LG has officially presented the LG G7 ThinQ, and we had the chance to take a first look at the phone and test it for a few days in Korea. Now we've had enough time to test the device in detail and deliver a final verdict.
- LG V30 review: stunning design, but far from flawless
- LG V30S+ ThinQ: does the AI cam even make a difference?
Note: This review is based on a final test device with Korean firmware, which has received several updates over the past weeks. These updates have not yet arrived on our European test device. Differences between the two software versions are indicated in the text.
Details on price and market launch
The phone is available unlocked for $750 from LG and is also offered by most US carriers with the exception of AT&T, which may be holding out for an exclusive new LG device of its own.
The first look at the LG G7
Since the release of the LG G6, LG has focused on an appealing design and high-quality workmanship, at least in the G and V series. Now, the brand has carried this on in the LG G7.
The LG G7 definitely has the wow effect. The front and back are made of glass, and on the back the glass is rounded towards the sides, with no noticeable edge between the rounded edges and metal frame. Some design elements have been taken from the LG V30, but the G7 is slightly thicker, but this makes it easier to hold. The device is a lot smoother and rounded compared to its predecessor, but it is much larger. Depending what type of phone you like, this could be a good or a bad thing.
The connections for a USB-C cable and headphones go on the bottom. The mono speaker is also located there. The combined SD and SIM card carriage is located at the top. There are four side keys: On the left are the two volume keys and the Google Assistant key. On the right side LG places the power button, which used to be located in the fingerprint sensor on the back.
From Notch to New Secondary Screen
LG has opted for a notch in the display. As mentioned, the G7 is on the large side, with a diagonal measurement of 6.1 inches and a resolution of 3,120 x 1440 pixels. LG has also used an IPS panel, which requires more components than an OLED panel, so the design cannot be completely bezel-less, a small area has to be left below the display. If you want to, you can hide the notch, but this only changes the background color to black, as this almost totally hides it, and it is only visible if your brightness is set high.
With a diagonal of 6.1 inches and a resolution of 3,120 x 1,440 pixels, the G7 is one of the higher-resolution smartphones. Due to the aspect ratio of 19.5:9, it is difficult to operate the LG G7 with one hand because, for example, the notification bar is hardly accessible without changing the grip.
The notch divides the notification bar into two parts and is called the New Secondary Screen. The name does make sense, but there is only really one secondary screen feature, and that is the colored background design. Four icons fit on the left side of the free area, which will not be enough for app junkies.
All in all, the display scores well: it represents 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color space and has an impressive color display. Especially in daylight, smartphone displays usually struggle with natural light often outshining the display.
To solve this problem, the brand developed Bright Boost, which increases the maximum brightness to around 1000 nits. This helps, but it compromises the color quality, and it's only active for a maximum of three minutes. Therefore, it's both useful, but not so useful at the same time.
If the automatic brightness control is activated, the G7 switches to boost mode if required. However, I find that this happens too hesitantly during long walks in the sun. In case of doubt, ,manual boost is also possible.
To get into the details as to what exactly the change to new display technology means for LG's flagship, we carried out a series of in-depth tests on the LG G7 ThinQ. If you're curious to see the data, read the following review to see why we thought that OLED wasn't necessary :
So far, we could only see an unusual feature on our Korean test device with the latest firmware: Here LG has placed a sharpness filter over the display content, which leads to halos around letters. Let us hope that LG does not transfer this into the international version of the software.
The AI functions of the camera
If you're wondering what the name ThinQ means, LG has implemented several features that fall under the name AI , but keep in mind that the use of this term isn't always correct.
In the LG G7, the main AI function is in the dual camera. The AI Cam is a mode that we've already seen with the LG V30S. The camera detects objects in the scene and sets a suitable picture mode if possible. For example, this is important for taking photos of food by making the colors a bit more saturated, which should make your Instagram followers hungry!
Technically, this is not an AI application. Rather, image recognition algorithms are used here that have previously learned to recognize certain scenes. Machine learning would therefore be the right but unwieldy term marketing people would like to avoid.
However, the AI Cam of the LG G7 is only partially convincing. Yes, the G7 correctly recognizes many scenarios, be it food, animals or buildings. However, the corresponding modes are sometimes a matter of taste, because most of them provide enormously strong colors. The architecture mode has succeeded, but only brings few changes. Food fashion, on the other hand, provides strong colors, which is probably appropriate for the material. Some other modes deliver too strong, sometimes wrong colors. If the AI Cam does not find any suitable content, it switches to normal auto mode after two seconds.
Ultimately, the crux of AI Cam: The changes to the colors can also be achieved later with editors or with the tools of the social networks.
The LG gallery app sorts your photos according to keywords such as flowers, fruits or buildings. In total, the software recognizes around 1,200 scenarios. This works even if you don't take the photos with the AI Cam. Sure: Google Photos can do that, but not locally on your smartphone.
But the AI Cam is not the only AI feature related to the name. An app named QLink will be available in Korea first, and then later in the US. It connects to various LG household appliances and allows them to be controlled via Google Assistant.
This feature can be started using an extra button, and LG mentioned that it was developed together with Google.The G7 uses a far-field microphone, so it will still be able to hear you say 'OK Google' from a few meters away.
What exactly makes the LG G7 ThinQ special? Take a look at its 5 most interesting features in our video:
The software of the LG G7 is based on Android 8.1. You can also choose a launcher that includes an app drawer. Alternatively, there is the option to use the launcher only with home screens (similar to the iPhone). For testing I kept LG's standard launcher, even though usually I switch to another one. After all, LG has subtly fine-tuned some icons on the G7 that now look a bit finer and prettier.
For non-Korean markets, LG is now putting some of its own apps on the sidelines, reducing bloatware. For example, Android messages are now available as SMS app by default.
Whether LG can solve its latest update problem remains to be seen. In the course of our test we received some improvements via software update. So there is hope that the center for updates announced by LG will actually have an impact.
LG is on the right track when it comes to software. The manufacturer is slowly slimming down and throwing old ballast overboard. A necessary step to keep up with the competition.
LG G7 ThinQ performance
In the LG G7 comes with a Snapdragon 845 chipset and 4 GB memory which is nice but not enormously large. Technical specs are important, but even more important is the impression in everyday life. Even after several weeks in the test there was nothing to complain about . In this respect we can say: The LG G7 is a top performer. Our detailed performance test provides further information, including benchmark results.
LG G7 ThinQ audio
For a long time now, smartphones have been the main way to listen to music over separate audio devices. The G7 has a headphone jack with quad DAC for high-quality audio output.
The reward is a noiseless audio output and a very finely adjustable volume. When used in conjunction with DTS:X, wired headphones produce a very rich sound.
However, the high-quality quad DAC is not activated at all in the delivery state. Why this is the case remains unclear. But with the right settings you can get a lot out of the audio section:
The special feature here is the mono speaker , and a boombox speaker is also installed.There is a large resonance chamber that has been created between the watertight seal of the technology and the rear side. In practice, this is how it works: if you place the G7 on a flat surface, for example a table, you hear a much louder and richer sound. This is because the rear side vibrates during music playback and transmits the vibrations to the surface, which serves as an additional resonance body. The Boombox Speaker is particularly effective on hollow objects, for example a guitar or a cardboard box.
The difference can be heard immediately: On a specially designed boombox the G7 could easily sound a larger conference room, we could see for ourselves in a live demo. The LG G6 and the V30 failed to do this because their loudspeakers are not designed for resonance transmission.
If you often listen to music on your smartphone when it's on the table, you'll be thrilled by the Boombox Speaker. For everyone else, the feature has one disadvantage: the rear of the LG G7 vibrates a lot during audio playback. This is not a defect, but a necessary evil
LG G7 ThinQ camera
Let's get to the camera. When it comes to the camera, the LG G7 is disappointing, starting with the hardware. A Sony IMX351 sensor is used that cannot compete with the sensors of other high-end smartphones. This is mainly due to the fact that the light-sensitive pixels on the sensor are quite small. After all, LG has decided that the second rear camera with the wide-angle lens also receives this sensor. LG used a worse sensor on earlier LG phones. According to the LG, the reason for the smaller sensors is that the camera projection can be reduced.
Can the software now compensate for the comparatively weak hardware? The answer is unfortunately not.. Even during the day the camera has difficulties, especially with fine details. Here, the G7 must always rework at the expense of the details. The G7 likes to deliver a little loud colours. At night, however, the small pixels of the sensor become a problem. The G7 tries not to supply a pixel pulp - but mostly does not succeed.
We have dedicated a separate article to our detailed appreciation of the camera of the LG G7:
With the LG G7 we had a small stroke of luck: we received several software updates between the first hands-on reports and the final test. There were some innovations in the camera app. The latest update, for example, provided the UHD/4K mode with 60 frames per second for videos. Previously, this was limited to 30fps. However, this software update is not yet available on our European G7.
Minor changes were observed. For example, the AI Cam now switches to auto mode with visual feedback when no suitable picture mode can be found. This is not really new: This is also the case with the earlier software versions, because the automatic is the standard mode, so to speak. But the visual feedback fits well into the system of the AI Cam, so that this gimmick seems a bit more sophisticated.
LG G7 ThinQ battery
What could be more important than a smartphone with enough juice in the battery? Exactly. And how does the LG G7 perform in this respect? The battery life is standard issue . Even our final test devices were unable to perform miracles. The rather tight battery with a capacity of 3,000 mAh has always brought us through the day, but more has never been reliable. In a detailed check, Steffen reveals why the battery in the LG G7 only performs moderately in our country:
LG G7 ThinQ technical specifications
Our verdict: good, but not quite worth its premium price
With the LG G7 ThinQ, LG continues its focus: a more attractive design and high-quality workmanship are now standard. The ThinQ branding is definitely a marketing term, and doesn't bring any real added value.
How does the LG G7 perform in everyday life? Unfortunately, I have to formulate the conclusion again in the "good, but..." style. During my time with the LG G7 I liked a lot: The performance is impeccable. The display is neat, even the notch is not too noticeable. If you like listening to music, the G7 is a great companion.
However, the camera must be considered the biggest shortcoming. This applies in particular to the image quality, which is lower than that of the competition. The wide-angle camera is still fun, but now the covered image area is reduced to 107 degrees (compared to 135 on the LG G5), so the added value is significantly lower. LG has improved the camera software step by step, but it still has an illogical structure and is extremely slow, especially with HDR photos.
But that also means: If you don't care much about a smartphone camera, the LG G7 is a completely successful smartphone.
Does the LG G7 ThinQ really compete with the current top-end flagships it so clearly wants to? We compared the user experience to it's big Korean rival, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. To find out why we don't think the G7 ThinQ can quite measure up, even for its price, read our comparison below:
- Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus vs LG G7 ThinQ: Korean flagships clash
- LG G7 vs LG V30: which LG flagship is king?
What do you think about this device? Do you have questions about the LG G7? Let's discuss it in the comments.
This review was finalized on July 4. Comments below may reflect earlier versions of the article.