The entire mobile industry is going through a funk and LG is no exception. Despite releasing a few great devices in the past couple of years, LG has struggled to keep up with richer and more aggressive rivals. The result is visible in a money-losing streak that now extends over 12 quarters.
Launching today, the new LG G7 ThinQ has a few cool tricks up its sleeve, including a super bright display, “Boombox” sound, and camera features designed for low-light conditions. But is the G7 ThinQ the cure to LG’s FunQ?
What is ThinQ?
It’s more than a little awkward, but LG seems committed to applying the “ThinQ” moniker to its high-end smartphones. There are two reasons for this: to tap into the hottest buzzword of the moment – AI – and to make a connection with LG’s growing ecosystem of appliances and smart home devices.
If you ask us, it’s unnecessary and probably self-defeating, but the ThinQ branding appears to be here to stay.
The basic specs
We’ve run down the full LG G7 ThinQ specs here. In short, the LG G7 ThinQ is a strong flagship phone that delivers all the essentials you may want in 2018. But while the package has a lot to offer, few G7 features are actually new or groundbreaking.
A strong flagship phone that delivers all the essentials you may want in 2018
The G7 ThinQ features a Snapdragon 845 processor and – in the United States – 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage. In other markets, the G7 will rock 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It’s not the first time LG discriminates between markets, though it’s possible that the company will bring the beefier model to the U.S. at some point, just like it did with the V30S.
The display is a 6.1-inch LCD, with a notch that can be concealed using a software feature that we’ve also seen on the Huawei P20 and the Asus ZenFone 5. The rear cameras are both 16MP, with the familiar wide-angle lens and requisites like portrait mode and AI features.
One clear downgrade compared to the LG G6 is the battery. It’s 3,000mAh or 10 percent lower than on the 2017 LG flagship. That’s a bit disappointing.
Ready to sear your retinas?
LG told us the G7 ThinQ would be extra bright, and they weren’t kidding. It goes up to 1000 nits, which is more than you will need in most situations outside of bright sunshine. Let’s just say you wouldn’t want to turn on this bright mode at night, but for people who spend a lot of time in the sun, it may be a blessing.
LG said the high brightness was made possible by the use of an LCD panel incorporating white pixels. This MLCD+ panel is said to be more battery friendly than other LCD panels. As some analysts pointed out in the past, it’s also cheaper than the OLED panels that have become the norm on 2018 flagship phones. When you lose $120 million a quarter, every cent matters.
LG found a clever way to give the G7 ThinQ a larger resonance room, which enables a louder, deeper sound compared to the average smartphone. Basically, thanks to the waterproofing sealing, the inner space of the phone acts as an acoustic chamber, much like a guitar. There’s just one external speaker and no stereo sound, but thanks to this setup, called Boombox, the G7 ThinQ gets very loud. You can even feel air coming out of the device if you place your finger near the speaker. The sound can be further enhanced by placing the phone on an empty box or something like it.
Besides Boombox, audio features include a 32-bit quad-DAC and DTS-X virtual surround sound, which is supposed to give you a richer, more cinema-like listening experience. There’s also a headphone jack and you don’t need to be an audiophile to appreciate that.
There’s just one speaker and no stereo, but thanks to Boombox, the G7 ThinQ gets very loud.
The G7 ThinQ listens for you
Thanks to two noise-cancelling microphones and a technology called “Voice Resilient Voice Recognition”, the G7 ThinQ can pick up voice commands even in noisier environments and from up to 16 feet away, as opposed to just about six feet away for the average phone.
This should let the G7 ThinQ react to your commands more like a Google Home, rather than most smartphones, which fail to respond once you’re a few feet away. Lazy people, rejoice.
The camera can see in the dark (kind of)
Here’s the camera setup on the LG G7 ThinQ:
- Main rear camera: 16MP, 71-degree FoV, f/1.6
- Wide-angle rear camera: 16MP, 107-degree FoV, f/1.9 (redesigned for less distortion)
- Front camera: 8MP, 90-degree FoV, f/1.9
On top of this hardware, LG built a suite of software features that look quite compelling. First up, there’s portrait mode both on the back and the front. On the back, that lovely blurred background effect is achieved using “active alignment” of the two cameras. On the front, it’s software based, akin to the portrait mode on Google’s Pixel 2.
The most striking feature is the bright mode, which kicks in when ambient light is low. If you’re in a dark pub or another place without light, the phone will use a technique called pixel binning to extract more light from the scene. Pixel binning means that data from four pixels is combined into one, resulting in an image that is higher quality, but only 4MP in size. It’s a feature we’ve seen before on the Huawei P20, not to mention several old HTC and Nokia smartphones.
LG claims that, thanks to pixel binning, the G7 ThinQ can take pictures that are four times brighter than the G6. The feature can be enabled with one tap while shooting in auto mode, but in very dark conditions (2lux or less) it will kick in automatically.
The G7 ThinQ can take pictures that are four times brighter than the G6
You can’t have a 2018 flagship phone without some AI, so LG dutifully sprinkled some AI capabilities in its camera app. The camera attempts to guess what the subject of the photo is, picking from 16 presets like pets, sunset, food, and babies. It then applies the most appropriate settings.
Google Assistant button
There’s an AI key on the side of the LG G7, but thankfully it’s not mapped to one of LG’s homegrown AI functions. Instead, it allows you to access the more mature and feature-packed Google Assistant with a touch of a button. This feature could actually prove quite handy if you’re a regular Assistant user, as it can be both faster and more convenient than using your voice to summon Google Assistant.
Tapping the AI hot key once opens up Google Assistant, just like normal. But if you tap and hold the key, the phone will start listening for a command right away, without requiring an “Okay Google”. It’s a kind of push-to-talk function for Google Assistant, and we think it’s pretty neat. The phone also comes with a few device-specific Assistant integrations. You can, for instance, ask it to “Take a photo with low-light mode.”
The AI button on the G7 ThinQ cannot be remapped out of the box, but LG said it may reconsider if it gets strong feedback from customers. Hit the comments below.
The AI button on the G7 ThinQ cannot be remapped, but LG said it may reconsider
The power button has been relocated
For several generations of the LG G series, the power button has been embedded in the fingerprint sensor on the back. On the G7 ThinQ, the button has been moved to the side of phone, opposite to the AI button.
Other than this, the G7 ThinQ looks rather familiar, featuring the tried-and-tested combination of aluminum and shiny glass.
LG G7 ThinQ release date is June 1
Carriers all around the world are slowly trickling out LG G7 availability details. Release date and pricing info will vary depending on the carrier, but here’s the just of what we know so far.
The G7 ThinQ will be available for purchase in the U.S. and Canada on Friday, June 1. You’ll be able to pre-order the device from some U.S. carriers as early as Sunday, May 24, but again these details vary depending on who you’re buying from. Learn all about the LG G7 ThinQ’s price and availability here.
More LG G7 ThinQ coverage
Intrigued by the LG G7 ThinQ? We have more coverage to satisfy your thirst for ThinQ.
- LG G7 ThinQ hands-on: Josh shows you the G7 from all angles and demoes key features like Boombox and bright mode.
- LG G7 ThinQ specs: Includes full specification table.
- LG G7 ThinQ vs the competition: Spec comparison with phones like Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone X and Huawei P20 Pro.
- DTS:X virtual surround sound explained: Learn everything there is to know about the LG G7’s support for DTS:X surround sound.
- LG G7 ThinQ top features: LG’s new G7 ThinQ has a ton of features, but we decided to take our top seven and stuff them into one article.
- LG G7 ThinQ vs LG G6: Coming soon
Let us know what you think of the LG G7 ThinQ below!