LG has just announced its latest flagship smartphone, the V40 ThinQ. Finally, the proper successor to the V30 from last year has been announced. It sports a larger display with a notch, two more cameras, and it retains the headphone jack. But the big question here is whether it is a smartphone you should be picking up this year? Well, we have the good, the bad and the ugly about the LG V40 ThinQ to help you make that decision.
The LG V40 ThinQ brings a couple of extra cameras along for the ride this year. Adding a telephoto sensor on the back and a wide-angle sensor on the front. This means that the V40 ThinQ now has the right camera for just about every shot. Seeing as there is a wide-angle sensor, a regular sensor and then a telephoto sensor. So you can get everyone in the shot, or even zoom in pretty well without worrying about the image becoming all grainy and such. Adding a wide-angle sensor to the front means that you can do more group selfies, which is also a big deal. But it's not the first time that LG has done this. The first V-series smartphone, the V10, had a wide-angle selfie camera and a regular sensor as well.
LG didn't change up the design too much on the V40 ThinQ, which isn't a bad thing, and definitely expected. So there's still the glass and metal sandwich here, and it does also have the fingerprint sensor on the backside – which is no longer a button. The biggest change here is definitely on the screen. While the V30 resisted going with a notch last year, LG did add one with the V40 ThinQ this year. Adding a notch at the top of the display, bringing the display to 6.4-inches and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. However, since the V40 ThinQ is using an OLED panel, making the status bar black really hides the notch quite well.
All four major US carriers will be offering up the LG V40 ThinQ this year, which isn't a surprise, but still nice to see. This means that no matter which carrier you are on, you'll be able to get the LG V40 ThinQ from your carrier without having to jump ship. Now this is pretty common with flagships these days, as the majority of these flagship smartphones do launch at all four carriers. LG also kept the headphone jack here, and are expecting to keep it for the next few flagship releases because it's something that their customers want. Not to mention the fact that LG is really focusing in on audio quality with its smartphones right now, keeping that quad DAC in the LG V40 ThinQ, and it also brought the Boom Box feature over from the G7 ThinQ, so even without a pair of headphones, you are going to get some really great sound out of this smartphones' speakers.
For some, keeping the same design might be a bad thing. Not everyone was a huge fan of the LG V30's design last year, but enough liked the design for LG to keep it with the V40 ThinQ. LG is also only offering the black and blue V40 ThinQ in the US, which leaves very little choice in which color the customer wants. Meanwhile in other countries, there will be a gray and red color of the V40 ThinQ available. With colors becoming such a big deal in the smartphone world these days, one would expect LG to bring more exciting colors to one of its largest markets – the US. It's not a surprise to see the black color coming to the US, as there is definitely a market of people that don't care about the color and will just put it in a case. But bringing the blue and the red to the US would also be a nice fit. It's possible that they may come to the US later on down the road, as is typically the case with smartphones these days.
LG is launching the V40 ThinQ on an old and outdated version of Android. That is Android 8.1 Oreo. Now with Android 9 Pie having been put into the stable channel nearly two months ago, one might expect LG to put Android 9 Pie onto the V40 ThinQ – after all the V20 was the first to launch with Android Nougat a couple of years ago. But LG is launching this with Android 8.1 Oreo. Now it will get updated to Android 9 Pie, but the only question is when. LG has said that it's getting the update, but as usual, they are not giving any sort of time-table as to when it will get the update. But if you are one that is not a fan of some of the changes in Android Pie – like the multi-tasking or the gesture navigation – then this might actually be a good thing.
The V40 ThinQ surprisingly has the same battery capacity as the V30 from last year. Despite having a larger-sized display. Now LG did note that this 3300mAh capacity battery will still last as long as the 4000mAh capacity on the Galaxy Note 9, despite it being about 30-percent smaller. But it would have been better to have a 4000mAh capacity battery inside the V40 ThinQ, seeing as you can never have "too much battery life" on a smartphone. On top of that, LG used to be known for putting in high-capacity batteries in its smartphones, back in the G2 and G3 era. But since then, LG has essentially stagnated with the same capacity battery in both the G and V-series smartphones.
Even though LG has added a second camera to the front of the V40 ThinQ, its Portrait Mode still leaves something to be desired. You will get a bokeh effect, but it does look pretty muddy, altogether. And when you compare the V40 ThinQ's Portrait Mode to that on the Pixel 2 XL (released last October), the Pixel 2 XL is still miles ahead, with just one camera. Now LG should be able to beat the Pixel 2 XL, seeing as it does have that second camera that is going to gather depth information, but so far it hasn't done all that well. Hopefully some software updates will come through and improve it. But for now, it will take Portrait Mode shots, but not offer good or even decent shots.
LG has taken what it has learned from the V30 and the G7 ThinQ last year and this year, respectively, and improved on all of it. That includes making the device available sooner, adding more colors for customers to choose from, adding a telephoto lens and even bringing OLED back. There's very little to complain about with the LG V40 ThinQ, but that might change once we spend more time with the device and put out our full review. At this point, it's up there with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 as one of the best smartphones of the year, and that's no small feat.