LG looks to stand out with the G7, which sports a familiar look, but strives to offer something new in how you use the phone. The “ThinQ” suffix in the G7’s name refers to how the device fits into LG’s strategy for smart home products. These would include the company’s appliances, speakers, robots, and whatever else it has in store for this looming ecosystem. There are some “smart” elements that play into how the phone works as well, particularly with the camera.
LG G7 ThinQ
Display: 6.1-inch 3120 x 1440 QHD IPS display with 564 pixels per inch
The G7 borrows heavily from the previous G6 and V30 smartphones. With those, LG moved towards an all-glass body centred on a larger display with a unique aspect ratio. It was a tasteful move for a company that had been maligned in the past for design miscues. The G7 is an objectively good-looking phone, even if it’s not much of a head-turner.
What is obvious this time around is the notch at the top—something that is pretty much a given with any device these days. Slimmer bezels and slightly curved edges give the device a sleeker feel. The back is exactly as you might expect, with two lenses and the fingerprint sensor right below. The power button is on the right, with the volume buttons on the left. The headphone jack, USB-C port and speaker are at the bottom.
A new button on the left acts as a shortcut to Google Assistant by default. Holding the button down treats the phone as a walkie-talkie, where you can keep talking to the Assistant without interruption. Double-clicking launches Google Lens, the AI-assisted augmented reality (AR) platform recently launched.
Inside, the phone runs on the Snapdragon 845 chipset, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Pretty standard specs, though the IP68 water and dust-resistance, coupled with wireless charging support, are nice add-ons.
The screen is noticeably better than previous LG phones, especially in the G line. The G6 used an LCD that lacked vibrancy. This one has plenty of it, and is among the brightest available on any phone.
A consistent feature that has linked together LG’s devices over the last couple of years is audio performance. Having first attempted to create better microphone recording going back to the V20, the company has since also boosted sound to a user’s ears too.
Yes, there is the headphone jack, which is great for those still wanting to plug in. But there’s also the Quad DAC (digital-to-analog converter), and that is what has improved playback going back to the G5. Normally, I don’t pay much attention to earbuds included with a phone, but LG’s take advantage of this setup, and were surprisingly good. If you have a good pair of wired headphones, you will notice an audio boost on the G7.
The phone’s speakers have also received the same treatment. Though LG didn’t manage to throw in stereo speakers, it did create a sonic effect by using the phone’s body as an amplifier. The volume and resonance increased when I placed the phone down on a hard surface, like wood, granite or even glass. On an empty box, it sounded good too.
Equalizer apps can always help where possible, and LG includes its own sound adjustments within the settings. I recommend playing around with those, especially if you listen to music or podcasts through headphones daily.
Performance and software
Software has long been LG’s weakness. Not so much because something was missing, but more because the design and functionality didn’t always feel polished. Slowly but surely, LG has rectified those issues, yet opted not to make any dramatic changes here. If you have any experience with the V30, you will find much of this familiar.
Preloaded apps are essentially the same as well. The phone does run on Android 8.0 out of the box, except I didn’t really notice any major difference compared to the V30. Navigation was basically the same. One thing I didn’t like was that the Facebook app is preloaded, and can’t be completely deleted. Disabled, yes, but not entirely deleted. That’s disconcerting considering the negative press the social network has received this year.
Speed and stability was fine, and I don’t imagine too many users would take issue with either one. LG’s skin doesn’t have the same flair that, say, a Google Pixel 2 has, so I can see the interface being an acquired taste. Even more so if you’ve never used an LG phone before.
Despite the “ThinQ” moniker attached to the G7, there is little to no AI component in the overall usage of the device. The dedicated Google Assistant button has its usefulness, yet is not really part of LG’s narrative for smarter features. It’s more a bonus complement.
In light of all that, the G7 does have the power to be a solid multitasking phone that can do productivity, streaming, gaming and more. Its audio recording app is also excellent, and well worth using if you need to record lectures or interviews. A built-in FM tuner delivers free radio over the air without needing to use data. The catch is that it will only work with headphones plugged in.
This is where LG’s ThinQ comes into play. The promise is that the AI Cam feature embedded in the camera can suggest proper settings based on what it identifies in the scene. Any novice shooter could appreciate that.
After selecting the mode and pointing the camera at anything, words would pop up as to what it was seeing. The idea was to adjust the camera for that particular part of the scene. Moreover, it offers AI-driven filters to add more pop to a photo.
LG opted to go with the same main rear camera as the V30. However, it did make a smart move by using the same image sensor (albeit with a slightly tighter f/1.9 aperture) for the wide-angle lens. That lens has been one of the best features of LG’s premium handsets, and its image quality got a boost with the G7. The primary reason why, outside of the better sensor, was reducing the overall angle to 107-degrees. Previously, it was 120 or 125-degrees.
Even the front-facing camera got a boost to an 8-megapixel sensor with better optics. Then there’s the Super Bright Mode that works to illuminate a darker scene by merging pixels in the sensor from a 16-megapixel to a 4-megapixel image. Bigger pixels take in more light, so there’s a good reason for doing it, but the effect needed a much larger sensor. The result looks okay on the phone’s screen, but start zooming in, and the lack of clarity becomes obvious.
All told, the camera is good, but didn’t take a leap forward. The AI stuff is all fine and dandy to have, except it doesn’t translate to vastly different results. Camera progression is growing on phones faster than ever, and LG could have done more to keep up.
The G7’s 3000mAh battery is small by today’s standards, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it held up. I managed to go a full work day of good usage without having to worry about plugging in. Moderate usage could easily stretch the phone out to a full day until plugging in again at night or in the morning.
There is a Quick Charge 3 charger in the box, but LG gave the G7 support for Quick Charge 4. As is, plugging in for 15 minutes will rack up about 50% of the battery. If you can find a Quick Charge 4 charger, that would whittle down to as low as five minutes.
Despite its ThinQ branding, LG’s latest premium smartphone is only an incremental change from what came before. Yes, that could be said for any flagship these days, but the pieces they’ve added don’t invariably change how to use the phone. If you think they might, then the G7 may be just what you’re looking for.
To be fair, LG didn’t have to overhaul much from before. But the right tweaks in the right places would’ve been more impactful. Super Bright Mode would’ve been a lot more interesting with a huge image sensor. Night and low-light photography is hard to do handheld, and LG had an opportunity to light the way like few others have.
The dedicated Google Assistant button is fine to have, given how good it can be. The AI features aren’t all that ground-breaking, so here’s hoping LG updates the phone with more moving forward.
The LG G7 ThinQ is available now.