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LG V35 ThinQ review: Worthy Galaxy S9 Plus competitor doesn't quite get there

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The V35 ThinQ (pronounced "thin-kew") is LG's third (yes, third!) variant of its V30, in addition to the original V30 phone from 2017 and the V30S ThinQ from February. Available on AT&T and Project Fi for $900, it's positioned to compete against ultra-premium phones like the Galaxy S9 Plus and the Pixel 2 XL… and, perversely, the regular LG V30 itself. (It's £599 in the UK and AU$1,099 in Australia from online retailers, which is about the same as the Pixel 2 XL but significantly cheaper than the S9 Plus.)

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8.7

LG V35 ThinQ

The Good

The super fast LG V35 ThinQ is water resistant, has a headphone jack, a brilliant OLED screen and a long-lasting battery.

The Bad

The phone is LG's priciest to date and its AI camera features still need work.

The Bottom Line

The Galaxy S9 Plus just edges out the LG V35 ThinQ and is only $15 more on AT&T. But get the V35 ThinQ over the slower Pixel 2 XL.

The V35 ThinQ is a half-step update of the previous V30 phones, with a faster Qualcomm processor, more RAM and a better front-facing camera. Overall, it's a great phone and if you're an LG loyalist, you should get the V35 over the V30 since your phone will be in tip-top shape for longer.

But even though the V35 nearly matches the Galaxy S9 Plus rival spec-by-spec and puts up an admirable fight, the S9 Plus edges it out by the thinnest hair. The S9 Plus has a longer battery life, sleeker looks and software goodies like iris scanning and Bixby. It's also only $15 more on AT&T.

As for the Pixel 2 XL, Google's flagship takes better pictures than the V35, even though it came out last year. But if you need a new phone right now and can't wait for the anticipated Pixel 3 in October, the $50 more you'll hand over to Project Fi for the V35 is worth it to "future proof" your phone with a newer and much faster processor. Also keep in mind that Google has had to address some issues with screen burn-in on the Pixel 2 XL, which haven't appeared yet on the LG V30.

Editors' Note: This review was originally published on June 29, 2018. It has been updated with additional testing results and a higher battery score.

V35 ThinQ: LG's priciest and most premium phone is here

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LG V35's design and software

Though the V35 looks nearly identical to LG's current G7 flagship phone, there are key differences. The V35 doesn't have a black notch sitting on top of the screen, nor a quick-access Google Assistant button on its side. Its fingerprint reader on the back also doubles as a power button. Lastly, it has an OLED screen (instead of the G7's LCD display). While this means that blacks are especially dark and inky, it's also not as bright as the G7, and whites aren't as intensely white.

But other than that, the phone retains many of the same convenient design features like a headphone jack and water resistance. That means you can dunk it in up to 3 feet (1 meter) of water for 30 minutes and it won't konk out.

LG phones have taken a backseat with software these past few years, and the V35 doesn't bring anything particularly new to the table except the AI-powered camera (which I'll get to later). And if you get the phone from AT&T, you'll get annoying bloatware, with some apps you can uninstall and some you unfortunately cannot.

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The V35 has an ultra-sharp 6-inch OLED screen. 

James Martin/CNET

You'll still get Google's digital search assistant, Assistant, to set reminders, check the weather and carry out some more specific actions, such as taking a photo with the wide-angle camera or launching the AI camera. There's also the optional "floating bar" tab on your home screen for quick access to your contacts, music player and more.

LG V35's wide-angle and AI-powered cameras

The V35 has two 16-megapixel cameras on the back. One is a standard lens and the other is a wide-angle, which lets you capture more content in each frame. Enable "AI Cam" (specific to LG's ThinQ-branded phones) and the camera can identify more than a thousand objects and images, then group these things into 18 different categories like a person, cityscape or food. It'll then auto-adjust the camera settings accordingly and suggest filters.

Photos taken in ample outdoor lighting were particularly sharp and bright. Selfies were focused with true-to-life color and skin tone. I also preferred the V35's portrait shots over the S9 Plus', at times due to the latter's tendency to go overboard with smoothing out skin tones. The Pixel 2 XL was better at handling low light, however, and I liked its portrait mode photos the most with their sharpness. Overall, the V35 takes excellent pictures with great detail and vibrant colors.

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Taking a picture with the standard lens (left) and wide-angle (right).

Lynn La/CNET
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In this close up shot, the flowers are in focus and sharp.

Lynn La/CNET
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A vibrant, detailed shot taken outdoors.

Lynn La/CNET
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From left to right: Portrait mode photos from the LG V35, Galaxy S9 Plus and Pixel 2 XL.

Patrick Holland/CNET

LG V35 performance and battery life

With its Snapdragon 845 chipset, the V35 ThinQ is fast, responsive and reliable. In benchmark tests, it proved to be as fast, if not faster, than the Galaxy S9 Plus. The V35 also easily beat out the Pixel 2 XL and V30, which are powered by last year's Snapdragon 835. But with day-to-day tasks like launching apps, scrolling through a web page and firing the camera's shutter, it worked just as speedily as the other two.

Battery performance was also impressive. In our lab, testing for continuous video playback on airplane mode yielded an average of 16 hours and 47 minutes of usage. That comes close to the Galaxy S9 Plus' nearly 17-hour average, and exceeds the Pixel 2 XL's 14-hour time and the G7's mere 12 and a half hours.  

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

LG V35 ThinQ 57,827Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus 58,999Google Pixel 2 XL 28,999LG V30 40,595
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 single-core

LG V35 ThinQ 2,458Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus 2,444Google Pixel 2 XL 1,911LG V30 1,922
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 multicore

LG V35 ThinQ 8,954Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus 8,416Google Pixel 2 XL 6,393LG V30 6,466
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance
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From left to right: The Galaxy S9, the LG V35 and the Pixel 2 XL.

James Martin/CNET

LG V35 ThinQ spec comparison


LG V35 ThinQSamsung Galaxy S9 PlusGoogle Pixel 2 XLLG G7 ThinQ
Display size, resolution 6-inch OLED; 2,880x1,440 pixels6.2-inch; 2,960x1,440 pixels6-inch; 2,880x1,440 pixels6.1-inch IPS LCD; 3,120x1,440 pixels
Pixel density 538ppi529ppi538 ppi563ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.97x2.97x 0.29 in 6.22x2.91x0.33 in6.2x3.0x0.3 in6x2.8x0.31 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 151.64x75.44x7.37 mm158.1x73.8x8.5 mm157.9x76.7x7.9 mm153.2x71.9x7.9 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.57 oz.; 158g6.66 oz.; 189g6.17 oz.; 175g5.7 oz, 162g
Mobile software Android 8.0 OreoAndroid 8.0 OreoAndroid 8.0 OreoAndroid 8.0 Oreo
Camera 16-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (wide)Dual 12-megapixel12-megapixelDual 16-megapixel (71 degree, f/1.6 and 107 degree, f/1.9)
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel8-megapixel8-megapixel8-megapixel (f/1.9)
Video capture 4K4K4K4K
Processor 2.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor (2.8GHz+1.7GHz), or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 9810 (2.7 GHz+1.7 GHz)Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8352.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Storage 64GB64GB, 128GB, 256GB64GB, 128GB64GB
RAM 6GB6GB4GB4GB
Expandable storage Up to 2TB400GBNoneUp to 2TB
Battery 3,300mAh3,500mAh3,520mAh3,000mAh
Fingerprint sensor BackBackBack coverBack
Connector USB-CUSB-CUSB-CUSB-C
Headphone jack YesYesNoYes
Special features Water resistant (IP68), wireless charging, DTS:X 3D Surround, Quad DACDual-aperture camera, water-resistant (IP68); super slo-mo video; wireless charging; iris scanningGoogle Assistant; unlimited cloud storage; Daydream VR-readyWater resistant (IP68), wireless charging, DTS:X 3D Surround, Quad DAC
Price off-contract (USD) $900 (AT&T and Project Fi)Varies: $840-$930; $915 on AT&T (64GB)$849 (64GB), $949 (128GB)AT&T: N/A, Sprint: $792, T-Mobile: $750, Verizon: $750, US Cellular: $749.70
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8.7

LG V35 ThinQ

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Performance 9Camera 8Battery 10