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LG G7 ThinQ review: Does everything right except excite you

Portrait mode and a 'smart' camera

One of the G7's standout features is its emphasis on artificial intelligence. Companies use this term liberally, and it includes a lot of different things depending on who you're asking. But these features fold into LG's whole "ThinQ" branding, which is an ecosystem that's meant to work with other LG products like smart home TVs and appliances.

The camera itself can identify more than a thousand objects and images, then group these things into 18 different categories (person, sunrise, night sky and so on). It'll then automatically adjust the camera settings accordingly and suggest three filters that are optimized for the scene.

Taking a photo without the AI tool (left) and taking a picture with (right).

Lynn La/CNET

That's the idea anyway. There were some occasions when the phone recognized an object and promptly locked in an accurate identifier. But there were other times the camera would keep thinking and thinking, calling up irrelevant items (salt basin? cauliflower?) with no end.

Using the potrait photo feature.

John Kim/CNET

This doesn't prevent the camera from taking a good photo in the end, and when the AI does make its adjustments, pictures can look more vibrant since the contrast is cranked higher. It also helped with overexposure and lighting. 

In general though, I found myself skipping the feature. It can be distracting, and while I can imagine someone enjoying the novelty at first, the phone's algorithms need to be more accurate and work faster to compel me to use it.

LG also made it more straightforward for the G7 to snap portrait photos with both the rear or front-facing shooters. By tapping "portrait" on the camera's screen, you can take a bokeh-style photo with a blurred background for a dramatic shot.

Compared to the iPhone X and the Galaxy S9 Plus, the G7 does a good job at figuring out what should be in the fore- and background and configures the bokeh effect quickly. Tricky edges (like the stray hairs around a head) were rendered well, with no obvious patches or halo. And unlike the iPhone X, you can adjust the amount of blurriness in the background. But I prefer the iPhone X's warmer handling of skin tone, and even though the G7's colors were more "accurate," per se, its photos looked cooler and washed out in the end.

In general, the G7 takes clear shots with plenty of sharp details. Colors run a bit cooler, as I mentioned before, but they are true to life. Lastly, I also noticed that the camera shutter is a beat slower than I prefer. Even though I never missed any moments, it could definitely stand to fire off a bit faster.

The wide-angle lens lets you fit more context in each frame.

Lynn La/CNET

A well-lit artichoke up close.

Lynn La/CNET

Some delicious to-go lunch orders.

Lynn La/CNET

A loud speaker and high-end audio

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To the left of the charging port is the G7's headphone jack.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The LG added a few audio upgrades to the G7 as well. These include:

  • Louder volume: The G7 only has one audio speaker that sits on the bottom edge of the phone, so it doesn't have stereo sound and is easy to accidentally cover with one hand if you're not paying attention. But it can still get louder than the G6 because its insides act as a resonance chamber for its onboard speaker.
  • Built in digital-to-analog converter: Like the V30, the G7 has a built-in DAC. This improves audio for your headphones, and it's great for listening to high-end lossless audio on your phone (like the Tidal streaming music service).
  • Sound from every direction with headphones: The G7 has 7.1-surround audio via DTS X support. This gives you sound from multiple directions, but it doesn't work with the G7's one speaker. You can only experience this with wired headphones.

Speedy performer, but unimpressive battery life

Equipped with Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 845 chipset, the G7 is speedy and smooth so far. Besides the shutter, the aforementioned AI camera works effortlessly and scrolling through web pages, watching videos and launching apps all went off without a hitch.

Benchmark tests also showed lightning-quick speeds. Considering only phones with the Snapdragon 845 processor, the G7 beat out the Galaxy S9 in one of our tests, though both were edged out by the OnePlus 6.

Geekbench v.4.0 single-core

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 multi-core

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

LG G7
56,714
OnePlus 6
62,952

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

During our battery tests for continuous video on Airplane mode, the phone lasted an average of 12 hours and 38 minutes. As a comparison, the G6 (which has a larger 3,300mAh battery) lasted 13 hours and 21 minutes, and both the Galaxy S9 and OnePlus 6 clocked an average of nearly 15.5 hours.

While 12 hours under lab conditions is certainly enough to last through the workday (and let's not get it twisted -- the Galaxy S9 and OnePlus 6 will eventually need to be charged too), the G7's battery life is less than impressive compared to its rivals. While the lower battery capacity is a factor, the phone's screen is also brighter than before, which likely contributes to the shortened test result.

But in such a cut-throat industry like this one, you need every advantage you can get. This battery time, together with the underwhelming AI experience, means the LG G7 ThinQ just can't push itself to the top of the ranks.

LG G7 ThinQ specs comparison


LG G7 ThinQ Samsung Galaxy S9 OnePlus 6 Google Pixel 2
Display size, resolution 6.1-inch IPS LCD; 3,120x1,440 pixels 5.8-inch; 2,960x1,440 pixels 6.28-inch OLED; 2,280x1,080 pixels 5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels
Pixel density 563ppi 570ppi 402ppi 441ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6x2.8x0.31 in 5.81x2.70x0.33 in 6.13x2.97x0.31 in 5.7x2.7x0.3 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 153.2x71.9x7.9 mm 147.7x68.7x8.5 mm 155.7x75.4x7.75 mm 145.7x69.7x7.8 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.7 oz; 162g 5.75 oz; 163g 6.2 oz; 177 g 5.04 oz; 143g
Mobile software Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.1 Oreo Android 8 Oreo
Camera 16-megapixel standard, 16-megapixel wide-angle 12-megapixel 16-megapixel standard, 20-megapixel telephoto 12-megapixel
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel 8-megapixel 16-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K
Processor 2.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor (2.8GHz+1.7GHz), or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 9810 (2.7 GHz+1.7 GHz) 2.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Storage 64GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB 64GB, 128GB
RAM 4GB 4GB 6GB, 8GB 4GB
Expandable storage 2TB 400GB None None
Battery 3,000mAh 3,000mAh 3,300mAh 2,700mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back Back Back Back
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes No
Special features Water resistant (IP68), wireless charging, DTS:X 3D Surround, Quad DAC Dual-aperture camera; water resistant (IP68); super slo-mo video; wireless charging; iris scanning Portrait mode, notifications toggle, dual-SIM, Dash Charging Google Assistant; unlimited cloud storage; Daydream VR-ready
Price off-contract (USD) AT&T: N/A, Sprint: $792, T-Mobile: $750, Verizon: $750, U.S. Cellular: $749.70 Varies: $720-$800 (64GB) $529 (64GB), $579 (128GB), $629 (256GB) $649 (64GB), $749 (128GB)
Price (GBP) £559-£589 converted £739 £469 (64GB), £519 (128GB), £569 (256GB) £629 (64GB), £729 (128GB)
Price (AUD) AU$978-AU$1,030, converted AU$1,199 (64GB), AU$1,349 (256GB) AU$702 (64GB), AU$769 (128GB), AU$835 (256GB) AU$1,079 (64GB), AU$1,229 (128GB)

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