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LG G7+ ThinQ: A new way of ThinQing?

LG’s latest flagship smartphone offering, the G7+ ThinQ, was unveiled in Singapore on May 22 2018. For the launch, the brand partnered with the internationally-acclaimed South Korean boy band BTS to bring forth their newest feature-packed lifestyle smartphone.

LG G7+: BTS

Following their V30S+ ThinQ launch earlier in the year, the G7+ aims to be a smaller, more pocket-friendly variant of its larger brother. The phone also prides itself for incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into a large part of its daily operation and core functions, such as the AI Cam and the highly-anticipated Google Lens.

Features

1. Camera + AI Cam

LG G7+: AI Cam

The G7+ comes with an 8MP front-facing camera for all your selfie needs, and a twin 16MP camera (f/1.6 + f/1.9) complementing it on the rear. The rear-facing camera comes in both a standard-angle configuration as well as a Super Wide-Angle option, which is able to capture everything within a 107° arc, distortion free.

The built-in camera application also utilises the AI Cam function that was seen in the V30S+ smartphone, with 19 specially optimised shooting modes to match various scenes and picture categories, which is an upgrade from 8 modes in the V30S+. In ultra low-light conditions, the Super Bright Camera shines by utilising software processing and pixel binning to boost visibility in underexposed shots by up to four times.

Other features also include the Live Photo mode, which records one second prior and after the shutter is pressed, to create an animated photo that can capture expressions or moments that would otherwise be lost in normal shots. One can also create stickers with their own face, and add on fun overlays such as accessories and props that can add a layer of expression that normal emojis cannot achieve. The inclusion of a Portrait mode also ensures that you get the Instagram-worthy bokeh effect for all your posts.

2. Google Assistant + Google Lens

Google Lens is essentially the old Google Goggles, where Google Assistant will utilise the camera to visually identify and match whatever is captured on screen, and deliver information through the Google search engine. It can also identify text, access websites, add a business card to one’s contacts, add entries to the calendar, and much more.

The G7+ has also added a dedicated Google button below the volume rocker, one press launching Google Assistant, and two for Google Lens. It is essentially the Bixby button that Samsung includes on their latest flagship models, except that LG has taken to using Google’s own AI instead of Samsung’s self-developed Bixby.

Super Far Field Voice Recognition, or SFFVR, is also incorporated into Google Assistant, where the G7+’s super sensitive microphone can pick up voice commands from up to five metres away. An inbuilt Voice AI software works in tandem with the two integrated microphones to filter out ambient noise, better capturing the user’s voice commands.

3. Super Bright Display/Second Screen

LG G7+: Super Bright Display

The G7+’s screen is a massive 6.1 inch, QHD+ (3120 × 1440) IPS display in a 19.5:9 ratio, and with a near-bezel free screen. LG has also incorporated its expertise in television displays into the Super Bright Display, which allows the G7+ to achieve a brightness rating of 1000 nits, allowing easy viewing under strong direct sunlight, making it far brighter than any smartphone display in the market.

The G7+’s New Second Screen allows users to customise their display accordingly to preference, allowing the display to be extended for a full bezel-less display (apart from the notch), akin to the iPhone X, or to be filled with a customisable notification bar.

4. Quad Sabre DAC, 3D Surround Sound, and Boombox

The G7+ shares the revered Sabre ESS9218 Quad HiFi DAC with it’s other flagship offerings, for a clean, detailed sound that is delivered through the still included 3.5mm auxiliary headphone jack, making it a phone that is sure to please audiophiles and casual users alike.

The G7+ is also the first phone to utilise DTS:X, an audio codec that enables a simulated full 7.1 channels of surround sound. A direct competitor to Dolby Atmos, DTS:X is an alternative to the famous surround sound format, and the implementation of it is sure to entice many.

As for the speaker, LG features the Boombox Speaker, that utilises the internal space of the smartphone as a resonance chamber to deliver double the bass as compared to conventional smartphones. The sheer volume and power of the Boombox itself allows users to do away with the need for an external speaker, and still deliver clear, powerful sound.

Review

LG G7+: Blue

The G7+ is a visually stunning phone, with the 6.1-inch, QHD+ front display in a 19.5:9 ratio taking up a large portion of the facade, and with a near bezel-less screen, spare a small chin at the bottom and a notch (a la iPhone X) at the top. A polished aluminum rim sits around the perimeter of the phone, with the power/lock button situated on the right, the volume buttons and the Google AI button on the left, the speaker and the 3.5mm jack sitting at the bottom. On the front and back, it sports Gorilla Glass 5 panels, and the rear cameras sit in the centre at the top, with the fingerprint sensor right below.

Although not a huge issue, it is not a truly bezel-less screen. It should be noted that it is still a spectacularly integrated screen, with the camera/microphone notch situated at the top of the screen, all in a visually neat and tidy package.

The display pushes out an immense 564 ppi density, rivaling its closest competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S9, which sits at a pixel density of 570 ppi, and beating out other flagship phones like the recently announced OnePlus 6 (~402 ppi), the Sony Xperia XZ2 (~424 ppi) and the iPhone X (~458 ppi). It’s a healthy pixel density that is superbly clear and detailed, and it will find its place in many people’s viewing pleasure. I find it vibrant and colours on the cooler side, and it is accurate as well. The Super Bright mode, while ensuring that your corneas are thoroughly burnt through in a dark room, would work fantastically under bright direct sunlight. The only downside? It lasts for 3 minutes maximum at one go, or it risks damaging the IPS display permanently.

The Snapdragon SDM845 is the latest flagship chipset installed in the G7+, a necessity in any phone wishing to gun for TOTL status. Phone operation was fast and snappy, with no visual lag between app switching, and inputs. 6GB of RAM also does help ensure that multiple processes and applications can be run without a worry of lag or crashing. The onboard memory is 128GB, which is plenty enough for most, and is expandable with microSD cards up to 400GB, via the second SIM card slot.

LG G7+: Black

The G7+ runs Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, with plans to be upgraded to Android 9.0 (P) once it is made available, and it is plenty feature packed. I shan’t go into everything here, but I do wish to touch on the integration of Google Lens and Google Assistant into the phone, with a large amount of core functions being easily controllable from Google Assistant itself. Despite being in a mildly noisy showfloor with chatter and background music, Google Assistant managed to pick up my questions with ease. Conversely, Google Lens itself works great as well, a great complement to Google Assistant, able to identify objects, landmarks, pictures, people, and even plain text.

One of the strongest points, and my largest interest, would be the audio features. Since the LG G6 and the V10 series onwards, LG has included the Sabre ESS9218 DAC chip, a quad DAC design that is known to be extremely revealing and detailed, with the power to drive a majority of high-impedance IEMs and headphones. My brief test confirms its capability, and it sounds good. Highs are slightly more emphasized as per the behaviour of most ESS chips, but nothing unbearable. Detail retrieval is stellar for a phone, and the inclusion of the digital filters ensures you can tweak your roll-off filters to suit your music or taste. Overall, it is a very good sounding phone.

On the part of external audio, the G7+ has the feature dubbed “Boombox”, where the single bottom-firing external speaker utilises the internal chamber of the phone to resonate and push out louder volumes, and when placed on a solid surface, boost the bass response significantly. I tried a setup where (hilariously), 5 such phones were taped to the walls in a 4.1 stereo setup, and although it can’t match the power from a full-size speaker, ot manages to have enough volume and clarity to be heard even with ambient noise, a truly impressive feat for what is essentially a device you can carry in your pocket comfortably.

Onto the camera, another standout feature of the G7+. The AI Cam was relatively quick, able to identify various general objects and produce 3 suggested filters which tweak photo saturation, temperature, contrast and more, all in real time. Purists might shy away from adding digital processing on top of their pictures, but everyone else would definitely find this useful in adding a artistic flair to their shots.

LG G7+: Gray

The Super Bright camera mode was a nice touch, using software and post-processing to stitch 4 pixels worth on information into one, effectively giving the user a 4MP picture from a 16MP sensor, but with greater brightness. A few older HTC, Sony and the Nokia Lumia phones all had features to similar effect, but on a smaller scale, and not geared for low-light conditions. From a few test shots (I didn’t manage to save those pictures, unfortunately), the quality and sharpness suffered marginally, but the brightness of each picture was greatly improved. Some noise is present too, but it is an unavoidable result with a sensor size this small. My verdict? It works as well as advertised, and is definitely a winner in low-light.

Other camera functions that I would consider essential in a flagship would be things like Portrait mode, Manual mode shooting, and slow-motion video. The Portrait mode also utilises a wide aperture to give photos a nice depth-of-field, and unlike software processing, it is accurate and the blur doesn’t bleed into the foreground. Manual mode shooting is easy to use and great for photographers and enthusiasts, and slow-motion video works in three levels, which I believe is set to capture at 240fps, 480fps, and 960fps.

Other features I’d briefly touch on would be things like the IP68 water and dust proofing, handy for active users, and people like me who run around in the rain with no regard for shielding my phone from the liquid onslaught. The inclusion of a 3.5mm jack, although a necessity, is still worth mentioning with the advent of many flagship smartphones ditching the universal standard for a less convenient dongle/attachment. The 3000mAh battery is sitting at the average of phones this size, and would easily last you a day or so, before needing a charge, as with most modern flagships.

For a phone that sits at the top of LG’s lineup, it checks all the boxes to be considered a flagship, and will definitely have a huge following for people who want a phone that can do it all.

Final Thoughts

LG G7+: Infographic

From my initial impressions, I was thoroughly impressed. For a phone this flexible and aesthetically pleasing, it also can pull its own in performance. The AI supported functions are largely useful for most general users, and there is peace of mind in having the features there, even if one doesn’t use them frequently.

With a spectacular screen, accurate camera, good audio, and a handsome package, LG’s G7+ ThinQ enters the ring of flagship fighters with enough firepower to stand up against the traditional powerhouses.

It really does make me ThinQ about it: for my next phone, perhaps?

The LG G7+ ThinQ retails at S$1,198 and is available at M1, Singtel, StarHub and other LG authorized retailers.

Photos courtesy of LG Electronics.

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Francis Tan

Audiophile with no musical talent whatsoever. People question my expenditure on audio gear by saying I have only one pair of ears, well, we've got only one pair of feet. I also dance a little.

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