LG wants you to ThinQ about its latest G7 smartphone

Flagship Android smartphones tend to follow a pattern, and LG's G7 ThinQ is no exception. The phone sticks closely to the 2018 template of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, dual rear cameras, and a stretched-out screen with small bezels. The company hopes that the AI-assisted camera, bright screen, audio features, and tight integration with Google's Assistant and Lens software will help make the ThinQ stand out from certain competitors.

The G7 ThinQ has the same Snapdragon 845 found in Asus' ZenFone 5, Samsung's Galaxy S9 twins, and Sony's latest Xperia XZ2 handsets. LG pairs the chip with 4 GB of LPDDR4x memory and 64 GB of internal storage space. That memory capacity matches the entry-level configurations of those other 845-powered phones, but all most of them offer variants with 6 or 8 GB of RAM. Users can augment the 64 GB of storage space with microSD cards as capacious as 2 TB. Engadget says some markets will get a G7+ ThinQ version with 6 GB of memory and 128 GB of storage.

The ThinQ's display is a 6.1" LCD with a resolution of 3120x1440 (which works out to a pixel density of 564 PPI) and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. That unusual aspect ratio is a side effect of LG's efforts to reduce the size of the phone's front bezel area. The screen and the back of the G7 ThinQ are covered with a layer of Corning's Gorilla Glass 5. The big screen has a notch, which LG is calling a "New Second Screen," similar to the notification screen it used to use in its V-series phones. In this case, users can choose to flaunt the notch or hide it with a solid black bar or a gradient background.

The company says the screen offers 100% coverage of the rather large DCI-P3 color space and 135% of the more common sRGB. LG also notes that the screen should provide an excellent experience even under direct sunlight thanks to its 1000 cd/m² brightness rating, though the phone will only deliver that much light for three minutes at a time. Engadget says the screen has a unique RGBW pixel arrangement that lets it consume 30% less power than competing screens, even when illuminating at 500 cd/m².

LG's engineers took care with sound both going into and coming out of the ThinQ. On the input side, the phone sports a "Super Far Field Voice Recognition" microphone that the company says lets the phone understand voice commands from up to 16' away (5 m). The manufacturer says this capability works even if the TV is on or the vacuum cleaner is running, two scenarios that consistently throw my Amazon Echo Dot units for a loop. On the output end, LG outfitted the G7 ThinQ with what it calls a "Boombox Speaker" that uses the space inside the phone as a resonance chamber for improved bass response. The company says the bass enhancement effect is strengthened when the user places the phone on a flat solid surface.

Those that demand better sound than a smartphone speaker can deliver should delight in the inclusion of a headphone jack. Headphone listeners can use the ThinQ's Dolby DTS:X virtual 7.1-channel capabilities. LG says the ThinQ is the first smartphone with DTS:X baked in.

The G7 ThinQ's camera setup follows the current trend toward dual-sensor setups with a pair of Sony IMX351 16-megapixel snappers on the back. One of them has a "standard" angle setup with an f/1.6 aperture and a 71° field-of-view (FOV). The second "super wide angle" lens has an f/1.9 aperture and a 107° FOV. The user-facing camera is an 8-MP unit with an f/1.9 aperture and an in-between 80° FOV. LG is proud of the "AI" features it baked into the camera, including 19 different shooting modes. The company says the rear camera setup has a super-bright mode that can capture images four times brighter than was possible on its previous G6 flagship model. LG claims pixel binning and software processing allows these bright images in low-light conditions without the typical grainy appearance such shots usually have.

A live picture mode captures one second of footage before and after each press of the shutter button and a portrait mode makes bokeh effects easy. LG mentioned a pet mode on the camera, but didn't explain what it does or how it works. If this special mode can somehow manage to eliminate the greenish appearance of dog and cat eyes when using the camera's flash, that alone might be enough to get me to choose LG to replace my aging Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

The manufacturer says the G7 ThinQ is one of the first phones to hit the market packing the full package of Google Lens AI and computer vision features. The software can do things like identify landmarks, plants, and animals. The company says additional capabilities like automatically adding new contacts from a business and new events to a calendar from a photo will be unveiled at Google's upcoming I/O Conference.

On the software side, the phone ships with Android 8.0 Oreo. A button below the volume rocker brings up the Google Assistant with one press or Google Lens with two presses. The button can be disabled, but unfortunately cannot be remapped.

In keeping with the name, the G7 ThinQ is pretty skinny at 0.3" (7.9 mm) thick. The phone weighs in at 5.7 oz (162 g). The biggest casualty of that relatively light weight and thin packaging is the battery, which is rated for an uninspiring 3000 mAh. Users can at least top it off quickly if they have a Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0-compliant charger around. LG says the phone meets the IP68 standards for dust and water intrusion prevention. The charge and data connector has a USB Type-C physical connector, but only works at USB 2.0 speeds.

LG says it will offer the phone with gray, black, red, and blue finishes. The company didn't talk about pricing, but said that the G7 ThinQ would roll out in the home market in South Korea in the coming days, and that releases in the North and South America, Europe, and Asia will happen later.

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