The LG G7 ThinQ is a great-looking device. Its smooth glass back is easy to hold, and the placement of the fingerprint scanner just below the dual camera array is (finally) the right spot for it. The guys at LG have obviously been listening to customer feedback, and have opted not to incorporate the power toggle in the fingerprint sensor, as seen in many previous LG phones. Instead, the fingerprint reader is a static ring, and the power toggle has been moved to the side of the phone, in the same kind of spot one would find it on a Samsung phone.
This makes more sense to me, as I would often press the fingerprint button on the LG V30 and inadvertently turn the screen off when I didn’t want to. This is impossible to do now on the G7, so we’re kind of back to normal when it comes to locking and unlocking the phone.
The 3.5mm headphone jack has been moved to the bottom of the phone, which seems like another move in line with what people have been asking for. When the phone is placed into a jeans pocket with some headphones plugged in, one wants the phone to go into the pocket “heads first” so that when you pull it out again it’s the right way up. Unless you’re like me and put your phone in an inside jacket pocket, with the top facing upwards. But I’m weird like that.
The weight of the G7 is nice, and it feels good in the hand, just like the V30 did. The G7 is ever-so-slightly narrower than the V30, but I like that it’s similar in many ways, because I felt that the hardware of the V30 was a winner.
When you first boot the G7 from the box, you are presented with a screen that asks you to basically turn the notch on or off. Interestingly, (and as if LG already know which one you’ll want) turning the notch off is selected as the default option. You have to actually choose to want it on at this early stage. I opted for no notch. But as we will see, that doesn’t actually mean much.
Going through set up is pretty straightforward these days: your Google account pulls in your most recent update from your last Android device, and soon, you’re up and running. At first glance the screen looks good for an IPS LCD display. The colors don’t “pop” like they do on an OLED panel, and I was thinking about the way they popped on my old V30. But the screen is very uniform and bright, and that’s what most people want. At least this screen won’t fall victim to the P-OLED problems of its cousin, wherein the V30’s (and Pixel 2 XL’s) showed weird mottling and fine grey vertical lines. Hmm.
The one thing that most people will talk about when they see a G7 isn’t the silly-sounding name on the back (“LG G7 ThinQ”… I mean… what?!), but the notch. Notchy notch notch. Notchiness in all its notchy glory. And you very quickly learn, that while you asked for “no notch, thanks”, you’re going to get it. All the time, pretty much. You see, the problem is, LG haven’t really implemented the notch that well overall. If you’re in Settings, for example, then you won’t see the notch, because, well, LG control Settings don’t they, and they’ve made it obey your notch or no notch commands. But other apps, nearly all of the apps I use, do not conform to any of these rules. The BBC News app, for example, will fill the “ears” with red to match their colour scheme, Instagram will make them a light grey, and the list goes on and on. And while this isn’t a huge issue, the problem really gets on your nerves when you’re in, say, Google Maps, and the ears are shaded ever-so-slightly more grey than the grey streets of the map, while the font for the clock, 4G signal and battery percentage is… white! So it’s very hard to read this information. And this is on top of your mild frustration for requesting that the notch be hidden in the first place! And yet… even if apps did behave and show the ears as black areas to mask the notch in the middle, because this is an LCD screen which never really goes as black as the blacks on an AMOLED screen, you can sort of see a greyish outline for the actual notch itself, while the ears are never really black either, more sort of very dark grey. So all in all, they may as well do an iPhone X (seeing as they blatantly copied the idea in the first place!) and just say to everyone: Embrace the notch. Love the notch. The notch is here to stay. And don’t try to hide it because you can’t, something tech reviewers should start writing in their articles, instead of yelling at naysayers: “You can hide it! Stop moaning!” Er… you can’t, so why don’t you start doing your job properly.
My overall, very early impressions of the G7 include using the camera and I’m not all that impressed with it to be honest. Which sounds harsh… I mean I’m not totally bowled over by it. It’s a very good camera, but it’s not outstanding. Now, I am comparing it to the outstanding Samsung Galaxy S9, and from my experience with the excellent LG V30+, two phones that are good phones to compare the G7 with, as they are about the same age and price point. But the G7 seems to be suffering from some early software stage nerves; it is slow and clunky in areas where you’d expect it to be blazingly fast. The camera is a bit slow and sluggish, as if the phone is thinking about something else after you tap the camera icon.
And inside the camera UI, when you switch from one lens to the other (which was very quick to transition on the V30) things are slower than expected. And when you go ahead and snap that photo of your cat… yep you guessed it, things are still slower than you’d expect. And you’d be expecting great things with a Snapdragon 845 under the hood. But perhaps this is too early to expect so much, and we should wait a little while for some tweaking in some updates. But I’m not that impressed at the moment. Photos are fine, but seem to suffer from quite a lot of over-processing and over-sharpening. Again, comparing it to the wonderfully detailed photos from my S9, I prefer the S9 right now. It’s quicker to start up, it’s quicker to focus and process the photo and the overall quality is better. I know that’s a subjective area, but I’m just giving you my honest, early days opinion here. Things may change for the better with the G7 once LG have sent out some important updates. For the price tag, too, I’d expect this to be great, not just fine. The AI element is ridiculous. Activating that from the UI instantly gives you text pop ups on the screen; the phone is trying to identify what you’re looking at, so it can adjust things in the background to give you amazing photos. Except that it’s bonkers. Pointing the phone at my cat and the word “cat” pops up. Great. But it is joined onscreen with “cocktail”, “popcorn”, “motorcycle” among others. You can’t interact with these text blobs, so they are just there to entertain you. Or baffle you. Either way, I found myself opting to not bother with the AI function. It’s too weird.
As for the rest of it, time will tell; it’s only been about 48 hours in with the G7. If I was given a G7 as my main device, and I was coming from its predecessor, the G6, then I’d be happy as this would feel like a proper upgrade. Over the G6 you get Qi/PMA wireless charging, a Quad DAC via the 3.5mm headphone socket, and beefed-up internals. But coming from another flagship devicse like a Galaxy S9… I’m not so sure at this stage. The G7 needs a boost in the form of a really decent software update. Let’s hope that comes along soon.