LG G7 first impressions: super bright display, notch you can hide and speaker that goes up to 11

The LG G7 ThinQ comes with a number of neat features for flagship phone fans, including a ‘super bright mode’, clever notch-hiding options, AI camera software and speakers so loud they shake the phone

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 1:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 10:16am

When LG failed to unveil a new G-series smartphone at this year’s Mobile World Congress – one of the most important trade events for the mobile communications industry – rumours began swirling in the tech media that the South Korean company was killing its flagship line.

Turns out such speculation was unfounded as LG is just about to launch the G7, a refined handset which follows on the back of the well-rounded V30.

The new model has the official name LG G7 ThinQ, with “ThinQ” referring to the company’s line of artificially intelligent connected home appliances which is not exactly widely known outside South Korea.

What may draw some users’ ire is G7’s iPhone X-like notch at the top of the display. The increasingly popular notch is a feature that divides the Android community. I was an initial detractor, but notches have won me over because it allows a phone’s status bar to be pushed up to where the traditional forehead bezel would normally be.

For what it’s worth, LG gives users options to either hide or flaunt the notch. Users can turn the colour of the screen space around the notch completely black – which does a good job of concealing the cut-out and gives the phone a more traditional look – or use a rainbow colour scheme with a gradient effect that actually draws attention to that part of the screen.

The display itself is a 6.1-inch IPS LCD panel with an even taller aspect ratio of 19.5:9 (last year’s G6 started the trend of taller aspect ratios with an 18:9). While an LCD display is generally considered to be inferior to an OLED panel (found on the V30), there are some benefits to using LCDs, such as their ability reach a higher level of brightness.

That’s one of the G7’s selling points: the phone can reach a peak brightness of 1,000 nits. The iPhone X, by contrast, has a max brightness of 634 nits.

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The difference is noticeable – I can see the G7’s screen under direct sunlight much more easily than I can the screen of an iPhone X. There is a big catch, however: the G7 can only bump up to the 1,000 nit mark for three minutes at a time, as LG says the phone would otherwise overheat. But even without what LG calls “Super Bright Mode”, the phone can sustain 650 nits of brightness full time, which is still among the best in the industry.

The other new feature of the G7 is that is has got a much louder speaker than the G6. LG’s engineers say they didn’t just use a larger amp, but re-engineered the G7’s body from the G6 to allow for more acoustic resonance inside the device.

Tests confirm the G7 can indeed pump out sound much louder than other phones – in fact, the G7’s back vibrates when at max volume – but I found the sound a bit flat due to the lack of a second speaker grille.

Elsewhere, the G7’s camera set-up has mostly the same hardware found on the V30 (dual 16-megapixel cameras) but the camera software has been given an AI update that works similar to Huawei’s NPU-powered phones. That means the cameras can tell what they’re looking at and change settings automatically to produce what the AI thinks is a better photo.

In my brief testing, I found the AI-boosted camera system works well on flowers and food, but not on humans (where the AI is slightly flawed and the subject comes out a little over-processed, like plastic).

Everything else is about what you would expect from a major company’s flagship phone. It comes with a Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB or 6GB of RAM, and a 3,000 mAh battery that supports wireless charging.

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Price and availability is not available at the time of writing, but the G7 is expected to go on sale in South Korea and the US by mid-May, with a Hong Kong release likely near the end of the month.