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LG Electronics

LG V40 ThinQ first impressions: near-instant GIFs, five cameras and all you expect in a top-tier Android

Korean smartphone maker follows Huawei by offering triple rear cameras, and offers the ability to animate part of a photo in seconds. Battery capacity may be an issue, however

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2018, 10:42am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2018, 6:55pm

LG’s new flagship smartphone, the V40 ThinQ, has five cameras – two selfie lenses and a triple-camera system on the back. Whether we really need two selfie cameras – one standard, one wide-angle – is open to question, but the V40’s triple lens main camera system is useful and probably the next major hardware bump for phone brands (Samsung’s next flagship handset, the Galaxy S10, is expected to have triple rear cameras too).

Of course, LG is not the first to go with a triple-lens main camera system; Huawei has already done it with the P20 Pro. LG’s take is a bit different, however. The P20 Pro’s three lenses are mostly used for pulling in more light and colour information. The V40 provides cameras of varying focal length.

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The new third lens is a telephoto lens with 2X lossless zoom, while the other two are a standard shooter paired with a wide-angle lens with a 107-degree field of vision – as seen on previous LG handsets. Between the three lenses, the V40’s cameras can pull back further or zoom in closer than most phones.

Each lens works as advertised, and it’s worth mentioning that the main shooter has an industry-best aperture of f/1.5. Early photo samples show the low f-stop is definitely producing brighter, less noisy images at night. But as Huawei, Google and Apple have proven with recent releases, hardware is only half the story when it comes to smartphone camera quality: we are in the age of computational photography, in which software algorithms are equally important.

When it comes to producing the most balanced HDR images or most natural bokeh shots, LG’s image processing software algorithm has in the past fallen behind those of Google and Apple; it is too early to tell whether the V40 flips the script, but LG makes up for that by offering the most flexible camera system with a bag full of tricks.

The V10, for example, was the first phone to offer manual controls for video recording, and last year’s V30 gave us the ability to zoom into any part of the frame (smartphones usually only allow centre zoom).

This year, the V40 brings the ability to shoot cinemagraphs, which are animated GIFs or videos that give the illusion of being a still photo, except that part of the frame is in motion.

This type of trick photography usually requires professionals to snap a series of photos and then splice them together using image-editing software. It’s usually a time-consuming process, but the V40, using its triple lens and software algorithm, can produce one in under eight seconds. The user is able to pick which part of the frame to move, so creatives should be able to produce some neat illusions that should prove popular on Instagram. Below is a selection.

Apart from its cameras, the V40 is a pretty standard Android flagship phone. It runs on a Snapdragon 845 processor with 6GB of RAM, and it has all the features one would expect from a top-tier phone, including wireless charging, IP68 water resistance, large display with minimal bezels, Bluetooth 5.0, etc.

The display panel is a 6.4-inch OLED screen, and the V40 has a physical footprint (including shape and dimension) very similar to the iPhone XS Max, except that it is significantly lighter, at 169 grams to the XS Max’s 208 grams.

The only part of the V40 that’s out of date is its battery capacity: at 3,300 mAh, it’s on the low side and is overshadowed by what Samsung or Huawei are offering.

The V40 is set to be released in the US on October 19, followed by South Korea on October 26. Hong Kong should get the phone in mid-November. Pricing has not been announced.