LG recently launched its most capable smartphone in years, about a month ago in India, and it is also priced right in the country at Rs 40,000 as compared to other markets, which is why it was hard to recommend elsewhere.
In India, the LG G7+ ThinQ is an amazing Android smartphone that is available at an equally amazing price tag that places it neck and neck with the OnePlus 6.
It may not be as fancy (design-wise) or loud (no bright red finish here) as the OnePlus 6, but it sure packs in enough hardware and features to outdo the OnePlus 6 with the only gripe being the 6 GB of RAM, which seemed more than sufficient on the G7 during the review period. Where the humble LG G7+ ThinQ makes up for its understated looks, is features. You get a QHD+ LCD display, Boombox audio, an IP68 rating, expandable storage and that Quad DAC, all of which the OnePlus 6 does not have. Heck, you also get an FM radio, which is also something the OnePlus 6 does not have.
But at the end of the day, it all boils down to this: “Will you buy an LG-branded smartphone over a fancy OnePlus 6?”
Build and Design: 8/10
That’s one word to describe the LG G7’s design. We received the model with the Aurora Black finish that has a certain iridescent shine, one that is only visible when viewed at an angle. Up front, it looks almost black with a hint of navy blue.
The design is the same metal frame sandwiched between two sheets of glass, all three of which are finished to perfection. It’s also more rounded and feels like an evolution of the LG G6’s design that we reviewed last year.
The entire device feels a lot smaller than most premium flagships these days. It features a display notch meaning that it’s an 18:9 ratio display, which also means that it is thinner and smaller than most premium Android smartphones. That's a good thing when it comes to one-handed use.
One detail that I really admire is how LG’s engineers managed to squeeze in a dual camera setup with OIS (on the primary camera) and it surprisingly sits flush with the rest of the back unlike the OnePlus 6.
Other details that stand out from the similarly priced OnePlus 6 is the IP68 rating which means that it can be taken for a swim. Oh, did I also mention that its drop tested to military standards?
The LG G7 may not look as stylish as the OnePlus, but it sure has more practical plus points that make sense — save for that display notch — which thanks to LG’s customisations can also be switched off.
My only problem with it is the lack of an oleophobic coating, which meant that it was a smudge-fest on the back. LG knows about this which is why it has included a microfiber cleaning cloth in the box. Thankfully, the front did have a coating, so it had little or no fingerprint smudges in day to day use.
The LG G7 ThinQ literally gets you everything under the sun, especially when you consider its attractive Rs 40,000 price tag. In fact, it easily beats the OnePlus 6, given its pricing and the features that it has on offer.
There’s a 6.1-inch QHD+ (3,120 x 1,440 pixel) IPS LCD display under a sturdy Gorilla Glass screen which is sharper and brighter than the unit on the OnePlus 6.
Inside, sits a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC paired with a sufficient 6 GB RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. Compared to this, a OnePlus 6 seems to get you more at the same price tag, (8 GB RAM + 128 GB of storage) but the LG also lets you expand that 128 GB of storage with an additional 512 GB micro SD card that you can swap your second SIM card for.
The LG G7+ ThinQ gets you a dual primary camera set up at the back with a wide 16 MP (f/1.6 aperture) and an ultra-wide 16 MP (f/1.9 aperture) cameras. On the front, sits a humbler 8 MP, f/1.9 aperture camera. One detail to note is how even the front-facing camera is capable of shooting FHD video at 60 fps, which the OnePlus 6 and the Huawei Nova 3 cannot.
Connectivity options include dual-SIM slots which support dual 4G/LTE standby, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, DLNA, Bluetooth v5.0, USB 3.1 port with a Type C and for those who cannot do without it, an FM radio as well!
The device is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery and runs Android 8.0 Oreo with the LG UX to keep things refreshed.
The LG G7+ ThinQ packs in a 6.1-inch QHD+ IPS LCD display. At first glance, it appears saturated, but thanks to LG’s software, it can be customised to suit your needs.
Whether it’s a bright sunny day or a dimly lit environment, the LCD display does a fine job with brightness. It’s already brighter than most displays in its class but it also packs in a Boosted mode that makes it almost twice as bright as the maximum brightness, which is great if you are watching a movie outdoors in bright sunlight. This was a bit of a problem with the OnePlus 6 more in part due to the reflective screen that it sports.
The sharpness levels are definitely better than the OnePlus 6 thanks to the QHD+ resolution (564 PPI) but the same can also be said about the colour reproduction. Placing it alongside the P3 display of an iPhone 8 Plus, the colours appeared to be saturated at first, but after heading into Display Settings and tweaking the colours in the Expert mode, it looked a lot more satisfying or natural.
While the Screen Colour modes will let you choose from 5 presets and even adjust colour temperature and RGB levels, there is an additional Expert mode that takes things to the next level.
In Expert mode, you can tweak the saturation, hue and even the sharpness levels of the display. In short, it’s infinitely customisable and the results are pretty darn good once you have tweaked them.
In the standard auto mode, the colours appeared to have a slight blue tint so I preferred using the display in the Cinema mode.
Apart from the QHD+ resolution, the LG G7+ ThinQ over the OnePlus 6 offers HDR 10 compatibility. If you stream content on Netflix or Amazon, look out for the HDR symbol below the title. While HDR 10 should ideally, see a difference in the overall colours, contrast ratio versus the SDR quality, I found the OnePlus 6’s display to be more vibrant with pleasing colours as opposed to the LG’s more dull tones. In short, despite the HDR branding, the colours just looked dull while streaming HDR content. For everything else, it’s leagues better than the AMOLED on the OnePlus 6.
OS and Software: 8/10
For those who love skinned versions of Android, LG’s custom user-interface will get them interested, because of the level of customisation it offers. This customisation, like the OnePlus 6, also lets you hide the display notch. But there’s more. LG will even let you customise the blacked out areas around the notch in case you find the colour black a bit too boring. LG has branded it as the Second Screen, which should ideally work like the real Second Screen on the V20 displaying additional software buttons depending on the app. In this case, however, it does nothing apart from covering the display notch.
Apart from the notch, LG UX is fluid, lag-free and feels quite light in the sense that it does not appear to be slowing down the phone.
Everything out here is typically LG, but with Android Oreo 8.0 underneath, you can even modify the adaptive icon shape and you also get the usual Oreo add-ons like app widget shortcuts and more. OnePlus is a way ahead when it comes to regular software updates, and the smartphone maker has also begun rolling out Android 9.0 Pie globally.
There’s also a dedicated button to wake up the Google Assistant. A double-press opens up Google Lens. Indeed, this is one smartphone that gives priority to the Google Assistant and it works even better thanks to the Super Far Field Voice Recognition that can pick up a voice in noisy environments from as far as 12 feet away. More on this in the Performance section.
While LG UX is far more fluid and faster than Samsung’s Experience UI, it's not the same as OnePlus’s OxygenOS that is closer to the stock interface found on Google’s Pixel devices.
So if you are looking for bloat-free and up-to-date software, the OnePlus 6 is a better choice for you. If you are ready to settle for more features, LG UX is not as heavy as Samsung’s Experience UI.
As with every other smartphone that has launched with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC this year, performance is not really a problem. The SoC that is now also available in smartphones well below the premium segment (read Poco F1) seems to take on pretty much anything you can throw at it.
Daily app usage saw no stuttering while scrolling and no lag when launching and minimising apps and games. Talking about games, this is one smartphone that seems to be purpose-built for the task as it seems to have run most of the graphically intensive games at ease.
While almost every other smartphone these days packs in a “game mode,” they are usually gimmicky and do nothing apart from clearing the cache and closing recent apps to clear some RAM.
On the LG G7, things are a whole lot different. In Settings, under Extensions and then Gaming gets you access to Game tools. As usual, the game tools also appear in the software navigation bar. Tapping on it lets you access all the features of Game tools and control them without the need to exit the game.
While the usual features include disabling alerts during a game and taking screenshots, there’s a new ‘Take a break’ feature and the really cool ability to adjust in-game graphics as well.
Take a break
Tapping on ‘Take a break’ when you take a short break from your game will dim the display (which can get really bright and consume power during gaming) and switch back to normal when you get back from your task and tap on the ‘Play’ button. It’s a smart way to save power if you happen to take frequent breaks during your mobile gaming sessions, so it does make sense.
Next and more importantly is the tool’s ability to adjust game graphics.
Asphalt 9: Legends is a fairly new game and when I first ran the game I noticed a bit of stuttering. This was strange because the game worked fairly smoothly (not as smooth as on iOS devices) on both the OnePlus 6 and the Oppo Find X, both of which happen to feature Full HD displays.
So it seemed that Asphalt was not really optimised for the QHD+ display of the G7+ ThinQ. It’s here that the device’s ability to adjust gaming graphics came to use. I toned down the Game graphics to medium and kept the frame rate to default which was ‘high’. After the adjustment, the game ran smoothly without skipping on any frames hinting that the tweaks do work.
While games like Asphalt let you adjust the resolution and the texture settings in a game, there are plenty of others that don’t. Another popular racing game called Real Racing 3 worked just fine on all settings maxed out, but I was able to tweak the graphics which is something that in-game settings do not allow. This kind of tweaking is what mobile gamers crave for. The ability to adjust the resolution and frame rates to your liking (individually for each game) is indeed a big bonus and can easily help extend battery life if you are nowhere near a charging outlet, which makes the Game graphics settings really useful.
Another detail that gamers will love is the Boombox audio. It has to be the loudest I have heard on a smartphone to date and it surprisingly uses just one speaker to produce audio, that is not just loud but clear as well. Both the bass and treble notes are handled by the same speaker that seems to move plenty of air and vibrates the entire glass back panel (which felt immersive during gaming) while delivering a very satisfying audio quality. Indeed, this not just works well for mobile gamers, but for those who love to watch movies on their smartphones as well. I almost never needed to plug in the bundled headphones while catching up with my Netflix shows at the end of a long and tiring workday.
Plugging in the bundled headphones saw the LG G7+ ThinQ deliver rich sound, which is pretty much par (or better) than what you get on a premium Galaxy Note 9. While the bundled headphones are not bad (they even come with a braided main cable which is nice). I would recommend plugging in a more expensive pair of earphones or headphones to get the most out of the Quad DAC that delivers a jaw-dropping audio experience for a smartphone with a wide soundstage. Turning on the Quad DAC, either from the toggles in the notifications tray or in Settings, lets you tune and customise the audio to your needs and the results are pretty darn good. And now that OnePlus confirmed that its 6T would skip on the 3.5 mm headphone jack, I think that LG is definitely a better choice between the two if you love your music.
Far Field Voice Recognition
While LG claims to have included to a Super Far Field Voice Recognition system in the G7, I had a tough time verifying the same. In quiet environments near my desk, the phone easily picked up my voice and triggered the Google Assistant from a distance of about 12 feet. In noisy environments like the office cafeteria, it failed to pick up anything. I tried calling out to the Google Assistant on the LG G7+ ThinQ, the Galaxy Note 9 and the OnePlus 6 from the same distance and all three smartphones were able to pick up my voice and respond from the same 12-foot mark beyond which all devices did not respond to the voice command.
As for the call quality, I had no problems with that as well, and placing calls using the speaker even in noisy environments was not a problem thanks to the outrageously loud speaker.
Considering that I used the LG G7+ ThinQ for almost a month, before writing down this review, I did end up clicking a ton of photographs. And after all that clicking, it’s easy for me to conclude that the LG G7+ ThinQ does pack in more features than the OnePlus 6 or the Huawei Nova 3.
While I did not get a chance to compare it with a Nova 3, we did have the OnePlus 6 lying around the office so I clicked the same scenes using the two devices and the results are kind of a mixed bag.
The LG G7+ ThinQ clicks some detailed photos in daylight and the details get toned down to an extent in low light and street lit shots. In daylight, the images look crisp and showcase the right amount of colour saturation with a slight tendency to overexpose the image mostly due to its inability to activate HDR in the right shooting scenarios.
The AI Cam is confusing at best and clicked some horrible images in the simplest of lighting conditions, which meant that I had it keep it switched off. The “not so intelligent” standard camera mode (AI Cam is off by default) clicks much better photos.
In office lighting, the camera misses out on textures and details and will often showcase a paint-like effect. Things only get worse in the low light and under street lit environments, where the details go for a toss and the photos showcase plenty of blown out areas with highlight clipping. While the images look great on your phone, you cannot pixel peep as the details are just not there.
In short, OnePlus is the overall winner here. It may produce images that are more saturated than the LG, but they do look sharper and a lot more appealing, whether it's the Portrait mode or the standard mode.
Ultra-wide angle camera
One detail that most will miss out on is the ultra-wide camera. It still does not have an AF mechanism in place like the G6, but it clicks better-looking photos that have little lens barrel distortion. This is a huge improvement over the fish-eye mess on the G6. The only problem is quality.
I had the opportunity to click several photos high above the clouds where there was plenty of sunlight. The photos certainly managed to generate the wow factor. But in day to day shooting scenarios, where the lighting is not exactly perfect, the quality of the images produced managed to ruin the charm of the ultra-wide angle secondary lens.
Videos looked really great at any shooting resolution. It’s just that stabilisation worked better at FHD. The G7 even lets you shoot video in HDR which worked really great balancing out the exposure very well by taking multiple frames at different exposures. This is one phone that will let you control the minutest details (including audio channels) in the video using its manual mode, so it definitely is a better choice over the OnePlus 6 if video is your priority.
And then there’s the front camera. While the LG delivered sharper selfies in daylight, the OnePlus won me over with the daylight, portrait and low light selfies.
To conclude, the OnePlus 6 does better overall, but if video is your thing, then the LG G7+ ThinQ is a far better choice.
In day to day usage, the LG G7+ ThinQ managed to give me a day of use with an average of 4 hours and 45 minutes of screen time. At the end of the work day, I often ended up with 12 percent left, meaning that the battery did fall short of expectations and is definitely not as good as the OnePlus 6.
A small 3,000 mAh battery managed to get a below average 7 hours and 24 minutes using our standard PC Mark Work 2.0 Battery Life test. Charging speeds, on the other hand, were pretty decent and not as fast as the Dash Charge system on the OnePlus 6. Indeed, it’s not hard to point out who is the winner here.
Verdict and Price in India
The LG G7+ ThinQ may be the best smartphone at the lower end of the premium segment in India. But it also packs in more features than the OnePlus 6 currently offers like the QHD+, HDR 10-enabled display, a wide angle camera, Boombox speaker and even an IP68 dust and water resistance rating. But will you buy one?
LG has been a player in the market for so long, but it has been in a long slumber of sorts. A majority of its past flagship smartphones like the LG G5, the LG G6 and the LG V30 have been missed either with pricing or with hardware so the brand has almost faded away in the mindset of the smartphone buyer. And this is LG Mobile’s biggest problem.
Despite perfect pricing at Rs 40,000 and the added features, the camera’s image quality was kind of a mixed bag despite the stunning video quality. The phone will see few buyers. These would be either customers who believe in quality and LG, and those who do not “trust” Chinese smartphone brands (yes, it’s a thing) with their data.
Even though the LG G7+ ThinQ checks a lot more boxes than the OnePlus 6 when it comes to features, its lacklustre camera despite great video features fails to impress. Add the average battery life and I think it’s easy to conclude that OnePlus 6 is the clear winner despite the shorter feature set. Oh and let’s not forget the cherry on the icing which is software updates.
Buy the LG G7+ ThinQ if you are looking for a great display, mind-blowing audio and solid build quality and don’t mind waiting for slower software updates.
OnePlus 6 is truly an all-rounder this year, but the competition is catching up and the LG G7+ ThinQ is a worthy alternative that gets you more for your money.
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