LG G7 ThinQ is artificially intelligent (Australian review)

The LG G7 ThinQ is not meant to be its flagship That spot goes to the innovative V30S ThinQ. Yet this meets or exceeds many flagship paradigms. It is a desirable phone with a smart AI camera.

Every time I review an LG product – smartphone to vacuum cleaner – I think this is pretty good stuff.  I like it. It is usually ahead of the competition either in features or innovation. Without fail every LG product I have owned or used, at least for the past few years has lived up to the motto Life’s Good.

And I am going to ask readers to think the same way.

A segue first. If you are considering a flagship device, then the LG V30+ ThinQ reviewed here is a solid contender for the best flagship of the year. It is a hard act for the LG G7 ThinQ (I hate typing ThinQ, but LG asks us to) to follow. Yet the phones both have strengths that make each desirable.

By the way, ThinQ is really about LG’s take on Artificial Intelligence. GadgetGuy Val Quinn offers his take on this here.

Review: LG G7 ThinQ Model LMG710EMW.AAUSBK (Black)

Before we begin the review is the mandatory warning that you must buy a model certified for all Australian networks. These can make an emergency call 000 without a sim. Avoid shonky online and international resellers that sell grey/parallel market like the plague.

This year, the LG G7 Thin Q comes with many different model numbers like

  • G710EAW – 6/128GB Hong Kong, Singapore
  • G710N – Korea
  • G710EM – South Africa, Latin America, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Europe, Israel
  • G710AWM – Canada
  • G710EMW – Australia, New Zealand
  • G710TM – United States T-Mobile
  • G710ULM – United States unlocked
  • G710VMX – United States U.S. Cellular
  • G710PM – United States Sprint
  • G710VM – United States Verizon

Only the Australian version and Australian firmware V10b-AUX-XX (or later) will work here, especially if you are on Telstra and want to roam around Australia and overseas.

In the box

  • The phone – LG G7 ThinQ 6/64GB
  • Quick Charger 3.0, 5V/1.8A and 9V/1.8A (16.2W)
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • 3.5mm earbuds/mic with braided fabric cable
  • Pre-paid recycle bag and microfibre cleaner
  • In some markets two USB adapters

The first impression is yet another glass slab, but this is much thinner and lighter than the HTC U12 Plus reviewed here.

LG G7 ThinQYes, the all-glass design makes it slippery and a fingerprint magnet. My strong recommendation to get a case. That said it feels very good in the hand so look for a thin case.

I note that it has MIL-STD-810G construction (passed 14 environmental and climatic tests), Gorilla Glass 5 (withstands 1.2m drops) and IP68 rating. You can’t ask for more.

Specifications – LG G7 ThinQ Model LMG710EMW.AAUSBK

LG G7 ThinQ Model LMG710EMW.AAUSBK (Black) GadgetGuy comment
Screen 6.1-inch, QHD+, 3120×1440, 563ppi, LG mLCD+, IPS
19.5:6 ratio (a little less with the notch)
100% DCI-P3 colour gamut
Notch or no notch
82.6% S-T-B-R
Corning Gorilla Glass 5 front and back
HDR10, 12-bit colour
Peak Super Brightness: 1,000 nits
Normal Brightness: 600-700 nits
Contrast: 2000:1
Sunlight boost for outdoor use
Automatic, eco and cinema modes
Notification LED
mLC is a new IPS technology that provides brightness up to 1,000 nits for three minutes.
The aim is to be as sunlight readable as AMOLED.
LG has a Mini View function for one-hand operation.
Processor Qualcomm SDM845 Snapdragon 845
4×2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4×1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver
Flagship processor in 2018
GPU Adreno 630 Good for mobile gamers
RAM 4GB LPDDR4X
64GB UFS 2.1 (55.4GB free)
microSD to 512GB
OTG support to 2TB
MicroSD not for seamless internal storage and app installs. It is fine for moving photos and music to.
Rear Camera 1
Primary
16MP, f/1.6, 1.0 µm, 71° FOV, OIS, HDR
Laser and dual pixel auto-focus
Sony Exmor IMX351 sensor
[email protected]/60fps
[email protected]/60fps
24-bit/192kHz stereo sound recording
Twin 16MP lenses and sensors make low light photography easy.
Rear Camera 2
Mono
16MP, f/1.9, 1.0 µm, 107° FOV, fixed focus
Sony Exmor IMX351 sensor
This is one of the widest angle lenses available. Only beaten by the LG V30 at 122°
Front Camera 1 8MP, f/1.9, 1.0 µm, 80°
[email protected]/60fps
Typical selfie camera
Comms Wi-Fi AC, dual-band, 2 x 2 MIMO
Miracast, Wi-Di, Wi-Fi concurrency, Android Beam
Bluetooth 5.0
USB-C 1.0 does not support DisplayPort over USB-C
OTG
Achieved 867Mbps download at 2m from test router and maintained good speeds to over 30 metres.
Sound 3.5mm audio jack with Quad DAC, DTS-X and 7.1 surround output
ESS Sabre 32-bit/192kHz Hi-Fi Quad DAC (as on the LG V30)
Presets/digital filters offer an audiophile experience
Earpiece
Down-firing LG Boombox speaker
Twin mics
One of the best Hi-Res audio DACS. This is an audiophile’s phone.
IP Rating IP68
MIL-STD-810G
Magnesium frame with I-beam construction
While it is undoubtedly tough, you will need a case to protect the Gorilla Glass 5front and back.
Other NFC
FM Radio
Bluetooth
Google Assistant with dedicated left side button and super far-field microphones (5 metres tested)
Fingerprint scanner on back
Facial recognition
Nice to see a radio. You would be surprised how many use it to listen to the ABC!
FR works well in low-light
Battery 3,000mAh
Quick Charger 3.0 up to 21W (charger 68g)
0-40% in 30 minutes
Qi wireless charge takes about 3 hours (15W pad)
77-hour endurance rating (52hr with AOD)
A gamble that the new screen and processor will give better battery life than a larger battery. It pays off most of the time.
LTE Cat 16/13 1.2Gbps/150Mbps
LTE 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,12,13,17,20,28,32,38,39,40,41,46
Dual Simms with call forward
microSD is second sim slot
This is a true world phone with all Australian bands.
Call forward allows a call to forward to the other sim if it is in use.
Dimensions 153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm x 162g Lighter than many competitors
OS Android 8.0 (Oreo)
LG UX with HD audio recorder, a radio app, LG Health, McAfee Safe Family, LG SmartWorld, Facebook and Instagram.
Supports primary and multiple user accounts
Third-party apps cannot be uninstalled, but they can be disabled.
Colours Aurora Black, Platinum Grey, Raspberry Rose, Moroccan Blue Make that a nice coloured glass slab
Missing Nothing MLC+ screen is a potential AMOLED challenger
Website https://www.lg.com/au/smartphones/lg-LMG710EMW-g7-thinq-smartphone Price A$1,099

Screen 6.1-inch QHD+ FullVison of great colour, brightness and contrastLG G7 ThinQ

LG is using its new mLCD+ panel. Yes, it is still IPS based, but it adds an extra white pixel to the RGB (WRGB) mix theoretically making it capable of very high brightness – in this case, 1,000 nits for up to three minutes.

In reality, 1,000 nits is a theoretical brightness measured with a full white screen. As you add RGB to the mix, it drops perhaps to 600-700 nits – still far brighter than all but the best OLED displays.

The white pixel outputs the panel’s backlight with only a liquid crystal light-polarising layer on top to adjust brightness — there’s no inefficient colour filter. By that we mean traditional IPS RGB panels make white by filtering white light through three colour filters, each blocking two-thirds of the spectrum, and then recombining the output. It is not efficient.

Not only can it produce up to 50% more light than most panels it uses about 33% less power.

By the way, Huawei was first to use WRGB pixels in an LPTS panel in its Mate 10.

Of course, we will need to see how it performs over time, but it looks like the next big thing for IPS LCD panels.

Contrast is about 2,000:1 – good but not the infinite contrast of AMOLED’s inky blacks

Colours are good, but the Delta E (lower is better) is 5.4 compared to the GS9+ at 2.3. In other words, it is not at AMOLED standard – yet. There is colour optimisation (default), gallery, eco, cinema, sports, games and expert options.

There is an always-on screen option, but as it is LCD, it still consumes power. It also has a blue light reduction mode for night.

The notch can be hidden (like the Huawei P20 Pro) to act like a black bezel with the usual Android icons in it. I prefer it this way.

Gamer Review found the screen response times a little slow for hard-core gamers. It is fine for most mobile games.

Battery

Given that the screen draws 33% less power its easy to justify a smaller battery. But in real life, it did not materialise a 33% longer battery life under all conditions.

Where it shines is in the FHD video loop at 50% brightness with Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth off. I could not believe it got 15 hours when most others die at 10-11 hours.

Under full load on maximum brightness with everything turned on it got 5 hours. Otherwise, it will last 24 hours or more in normal use.

Fortunately, Quick Charge 3.0 will fill from 0-100% in about 1.5 hours. It will also quick charge Wirelessly (with a 10 to 15W Qi charger pad) in about twice that time. It may support Quick Charge 4.0 as well – the Qualcomm SoC certainly does.

Sound

It has an earpiece speaker and a down-firing speaker Boombox speaker. The latter uses the phone cavity to provide a deeper bass response from 125-600Hz.

The sound was good but a little ‘confused’. You see, not everything benefits from a Boombox sound.

Especially when the speaker has a naturally warm and sweet sound signature (bass/mids boosted, treble recessed). Yes, via EQ you can move that to a Bass or mid-centric signature, but it does not always work as intended.

It is adjustable via an onscreen EQ visualiser. You can have classic, pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz, Latin, acoustic, electronic, lounge or more. I recommend stock standard settings.

Volume was excellent at 80-82db. You can’t get better.

It has a 32-bit/192kHz ESS Sabre Hi-Fi Quad DAC. It will play up to Dolby DTX-X 7.1 sound via the 3.5mm jack. Frequency response to an amplifier was from 10Hz-20kHz – perfect.

It has aptX HD and Sony LDAC support. Our reference Sony WH-1000XM2 Bluetooth Hi-Rs audio headphones performed flawlessly. It also has DTS:X 7.1 sound for wired headphones.

Phone call quality

Under normal use, the calls were clear at both ends. Hands-free was good if there was not too much background noise. Ringer volume was excellent at over 85dB.

It is hard to quantify, but most of my calls are now voice over Wi-Fi. The sound seemed a little clearer than normal. Perhaps it is better Wi-Fi performance.

Performance

As I have said with any Qualcomm 845 based handset, you are getting the best performance possible (except perhaps from a Samsung GS9+ Exynos chip).

In our tests, the LG G7 ThinQ was in the top two performers in all classes. It bested the HTC U12 Plus and Sony Xperia XZ2

One issue is that the microSD card is not for contiguous storage or app install. That means you can use it to store and view/hear photo’s and music, but you can’t install apps to it like the HTC U12+.

During 4K recording we measured temperatures at 35° near the camera in 17° ambient temperature. That is consistent with other Qualcomm 845 devices.

Camera

A preamble

GadgetGuy does as most Aussies do – tests in full automatic, idiot-proof mode. But most modern smartphone cameras have a very sophisticated set of manual controls and AI behind them. These include (as featured on the LG G7 ThinQ)

Artificial intelligence

The LG G7 ThinQ can recognise 19 different shooting modes (subjects) and change the camera settings (brightness, hue, saturation). These include outdoor shot, food shot, family shot.

LG G7 ThinQ

 

Huawei P20 Pro has a version of AI as well. In initial tests with early firmware, it amps the colours up too much. LG seems to have beaten that issue, and we prefer its colours.

Manual Mode

Manual mode gives smartphones DSLR-like functionality. You can change the shutter speed, ISO, focus, white balance and more. It gives complete control over pictures. But it does require you to learn what these terms are all about. It is not hard – an amateur photography class at TAFE will do it. You then open a huge range of creative options like light trails, long exposures etc.

When to use a dual lens?

A dual lens optimises photos using zoom capabilities or as a super wide-angle camera. When I am in tourist mode (think Grand Canyon), I can capture more of every scene including large groups or landscapes. That is due to its 107° super-wide-angle lens.

The LG G7 ThinQ uses AI to recognise when there are large vistas or multiple people in a single photo, and automatically changes the format to wide-angle. Or you just tap the wide angle lens icon.

Low-light photography is the hardest

Most smartphones rely on a combination of HDR and flash to take low-light photos. The result is often blurry due to long exposure times or noisy as post-processing tries to brighten the image.

LG G7 ThinQ has a Super Bright option. It will evaluate the scene and measure the brightness level of the image. If it is not bright enough, the Super Bright Camera will be activated to brighten the image by up to four times. It does this via pixel stacking – more on this later.

Camera – dual 16MP colour snappers with Sony IMX351 sensors

LG G7 ThinQ

LG has been the pioneer of this format using dual, colour lenses as far back as the G5.

The main camera is a 16MP, f/1.6, 1.0 µm, 71° FOV, OIS with Laser and dual pixel auto-focus, and HRD.

My initial reaction to the specs is why use smaller 1.0 µm pixels? Everyone else seems to think that 1.4 µm is better.

Well yes and no. Larger pixels gather more light but can induce more noise. Smaller pixels need a larger aperture (in this case a class-leading f/1.6) to get that light.

LG has cleverly used dual 16MP lenses and extra-large 1/3.1″ Sony IMX351 sensors for more smaller pixels. In theory, it should gather far more light with less noise.

The second lens is 16MP, f/1.9, 1.0 µm, 107° wide-angle FOV, fixed focus. It is a telephoto lens in the tradition of the G5 and G6 – great for Grand Canyon tourism shots!

And LG has the now standard AI Cam. This the Qualcomm SoC power helps to instantly recognise different subjects and adjusts the parameters accordingly. It also has ‘Super Bright’ mode using pixel binning. Like the Google Pixel 2 XL it combines four photos into one. The resulting 4MP image works well in almost no light.

It also has bokeh, portrait mode, Google Lens, manual mode for images and video, cinemagraph, food, slow-mo, panorama (60MP), GIF, AR stickers and much more. Things most of us will never use.

I found that standard auto-mode was excellent.

Daylight mid-afternoon

LG G7 ThinQ

ISO 50, 1/800 second, 5.5MB image This was not in direct sunlight. Colours are accurate, and detail is good.

LG G7 ThinQ

Same shot wide angle IOS 50, 1/952 second exposure, 6.25MB

Indoors office light

LG G7 ThinQ

ISO 100, 1/30 second, 4.4MB Accurate colours

 

Low light

LG G7 ThinQ

ISO350, 1/25 second, no flash

Selfie

Good colour, contrast and bokeh work well even with one lens.

Video – H.264 or H.265

It will shoot in [email protected]/60fps, [email protected]/60fps at 24-bit/192kHz stereo sound.

Videos just work. Colours are fine, detail is there, and OIS works OK in 4K to reduce judder. OIS and EIS work amazingly well in 1080p which is where I recommend you shoot.

Camera summary

Sure the Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9+, Sony XZ2 and HTC U12 Plus have great cameras. But remember this is not LG’s flagship V30+ ThinQ. It is an upper-mid-range device. For my money, it produces images that are within a smidgen of the others. You will be very happy with them.

Android 8.0 Oreo with LG UX

I admit to previously owning an LG G5 and G6. Maybe in the future I will get the LG G7 ThinQ as well. So, I am used to the LG UX.

It has its own take on settings (particularly the settings pages divide into Network, Sound, Display and General). I like that logic. It is not a heavy overlay, but it means only LG can update Android. It has promised an upgrade to Android 9.

Android security patch is 1 May – that is pretty good.

LG says it has a new software update centre. It promises timely updates for new Android version and security updates. It will progressively add new AI features to the phone. You should get the next two version upgrades of Android.

LG calls the Notch a New Second Screen. In fact, it is called that because the V20 had a separate ticker screen at the top. You can extensively customise that ‘bar’ or simply go to all black that removes issues for notch haters.

The screen and control buttons are customisable – all good.

LG UX adds value and does not bog down the phone at all.

LG G7 ThinQ

Security

As with most flagships, you can have PIN, pattern or password, fingerprint

This adds face and voice which means the phone is constantly watching and listening. It needs to anyway for OK Google although it has a dedicated button as well.

GadgetGuy’s take – the LG G7 ThinQ is damned good

Qualcomm 845, 6.1-inch mLC screen, and Quad Hi-Fi DAC all make this a very competent performer.

Me I love Qi wireless charging so the LG can do no wrong.

Would I buy it? Yes. But I would probably wait a while. LG devices tend to have a reduced street price a few months after launch.

For example, you can buy an excellent G6 for under $600. I would consider the LG G7 ThinQ a bargain at under $1,000 but remember my warning on grey/parallel imports s-and-dodgy-resellers/

Pro

  • Slim, light design
  • MIL-STD and Gorilla Glass 5
  • Ultra-bright mLC HDR10 display when you need it
  • Excellent Wi-Fi
  • Dual sim with 4G support
  • Good call quality
  • Boombox sound for good as well as evil
  • Dedicated Google Assistant button saves “OK Google”
  • Quad DAC and Hi-Res via a 3.5mm jack or Bluetooth
  • Radio and NFC
  • Love the wide-angle lens
  • Qi fast wireless and Qualcomm Fast Charge 3.0 (it should be 4.0 compatible too)

Con

  • 4/64GB take it out of the flagship category which seems to be 6/128GB this year
  • Smaller 3,000mAh battery but has Qi and fast charge
  • USB 2.0 speed is not characteristic of the Qualcomm 845!
  • microSD is for additional storage only

Rating

  • Overall: 4.2 out of 5
  • Features: 4 out of 5 – would have liked a faster USB connection and microSD to be part of system memory.
  • Value for Money: 4 out of 5 – I would like to see this $100 cheaper to compete with the HTC
  • Performance: 5 out of 5 – Qualcomm 845 and LG smart
  • Ease of Use: 4 out of 5 – LG UX is good but can delay Android updates a little
  • Design: 4 out of 5 – it’s still a glass slab albeit a smaller one.

Price

$1,099 from JB Hi-Fi. Bonus LG Meridian tuned Smart Speaker. No carrier deals.

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