The LG G7 Review: A Rushed Attempt?by Andrei Frumusanu on August 9, 2018 11:00 AM EST
Conclusion & End Remarks
The G7 was an opportunity for LG to try to raise its build-quality and to offer a well-rounded smartphone to offer a viable alternative with the current fierce competition.
In terms of the design of the G7, I think LG did a good job and I don’t have anything to reproach the phone for in terms of its industrial design choices. In terms of ergonomics, LG went for a rounder bezel which feels slightly handier even though the G7 keeps the exact same footprint as the G6. Moving the power button back to the side is I think a good choice, as although it was unique in past LG devices, it’s something that I personally never got used to.
Obviously there’s a lot of drama around the new screen and the fact that it includes a display notch. Again, similar what I've found in my reviews of the Huawei P20’s and the OnePlus 6, the notch in the G7 doesn’t detract from the aesthetics of the phone, especially as LG offers sufficient customisations in terms of backgrounds for the notch “ears”. The display, although it’s an LCD, offers enough contrast to have sufficiently dark blacks to hide it up until the brightest conditions.
The screen itself is among the G7’s key advertised features, and here LG fulfills all its promises. The RGBW IPS display offers excellent viewing angles, contrast, and is the brightest display we’ve seen in an Android device as it reaches and maintains an eye-searing 1000nits. LG’s promises of 35% better power efficiency on the panel were tested and verified – we’ve never seen such an efficient screen on a mobile device before. The catch here is that the phone has an (unattributed) above-average base power consumption which up to certain brightness levels essentially eliminates the efficiency advantage that the screen brought to the table.
The biggest disappointment is LG’s repeated failure to provide an accurate colour calibration – and if that’s something you value, then the G7 is definitely not the phone for you as it sports the worst colour reproduction we’ve come to measure in a phone released in the last few years.
Performance of the G7 is very good. I would have been naturally surprised to see otherwise as every other Snapdragon 845 device this year has performed excellently. It’s to note that LG’s framework doesn’t seem to be quite as integrated as what we’ve seen from other vendors, and while performance is still great – this is likely the least “snappy” S845 device I’ve come to test this year. GPU sustained performance also behaved above average for S845 devices, as much as it overtakes Samsung and Xiaomi in terms of prolonged gaming performance.
But the biggest disappointment from the G7 ended up being the camera. Even though the G7 employs the same main camera sensor as on the V30, with the same optics, the G7 consistently underperformed its sister flagship. I have no idea what happened here but the image processing on the G7 was just atrocious and absolutely not worthy of a flagship device. LG’s heavy-handed and pointless usage of a harsh noise reduction filter – which creates a water-colour effect – essentially destroyed a large amount of detail in the vast majority of scenarios, defeating the purpose of having a 16MP sensor in the first place.
Cameras are usually the last thing that are developed for a new smartphone, but it feels like LG just forgot the calibration step in its entirety on the G7. I don’t have a sample device of the V35, but I’m really curious to see how that phone behaves and if it shares any of the same issues of the G7.
The saving grace in terms of camera capture is that the wide-angle lens is still a unique selling point for LG. I still find vastly more uses in a wide-angle module than a telephoto module. Wide angle with EIS video capture is especially a really nice feature on the G7 that I enjoyed.
Although AI was a heavily marketed aspect of the G7 – and I’m purposefully avoiding bringing up the “ThinQ” branding throughout the review – its practical uses are very slim. The added assistant button on the side of the phone is a new feature and is integrated with the Google Assistant. The drawback here is that the response time from pressing the button to the assistant actually starting to listen is quite long and unnatural in its implementation. I fear to say that Samsung’s Bixby button is far better in this regard.
The AICam on the V30 was a neat feature which could offer some improvements in colour representation in some scenarios. The same can’t be said for the G7 as in my experience almost any kind of change applied while in AICam mode has been detrimental to picture quality. I’m not even going into the fact that there’s very little machine learning going on and any of it that does happen is actually run on the CPU. LG needs to avoid catering to the latest trendy marketing buzz-words and concentrate on improving the core characteristics of its phones.
Lastly, the new “Boombox” speaker promised some big improvements in sound quality. Sure, if you’re the type to put your phone down and listen to music, then the G7 does compete quite well. Unfortunately a handheld device is, well, most often held in your hands, and here the G7’s speaker design underperforms in terms of sound quality. The positives here is that it does get very loud, and it’s one of the rare mono side speakers that actually manages to have surprisingly good frontal directionality.
So does the G7 make the cut in terms of a worthy purchase? For me the camera is one of the more major deal-breakers. The good news is that the problem here appears to be software – it's the image processing that seems to be the problem rather than the optics or sensor – so LG can fix the problem, if they want to. But until LG resolves the phone’s processing calibration and at least manages to get the G7 back to the picture quality of the V30, I think it’s going to have a very tough time justifying itself. I can only think of a niche use-case where the G7 would beat other phones: prolonged usage in very bright usage conditions, thanks to its efficient screen.
For me the G7 just feels like a phone that has been rushed out and the designers just didn’t get to polish the details out. The two biggest concerns, display calibration and camera calibration, are both fixable by software. But as we’ve seen in the past, the chances of vendors addressing such issues after the fact are slim and are more of an exception to the norm. For now, I don’t see the G7 as a competitive offering versus a similarly priced OnePlus 6, or a superior product, the Galaxy S9(+).