I have always been a fan of LG’s G-series phones. But there is no doubt that almost all of LG’s flagships in the recent past have played second fiddle to Samsung, Huawei, and OnePlus phones. Therefore, when the LG G7+ ThinQ launched globally I was least interested in the phone. However, LG did a soft launch of the phone here in India at a competitive price tag of Rs 40,000. This piqued my interest. And furthermore, I got a chance to use it recently and boy this phone is by far the most underrated flagship smartphone of 2018!
While it has its own set of flaws, all the positives easily outweigh them. In fact, I have noted down five solid reasons why this phone is a better option than other budget flagships like the OnePlus 6 (review), Poco F1 (review), and the ASUS ZenFone 5Z (review). This is not a comprehensive review of the G7+ ThinQ, but it can surely help a lot of folks considering the phone.
P.S. this is not a paid post!
Reason 1: the IPS LCD panel is a stunner
The tall 6.1-inch IPS LCD panel on the phone is bright, extremely bright. It is the only phone right now that can hit 1000 nits of peak brightness at a system level. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 can go as high as 1150 nits but only in video apps like YouTube or Netflix. In any case, you need more than 1000 nits of brightness to be HDR10 and Dolby Vision compliant.
Also, the IPS LCD panel has a quad-pixel setup, which includes an extra white sub-pixel apart from the regular Red, Blue, and Green for every pixel. This ensures that the display is bright even when you take it outdoors in bright sunlight and it looks extremely colour-accurate as well. And, let’s not forget that LCD panels will last longer because, unlike AMOLED panels, you don’t have to worry about screen burn-in issues.
Watching HDR videos on YouTube on the LG G7+ ThinQ, was a treat to the eyes. The IPS LCD panel offers extremely accurate colour reproduction and you can also change granular level settings of the display. For example, you can tune the RGB levels and the colour temperature as you wish. Since the whites were a little too cool for my liking, I cranked up the warmness a little to make it more comfortable to read.
All in all, the display is almost as good as any high-end TV with a larger panel. And regardless, I am a fan of well-tuned IPS LCD panels and the G7+ ThinQ doesn’t disappoint in that regard.
Reason 2: best phone for listening to music
There is no doubt in my mind that the LG G7+ ThinQ is the best phone for listening to music through the headphone jack. The phone’s Hi-Fi Quad ESS DAC setup offers an audio experience that is unparalleled and no other smartphone even comes close to its performance. It is the absolute best. Here’s why:
- Unlike most phones with a Snapdragon 845 SoC that use the in-built Qualcomm DAC for serving audio through the 3.5mm jack, the G7 ThinQ+ has a dedicated ESS 9218P DAC, which has an amp setup as well. This amp can be used to drive high impedance headphones. And, there is a special high impedance mode to do that. For comparison, even the newly launched budget digital audio player (DAP) Shanling M0, which is a darling of many Indian audiophiles, uses the same DAC.
- I was lucky enough to have a unit of the FiiO FH5 lying around. These IEMs are fairly easy to drive and therefore the G7+ ThinQ didn’t have to switch on the high impedance mode. Even so, the sound through the FH5 was clinical and accurate. I heard a pristine signature that it is unparalleled as far as phones are concerned. The G7+ ThinQ sounds that good!
- When using the Hi-Fi DAC mode you get granular control for volume levels. You can change it one point at a time. This is useful for folks using high-end audio gear because you get precise control.
- In the Settings menu, you also have the option to change the Sound Presets according to your preference. I always prefer a flat signature because I like to listen to music the way the artist intended, so I don’t touch the EQ settings. But, individual mileage may vary. You also get three digital filters that alter the way you hear the audio. Essentially, you can use Short if you like a spatial and ambient sound. Or, Sharp if you prefer a Natural sound as the artist originally intended. And finally, Slow for a cleaner sound. I really liked the Short digital filter and the difference is perceptible. These are not just gimmicks.
- You also have a new DTS: X 3D surround sound feature, which is great for movies and games but not for music. Essentially, it places sounds coming from different angles in the correct position. It tries to simulate a 5.1 home theatre setup.
- If you are a fan of wireless audio, the G7+ ThinQ doesn't disappoint in that regard either. You get support for aptX HD, which supports high-quality wireless audio on a supported headset.
- Coming to the new resonating chamber inside the G7+ ThinQ. It is legit one of the most quantifiable improvements to a speaker, I have experienced yet. I mean, I would have liked a stereo setup, but this mono setup is still pretty good. It gets loud, really loud. And even at its maximum volume, you get a distortion-free sound. You can really feel the vibration when the entire chamber resonates. But there is one small problem, wherein you can easily muffle the sound when you are holding the phone in landscape position and your finger blocks the speaker.
To be honest, I am tempted to sell off my Cayin N3 and move to this phone. Let’s see what happens. Oh, and for folks wondering who cares about sound quality so much? Well, maybe you don’t care, but if you do listen to streaming music all day long the LG G7+ ThinQ makes that experience even better. Think of it this way, there is a special joy in going to fine dining restaurants and eating fancy food. Right? The G7+ ThinQ is an equivalent of a fine dining restaurant in terms of audio. And the rest are…well, go figure.
Reason 3: wide-angle camera and manual mode in video recording
Since I spent so much time on the audio performance, I will keep the camera section short. Before I talk about the positives, let me tell you that the rear camera is not as good as other flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S9 or the Huawei P20 Pro. But, that wide angle camera lets you take some really creative shots. I will let you take a look at the pictures and judge for yourself.
Similarly, LG’s manual video recording mode is such an intense tool for videographers. You can change the ISO, the shutter speed, and the focus. But the coolest thing is that the manual mode lets you adjust the microphone settings and add a wind noise filter. In fact, LG is probably the only smartphone camera app that gives you ‘focus peaking’ in manual mode. I really want this app ported to other, more capable cameras like the Pixel 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S9. Imagine the amount of control you can get over your shots!
Reason 4: military-grade sturdiness and water-proofing
Yes, the LG G7+ ThinQ has a glass-sandwich design. But here’s the thing, the phone comes with an IP68 certification, which means the phone can be submerged in under 1.5meters of water for up to 30 mins. That’s not it, the phone is also MIL-STD-810G compliant, which is a military-grade certification for sturdiness. Not one phone in its price range come with such intense weatherproofing certifications.
And, I can talk from personal experience here. I dropped the phone, by mistake, from a height of about 3ft on a rocky, hard surface. Trust me, the angle at which it hit the ground, any other phone would have smashed to smithereens. But, not the LG G7+ ThinQ. All it did was create a dent on the SIM card tray, and a few scuff marks here and there. That in itself is a big, big sell for me.
Reason 5: insane haptic feedback
The one thing that completes any premium smartphone experience for me is the haptic feedback response that you get with it. The iPhone is so great because of its kickass haptic feedback engine. The LG G7+ ThinQ comes really, really close. You get a system-wide touch feedback that is so subtle and pleasing. But the kicker is that you also get an indicative touch feedback response within the camera app. Every time the phone gives you an indicative feedback when it focusses on a subject, it feels extremely satisfying.
Who should consider the LG G7 ThinQ+?
Overall, I think the oddly named LG G7+ ThinQ is for the professionals. Like I mentioned before, it has an audiophile-grade quad-DAC setup and there’s also the dedicated manual mode for videography. In all honesty, I absolutely loved my experience with the phone. And, I am really sad that LG is not marketing it enough. This phone deserves more attention for sure.
But, it’s not like it is a perfect phone. There are issues. The battery life is not great and the quality of pictures captured by the front camera is average at best. But most importantly, LG’s custom skin on top of Android Oreo has a very heavy-handed approach. LG seriously needs to do something about it. Thankfully, I can live with it because I use Evie launcher anyway on most of my phones.
All things considered, the LG G7+ ThinQ has very solid reasons why it is better than many other Android flagships out there. In fact, I would have easily put my Rs 40,000 on the G7+ ThinQ, if I weren’t reviewing smartphones for a living. At that price, the phone is an absolute steal!
Is anyone out there who is stoked about the G7+ ThinQ? Maybe, you even own one. Do let us know in the comments section below.