Hands-On

LG G7 ThinQ Hands-on: Ticks all the boxes

It’s never too late

Published

on

There’s a lesson to be learned from the tortoise and the hare, and it seems like LG took this to heart when it developed its 2018 flagship.

Launched today in New York, the LG G7 ThinQ comes two months later than what we’re used to. But it’s these two extra months that could have been exactly the right pace needed for it to finish first.

For us tech journalists, these two months mean time for LG to sort out its artificial intelligence strategy, work out supply chain challenges so that the phone ships with all the best parts and hits stores soon after its launch, and  carve out the space for it to have its own moment in the spotlight.

LG G7 ThinQ (left), LG G6 (right)

For everybody else, this means extra time that’s allowed LG to produce a solid smartphone that ticks off many, if not all, of the important boxes that we consider when looking for a smartphone.

It’s built well, has a great camera, has a bright screen and loud speakers, and is backed up by artificial intelligence that simplifies all this tech for you.

Design

2017 was a renaissance year for LG in terms of smartphone design. Both of its flagships were smashing, well-built smartphones, with each release being iteratively better than the last.

Earlier this year, reps from LG’s design team told me that the design of the V30 was so strong and so well received, that it could be one they could settle in for a few generations. And so it comes as no surprise that the G7 and V30 feel like they’re from the same family.

The G7 ThinQ is made mostly of glass, with an aluminum frame, soft rounded corners, and a subtle amount of curves. In the hands, it has just the right amount of heft giving it a more premium feel, fits well in the hands, and is slightly taller and squeezes in more screen.

And of course, because its 2018, it has a notch, which one might argue gives you more screen real estate. If that’s notch your cup of tea, you could turn it off completely, so that the part of the your screen that displays your signal bars and battery status are filled with black. LG also lets you adjust the amount of curvature of the inside corners of your display, a teeny tiny aesthetic change that we’ve nitpicked about in the past and are thrilled to see addressed.

The LCD display itself fills most of the screen apart from a small chin on the bottom of the phone. It’s super bright and has great outdoor visibility.

There are no physical buttons in front; instead, you rely on traditional on-screen buttons to go back, home, and dive into your list of open apps. There’s a fingerprint sensor on the back, a headphone jack on its bottom, wireless charging support, and an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance. Yep, pretty much the essentials.

Artificial Intelligence

But what makes the G7 an upgrade is its new artificial intelligence-based features.

Earlier this year, LG launched its own AI brand called ThinQ, first seen on its lineup of consumer home appliances. That G7 is the final part of the ThinQ puzzle, hence it officially goes by a longer name.

The phone should be able to identify LG appliances in your living space and allow you to control them from the phone.

While ThinQ today represents only a small part of what LG wants to do in the area of artificial intelligence space, LG’s vision is to use these technologies to create a device that’s hyper personalized to your needs.

We like how LG’s not reinventing the wheel by forcing users on yet another (half-baked) personal assistant, and instead keeping its platform open, giving Google Assistant even tighter integration. There’s now a dedicated button to summon Google — just press and speak a command. Or if the “Okay/Hey, Google” hot word is more to your liking, they’ve also improved improved the phone’s ability to hear you from much father away.

Cameras

Of course, the biggest AI changes come via the phone’s cameras, which have also been improved. It’s still got the same dual camera setup, one of which has a wide-angle lens. Both now shoot at 16 megapixels, meaning you don’t have to scrimp on quality if you’d rather shoot wide.

There’s a new image sensor that supposedly shoots better low-light photos, although I have yet to test those claims.

What I can tell you for sure is that, through AI, the phone can detect up to 19 objects and scenes and offer you four different filters that it thinks best match what you are taking a photo of. You can also choose to ignore any of these suggestions and shoot, just as the camera sees it.

There’s a new selfie camera too, one that’s usable, and I say that with plenty of thankfulness in my heart, as the selfie camera has long been a weak spot on a whole string of recent LG phones. Portrait mode is available on both the front and main cameras.

BoomBox Speaker

Another area where the G7 shines is its new BoomBox Speaker. They’re not stereo speakers unfortunately, but these bottom-firing speakers are sufficiently loud and of great quality. LG says they’ve utilized the cavity inside the phone as a chamber used to amplify the sound. We tried it, and are pretty impressed.

The phone also supports DTS:X audio for 3D surround sound and Quad DAC (on both Asian and North American variants and not just the former).

Specifications

That’s a theme with the G7 ThinQ: The phone doesn’t compromise on specs, including a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 3000 mAh battery.

The LG G7 will come in four colors, namely Moroccan Blue, Aurora Black, Platinum Grey, and Raspberry Rose.

Prices will differ depending on region, but LG promises it will retail for less than the V30 and closer to last year’s G6 pricing.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It sure is too early to tell, but as early as now, it’s safe to say LG’s built a great phone they can be proud of, one that you would enjoy using.

We particularly like LG’s approach to an ecosystem of AI devices. Because LG makes so many other home appliances, it’s in a unique position to provide tighter integration. And because it’s also embracing the open approach, you’re not locked in to a single platform.

There’s a lot of promise here, and it’s exciting.

Hands-On

OPPO Reno5: Ideal upper midranger

It’s a stellar overall package for its price

Published

on

Reno5

OPPO’s Reno line has slowly carved out an identity as somewhat of an affordable premium smartphone. Priced at around half of what flagships today cost but offering about two-thirds of the features, the OPPO Reno line has the makings of the ideal upper midranger, and the Reno5 fits that description to a T.

How it looks

The Reno5 (both the 4G and the 5G variants) come in either Galactic Silver or Starry Black. The Black has a more traditional glass finish, thereby being more magnetic to fingerprints and smudges, while the Galactic Silver has a frosted matte finish making it more palatable if you don’t like using a protective case.

Reno5

The Galactic Silver Reno5 is flashier. The color kind of shifts depending on how light hits it. If you’re into phone finishes that catches the eye, this is totally the way to go.

Button placements are pretty standard. On the right hand side is the power button while the volume buttons are on the left. At the bottom you’ll find the speaker grille, USB-C port, and 3.5mm jack (nice).

Reno5

At around 180g and with these dimensions (159.1 x 73.4 x 7.9 mm) with a 6.4-inch display, the Reno5 sits very close to my personal sweet spot in terms of overall smartphone size. It’s a little too light to my liking but it never feels fragile.

The ‘Oxygenation’ of ColorsOS

There’s been some buzz about how OnePlus — a sister company of OPPO under the BBK electronics umbrella — is becoming more and more like OPPO. What’s getting lost in all that noise is how OPPO is turning into OnePlus just as much as the latter is being ‘OPPO-fied.’

This is most evident in ColorOS 7.2. From its cluttered and bloatfull past, the UI skin that OPPO layers over Android has gotten more breathing room letting more oxygen come through. The customizations available run deep — everything from light vs dark mode, the shape and size of the icons, to the accent color of the settings menu.

Also present are the gesture shortcuts that longtime OnePlus fans will be familiar with like drawing a V to open the flashlight, O to open the camera, and double tap screen to wake. These are all OxygenOS staples that have found their way to OPPO and sometimes other Android skins too.

Some purists or overly zealous brand supporters might dismiss this as blatant copying, but is it really that big an issue especially when these are all quality of life improvements no matter how subtle they may be?

All things considered, ColorOS is now overall more appealing thanks in large part to applying design decisions first applied on OnePlus’s OxygenOS.

OLED, 5G, and Snapdragon 765G

This section is probably the least contentious about this phone. Its display, performance, and promise of next gen mobile connectivity work exactly as advertised. The 6.4-inch OLED display has a 90Hz refresh rate. It’s nice and smooth with the deep blacks typically found on OLED displays. It could use a bit more brightness when under intense daylight, but it’s in no way unusable under such circumstances.

The 5G variant will cost you a little more and it’s not at all a bad deal considering most especially if you live or frequent areas with 5G coverage. We used the OPPO Reno5 as a hotspot hub for half a day and it did not feel at all like we were on mobile hotspot.

Shifting talk over to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765g SoC, this seems to be the best-performing midrange chip. It won’t leave you wanting in terms of general smartphone use. We didn’t use it a lot for gaming on this particular handset but previous experience dictates it’s pretty darn good for mobile gaming as well.

Battery life is also pretty straightforward. Standby time is great and the 4300mAh will last you a day on moderate usage. That goes down to around five hours when used primarily for gaming and with 5G connection.

Fun with the cameras

Reno5

The Reno5 sports a quad-camera system: 64MP main, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP macro, 2MP depth. But all the fun really happens in the software sid of things.

It still features OPPO’s fun AI Color Portrait mode that isolates the subject from the background by draining the color out of the background and putting the subject front and center in full color.

Reno5

This same feature also works on the 32MP selfie camera.

Reno5

Even more exciting, this feature is now also available in video mode so there are more ways for you to have fun with it.

Another addition is the Night Flare Portrait that captures your subject in a nice stylized night shot filled with color and creamy bokeh.

Reno5

More than just portraits

Naturally, the cameras along with the AI engine behind its imaging works not only for these fun and funky portrait images and videos. As a standard shooter for documenting your daily life, it’s more than reliable. Check out these samples:

A nice meal for lunch

Naturally, save room for dessert

Ultra wide. Take stroll after downing some delicious food

 

Capture things in good detail

Snap a quick selfie

 

Or ask someone to take a quick portrait photo

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The easy answer is yes. The OPPO Reno5’s overall package is the ideal upper-midranger. There’s a lot of fun to be had with its camera features, it looks great, and performs just about as good as any phone in its price range.

Reno5

It also doesn’t hurt that in the Philippines, OPPO went out of its way to make sure it can be had in may different ways including through TelCos and via installment basis.

The OPPO Reno5 is by no means a perfect smartphone (no such thing exists anyway), but for what you’re getting in relation to its pricing, it’s a stellar option.

Continue Reading

First Look

ASUS Zenbook 14 UX435 Unboxing and First Impressions

Embodies everything you expect from a ZenBook

Published

on

The hunt for the perfect notebook for work and play is never really over — well, until the ZenBook 14. ASUS zeroed in on their line-up to make sure it embodied everything you want and (of course) need in a laptop. So, while you weigh in your options for the right notebook for you, we’ll unbox it for you.

The black box comes with ASUS’ signature concentric circle design. 

Lifting the box open props up the Zenbook 14 UX435EG in the box

Underneath the laptop, you’ll find important booklets and papers that you’ll probably leave unread. (Admit it).

Over to the left and right-hand side of the ZenBook 14 are connection essentials.

On the right, you’ll find the power brick.

And, you’ll be quick to find a USB-C to LAN cable on the left.

Oh! In case you missed it, there’s something peaking through the upper compartment of the box. A gentle tug will reveal a sleek carrying case.

Now, let’s get back to the star, shall we? The ASUS ZenBook 14 UX435EG

At first glance, the laptop looks and feels nearly paper-thin but, don’t let that fool you. The ZenBook 14 has a lot more than the looks going for it. It has Intel 11th Gen inside along with NVIDIA GeForce graphics.

There’s some unapologetic showing-off of the Ergo Lift hinge the moment you open the ZenBook 14.

Optimizing space, it features an HDMI port and the two Thunderbolt  USB-C ports on one side…

and a USB 3.2 port, audio jack and the SD Card slot on the other.

As much as the stunning display takes center stage,

While a sneakily small webcam lays atop,

Who can forget the ScreenPad?

Just below the backlit keyboard, you’ll find the eye-catching ScreenPad

On it, you can access apps quickly, use it as a TrackPad, and multitask efficiently.

First Impressions and Quick Hands-On

There are no surprises here. The ZenBook 14 UX435EG embodies everything you expect from a ZenBook. It’s light, pragmatically designed, and gorgeous. And on top of that, it doesn’t fall short in performing what’s asked. From work, to play, to binge-watching, the laptop delivers on all fronts.

When working on the daily grind of spreadsheets, presentations, photo-editing and word processing, the ZenBook 14 UX435EG didn’t struggle or stutter once. It took a decent beating and then some.

When all the day’s work comes to a halt, you’ll be happy to hear that it won’t falter on an immersive watch with its gorgeous display and audio quality. When playing games like Spiritfarer, the laptop seemed to handle it fine.

We didn’t have much time with it to stress test the ZenBook 14 but, so far, we haven’t encountered hiccups. And, the ScreenPad may take a little getting used to if you’re not used to more convenient features besides the typical TrackPad. But with it, the laptop furthers quick and easy multitasking — making both work and play a breeze.

More details on ASUS ZenBook 14 UX435 here.


This feature is a collaboration between GadgetMatch and ASUS Philippines

Continue Reading

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy S21 Series Hands-on

Most of the leaks were true after all

Published

on

Samsung started 2021 early with their newest Galaxy S21 series.

Unlike last year where the S20 models were announced last February, these new S21 units were unveiled as early as January 2021. Although we’ve covered most of the leaks and rumors about Samsung’s latest flagship trio, we still need to confirm them.

Head over to our latest hands-on video to find out more.

Continue Reading

Trending