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

The Huawei Nova 7 and Freebuds 3i is the perfect match

Some things are better in pairs

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Huawei is adding two new devices to their ever increasing portfolio. These are a phone and another TWS option — the Huawei Nova 7 and Freebuds 3i. 

The two devices share a common trait in that they offer flagship-level performance for less. More details on pricing and availability later on. For now, let’s talk about the devices.

Huawei Nova 7

The first noticeable thing about the Nova 7 is the design on its back, especially for the purple variant. It follows the Nova pattern introduced in the Nova 5T.

Since it’s laying face down, next thing you’ll notice is the quad-camera setup. It’s rocking a 64MP main camera, an 8MP ultra-wide angle lens, an 8MP telephoto lens, and 2MP macro lens (which you probably wouldn’t and shouldn’t use).

Naturally, it has all the AI camera features and post processing found on Huawei phones. We haven’t tested the cameras but we’ll throw in a quick comparison with a similarly priced phone for the review.

Now that that’s out of the way, we can flip it over to reveal the 6.53” OLED display. For screen refresh rate junkies, you’re only getting 60Hz here — which is still fine. That OLED looks mighty fine on the eyes.

Inside, it’s powered by the new Kirin 985 SoC. It’s flagship-grade and has support for 5G. In the Philippines, Huawei is currently leading the market in terms of sheer number of phones with 5G.

They started in 2019 with the Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G and followed it up with the P40 Series. As of writing, Huawei also has the distinction of offering the most affordable flagship phone in the Philippines — the Huawei Nova 7 SE. 

As to the actual availability of 5G, that’s a topic for another article. But if you want some extra reading, here’s our 5G explainer.

Back to the phone, it has an 8GB + 256GB memory and internal storage combo. It also has a 4,000mAh battery with support for wired 40W Huawei SuperCharge. No wireless charging here.

First impressions 

We’ve been using the device for roughly a couple of days now and it’s been delightful to use for the most part.

If you’re salty about the lack of a higher refresh rate, I would say the vivid OLED display kind of makes up for it. Scrolling side-by-side a device with an IPS LCD screen but with a 120Hz screen refresh rate, it certainly feels less smooth. But what it “lacks” in fluidity is more than made up for by the crisp and vibrant display. Certainly crispier than any IPS LCD display.

In terms of general day-to-day use, it’s pretty stellar. We’ve noted on our OnePlus Nord review how good these midrange/upper-midrange SoCs have gotten and the Kirin 985 along with the RAM and the stability of EMUI 10.1 contributes to a hiccup-free experience.

App access is improved by the introduction of Petal Search. Type whatever app you need and you’ll be shown the source of the app. But you can download it directly from the Petal Search’s interface.

The phone is still without Google Mobile Services, so certain apps that require it like Google’s entire suite of apps, VSCO, Sound Hound, and others won’t work at all. Regardless, there are alternatives for all of these as we’ve noted in this App Gallery feature, and this video. 

Huawei Freebuds 3i

The Huawei Freebuds 3i is the Freebuds 3’s younger sibling. Like the Nova 7, we’ve had it for a couple of days and are blown away but how it performs.

It has ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) and this is something you notice right away as you put it on. The Freebuds 3i does this through the in-ear design and its three microphone system.

The stem design also isn’t just for show or to look like a certain competing TWS earphone. The stem acts as the microphone pick-up. We tested it on a few quick calls and the people on the other line noted that we sounded crystal clear.

It also has touch controls that are configurable through the Huawei AI Life app.

The perfect pair?

Huawei isn’t exactly packaging the two together. But since they’re launching at the same time, we used the two together and it’s quite a treat.

Like any first-party accessory, the Freebuds 3i is immediately detected by the Huawei Nova 7 making for a hassle free pairing.

The Nova 7 doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack so if you want to jump straight into the wireless life, pairing it with the Freebuds 3i is a good place to start.

Quick note: The Nova 7 does come with wired earphones along with a USB-C to 3.5mm converter in case you’re not yet ready to let go.

The listening experience, though, is elevated if you do decide to get the Freebuds 3i.

Pricing and availability

The Huawei Nova 7 will retail for PhP 23,990 (US$ 488). It comes in two colors: Midsummer Purple.

Like any recent Huawei releases, it comes with an array of freebies. The first 100 buyers will get a Huawei Watch GT2e, VIP Service, and Tresemmé Shampoo and Conditioner so you’ll look fly in your selfies.

There’s also a spezial offer. The first 5 customers who order the Nova 7 during the airtime of noontime show Eat Bulaga, you’ll get the Huawei Freebuds 3 for free.

If you don’t watch the show, there are other ways to snag a free Huawei Freebuds 3. Just make sure you order between July 31 to August 2, 2020 at these times: 12MN, 10AM, 2PM, 6PM, and 10PM.

Meanwhile, the Huawei Freebuds 3i will retail for PhP 5,990 (US$ 122) with a free case that has a mini lanyard. The Freebuds 3i comes in two colors: Ceramic White and Carbon Black.

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Hands-On

OnePlus Nord Unboxing & Hands On: Prepare to be surprised!

Could this be the new flagship killer?

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OnePlus goes back to its roots with an impressive sub-US$450 smartphone. Could this be the new flagship killer? This is our OnePlus Nord Unboxing & Hands-On.

The OnePlus Nord will retail for 399 EUR / 27999 INR (8/128GB model) when it launches in Europe and India on August 4th.

Other variants include a 12GB/256GB model (499 EUR / 29999 INR) and a special 6/64GB variant for India ONLY which will retail for 24999 INR.

In case the video isn’t working, click here.

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5 things we like about the realme Watch

A fitness band you won’t mind wearing in non-workout scenarios

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realme has been on a roll in expanding their product portfolio. They started with smartphones, added some earphones and powerbanks, and this year they have two wearables so far – the realme smartband and the realme Watch.

Today we’re listing some of the things we really liked about the realme Watch. Oh and quick note – most of this video was shot using the realme X3 SuperZoom.

Battery Life

Okay so, number one is battery life.

At the time that this was written, the Watch was at 52 percent and it has been seven days since the last time it was fully charged. If I use it more or less the same way I have in the past seven days, then it’ll be another week before it completely runs out of juice.

It’s definitely a plus when you don’t have to think about charging your watch too often.

Variety of workouts

At launch it can track 14 different workouts with good variety.

You have stuff like Running, Walking, Strength Training, Yoga and even sports like Football, Table Tennis, and Badminton.

The only “workout” I really got to try is walking, since I absolutely dread running — or any other form of exercise for that matter. But the fitness tracking was fairly accurate for the most part.

I was dying to try basketball since that’s the only workout I truly enjoy. Unfortunately the courts are still closed because in case you forgot, the Coronavirus is still very much out there taking lives and we are totally not winning that battle.

Casual fit

If it’s just your regular trip to the grocery store, then this watch will suit you just fine.

Perhaps, you can also wear this on regular work days if you’re required to report onsite. Point is, since it doesn’t look like a fitness band. You can probably get away with wearing it in most casual situations.

Remote camera

This one was particularly useful for when I was making this video.

The remote camera camera works for both photo and video. And for photos, it can be set to either take the snap right away or with a timer.

Very convenient if, like me, you’re forever alone, and need or want photos of yourself.

Water reminder

For you thirsty folks out there, it also has a water reminder option that you can turn on using the realme link app.

You can set a time period when you should be reminded, as well as the frequency of the reminder. I didn’t exactly follow this all the time since I sorely lack discipline, but it’s nice to have that constant reminder.

Is the realme Watch worth buying?

To properly set your expectations, you’ll need to think of the realme Watch as more of an enlarged fitness band versus an actual Smart Watch, since most of its features are geared towards health and fitness.

And if you look at it, it’s… okay. Not really something you’d want to show off.

Underneath the display there’s this subtle realme branding that could’ve been smaller or they could’ve totally done away with. That might have helped with the overall look a little bit.

The watch faces are also limited at launch, but realme emphasized that a wide variety of choices is coming soon.

For PhP 3990 (US$ 81), you get a fitness band that you wouldn’t mind wearing in non-workout scenarios. I think that’s the primary benefit that you get, for paying around twice the price of a regular fitness band.

In case the video isn’t working, watch it here.

SEE ALSO: realme X3 SuperZoom, realme Watch price in the Philippines

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