LG Mo­bile Switch and SmartThinQ, LG’s app for con­trol­ling your ThinQ-com­pat­i­ble ap­pli­ances.

Thanks to the tall screen you can run two apps on screen to­gether. To do this, you bring up the app switcher and press the screen-di­vide sym­bol to en­able the multi-win­dow mode.

Ver­dict

The G7 is cheaper than most flag­ships, but the OnePlus 6 is even more af­ford­able still. In terms of fea­tures, the G7’s high­lights in­clude the very bright screen, wa­ter-re­sis­tance, wire­less charg­ing and sur­pris­ingly good sound from the mono speaker. Cam­eras are solid, if un­re­mark­able, and there’s un­com­mon wide-an­gle lens for bet­ter land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy.

Ul­ti­mately, the G7 ThinQ is a per­fectly good phone at a sen­si­ble price and is a good choice if the OnePlus

6’s lack of wa­ter-proof­ing and wire­less charg­ing are deal-break­ers for you. Jim Martin

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 6.1in (3,120x1,440, 564ppi) IPS LCD ca­pac­i­tive touch­screen dis­play • An­droid 8.0 Oreo • Qual­comm SDM845 Snap­dragon 845 pro­ces­sor • Octa-core (4x 2.8GHz Kryo 385 Gold and 4x 1.7GHz Kryo 385 Sil­ver) CPU • Adreno 630 GPU • 4/6GB RAM • 64/128GB stor­age, mi­croSD up to 400GB • Fin­ger­print scan­ner • Dual rear-fac­ing cam­eras: 16Mp, (f/1.6), OIS, laser and PDAF; 16Mp, (f/1.9), laser and phase de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus, LED flash • 8Mp front-fac­ing cam­era: 1080p • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Blue­tooth 5.0 • A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS • USB 3.1 Type-C • 153.2x 71.9x 7.9mm • 162g

The ded­i­cated Google As­sis­tant but­ton is lo­cated be­low the vol­ume but­tons

The ThinQ’s notch houses an 8Mp selfie cam­era and the ear­piece speaker, plus an am­bi­ent light sen­sor

To en­able Su­per Bright mode, you need to move the slider to 100 per­cent

There are six colour modes to choose from in the Set­tings app

The G7’s DTS:X 3D sys­tem turns any head­phones into a vir­tual 7.1 sound sys­tem

Here, we used the AI Cam­era, which tends to over­sat­u­rate colours to a ridicu­lous level

Su­per Bright mode is im­pres­sive, so long as you don’t look too closely

Smart Bul­letin ap­pears when you swipe left from the main home screen

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