As LG's highest-end phone, the V35 ThinQ has a gorgeous display, water resistance and a headphone jack. But it can't quite catch the S9 Plus.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|LG V35 ThinQ||Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus||Google Pixel 2 XL||LG G7 ThinQ|
|Display size, resolution||6-inch OLED; 2,880x1,440 pixels||6.2-inch; 2,960x1,440 pixels||6-inch; 2,880x1,440 pixels||6.1-inch IPS LCD; 3,120x1,440 pixels|
|Pixel density||538ppi||529ppi||538 ppi||563ppi|
|Dimensions (Inches)||5.97x2.97x 0.29 in||6.22x2.91x0.33 in||6.2x3.0x0.3 in||6x2.8x0.31 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||151.64x75.44x7.37 mm||158.1x73.8x8.5 mm||157.9x76.7x7.9 mm||153.2x71.9x7.9 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||5.57 oz.; 158g||6.66 oz.; 189g||6.17 oz.; 175g||5.7 oz, 162g|
|Mobile software||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo|
|Camera||16-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (wide)||Dual 12-megapixel||12-megapixel||Dual 16-megapixel (71 degree, f/1.6 and 107 degree, f/1.9)|
|Front-facing camera||8-megapixel||8-megapixel||8-megapixel||8-megapixel (f/1.9)|
|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)||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835||2.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845|
|Storage||64GB||64GB, 128GB, 256GB||64GB, 128GB||64GB|
|Expandable storage||Up to 2TB||400GB||None||Up to 2TB|
|Fingerprint sensor||Back||Back||Back cover||Back|
|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||Google Assistant; unlimited cloud storage; Daydream VR-ready||Water 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|