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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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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.
ASUS Zen AiO 27 hands-on: A step up from before
Your next home PC?
Let’s take a break from laptops and check out this desktop PC from ASUS. This is the Zen AiO 27 and it looks so much better than any of the previous all-in-ones we reviewed from the Taiwanese company.
Let’s find out in this hands-on.
This AiO has a gorgeous 27-inch UHD display
The bezels surrounding the screen are slim
It has an outward notch at the bottom for the webcam
There are four speakers located at the back
Quick-access ports are on the right side of the base
The remaining ports are all at the back
The front has two LED indicators and an SD card reader
The base even has a wireless charging pad
A full-size wireless keyboard comes in the box
There’s also a bundled wireless optical mouse
The Zen AiO design upgrade we’ve been waiting for
ASUS’ new Zen AiO 27 finally gets the design upgrade it deserves. It’s not an iMac copy-cat anymore and it looks even better than Apple’s desktop PC. ASUS certainly took a step forward in design; however, I’ve seen better-looking AiOs running Windows 10 like Dell’s new Inspiron desktops.
Perhaps, the best asset of the Zen AiO 27 is its display. It’s a 27-inch IPS LCD panel with a UHD resolution and multi-touch support. The display is Pantone Validated for color accuracy and it has ASUS’ NanoEdge design for slimmer bezels all around.
Although, like on smartphones, slimmer bezels come at a cost. ASUS had to put an outward notch to house a webcam and, for some reason, they placed it at the bottom. When I tested the webcam, it was showing myself from an awkward angle. As a consolation, it’s also equipped with an IR sensor for hands-free face login with Windows Hello.
The Zen AiO 27’s stand lets users view the display from multiple angles. It can tilt and swivel, plus the height can be adjusted with one finger. There’s no option for rotating the display, but that’s okay.
Design-wise, the Zen AiO 27 is a thing of beauty. I do appreciate its brushed metal-effect finish of really dark blue (darker than navy blue) with gold trims and accents. The audio and visual department of the PC delivers top-notch quality as well.
Slim and powerful, but not enough for 4K
All of the power of the Zen AiO 27 comes from beneath. The components are all housed in the base of the PC, which is neat and practical. How so? There are two storage slots and memory is user upgradeable up to 32GB.
The specs of the model I have are impressive with an Intel Core i7-8700T processor, 16GB DDR4 memory, 512GB M.2 SSD, and 2TB HDD. It also has discrete graphics using NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1050, which is kind of old but still very capable.
The base also has a Thunderbolt 3 port and features Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band gigabit-class Wi-Fi. Needless to say, it runs Windows 10 Home out of the box.
I have no complaints with the general performance of the Zen AiO 27 thanks to its incredible specifications. I can easily multitask with multiple windows open and quickly render images from Photoshop. The configuration is also enough to ensure smooth video editing.
When it comes to gaming though, it doesn’t hit the mark. While the GTX 1050 GPU is good for games like Fortnite or anything with similar graphics power requirements, it’s not enough to push pixels in UHD.
This means you can’t take full advantage of the crisp display of the Zen AiO 27. It’s best to keep the game’s resolution in Full HD to have at least 60fps in not-so-demanding titles. Too bad I can’t enjoy Cities: Skylines in 4K.
I wasn’t able to try it out, but the Zen AiO 27’s can also act as an external monitor since it has an HDMI-in port. Any HDMI-connected source can use the UHD display as a second monitor.
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The ASUS Zen AiO 27 is indeed premium with an asking price of PhP 149,995 in the Philippines. It’s available through ASUS Concept Stores nationwide.
Of course, if you are to build your own desktop PC, you could get more power with the same budget. You could even still use an ASUS monitor, keyboard, mouse, and components since the company also sells those.
What you won’t get is the convenience of a plug-and-play, space-saving AiO. It’s like bringing out a laptop and plugging in the charger. If only ASUS included a better wireless keyboard and mouse, it would have been a better package.
Realme C2 hands-on: The new budget king?
Cheap yet good
After releasing a midrange phone capable of handling graphics-intensive games, Realme is back to catering to the budget segment. The successor to the entry-level Realme C1 is here, and it doesn’t look like a rebranded OPPO phone anymore.
The Realme C2 is the company’s newest affordable phone. Designed to be really friendly to people’s wallets, is the Realme C2 worth the hard-earned money?
Let’s find out in this hands-on.
It’s got a 6.1-inch IPS LCD display
The power button is on its right side while…
… the volume keys and card tray are on the left
The card tray accepts a microSD and two SIM cards
The micro-USB port and 3.5mm jack are at the bottom
The phone’s back features a prism-like textured pattern
It’s certainly different from your typical budget phone
Since the Realme C2 is a budget phone, it’s not packing the best hardware available. It doesn’t have a powerful processor, but it has a body that’s unique. It’s pretty hard to sell an entry-level device with its low specifications, although the Realme C2 is not reliant on its power alone.
Realme markets their new phone to have what they call a “Diamond Cut Design.” The Realme C2 doesn’t have any fancy stones, although it has a textured back panel that kind off mimics the look of a shining diamond. It’s still made of plastic, but I certainly appreciate this over a glossy, smudgy glass-like back.
In front, it has a 6.1-inch display with a dewdrop notch that’s way smaller than before. The screen’s resolution remains at HD+ which is not the sharpest panel available, yet it’s alright. I find the display to be adequate for everyday use.
The whole front is protected by a smooth slab of Gorilla Glass 3, so you don’t have to worry much about scratches. It does come with a pre-installed plastic screen protector.
Overall, the physical design of the Realme C2 is okay. It doesn’t elevate the budget segment with any premium materials, but the textured pattern on the back is a welcome touch. We don’t get to see a smudge-free phone every day.
There’s nothing exciting in the specs department, although the Realme C2 gets its job done. It’s powered by a MediaTek Helio P22 chipset which has an octa-core CPU. Compared to the Realme C1, the Realme C2 is slightly faster and more efficient with its new processor. The model I have has a fairly standard 3GB of memory and 32GB of expandable storage.
Out of the box, the phone runs the latest version of ColorOS 6 with updated icons to give it a different identity over OPPO phones with the same operating system. ColorOS is already based on Android Pie, so it’s pretty much up to date with the core Android features.
So far, the Realme C2 performs smoothly with my day-to-day usage. I have yet to encounter any frustrating lag or hiccup. Multitasking is pretty limited due to its low memory, although let’s not ask too much from a budget phone.
Gaming-wise, graphics-intensive titles are not advisable for the Realme C2. It can run games in low settings fairly smooth, but Asphalt 9 and PUBG Mobile are not fun to play with low frame rates.
Equipped with a 13-megapixel shooter and a 2-megapixel depth sensor on the back, the Realme C2 can take decent stills in broad daylight. Indoor and night shots can get noisy, but it’s still usable for posting online. It has an LED flash to help fill light, just in case you need to.
For selfies, there’s a 5-megapixel front-facing camera sitting inside the display’s notch.
Check out these samples:
The phone’s main camera doesn’t have AI scene detection, but the front camera has built-in beauty filters. Surprisingly, it takes good selfies as long as there’s a lot of light available.
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To appreciate the Realme C2, one should see it as a budget phone that tries to offer something different. To be honest, most buyers will just slap on a case to keep their phone protected. However, the Realme C2 doesn’t disappoint in delivering the basics and it’s a well-rounded phone.
The Realme C2 starts at PhP 5,490 in the Philippines and INR 5,999 in India for the entry-level configuration with 2GB of memory and 16GB of expandable. If you wish to get the 3GB+32GB variant, you’ll have to shell out PhP 6,490 or INR 7,999.
OPPO Reno 10x Zoom unboxing and hands-on: An emerald looker
Green with envy
Receiving new packages excites me. This may or may not be why online shopping gets me on so bad but I digress.
What came in the mail last week, straight from China, was something that I was looking forward to trying out more: The OPPO Reno 10x Zoom that I got to test out in Zurich last month. Also, there were additional package brownie points because the phone comes in OPPO’s new box. I was very curious to see what changed.
Let’s get to it!
The OPPO Reno box isn’t standard sized; it’s a slightly longer version of the typical phone boxes in the market. Love that holo design, though!
Typical box inserts: A sleeve that houses manuals and such — and yes, no one ever reads those so we’re skipping ahead.
The phone in all it’s plastic-wrapped glory. We’re saving the best for last so I’ll move on to what’s under this tray…
Interestingly, OPPO opted for this serious-looking custom Reno case with a sexy slit on the back.
Then we finally have the USB-C cord, the power adapter, and some good-looking USB-C earphones with accents that match the phone. Speaking of the phone, here it is in its ocean green glory.
I take this mani-phone matching business very seriously. 🤩
— Isa Rodriguez (@sisasaid) May 28, 2019
It’s a great-looking phone to rep. The glass finish on the back gives it that gentle sheen, very classy. In certain lighting conditions, it looks more green than blue — but I’m not complaining.
This thing packs a Snapdragon 855 processor, a 4065mAh battery, and even an in-display fingerprint sensor.
There are no camera bumps on this phone’s three cameras (an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 48-megapixel main shooter, and a 13-megapixel zoom camera). There is, however, a special indented dot under the three cameras to makes sure you don’t scratch said cameras when you leave them on a flat surface.
Then again, you could always just put the case on. Definite protection to this phone but it does add substantial thickness. And since it’s not exactly a small phone, it might not fit your girl pockets or tiny hands.
The plus side of having a bigger device is that it makes for a better Netflix viewing experience. And disappoint, the OPPO Reno did not. The unobstructed AMOLED display partnered with Dolby stereo speakers definitely delighted in terms of binge-watching my shows.
The unhampered view on this phone screen is made possible by a 16-megapixel pop-up camera — one that retracts for self-preservation when it detects pressure or impact.
Being on the OPPO Reno is a great experience so far. It’s fast and snappy and the face unlock is still honestly impressive. OPPO tells me, however, that there are still upcoming software updates to the phone so until then, here’s our first look at video and camera performance on the streets of Zurich where the Reno first launched.
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