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LG V50 ThinQ review: Too expensive and too soon for 5G

In this dimmer picture captured at dusk, objects are still sharp and in focus.

Lynn La/CNET

Shooting a portrait photo using the rear cameras on each phone.

Lynn La/CNET

Though the V50's lowlight photo is "brighter," I still prefer the OnePlus 7 Pro's picture because objects are clearer.

Lynn La/CNET

On the front is an 8-megapixel standard camera and a 5-megapixel wide-angle lens. Portrait photos with the rear camera looked clear, and the smooth fallout between the fore- and background looked as smooth across all three devices. As for portrait shots with the front camera, I preferred the OnePlus 7 Pro. Details like skin and hair were sharper. But skin tone on the V50 looked more natural than on the Galaxy S10 Plus, which looked too washed-out and orange.

Capturing a portrait photo with the front-facing cameras.

Lynn La/CNET

LG V50's 5G speeds

I won't go into too much detail about the phone's 5G capabilities since I go over all that in another piece, but to sum it up, I got the chance to test out Sprint's 5G speeds in Dallas. While data speeds didn't peak as high as what we saw in Chicago with Verizon on the Galaxy S10 5G, I was still able to download a whole season of a show in less than five minutes, speeds topped at 434Mbps and coverage was more reliable than Verizon. 

But keep in mind your experience, if you have 5G or will get 5G, will likely be vastly different from mine. There's a lot of variables to consider, including location, time of day, how many people are on the network and even the weather. Those factors are compounded by the fact that 5G is still in its nascent stages for every carrier. For more info, read CNET's Verizon 5G vs. Sprint comparison.

LG V50's literally slick design

The LG V50 is a big, ultra-luxe phone. It features a huge 6.4-inch OLED display, which is great to view photos and videos. Its on-screen notch houses the phone's two front-facing cameras, but if you're not a fan you can hide the notch in Settings.

One thing I noticed about the V50 is that it's quite slippery. There were times when I'd put it on a flat surface and it would slowly slide around. More than once it slid down my computer stand and another time it took a hard fall after sliding down a footstool. It fell about a foot and hit its corner against the cement floor. Fortunately, there were no marks. The back of my V50 did get scratched up near the fingerprint reader though, and I believe it's from when I placed it on a rocky step. Though a phone case can protect the device from such incidents, I was rather surprised how easily it got scuffed up.

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The phone still has a headphone jack

Angela Lang/CNET

Other design takeaways

  • The V50 has a quick-launch Google Assistant button below the volume rocker. Long press it and you can start speaking directly to Assistant. It doesn't look like you can remap this button, which is a drag. You can only toggle it on and off.
  • Wired headphone owners will be happy to hear that the phone has a headphone jack -- a pretty rare thing these days in high-end phones.
  • The phone is rated IP68 for water resistance, meaning it can survive at least one meter (about three feet) underwater for 30 minutes. I dunked the phone in a 5 gallon bucket of water for 28 minutes and it survived.

LG V50's performance and battery

The V50 has a Snapdragon 855 chipset, which is the same used in the Galaxy S10 Plus and the OnePlus 7 Pro. Benchmark tests were pretty much comparable across the three phones, though the V50 did manage to beat the S10 Plus by just a hair on all the four benchmarks I ran. I wouldn't get caught up on these numbers though. With real-world uses, such as launching apps and firing the camera, I didn't discern a difference in speed on any of the phones.

3DMark Slingshot Unlimited


Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited


Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 single-core


Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 multicore


Longer bars indicate better performance

Anecdotally, the V50's battery lasted more than a workday with heavy usage. When I started testing the phone's 5G speeds back in Dallas, the phone started at 82% at 1:00 p.m. By 4:39 p.m., when I finished data tests, the phone was at 32%. During our lab tests for continuous video playback on Airplane mode, the V50 lasted 17 hours and 49 minutes, which is a great run and it's longer than the OnePlus 7 Pro, which clocked in 15 hours and 50 minutes. Both phones, however, couldn't outlast the Galaxy S10 Plus, which clocked in an impressive 21 hours.

LG V50 spec comparison

LG V50 ThinQ LG G8 ThinQ Samsung Galaxy S10 5G OnePlus 7 Pro
Display size, resolution 6.4-inch OLED; 3,120x1,440 pixels 6.1-inch OLED; 3,120x1,440 pixels 6.7-inch AMOLED 6.67-inch AMOLED; 3,120x1,440-pixels
Pixel density 564ppi 564ppi 505ppi 516ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.26 x 3.0 x 0.33 in 5.98 x 2.83 x 0.33 in 6.40 x 3.04 x 0.31 in 6.4 x 2.99 x 0.35 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 159.1 x 76.1 x 8.3 mm 151.9 x 71.8 x 8.4 mm 162.6 x 77.1 x 7.94 mm 162.6 x 75.9 x 8.8 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.46 oz.; 183g 5.96 oz.; 167g 6.98 oz.; 198g 7.27 oz; 206g
Mobile software Android 9.0 Android 9.0 Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with OxygenOS
Camera 12-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (wide-angle) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto), 3D depth (HQVGA) 48-megapixel (standard), 8-megapixel (telephoto), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle)
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel (standard), 5-megapixel (wide) 8-megapixel 10-megapixel, 3D depth (HQVGA) 16-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 2.84GHz octa-core Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 2.84GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Storage 128GB 128GB 256GB 128GB, 256GB
RAM 6GB 6GB 8GB 6GB, 8GB, 12GB
Expandable storage 2TB 2TB No
Battery 4,000 mAh 3,500 mAh 4,500 mAh 4,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back Back In-screen (ultrasonic) In-screen (optical)
Headphone jack Yes Yes TBA No
Special features 5G connectivity; water resistant (IP68); wireless charging, Quick Charge 3.0 3D scanning and motion capture with facial recognition, Air Motion and HandID; bone-induction receiver; water resistant (IP68); wireless charging; Quick Charge 3.0 Wireless PowerShare; 3D depth cameras (not for face unlock); water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 90Hz display, pop-up selfie camera, dual-SIM, Warp Charging
Price off-contract (USD) $1,152 (Sprint) $820-$850 $1,300 (Verizon) $669 (128GB/6GB); $699 (256GB/8GB); $749 (256GB/12GB)
Price (GBP) TBA TBA TBA £649 (128GB/6GB); £699 (256GB/8GB); £799 (256GB/12GB)
Price (AUD) TBA TBA TBA Converted: AU$962 (128GB/6GB); AU$1,006 (256GB/8GB); AU$1,076 (256GB/12GB)

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