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

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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.

8.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 9
  • Camera 8
  • Battery 10

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.)

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.

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.

lg-v35-thinq-4166

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.

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