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LG V40 ThinQ Review: Phone for audiophiles and creative photographers
LG recently unveiled the company's top-of-the-line flagship smartphone- V40 ThinQ in the Indian market. It is a smartphone that first appeared in October 2018, but is still LG's best mobile device. The V40 ThinQ has been launched at a premium price tag of Rs. 49,990 in India. It fights 2018's flagship devices from Google, Samsung, OnePlus and some value flagship smartphones launched in the year 2019 from Honor, Vivo, and OPPO. These handsets are much popular than LG's premium smartphones, which are usually not taken seriously by consumers in India.
- Interesting and capable camera setup
- Excellent 2K display
- Durable design and feels super premium in hands
- Best-in-class audio experience
- Battery life could have been better
- Not the best camera for low-light photography
- Dated Android Oreo
- Market now offers smartphones with latest hardware and software
LG V40 ThinQ has the same story. It might not sell in big numbers in India due to bad timing. The V40 ThinQ is essentially like that creative kid in class who can give toppers (Pixels, iPhones and Galaxy phones in this case) a run for their money, provided that the world knows about the kid. It is the first mainstream smartphone to boast 5 cameras; three at the rear and two at the front. You will also find a crisp and super vibrant 2K display, premium audio delivery and durable water-dust resistant body.
LG V40 ThinQ is my present daily driver and is super fun to use, mainly because I keep photography in my highest regards. How different is LG V40 ThinQ from Google Pixel phones, OnePlus 6T, Galaxy S series smartphones and Chinese flagship phones from Honor and OnePlus? Let's find out in the following review.
5-Lens Camera Setup is fun and offers a lot to explore
LG V40's 5-lens camera setup is simply one-of-its-kind on a smartphone. The camera assembly comprises of 12MP 2x Zoom Telephoto lens with OIS and PDAF (F/2.4), 16MP Ultrawide-angle lens with no autofocus (F/1.9) , and 12MP Standard lens with dual PDAF and OIS (F/1.5 aperture). The front gets dual-lens setup featuring an 8MP standard lens and a 5MP wide-angle lens. The telephoto lens at the rear offers a 45 deg. Field of view (FOV) and takes you closer to the subjects. It is the lens that you should use while taking close up shots. The standard lens, which you will use most of the time, offers a decent 78 deg. FOV.
LG’s signature ultra-wide angle lens is best-in-class
Then comes the LG's signature Ultrawide-angle lens, which has improved a lot in the last few years and offers 107 deg. FOV on LG V40 ThinQ. I am simply a fan of LG's ultra-wide angle lens. It is undoubtedly the best on a smartphone, better than Samsung's and Huawei's ultra-wide angle lens' implementation and gives your photography a new perspective. The distorting effect is almost negligible in images shot with an ultra-wide angle lens.
Brilliant camera phone for Street and Landscape photography
The 5-lens camera assembly makes LG V40 ThinQ a brilliant phone for photographers who love to explore the world around them. The much improved wide-angle lens makes for a very good add-on for landscape shots to capture scenic views. The wide-angle perspective also makes everyday shots of streets, buildings, etc. quite appealing. If you also like to explore the rush of busy Indian cities, the triple-lens camera system will come really handy. LG has also added a variety of Cinematography effects in ‘Cine Vide' mode that makes video shooting quite interesting. You also get a Manual mode for Video which is simply a great add-on on a smartphone.
The camera on V40 is not the best bet for portrait photography. Results are not always impressive. However, the camera allows you to control the amount of bokeh even after taking a shot which makes it possible to fine-tune the image output. In comparison, Pixel 2 XL which is now selling at a very good price captures brilliant portraits and is also a better handset for low-light photography.
Triple shot and AI composition come really handy
If you want to capture one single frame in all three perspectives, simply use the Triple shot mode. When enabled, V40 takes a shot with each of the three cameras and presents you the same image captured in ultra wide, normal, and with the telephoto lens. Besides, the AI composition gives you a better representation of colors and also suggests the right lens to use while framing a shot. LG's AI implementation is a bit smarter than other manufacturers approach of using machine learning to improve the photography experience. The whole package makes LG V40 ThinQ the best camera smartphone for content creators, cinematographers, and videographers.
How’s the image quality?
Coming onto image quality, the pictures show excellent contrast, punchy colors and good details in daylight. The V40's camera also captures a great amount of dynamic range on clear days. The blue color of the sky and greens of trees are beautifully captured. The sharpness in images is not at par with Google Pixel devices though. Besides, you will notice a shift in color balance in images shot with the three lenses. And as usual, LG's camera software still creates a posterized effect in order to keep the noise in check when images are shot in unfavorable lighting. If you can make peace with some level of noise, the three lenses perform a good job when the sun sets. However, I must mention that LG V40 ThinQ is still not my first preference for low-light photography. Google Pixel 3 and even Pixel 2/2XL phones are still the most recommended phones for low-light photography and even for portrait shots which is another area where LG V40 ThinQ struggles.
Vibrant 6.4-inches OLED display but the notch still haunts
LG V40 ThinQ boasts a big 6.4-inches QHD+ OLED panel that offers a resolution of 1,440 x 3,120 pixels. This translates to a pixel density of 538 ppi making videos, pictures, and text super crisp. The new OLED panel by LG is vibrant, produces more accurate colors and is also fairly bright at the same time making it easy to use the handset outdoors. The screen on LG V40 ThinQ is better than Honor View 20's LCD panel and even better than OnePlus 6T's AMOLED display in terms of contrast and sharpness. However, there's one drawback. The display on LG V40 ThinQ has a big notch and slightly thicker bezels on all four sides than the competition. It did not bother me much in everyday use even after considering the fact that I have recently tested the above two mentioned handsets.
It is worth mentioning that the contrast levels on LG V40's OLED panel are not at par with Samsung's AMOLED displays. If you keep LG V40 ThinQ side-by-side with a recent Samsung Galaxy phone, you will notice that the blacks on LG's OLED are not as deep as blacks on the Super AMOLED panel on Galaxy phones (S9/S9+). Even after such noticeable issues, the display on LG V40 ThinQ is still one-of-the best I have used in last one year. It ensures an immersive gameplay and video playback experience while playing games like Asphalt 9, PUBG and streaming media content on Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, etc. Set the graphics to highest and see the minutest details unfolding on the vibrant OLED panel. The phone's excellent audio delivery (with and without headphones) also enhances the multimedia experience multifold.
Sleek, Premium and super durable
LG V40 ThinQ looks and feels super premium in hands. It is also one-of-the most durable smartphone out there in the market. The phone is IP68 certified for dust and water resistance. The front and back are protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and the phone also gets MIL-STD-810G military certification for shock resistance. The rear panel has a smooth glossy finish but it picks up far fewer smudges than the other flagships that sport glass backs. As far as usability is concerned, the phone is very light and can be used with one hand for screen navigation, dialer, scrolling FB, Instagram feed and while browsing web pages. I would recommend using both hands while using the camera and controlling volume by physical buttons as V40 ThinQ is extremely slippery and essentially a big phone for users with small hands.
Audio at its best
LG has put a lot of hard work to make V40 the best sounding smartphone in its respective price-point. Resultant, the sound delivery produced by V40 (with and without headphones) is extremely immersive. The audio is loud and accurate. The smartphone comes equipped with DTS:X Surround sound with Boom-Box speaker. The speaker uses the empty space in V40 ThinQ's body as a sound chamber to produce richer audio experience. While playing games and streaming audio/video files, you can actually feel the phone's body resonating with the audio. The audio output is tuned by the British company- Meridian Audio and creates an immersive sound experience.
The phone also has quad Hi-Fi DACs to drive high-impedance headphones. The audio through the bundled LG earphones is crystal clear as the phone also supports DTS:X Virtual Surround for headphones. This adds more spatial elements to audio you play on V40 ThinQ. The best part, LG V40 ThinQ also has the good old 3.5mm headphone jack so you can use any regular earphones with the phone. While using the earphones, you can also enable Quad-DAC to experience louder and richer audio. You can also choose between various audio profiles and can also create custom ones for the type of audio you like to hear. Overall, LG V40 ThinQ is a great sounding phone that will surely please audiophiles.
Dated Android Oreo fused with LG’s Android skin
It comes as s surprise that the flagship V40 ThinQ is still running the old Android 8.1.0 in the year 2019. The smartphone is due to receive the Android Pie update sooner or later. LG needs to rework on its software update cycles as the brand is clearly ignoring this critical part of its mobility division.
As far as software performance is concerned, the phone is really snappy, exactly how a flagship should be in today's time, and hardly lags while loading apps, videos and games. A number of useful software features have been tucked inside the settings menu to enhance the user-experience.
I have seen over the time that LG's custom UI is not widely preferred by the audience. I find it quite efficient and to the point. You get Always-on display, extensive color calibration options to customize the Quad HD display, HDR video effect to make media content appear vibrant, System-wide search, Comfort mode to reduce strain on eyes, Floating bar to add readily used shortcuts, Smart doctor that works as a phone optimizer and a lot more. You can choose between a standard app drawer UI and iOS-like home-screens UI. The phone's software also allows you to reduce the screen's resolution to save battery life and customize the notch screen with different cutouts styles and color skins. Besides, the typing experience on LG V40 ThinQ is simply brilliant, probably the best I have experienced on an Android smartphone. The haptic engine deployed is really powerful and creates iOS-like (Taptic engine) feedback. You are bound to experience life-like typing and touch feedback on the OLED panel of V40 ThinQ.
Overall, LG's custom UI is quite feature-rich and colorful but the slow update cycle is really something LG needs to address for consumers.
Lag-free gaming and multitasking
LG V40 ThinQ is backed by Snapdragon 845 chipset. The phone has 6 GB LPDDR4x RAM and 128 GB internal storage. The V40 ThinQ also has microSD card support to expand the internal memory to up to 512GB. This is no doubt flagship hardware but now when other manufacturers are ready to introduce smartphones with the newest Snapdragon 855 SoC, LG V40 ThinQ might not hold up well in the race of flagships. While there are no performance issues with LG V40 ThinQ, you might not want to spend a sum of 50K on a smartphone with last year's flagship chipset and dated Android Oreo. LG needs to fasten up launch cycles in the Indian market if they really want to sell mobile devices in huge numbers. The V40 ThinQ could have done a lot better if it had been launched in the same or next month in India after the global launch.
Nevertheless, if you find a good deal, a price-cut may be, V40 ThinQ is a brilliant phone to have. The phone does now slow down while playing the most graphical intensive games at extreme settings. You can run more than 20 apps at a time without worrying about any performance slowdowns. I only noticed some degree of temperature increase while playing games for a good 20 min on a stretch and while shooting long duration videos in 4K resolution and in ‘Cine mode'. The phone cools down in no time when you start using it moderately. The V40 ThinQ offers solid on-call quality. There's wireless charging support and the phone has Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD Support for immersive wireless audio delivery.
3,300 mAh battery unit is the weak point
LG V40 ThinQ is backed by probably the least powerful battery cell on a flagship smartphone. The phone is backed by a 3,300 battery unit which cannot last for a day if you a heavy user. If you stream videos on loop, play graphically intensive games and use the camera on a stretch, you will find the V40 ThinQ struggling to last even for a day with one full charge.
The V40 ThinQ is another impressive flagship phone from LG. The brilliant 5-lens camera setup alone gives me enough reasons to recommend this phone to anyone who keeps photography in his/her highest regards. Besides, the vibrant QHD+ OLED screen, super durable design and best-in-class audio setup are some more reasons to invest in this device. However, you just cannot ignore the competition.
Despite the fact that LG has put an amazing camera setup, brilliant display, and best-in-class audio experience, the V40 ThinQ has to overcome a fair share of challenges. It rivals OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition, which packs in whopping 10GB RAM, latest Android OS and super fast Warp Charge technology. However, OnePlus 6T does not hold well in camera, audio, and display department. Then comes the OPPO R17 Pro which you can simply ignore without giving much thought. Honor View 20 is another device which you must check out. It is priced lower much than the LG V40 ThinQ and offers an interesting proposition. And if you do not want to spend a huge sum on last year's technology, the market is almost ready to offer the latest breed of flagship smartphones from Samsung, especially the new Galaxy S10 E, S10, and S10+.