LG has a history of making an almost perfect smartphone, and then screwing up on a key feature or two. We keep hoping that LG is able to get away from that, but it hasn't happened just yet. And it appears to be the case again with the LG V50 ThinQ 5G this year. Let's find out all of the bad about the LG V50 ThinQ 5G in our full review.
It's a V40 ThinQ, but with 5G this time
LG took the V40 ThinQ and essentially gave it 5G, which made it a new phone. There are some other changes that were made, but the biggest was swapping out the Snapdragon 845 for the Snapdragon 855 which has a 5G modem. And also making the back of the phone flush, so there's no more camera bump. That's not a bad thing, not at all.
The V40 ThinQ was a really good phone. There were a few things that people didn't like, including the battery life, software, etc. But for the most part it was an outstanding phone.
LG told us, when we talked to them earlier this year about the V50 ThinQ 5G, that it decided to go this route because it already had this design planned out and R&D was already done on it. Not to mention it was a larger phone, so there was more space for a 5G modem as well as a larger battery for that modem. So making it into a 5G phone was much easier. And seeing as this is a first-generation 5G smartphone, most people aren't going to be buying one anyways. It also gave LG an easy way to learn more about building 5G smartphones, along the way.
The V-series has always been a line that LG has used to really showcase new things. As the G-series is more of a line for everyone, and the V-series is for those that are enthusiasts. So seeing LG's first 5G phone being a V-series smartphone is not a big surprise, but it's a good thing. While many would have liked to see more changes between the V40 ThinQ and V50 ThinQ, this is perfectly fine.
LG's software is still… not good
LG's skin for Android has improved over the years, but not anywhere near enough, unfortunately. It's still a not that great experience. There are some parts of its Optimus UI that is nice and better than stock Android. But as a whole, it's much worse.
One thing that LG has stuck too, is the recents menu. While Google wants to make the app take up the full screen, and scroll horizontally. LG has kept to keeping it as cards and scrolling vertically. Making it much easier to scroll back and see what other apps you have open and jump to them quicker. This is a very minor thing, but for power users, it's a big deal. And can really save you a ton of time.
Another pet peeve is within the app drawer. Though, first you need to enable the option to actually have an app drawer, which is crazy in itself. But when you download a new app for your V50 ThinQ 5G, you then need to sort the apps in the app drawer again. If I selected that I want them alphabetical, it should stay like that, even when I install new apps. Instead of needing to re-sort them every time I install a new app. Talk about redundant.
Then there's the fact that there are folders for LG apps, Google apps and Verizon apps (if you have a carrier model). These don't disappear when you customize the app drawer either. You need to manually delete the folders, for those apps to appear naturally in the app drawer. This very annoying if you use a lot of Google apps, as not all of them are in the Google folder. It's just the apps that LG has to have pre-installed on its phone, but don't need to be in a specific place on the phone. It's really confusing, and LG needs to stop doing it. This is done to make it look like there are less apps pre-installed, but it really doesn't help, as there are still a lot of apps pre-installed.
LG still doesn't have any dark mode for its system, hopefully that will change when Android 10 comes. But that's being pretty optimistic, seeing as LG is not good at all when it comes to Android updates. It would be surprising if the V50 ThinQ 5G got Android 10 this year, if at all.
Instead, LG sticks with an eye-searing white color throughout the UI. LG, we really need a dark mode toggle for your phones.
LG Dual Display is yet another gimmick that won't go over well
LG loves them some gimmicks. With almost every phone launch, it brings out a fresh gimmick or two, that it thinks is going to sell their phones. It's time they learned that gimmicks don't sell phones, features do.
The LG Dual Display is actually the most useful gimmick that the company has done in quite a few years, but it's still a gimmick. It's much better than the Air Gestures that it debuted with the LG G8 ThinQ earlier this year (which was announced at the same time as the V50 ThinQ 5G).
LG Dual Display is basically a case for the V50 ThinQ 5G that will provide it with a second screen. It gives off some ZTE Axon M feels, and we all know how well that turned out for ZTE. Spoiler: it bombed.
To be honest, it's not bad.
It does need some tweaking and a few changes, but it's actually usable. And it makes it the first usable foldable phone out there.
Firstly, with the LG Dual Display, some apps work really well with it, while others don't. For the most part, you're going to use this for multi-tasking. So you can watch YouTube on one screen and Twitter on another, etc.
The second screen is also not the same display that is on the V50 ThinQ 5G, so it looks a bit odd when you are using them side-by-side. It's actually a 1080p OLED display versus a Quad HD OLED display. It is also a smaller display with larger bezels. Which is fine, because LG put a hole at the top of the second display, so you can use the earpiece on the main display without opening the case.
During my time with the LG Dual Display and the LG V50 ThinQ 5G, I can't say that I used that Dual Display all that often. In fact, most of the time, the case was not even on the phone. It was just not all that useful, for the way that I use my phone. Now give this is a few iterations and it'll likely be a really cool feature to use with your phone, but as it stands right now, it falls into the "gimmick" category, unfortunately.
Don't buy the LG V50 ThinQ 5G specifically for 5G
5G is cool and all. Yeah, I got download speeds of 1300Mbps or over 1Gbps (Speedtest.net can't yet switch to Gbps). But you should definitely not buy this phone specifically for 5G support. Not to mention the fact that uploads are not on 5G yet, except for in one city – Providence, Rhode Island – right now.
Why? It's pretty simple really. 5G is not ready. I have a Verizon V50 ThinQ 5G here, and I had to drive 30 minutes to another suburb of Detroit just to get a hint of 5G service. And once I got there, it only worked on certain intersections. Not even just streets, just street corners. On top of that, if you are not outside of your car and close to a 5G node, you won't get those Gbps speeds that everyone wants.
I did some tests inside my car, and was only pulling about 600-700Mbps down. Which sounds good, that's not Gbps speeds that Verizon is touting. Get out of the car, and it speeds past 1Gbps with ease. That shows you just how finicky the mmWave spectrum that Verizon (in this case) is using for 5G, is right now. The fact that you have to have nothing between you and the 5G node to really get the speeds you expect. That includes no trees, or even your own body. That shows you that 5G is nowhere near ready yet.
This just shows you that 5G is not ready for prime time. Because even if you are outside, trees can get in the way of your 5G signal too, which you have literally no control over. It's still very early for 5G, and while the V50 ThinQ 5G might be a really good phone, it's not one that you should buy specifically for 5G. Buy it because of the larger battery, or the triple cameras, but not for 5G.