Hands On With The LG V40 ThinQ And Its Five Cameras

LG just announced its latest flagship smartphone, the V40 ThinQ. This is the proper successor to the V30 that was announced last year. Since then, there has been the V30S ThinQ and V35 ThinQ, both of which were iterative upgrades to the V30 smartphone, but the V40 ThinQ brings new hardware, new software and a notch along for the ride. All of the specs that you would expect in a late 2018 flagship smartphone is here. This includes a 6.4-inch, Quad HD+ resolution display, with the Snapdragon 845 chipset, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage here. So as you would expect from that hardware, the LG V40 ThinQ runs very smooth, with Android 8.1 and the latest version of LG’s software. The big change for the V40 ThinQ is arguably in the camera. LG has added an extra camera to the back and one to the front, giving you a total of five cameras.

Back with the V10, LG was one of the first to use a dual-camera setup (in this round of dual-camera smartphones, there was a round of 3D smartphones like the HTC EVO 3D and LG Optimus 3D a few years earlier, around 2011), and it is doing something still, that no other manufacturer is doing. Most other manufacturers are giving you a regular sensor with a telephoto lens, or going monochrome with the second sensor being a color sensor, and on the cheaper smartphones there is the main sensor and then a two-megapixel depth sensor. LG, meanwhile, is using a wide-angle sensor on the V40 (which started on the V10) with the main sensor. Allowing you to get even more into the photo. But there is a third sensor, what could that possibly be? It’s a telephoto lens. So now you have the standard lens, plus a wide-angle to get even more in the image, and the telephoto lens that allows you to get even better close-ups.

So there’s three cameras here, what’s the big deal? Well, this smartphone can use all three sensors to take a photo at once. It’s a new feature that LG is calling “Triple Shot”. It will take a picture using the wide-angle sensor, then the standard and then the telephoto lens. So you can get all three perspectives, and decide which is the best. On top of that, LG will put that into a video, which makes it look like a really cool zoom video - and of course that can be turned into a GIF. This isn’t a feature that everyone is going to love, or even use all that often. And that is fine, but having these three lenses here is definitely a big deal.

Cine Shot is another feature that is being included on the V40 ThinQ, which allows the user to create a video of only part of the shot. This can create a pretty cool effect for videos, and of course, it can also be turned into a GIF. LG has also included slo-mo here, which isn’t really a new thing, as LG has had slo-mo on its smartphones in the past.

The front-facing camera also has a dedicated wide-angle sensor now, and it also doubles a depth sensor. This is going to allow the LG V40 ThinQ to take even better portrait mode photos, than just having the one single front-facing camera - like the LG G7 ThinQ has. However, it looks like even with two cameras, the LG V40 ThinQ is still not quite as good as the Google Pixel 2 XL’s front-facing camera from a year ago.

That’s a lot about the camera, and that’s because the cameras are the star of the show on the LG V40 ThinQ. At this point, all smartphones are virtually the same, just a few things are different from competitors. But the one thing that LG can stand out with is, its camera. But on the software side, it is still running Android 8.1 Oreo and not Android 9 Pie. That is a bit surprising, given the fact that the V40 ThinQ is launching nearly two months after the launch of Android Pie (and Sony has it on the Xperia XZ3 announced last month, Huawei is rumored to have it on the Mate 20 when that is announced in a couple of weeks). But that’s not the end of the world. With a heavy skin like LG’s, you aren’t going to notice a huge difference between Oreo and Pie.

LG has kept the Floating Bar on the V40 ThinQ, which is not surprising, given that its users really love that feature. It’s essentially a bar that can be expanded on any screen and provide all sorts of shortcuts. From opening different apps, to taking notes and even taking a screenshot. It can really come in handy. There’s also a few shortcuts here for the power and volume buttons. Double-tapping the power button will open the camera. Pressing the Volume Up key twice will open Capture+, while Volume Down being double-tapped will open the camera. Finally, the dedicated Google Assistant key is still here. In the early days of our time with the LG V40 ThinQ, it doesn’t appear to get pressed as much as the Bixby button on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. But on top of that, LG does allow you to disable it out of the box (Settings > General > Shortcut Keys). While it is unfortunate that you cannot remap it to another app, like maybe the camera, being able to disable it out of the box is definitely a big deal.

Speaking of out of the box experiences, LG is hiding the notch out of the box. This was not the case with the LG G7 ThinQ, but with the V40 ThinQ, the background is black for the notification bar out of the box. It actually blends in quite nicely on the V40 ThinQ, since it does have an OLED panel, so the blacks are actually black instead of just being dark gray like with an LCD panel. You can still adjust the colors and design of the notification bar at the top, and also adjust the rounded corners. It looks better with the first option checked, as it matches the bottom bezel more than the less rounded corners.

When it comes to the hardware, the LG V40 ThinQ looks almost identical to the V30, V30S ThinQ, and V35 ThinQ. That’s not a surprise, as companies don’t typically refresh their designs completely, every single year - though next year, it would be a surprise if LG didn’t do a big overhaul on the hardware. But it’s a glass and metal sandwich, and it comes in four colors: Black, Blue, Red and Gray. The two former colors will be available in the US, while all four will be available in other markets around the world. Also worth noting here, LG has decided to keep the 3.5mm headphone jack, making it LG and Samsung as the only real smartphone makers keeping the headphone jack intact.

Last but not least, LG has brought Boombox over to the V40 ThinQ. This is a feature that it debuted on the G7 ThinQ earlier this year, and it was a feature that users absolutely loved, and that is definitely not a surprise. This means you are going to get not just loud speakers, but good sound speakers as well on the V40 ThinQ. So users don’t need to use Bluetooth at all - not for speakers and not for headphones. The LG V40 ThinQ is going to be going on sale really soon. LG is leaving the availability announcements up to the carriers, but LG is expecting the V40 ThinQ to be available for pre-order in the next few days.

 

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