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LG G7+ ThinQ review: A solid but uninspired effort

By James Lu - 8 Jun 2018
Prices:

Benchmark Performance, Imaging, Battery life, and Conclusion

Benchmark Performance

LG didn't repeat last year's mistake, and this year, the G7+ is powered by Qualcomm's top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845 processor with 6GB RAM. Let's see how it lines up with other flagship devices:-

  LG G7+ ThinQ LG G6 LG V30+ Sony Xperia XZ2 Samsung Galaxy S9 Apple iPhone X (256GB)
  LG G7+ ThinQ LG G6 LG V30+ Sony Xperia XZ2 Samsung Galaxy S9 Apple iPhone X (256GB)
Launch SRP
  • From S$1198
  • From S$988
  • From S$1098
  • From S$998
  • From S$1198
  • From S$1888
Latest Price
  • From S$378
  • From S$550
  • From S$380
  • From S$480
  • From S$948
Operating system
  • Android 8.0 Oreo with LG UX 6.0
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with LG UX 6.0
  • Android 7.1.2 Nougat with LG UX 6.0
  • Android 8.0 Nougat
  • Android 8.0 Oreo with Samsung Experience
  • iOS 11.1
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa-core (4 x 2.8GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4 x 1.7GHz Kryo 385 Silver)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core (2 x 2.35GHz Kryo & 2 x 1.6GHz Kryo)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core (4x2.45 GHz Kryo & 4x1.9 GHz Kryo)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core (4x2.7 GHz & 4x1.7 GHz)
  • Samsung Exynos 9810 octa-core (4x2.8 GHz Mongoose M3 & 4x1.7 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • Apple A11 Bionic hexa-core
Built-in Memory
  • 6GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 3GB RAM
Display
  • 6.1-inch / 3,120 x 1,440 pixels (564ppi) / 19.5:9 ratio / IPS LCD
  • Always-on Display
  • 5.7-inch / 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (564ppi) / IPS LCD / FullVision Display
  • Always-on Display
  • 6.0-inch / 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (537ppi) / pOLED
  • Always-on Display
  • 5.7-inch / 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (424 ppi) / IPS LCD 18:9 ratio
  • Always-On Display
  • 5.8-inch / 2,960 x 1,440 pixels (570 ppi) / 18.5: 9 ratio / Super AMOLED Infinity Display
  • Always-On Display
  • 5.8-inch Super Retina HD / 2,436 x 1,125 pixels (458ppi) / OLED
Camera
  • Rear: Dual: 16-megapixel f/1.6, OIS + 16-megapixel f/1.9 wide-angle
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.9
  • Rear: Dual 13-megapixel, f/1.8, OIS, 3-axis, phase detection AF + 13-megapixel, f/2.4, 125-degree wide-angle, dual-LED flash
  • Front: 5-megapixel, f/2.2, 100-degree FOV
  • Rear: Dual 16-megapixel (f/1.6, 1 µm, 3-axis OIS, PDAF) + 13-megapixel (f/1.9, no AF), phase detection & laser autofocus, LED flash
  • Front: 5-megapixel, f/2.2, 100-degree FOV
  • Rear: 19-megapixel f/2.0 predictive phase detection and laser autofocus, LED flash
  • Front: 5-megapixel, f/2.2
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, dual f/1.5 and 2.4, 26mm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, LED flash
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.7
  • Rear: Dual 12-megapixel, (f/1.8, 28mm & f/2.4, 56mm) with phase detection autofocus, OIS, and quad LED (dual-tone) flash
  • Front: 7-megapixel, f/2.2 FaceTime HD camera
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth v5, NFC, 4G LTE Cat 16 (up to 1024Mbps)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth v4.2, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth v5, NFC, 4G LTE Cat 16 (up to 1024Mbps)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 18 (up to 1200Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 18 (up to 1200Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 4G+ LTE Cat 12 (up to 600Mbps), dual-band, hotspot, Bluetooth v5.0, A2DP, LE, GPS, GLONASS, Lightning connector
Storage Type
  • 128GB internal storage
  • Expandable up to 2TB via microSD
  • 64GB internal storage
  • Expandable up to 256GB via microSD
  • 128GB internal storage
  • Expandable up to 256GB via microSD
  • 64GB internal storage (UFS 2.0)
  • 400GB (MicroSD)
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 256GB (MicroSD)
  • 256GB internal storage
Battery
  • 3,000mAh
  • Quick Charge 3
  • Wireless charging
  • 3,300mAh
  • 3,300mAh
  • 3,180mAh
  • Quick Charge 4
  • Wireless charging
  • 3,000mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • Wireless charging
  • 2,716mAh
Dimensions
  • 153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9mm
  • 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm
  • 151.7 x 75.4 x 7.3 mm
  • 153 x 72 x 11.1 mm
  • 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5 mm
  • 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm
Weight
  • 162g
  • 163g
  • 158g
  • 198g
  • 163g
  • 174g

 

SunSpider Javascript

SunSpider JavaScript measures the browsing performance of a device when processing JavaScript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is in delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. 

The G7+ performed quite well here, and was faster than the G6, V30+ and the Sony Xperia XZ2. Apple remains the overall leader in this benchmark thanks to great optimization between Safari and Apple's A11 Bionic processor.

 

Basemark OS II

Basemark OS II is an all-in-one benchmarking tool that measures overall performance through a comprehensive suite of tests including system, internal and external memory, graphics, web browsing, and CPU consumption.

The G7+ again scored well and it outperformed everything except the iPhone X.

 

3DMark Sling Shot

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. We're running this benchmark in Unlimited mode, which ignores screen resolutions.

The G7+ was once again impressive and even beat the iPhone X in this benchmark. It fell slightly short of the Xperia XZ2, though it's within the accepted deviation of an identical class device.

 

 

Imaging

The G7+ has a pair of 16-megapixel cameras on its rear, one with a f/1.6 normal focal length and OIS, and one with a f/1.9 wide-angle lens without OIS. Those are impressively wide apertures - in fact, the only wider aperture you'll find on a smartphone is in the Galaxy S9 - which should make the G7+ camera one of the best around. But it's not.

As impressive as those lenses are, for some reason, LG has decided to pair them with a mid-range Sony IMX351 sensor, which has a small 1/3.1" surface area and just 1µm size pixels. For reference, the only other phones I know of using the IMX351 are 2017's mid-range ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro, LG's own V30+, and the HTC U11, but at least on the U11 it's only used on the front camera. Even 2015's LG G4 had a larger 1/2.6" IMX234 sensor with 1.12 µm size pixels. For comparison, the S9's camera has a 1/2.55" sensor with 1.4 µm size pixels.

LG says it doesn’t need larger sensors to achieve impressive results, but it's simple physics: the small surface area and pixel size on the G7+ sensor means that it can't capture as much light, reducing the benefits of a larger aperture.

Our test shots show that too. Image quality from the G7+'s main camera is actually quite good in well-lit environments but it's not as good as the S9 or iPhone X camera and there are noticeable processing effects and some obvious smoothing and loss of detail if you zoom in close. In low light scenarios when Super Bright Camera mode isn't automatically activated (more on that below) the camera really struggles, even with the camera in manual mode with the aperture set to wide open. Noise reduction artifacts become readily apparent and there's too much over-processing in any dark part of the image.

Click for full-size image

As for the wide-angle lens, it actually has a narrower field of view than last year's G6, at 107-degrees compared to the G6's 125-degree field of view. But the benefit to that is that there's much less fisheye distortion and I actually found the narrower FoV a bit more usable.

Click for full-size image. This photo was taken at the same spot as the earlier snap using the main lens to give you a better idea of the FoV you get.

 

AI-assisted Photography

Joining the likes of Huawei and ASUS, the G7+ camera also incorporates AI to try to enhance your photography. Launching the AI camera software will trigger a flurry of floating words as the camera guesses what it is looking at: person, animal, food, etc. and sometimes it even tries to guess the exact species of plant or animal. Sometimes it gets it right, and sometimes it gets it completely wrong - for some reason it thinks everything is a poodle.

Either way, it will present you with an option of four filters to improve your photo. Right now, Huawei's AI image recognition is a little more accurate but according to LG, image recognition will improve over the next few months as the AI is trained on more and more images.

 

Super Bright Camera

 

The camera also includes a new Super Bright Camera mode, which automatically detects low-light situations and activates accordingly. The mode will automatically activate in environments of less than 3 lux, while the option to turn it on will pop up in environments between 3 and 10 lux.

Super Bright Camera claims to be able to brighten photos by up to four times. It does this by using pixel binning to combine multiple images into one well-lit photo. It's similar to what Huawei does with the P20 Pro's Night Mode.

The big difference between the two is that LG's Super Bright Camera takes the shot instantly, whereas Huawei's Night Mode takes a few seconds to process. This is because Huawei applies an algorithm to Night Mode that adjusts exposure levels across the image. 

Additionally, due to the pixel binning process, LG's Super Bright Camera outputs photos at just 4-megapixel resolution (the P20 Pro gets around this by having a 40-megapixel sensor). As a result, while night photos are certainly brighter, they're also muddier and at 4-megapixel resolution, you end up losing a lot of details.

Here's a shot taken without Super Bright Camera:

Click for full-size image.

And here's the same shot taken with Super Bright Camera:

Click for full-size image.

The shot is much brighter, but there's visible smearing and it lacks detail.

Finally, here's the same shot taken with the Huawei P20 Pro's Night Mode:

Click for full-size image.

This shot is more evenly exposed, and retains more detail. It also looks more like a night shot, whereas Super Bright Camera looks more like the area is being lit by a floodlight.

 

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

LG doesn't have a great track record with battery life, and unfortunately the G7+ didn't do much to change that. At 3,000mAh, the G7+ has the smallest battery LG has used since the G5, and it showed too, lasting just seven and a half hours, shorter than every other phone compared, including last year's G6.

For some reason, despite using a Snapdragon 845 processor, the G7+ officially only supports Quick Charge 3.0, which is the type of charger you get in the box. However, if you can find a Quick Charge 4.0 charger, I discovered that it will actually work too.

Using the included charger, the G7+ got to 40% charge in 30 minutes, but with a Quick Charge 4.0 charger, you'll get about 50% charge in 30 minutes. Wireless charging is supported, but as expected, is noticeably slower.

 

Conclusion

The G7+ is a reasonably good, but unexciting and risk-averse smartphone. It feels almost like LG has been burned one too many times trying out-of-the-box, experimental ideas, and now it's gone completely the other way and is trying to play it as safe as possible. Everything from the typical aluminum and glass design, to the notched display, and even the Boombox speaker and AI camera features are things we've seen before in other phones.

While I've been critical of some of LG's past devices, I've always applauded the company for trying to do things differently. Yes, hot-swappable batteries and modular technology didn't work out, but at least the G5 offered something different. If you're just looking for a phone that does everything a flagship smartphone is supposed to do, there are plenty of Chinese manufacturers that have mastered the art of producing inexpensive iPhone clones.

LG needs to find a middle ground between weird and wacky innovations, and completely safe, stale risk aversion - especially if it wants to keep charging S$1,198 for its phones. For that price, you can pick up a Samsung Galaxy S9, which has a better camera, better display, stereo speakers, much better battery life, and is just more exciting to look at and use.

If you don't need the power of a Snapdragon 845 processor, but you want almost everything else the G7+ ThinQ has to offer, including the bezel-less display, Hi-Fi Quad DAC, and Dolby Vision HDR display, you can actually get a V30+, or even the G6, for much less than S$1000 now.

7.5
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • User-Friendliness 8
  • Performance 8
  • Value 7
The Good
Bright IPS LCD display
Good benchmark performance
32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC
DTS:X surround sound support
The Bad
Lacks new standout features
Poor battery life
Dual rear camera held back by small image sensor
AI image recognition needs improvement
Very expensive for what you get
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