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LG G7 ThinQ review

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The LG G7 ThinQ is the latest flagship smartphone from LG. The G7 features a customizable notch, quad DAC, and ultra bright LCD display.

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- This is LG's new G7 ThinQ. And while that name is absolutely awful, this phone itself is actually really important. (upbeat house music) It's kind of a restart for the company. LG has said that going forward, it's not just gonna release phones just because Samsung is putting out phones at the same time. Instead, LG's gonna take more time and make its new hardware count. The G7 is the first product designed under that new philosophy. It's got a notch, good cameras, and some AI smarts. But ultimately, the G7 isn't as good as it could've been or needed to be to truly compete. The G7's overall design has a lot in common with last year's V30. There's glass on both sides, curved edges, and a nice, refined look. It's IP68 water resistant and there's an actual power button on the side this time, so the fingerprint sensor around back doesn't push in anymore. There's also a dedicated Google Assistant key, which I have found way more helpful and more convenient than Samsung's Bixby button. You can press it to bring up Assistant, or hold it down to open Google Lens and learn about the things around you. Now I still really wish I could remap this button to do whatever I want, but just like Samsung, LG's not letting you do that yet. We've asked and it sounds like it's a possibility for the future. The front is dominated by a 6.1-inch IPS LCD display and it's got a resolution of 3120 by 1440. Now it doesn't have the same perfect blacks and contrasts as OLED, but the LCD screen is colorful, it's crisp, and it's easy to read, even in direct sunlight. There's a special super-bright mode that cranks brightness all the way up to 1,000 nits for a few minutes. Overall, I have no complaints about this display whatsoever, but I don't love that notch. See, this phone looks a lot like the iPhone X, but on the iPhone X that notch houses Apple's Face ID system and there's nothing that fancy or sophisticated on the LG. Sure, you get a little bit more screen by pushing your notifications to the corners, but that's really the only upside I've seen. Now, if the notch really bugs you, LG lets you change the top of the screen to black or other colors if you want to kinda hide it and that's fine, but all of this just makes me wonder why this phone has a notch to begin with. Around back, LG is staying on brand and sticking to its familiar dual camera setup. That combines a primary F1.6 aperture camera with a secondary super-wide lens that's got a 107 degree field of view and F1.9 aperture. Now, that's not quite as all-encompassing as some of LG's previous super-wide lenses, but I am still a huge fan of the creative flexibility you get with this combo. I just find myself using that wide perspective more often than I would a portrait lens, or some gimmicky monochrome black and white sensor. Huawei now puts three cameras on its phones, but none of them give you this view. Now, when it comes to overall picture quality, these cameras are good, but don't measure up to the Pixel 2, Galaxy S9, Huawei P20 Pro, or iPhone X in terms of detail and image processing, but for the first time in years, LG's front-facing camera is finally decent. The eight megapixel sensor produces selfies with good sharpness and nice, even exposure..

But the thing is, all of this ThinQ AI camera stuff that LG's been hyping is pretty mediocre. When you open the camera app, you can tap the AI cam icon, and the camera is gonna analyze what's in the frame. It'll try to figure out what you're pointed at. Is it a flower, is it an animal? And when it knows, it'll try to make adjustments so you get the best possible picture. That might mean adjusting settings like contrast or color balance or saturation. It'll boost blues in the sky, make flowers more vibrant, and try to make the food you're shooting look a bit more appetizing. In these straight-forward examples, the AI can help snap a decent photo without making you adjust settings yourself. But the AI's guesses at what the camera is pointed at are often bad and wrong. You'll focus on various subjects and you'll see words flash on the screen to show what the AI thinks that it recognizes. So it might correctly identify a dog, for example, but then you'll see a stream of unrelated, very dumb suggestions appear alongside the right one. And when that happens, you'll wonder if the LG is making bad decisions that could make your image worse and not better. So for most cases, just use standard auto mode, or manual if you want full control. LG is also known for best in class sound, so the G7 retains the headphone jack and Quad DAC of its predecessors. And those give you amazing audio if you've got the right hi-fi headphones. New this year is support for DTS:X, 3D surround sound, which is aimed less at audiophiles and more at people who just want their Netflix to feel more immersive. So the G7 doesn't have stereo speakers, but LG put a lot of work into the single one on the bottom. It's called a Boombox Speaker and it's designed to use the inside of the phone as a kind of resonance chamber so your music can get super loud. You can feel every base note and drumbeat vibrate the phone in your hand as you use it, which is kinda neat, though it does make the G7 feel a bit hollow inside. Now, LG says the Boombox Speaker sounds best placed down on a table, and that's true. It's way louder than most other phones today. But a single speaker only takes you so far, and it's very easy to cover up with your hand by accident. Day-to-day, the G7 is fast and a great performer thanks to the Snapdragon 845 processor and four gigabytes of RAM inside. You also get 64 gigs of storage plus a micro SD card slot if you need more room. But LG's own software is still a weak point for the G7. As just one example, every time you download a new app, you've gotta resort the app launcher to keep things in alphabetical order, every single time. So I think LG either needs to try harder at software, or just make the change to stock Android. Now, the G7 runs Android Oreo out of the box and LG is promising it's gonna do a better job at software updates this year. We know how this works, I'll believe it when I see it. But Android P is optimized for this new wave of phones that have these notches, so hopefully once that's available, LG gets it out fast. Now, I found battery life to be somewhat disappointing during my testing. The G7's 3,000 milliamp-powered battery is smaller than last year's LG phones' and many of today's flagships', especially for phones that have screens that are this big. If you're using the phone a lot, you're gonna have to find more power at some point in the day. That's just the truth of it. The bundled charger does juice up the G7 very fast, and it supports both wireless charging standards, but neither of those things makes up for having a small battery to start with. (smooth house music) So if LG was hoping to blaze some new path and revitalize its mobile business with the G7 ThinQ, I don't think this is gonna get the job done. The trouble really starts with that godawful name. There are people who will buy this phone no matter what, and that's because of its fun camera and amazing audio. They'll be happy. But this isn't some grand reinvention of LG's phones. I'd say the G7 is pretty iterative, and it looks a lot like an iPhone. So when you stack the G7 up against 2018's best smartphone contenders, it's hard to find one feature or standout thing that'll make this device a surefire hit. No, it's not a $1,000 phone like the iPhone X, but it's not much cheaper either. So it might very well have the same fate as its predecessors and send LG back to the drawing board again. Hey, thanks so much for watching. Be sure to check out our new YouTube channel, Verge Science. A lot of people worked very hard to make this happen and it's full of awesome videos, so check it out.

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