Back at the start of May, LG announced their latest flagship phone, the G7 ThinQ. The LG G7 ThinQ replaces last year’s LG G6 as the company’s compact-sized mobile flagship and is the first smartphone from LG to feature the ThinQ branding at launch.
ThinQ is the name of LG’s smart artificial intelligence (AI) technology, and LG has already integrated it into their previous mobile flagships, rebranding them as the V30 ThinQ and G6 ThinQ. The branding is, however, not exclusive to their smartphone line-up. Back at CES2018, LG showcased a range of smart, connected appliances ranging from air-conditioners to dishwashers, all with the ThinQ branding as well.
Earlier this week, LG announced the local availability of the G7+ ThinQ, a variant of the G7 ThinQ with 128GB of internal storage instead of the standard 64GB. For the rest of this review, I will be referring to the phone as the G7+ without the ThinQ branding, as it really is a mouthful to read and write.
Similar to all other flagships we have seen so far in 2017, the G7+ uses Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 processor, a step up from the 835 on the V30. The local G7+ variant features 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, while the global G7 non-plus variant has just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Expendable storage is also supported, the phone being compatible with microSD cards up to 2TB.
In terms of connectivity, the G7+ carries the latest Bluetooth 5.0 BLE technology. BLE, short for Bluetooth Low Energy, uses less power than standard Bluetooth connections, and is now compatible with audio devices as well. Previously, under the Bluetooth 4.2 specifications, audio devices were not able to utilize BLE, and thus streaming music to your wireless headphone used to be a battery-draining affair. Not anymore with Bluetooth 5.0 BLE. Furthermore, Bluetooth 5.0 allows you to stream audio to 2 devices simultaneously as well, in addition to having a longer range and higher data transfer speeds.
One of the main features being pushed by LG in their past few generations of flagship phones has been audio quality, and the G7+ is no exception. LG has retained the headphone jack, as well as their much-acclaimed Hi-Fi QuadDAC feature. When activated, the G7+ is able to drive high impedance headphones, as well as playback lossless music files with a rich audiophile quality. This is the same technology that led many audiophiles worldwide to tout the LG V30 as the smartphone with the best audio quality, beating even Apple’s iPhone X. In my short time with the G7+, I felt that sound from the phone was smooth and warm sounding, with a well-controlled bass and a wide soundstage, far better than what I was used to hearing from a smartphone.
Another audio feature touted by LG is the Boombox Speaker, which uses a larger-than-normal share of space within the smartphone as a resonance chamber. LG claims that this allows the G7+ to deliver “double the bass” as compared to conventional smartphones. In addition, placing the phone on a solid surface, such as a table, should amplify the bass effect even more. LG displayed this technology in a very cool manner that left the geek in me pleasantly surprised: LG had a room set up with multiple G7+ on the walls in a 7.1 configuration. A live concert video was screened, and the smartphones, which were connected to each other, were able to produce a realistic surround sound effect. This is certainly a very cool way to show off your smartphone, though you would need to buy seven of them just to do that.
The G7+’s camera configuration remains unchanged from LG’s previous flagships, with the rear camera featuring one normal angle lens and one wide angle lens. As part of the ThinQ branding, LG has integrated AI features into its camera app, much like other manufacturers have been doing recently. The G7+ offers 19 shooting modes, with the camera able to identify objects in the photo and adjusting its settings accordingly. The AI algorithms are also able to brighten images up to 4 times more than normal, greatly enhancing shots taken in low light.
We found that the phone did recognise the different objects we placed in front of it reliably, like faces and food.
On the G7+, LG has shifted the power button from the fingerprint sensor at the back to the right side of the phone. This has been the standard for most phone manufacturers, with LG being the only one to implement the button on the back on the fingerprint sensor itself for the past few generations. This move comes with its pros and cons. The old position allows you to unlock the phone easily without needing to hit an additional power button, while the new position makes it easier to hit the button when the phone is placed on the table.
Moving on to the left of the phone, we find 3 buttons: 2 standard volume keys, and an additional button to launch the Google Assistant. This is very similar to what Samsung has done with it’s much-maligned Bixby button. However, in this case, it launches the much more useful Google Assistant instead. At present, there is no option to remap the button to other functions. However, there are hints that this may be possible in future.
The bottom of the phone features the usual USB-C port and speaker grille, along with the headphone jack, which has moved from its position at the top of the LG V30. This should make it more convenient for users of the headphone jack, allowing you to easily slip the G7+ in and out of your pocket even with your headphones plugged in. Fans of good industrial design will also notice how the elements on the bottom are all aligned, giving the phone a much more premium-looking design.
The LG G7+ is your typical 2018 smartphone. It has specs similar to every other flagship out there, with LG differentiating the G7+ through the presence of a headphone jack, which also happens to have an exceptionally good sound quality. LG plays it very safe with the G7+, not trying out any radical new ideas like the modular concept on the G5 or the secondary display on the V10. This might be more appealing to consumers, especially those looking for a simple flagship phone that has good design and just works. However, as fans of the latest cutting-edge ideas and technology, we certainly would like to see some greater ideas coming from LG, a company which has regularly been at the forefront of innovation in the smartphone industry in recent memory.
The LG G7+ ThinQ will come in New Platinum Gray, New Aurora Black and New Moroccan Blue. It will be available from 2nd June at most major telcos and retailers at SGD1198. Consumers may register their interest from 22nd May to 31st May in order to be one of the first to receive their phones, as well as score a free fast-charging wireless charger, LG Tone Infinim Bluetooth headset, and a limited-edition BTS phone case (the K-POP band).