Hands-On

LG G7 ThinQ Hands-on: Ticks all the boxes

It’s never too late

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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

Microsoft Surface family Hands-On

And it’s dual screen

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Our Microsoft Surface Family Hands-On features the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X.

We also take a quick look at the Surface Buds, Surface Neo and Surface Duo. The latter two foldable devices are coming in time for next year’s holiday season. The Surface Duo and Android-powered Windows phone with two displays hinged together in the middle.

Joining me in this video is my She Said, He Said Co-Host Nicole Scott.

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Hands-On

Realme 5 Hands-On: A phone that you can rely on

Power in a budget

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When Realme unveiled the Realme 5 and Realme 5 Pro, one can’t just walk away and not look at this beautiful duo. However, the Realme 5 stands out compared to its pro version, with its shiny and bigger build.

Even though I dislike tall and bigger smartphones, I gave the Realme 5 a try. Let’s see what this phone has to offer.

The Realme 5 has a 6.5″ IPS LCD screen…

… and a dewdrop notch

On its bottom are its speaker grilles, a micro USB port, and a headphone jack

Found on the right side is its power button…

… while the left side contains the volume keys and the card tray

It has a plastic build designed with diamond cuts…

… and a quad-camera setup along with a dedicated fingerprint scanner

Premium-looking for its price

Realme follows the recent approach of every smartphone makers: Design an affordable phone to something premium-looking. Thanks to its well-thought design, the Realme 5 doesn’t look like a cheap, budget phone.

While its body is made of plastic, Realme made this affordable smartphone premium through its Gorilla Glass 3 at the front and adding splash resistance all over its body. Additionally, it comes in two cool gradient colors (like any other smartphones in 2019): Crystal Blue and Crystal Purple.

Its front has a 6.5″ IPS LCD screen with a 20:9 ratio and 720p resolution. For a massive smartphone, its resolution is a little bit low, causing icons to blur a little.

Enjoy longer playtime

The Realme 5 didn’t disappoint in terms of power and performance. For me, this is where this phone shines apart from its shiny design. Sporting a Snapdragon 665 processor and carrying a 4GB RAM and 128GB storage, this phone lets you play your favorite mobile games decently, such as Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

Don’t worry about running out of juice, though! Packed with 5000mAh battery, this phone can last throughout the day, even if you’re a power user or a non-stop gamer.

Recently, I went on a hike and while there are occasional photo-taking sessions, the Realme 5 didn’t suck up a lot of its battery throughout the day. It even lasted the next day, and can definitely last longer if it’s just on standby.

Light, clean, and easy to look at

Realme 5 runs Color OS 6 based on Android 9 Pie, and is planning to upgrade it to Android 10. Similar to Realme X, its icons looks cleaner and lighter, making it pretty easy to look at. However, it isn’t that speedy when it comes to navigating, scrolling, and switching between apps.

But thanks to its user interface with a lighter feel, you won’t even notice the speed difference compared to your previous phones. It will just make you feel it’s fast enough to get the job done.

Easier and prettier selfies

Sitting inside the notch is a 13-megapixel camera with f/2.0 lens. Other options include a portrait mode, a panorama mode, and a time-lapse mode. For those who want to add an extra flair, there are built-in filters to choose from. If beauty is your concern, say no more. The camera has a lot of enhancement options like smoothing, nose trimming, face thinning, and eye enlargement.

Additionally, taking a selfie is pretty easy. You can opt between using the regular capture button, through the volume keys, through timer, fingerprint, touch, or even hand gesture.

Picture-perfect memories

On the flip side, its rear cameras are equipped with a 12-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide lens, a 2-megapixel dedicated macro camera, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.

For a budget smartphone, my eyes and heart are happy with the photos. It’s not that detailed, but it’s rich in colors and highly vibrant despite a gloomy weather. It’s even better when there’s a substantial amount of natural light.

Its ultra-wide angle photos are suitable for online consumption. It lets you create dramatic shots and add perspective on your photos.

Through AI scene recognition, the Realme 5’s cameras automatically detect the settings for a certain scene. If it’s dim or during at night, it automatically activates HDR and brightens up the processed photo. Noise levels are pretty low, and it’s a big improvement for Realme.

There are more camera modes available apart from photo, portrait, video, and ultrawide, such as nightscape, panorama, expert, time-lapse, slo-mo, and ultra macro. Overall, the Realme 5 has decent cameras that are suitable for sharing on social media. Its ability to capture true colors and vivid scenes guarantees you don’t need a lot of editing apps to enhance and process your photos, you can now share it as is.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

Realme provides excellent value on its smartphones, especially in the Realme 5. What it lacks in display, screen resolution, and user interface, it compensates in power, performance, and cameras. With this kind of offering, it’s hard not to consider and give this phone a try.

For its price, the Realme 5 is a real treat for people looking for a budget smartphone that provides more than what they need. Its 3GB RAM/64GB storage variant costs PhP 7,990 (US$ 154) while its 4GB RAM/128GB storage variant is priced at PhP 9,990 (US$ 192).

Additionally, there’s a cheaper, Lazada Exclusive Model with a 3GB RAM/32GB storage for only PhP 6,990 (US$ 134). The Realme 5 is available nationwide starting October 4.

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Huawei Nova 5T: Flagship-like midranger

Stylish and powerful

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What happens when you put flagship-level processor and cameras in an expressive-looking package — you get the Huawei Nova 5T.

From the moment of its launch, the Nova 5T knew what it wants to be. It’s a smartphone that can more than get the job done and look good while doing it.

Flagship phone in a midranger’s body

The Huawei Nova 5T looks extremely good on paper. Powering the device is the Kirin 980 processor. It’s the same processor found on Huawei’s early 2019 flagship — the P30 Pro. That alone says a lot but it doesn’t end there.

You also get 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. These are insane numbers for a flagship smartphone, let alone one that’s priced in the midrange category (PhP 18,990).

Not just good on paper

Putting the phone through the paces, we quickly realized that it’s more than just the numbers. The Huawei Nova 5T flat out delivers a smooth performance you might forget you didn’t pay an extraordinary amount to get it.

We used the P30 Pro for a while and there’s little to no difference in performance. Whether you’re using your phone to answer a pile of emails or by scrutinizing every single one of your crush’s social media posts, the Nova 5T is up for the task.

You probably enjoy a fair amount of Netflix and YouTube sessions. The 6.3-inch IPS LCD display provides you with a good enough screen to enjoy your favorite shows whether you’re watching at home or outdoors.

Naturally, this phone can game. It’s more than enough to get you that MVP on Mobile Legends and can easily power you through PUBG mobile for that chicken dinner. And with a 3750mAh battery, you have more than enough juice to get you through a busy day.

Cameras that let you shine

The phone is equipped with four cameras: a 48MP wide angle shooter, 16MP ultra wide angle, 2MP dedicated macro camera, and 2MP depth sensor.

Huawei has made a name for itself in the mobile photography segment. The Nova 5T also delivers in this category. We’re fans of the ultra wide angle, it’s just too bad we haven’t had the chance to use it on a more scenic view prior to this hands-on.

The triple cameras are great for providing different perspectives. And the depth sensor does exactly what it’s supposed to do.

 

 

In front, situated at the top left area of the display is the punch hole, 32MP front-facing camera. You also get an adjustable beauty mode and portrait levels to help take your selfies to the next level.

The camera also has some other fun features you might enjoy playing with like Light Painting, Time-lapse, and Slow-mo. Here are other samples:

A flashy design

The Nova 5T is also all about expressing yourself. We’ve covered the idea behind the branding, and whether it’s your cup of tea or not, you can’t deny that this look is truly Huawei.

It mirrors the self-identity approach that it believes is paramount to its intended market. It looks great but does more than enough heavy lifting to power your day.

Adding the fingerprint scanner to the power button instead of putting it under the display is also an underrated touch. The fingerprint scanner is fast, accurate, and is at a comfortable position whether the phone is facing up or down on a table.

We’re excited to get EMUI 10

EMUI 9 already has a lot going for it. The extra things it provides are quite thoughtful. For instance, despite it still being based on Android 9 Pie, EMUI 9 implements fullscreen gestures that’s close to Android 10. Of course, this wouldn’t matter much to you if you’re the navigation bar type of person.

There’s also other helpful little quirks like swiping down with three fingers or knocking on the display to capture a screenshot.

Which is why we’re excited for the phone to get EMUI 10. It’s a faster, cleaner, and smoother version of EMUI and should help enhance the experience of using the Nova 5T.

Moving over to the phone is also quite easy thanks to Huawei’s Clone Phone app. It’s perhaps one of the most convenient ways to move from one phone to another.

Is the Huawei Nova 5T your GadgetMatch?

When we think about smartphones that offer the “best bang for your buck,” they usually don’t look like this. And probably don’t perform as well as the Nova 5T does.

In a way, the Huawei Nova 5T breaks expectations on so many fronts. That’s what sets it apart from other phones in this category.

To be able to harness this much power, at a reasonable price, and with an expressive look — we’re not sure how Huawei pulled it off, but we’re very glad that they did.


This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Huawei Philippines.

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