Hands On with the LG V35 ThinQ
LG's new phone is a Frankenstein-like effort. LG sliced and diced parts from various phones and stitched them together to breath life into one monstrous device. The V35 ThinQ is part V30, part G7, and all LG. It boasts a 6-inch screen, mil-spec toughness, the latest silicon, and a trio of cameras. Here are Phone Scoop's first thoughts about LG's latest laboratory creation.
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Last year's LG V30 was my favorite phone of the year. It wasn't perfect, but it was still a gorgeous piece of hardware: impeccably crafted, comfortable, thin, and light. Fast forward eight months, and LG is recycling the design for its new flagship device, the V35 ThinQ.
LG's new phone has the same chassis, the same display, the same footprint, and the same overall appearance, aside from the paint, as the older V30. LG isn't alone in recycling designs. Its primary competitors, Apple and Samsung, are guilty of the same behavior. Despite its similarities with the V30, there's a lot to like about the V35.
It has some of the thinnest bezels available on a full-screened phone (by which I mean there's no notch). It completely lacks the big size trade-off you might expect. The V35 is smaller than last year's Note8 and Pixel 2 XL, for example. It's relatively compact for having such a large display. The front of the phone is covered in curved Gorilla Glass 4. The front glass is appealing, but it is not protected from scratches when placed face down.
The V35 ThinQ is tough. It meets IP68 for protection against water (even though it has an exposed USB-C port and 3.5mm audio jack) and mil-spec 810G for protection against abuse. The V30 offered the same level of protection and did a good job of it. I expect the V35 to be just as tough.
The only buttons are the volume buttons on the left side, and the fingerprint reader on the back. The fingerprint reader doubles as a screen lock button and it depresses like a real button. The buttons are all easy to find by feel and work well. The SIM / memory card tray is on the right side of the phone. The headphone jack is on top and the USB-C port is on the bottom. These are unchanged from the V30.
In addition to the fingerprint reader, you'll see the V35 ThinQ's dual camera array on the back. The twin 16-megapixel sensors are covered by different lenses: a standard-view lens (71 degrees) at f/1.6 and a wide-angle lens (107 degrees) at f/1.9. LG says it reduced the angle of the wide lens from 120 degrees to eliminate optical distortion. This means you'll be able to fit a bit less into the frame when compared to the 2017 G6 and V30. The camera array, which is flush with the rear surface, is protected by its own piece of Gorilla Glass. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor at f/1.9. This is basically the same setup as the G7.
As for the V35's software, it runs Android 8 Oreo with LG's newer UI skin aboard — an identical build to what we saw on the G7 earlier this month. LG said it will update the G7 and the V35 ThinQ to Android P when it becomes available later this year.
The lock screen supports custom shortcuts and notifications, and the home screen comes either with or without an app drawer — your choice. LG's toolset offers knock on and knock code for waking the display, adjustable grid sizes for the home screen panels, and configurable action buttons at the bottom of the screen.
The V35 carries over the optional floating information bar. This feature lets you quickly access and control certain feature of the phone, such as the media player and messaging apps, from a floating dock on the home screen panels. I am not a fan of such tools, but it is there for people who do appreciate the option.
The camera offers the most significant update as far as software is concerned. LG is taking advantage of machine learning and the Snapdragon 845's image signal processor to help the V35 ThinQ recognize 18 different scenes, such as flowers, pets, the beach, and more. The AI Cam then adjusts the parameters to capture the best shot based on the scene. We tested it with some flowers, fruit, and other objects and found it generally picked the right scene. It's not perfect, and it's not very quick, but it does work.
The V35 supports portrait shooting. When using the rear camera the V35 will automatically adjust to portrait mode when it senses you are photographing a person. The phone puts both the rear-mounted cameras to work in order to create blurred effects. The samples we took on-site looked good. The front camera offers portrait shooting, too, but relies on software to create the effect.
Pixel binning, which combines four pixels into superpixels in order to quadruple light sensitivity, is here to save your low-light photography. The Bright Mode will turn on automatically when it senses the lighting is at 2 Lux or less, and will recommend that you turn Bright Mode on when it senses light is between 3 and 10 Lux. The samples we saw looked decent.
The V35 can capture video up to 4K (Ultra HD), but capturing in HDR+ is limited to 1080p (full HD). The fact that the V35 can capture and playback HDR+ content — which is much more contrast-y and rich than normal video — is awesome. Sadly, slow-motion capture is limited to 240fps at 1080p.
As I mentioned, the V30 was one of my favorite phones of 2018. Can the same hold true of the V35 this year? Well, the hardware is just as appealing to me now as it was then. Toss in the real-world improvements available in the processor, RAM, and cameras and there's tons of potential here. We look forward to fully reviewing the LG V35 ThinQ in the weeks ahead.
It goes up for pre-order on June 1 and hits stores June 8. It will cost a hefty $900.
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