The LG G7thinQ - the right level of comfortable

So, it's been no secret over the past few years I've been an LG fan.  The original Optimus G I thought was ideal.  The Nexus 4 was very cool with great staying power.  The G2 that brought in the buttons on the back I thought was a great innovation and hard to use anything else ... was this what set off the fingerprint sensor in the back?

Anyways, I remember losing the back buttons, but the device was still pretty decent (okay, the 5 is something we may wish to omit all together).

The G6 brought in a 2:1 screen, but lost the IR port.  It was still an awesome phone and was my daily for a long time.

So what can the G7 do to top it?

When I got to play with it for a brief time back in Toronto I was impressed, but it wasn't a true impression.  Then it was time for me to give it a proper go.  I'll be honest I wasn't "WOW'd" by it (well there was one awesome moment).  It was better than wow'ing, it felt so natural that I had almost forgotten I was 'reviewing' it.  That is the true symbol that it is an amazing phone.

On to the review

So, the phone is available at most carriers for about $1049 (or $0 on contract).  It's pricey, not the priciest out there mind you, but you do get a lot of oomph for that price, so I think it's got a good comparison for the buck.

In sheer specs, you get the following:

6.1" @ 3120x1440
Snapdragon 845
2.8GHz x4 + 1.7GHz x4
64GB storage + microSD (2TB max)
16MP (f/1.9, 107°) + 16MP (f/1.6 / 71°)
8MP (f/1.9, 80°)
IP68 + MIL810G
Android 8.0

Okay, so a couple things stand out ... the 6.1" seems like it would be big, but it's really not.  Having the device with just Android 8.0 (now I was told this was a pre-release build, so maybe it will get 8.1 soon).  The 3000mAh battery is a little concerning; but it is a device that's slightly smaller than the 6 with a slightly larger screen.

We'll get to the screen in a bit, but let's first talk about the build.  Again, you can visit my review from the afternoon with the device where I did some comparisons with the G6 for sizes:

The notable piece is that it's slightly shorter, skinnier.  Instead of the blockier design of the G6 it has a subtle smooth roundedness to it.  There's a headphone jack (which I surprisingly found myself using).  What's new is that the fingerprint sensor button from the G6 is now just a sensor; so a button is needed; and it was put on the right side of the device.

They also put a button on the left side that can be used to summon the Google Assistant.  I loved the Pixel 2's squeeze feature, but I rarely used the G7's button.  It was weird how it would work... it still has the animation of the big white circle like the old Google Now, and now the subtle look of the Pixel 2's?

Overall, it's a very comfortable build.  It feels just right in the hand, and for its screen size screen, it feels much smaller.  I took it on a band trip, a hiking excursion and a camping weekend and it didn't feel out of place.  That is a big plus.

Now let's turn it on.  Remember you can either do this with the tap of the fingerprint sensor, or the power button, but then you'll have to either use your fingerprint for security or your code.  Personally, I'm a big fan of the 'knock-on' and I've gotten good at it that I can do it so nonchalantly that if it's sitting down I can tap away and not have to pick it up to use the fingerprint sensor.

You'll notice instantly that it has the notch.  Actually, no you don't.  Sure you see that it's something different and then seconds later you just keep using the device because it doesn't affect anything at all.  Showing it to a bunch of people and they didn't bat an eye at it, even after I told them about the notch and they just shrugged.

I actually really love how it's system tray is separated across the notch.  Notifications on one side, system icons in the other (Wifi, cell, battery).  All very organized looking.  Works with my OCD.

Another neat thing I liked is that you don't have the B from Bluetooth staying there all the time, nor NFC or the location indicator.  Just when something 'activates' it, it lightly shows up and fades back to the system icons.  Let's you know it did its thing and then goes away.  Smart.

If you really don't like the look of the notch, you can 'turn it off' where it just turns the background colour to black up there.  The notifications and system icons are still up there, but it's less 'in your face'

Let's look through more of the system.

It still has that 'dreaded all icons all over' feel of iOS.  You can set up the device to have the app tray, but it seems they don't want you to use it, so I've gotten used to the layout... but man it takes forever to set it the way you want to.

My tip.  Throw EVERYTHING over to a screen on the far right.  Make a couple screens with just one or 2 widgets as spacers and as you need something, pull it off of that far right screen... slowly you'll notice patterns of what you like and use and come up with a system.  I've been using a few devices lately so I kinda know my system... but man it still takes a while to get it just right.

As much as LG put a dedicated button for Google's Assistant, the far left screen doesn't have that 'Google Now' screen (do we still call it that?), rather it has it's own LG Smart Bulletin (which they've had since about the G2).  Surprisingly I've come to actually like it.  The weather is pretty on point and they have nice little polite reminders about taking an umbrella.  Mix it with LG health and it's even cuter where they'll say things like "even though it was raining, you still made your activity goal; see if you can do it again tomorrow" (but the health app doesn't recognize when I've gone for a bike ride, classifies it as a walk).  Very nice.

Part of the Smart Bulletin is their 'context awareness'.  I like setting this up so that whenever I connect my BT headphones to launch the Play Music app.  For some reason, no matter what phone I'm using, hitting play on headphones never starts the music unless I've just launched the app.

You can set a few other things like automation around location etc...  I haven't found any other situations I want auto settings for.

Another feature of the launcher is the drag down option.  From the home screen drag anywhere and down (now I've made the mistake a few times and missed the notification tray area and launched this instead of pulling down the shade, it does take some getting used to) and what it does is bring up a 'quick screen' (I don't remember the actual name, so I'll call it that).

This has most frequently contacted contacts at the top for you to quickly interact with, your most recent text messages and emails, events coming up etc...

The more you use it, the more populated it gets and figures out what's best for you to see there.  It gets pretty handy.

The screen looks awesome.  And like I pointed out previously there is the option to even further the brightness by tapping the little sun and it cranks it up to 11.  I found myself actually using it, and not to just use the screen as a flashlight, but some days while camping it was VERY bright and hard to see in some sunlight, but not when this was on.  I could read while in the hammock just fine.

It boosts the display up to 1000nits (typical screens are about 600 or so).

Speaking of display, it still has the 'always-on' option, which I've gotten very used to with variety of phones and even has the option for a bit of a vignetted picture to show up.

I set mine up to use a picture of the big dipper constellation, so it's a little muted.

Another bonus that I don't recall seeing so much on the G6 was the audio routing.  This would have been handy in the G6 actually (maybe it's there now) as my Father in Law had to return his G6 as he couldn't get it to Bluetooth audio to the car.  I think it was the car's software that was at fault, but this would have helped prove it.

The idea is that when you plunk in a set of headphones or connect Bluetooth audio, a little card shows up in the pull down shade showing what's connected and where's sound going.

In case you (and I've done this a few times) connect your BT headphones, take them off and plop them down somewhere and the phone starts to ring but can't find the headphones again.  You can quickly just tap this to reroute the audio.

A nice little add-in that wasn't necessary, but appreciated.

Speaking of audio, there's also the QuadDAC to talk about.  For the audiophiles, they might have something here, but because most of my listening was via BT I didn't take much time to really play around here.

There are just the generic 'audio enhancements' you can do and play around with surround sound effects for just the regular speaker (more on that in a second), but connect a Bluetooth headset in and you have options for the DTS:X 3D surround.

Plug a set of headphones in and then you also have the QuadDAC features.  For me, it just sounded like more equalizing, but I'm sure if you like

Even without a headset plugged in the audio is really good.  It's got that 'boombox' feature.  Even though it's a smaller box it uses some internal channels/cavities to resonate and allow higher quality sound.

So there are several features in here.  None of them are 'in your face' or feel like bloat.  It's just like a nice car with well-placed consoles and buttons or cup holders.  Everything works and is easy enough to use and feels natural.

The big feature for this phone tho' comes in the form of the camera.  They really talked a lot about their AI features in the camera.

Aside from being a really good camera (samples below) it has the AI CAM idea where if you tap it (and it's a weird way to tap it ... often it'll register as a tap for focus not as a switch to AI CAM).

What it does is analyze the scene and then determine what kind of settings are needed to take the best picture.  Also, it attaches 'tags' to the photo so that when you look in the gallery later you can see it sorted.  It's interesting how it determines what the tags are.

It will also organize photos based on location and can do similar to Google Photos start to build a video collage.

An interesting piece of the camera is that you can adjust the resolution to be something called 'full view' where the full screen is the viewscreen.  It stays at 10MP versus the full 16MP.

Another option you can set up is the Portrait mode.  Similar to how the Pixel does it, but you also get a live preview of what it would look like.  It's not as subtle as the Pixel does and has more 'mis-fires' (i.e. bits that are blurred that shouldn't be), but it's still very cool and one of my favourite pictures was done via it.

The only downside with the camera was that I found it slow.  Nothing painful, but it doesn't instantly get ready, and the shutter has a slight lag to it.  It's doing a great job, and I should be grateful for that little delay to capture the amazing shots it has, just there've been a few shots that were slightly mis-timed.

Also, I would have liked it to stay on a setting from the last time I opened the camera, instead it always opens to the 'auto'. I wanted to shoot in AI Cam all the time but every time you close you have to put it back in that mode.  Bummer.

Scroll all the way down to see some samples.  I'm still amazed by the one that looks all back-lit looking.

Overall, this is ... well, I won't say perfect, but it's damned near.  It's comfortable with the right amount of amenities.  Like a really good hotel, it's not too posh that you can't enjoy your stay, it's got all the fun pool and gym amenities, even a fun bar.

I've had a friend once tell me that driving a good car doesn't feel like you're driving at all, and that's how I think of this device.

And I was worried.  With only 4GB RAM, and a 3000mAh battery I thought performance may not be as smooth; boy was I wrong.

The performance was fluid as the Pixel 2; and for battery life, it was more than sufficient.  Sure, if I didn't charge it, I probably needed to give it a top up around dinner time.  The beauty comes in that it has Qi charging and so easy to just leave on a pad and charge while not in use and keep it topped up at all times.

So, sure, $1050 is a bit pricey - but it hits all the right marks; it's easy to use, has great performance with no hiccups that I can really notice.

Awesome job, LG!  Now check out these photos!

love the amount of contrast / shadow work here and still has good colour

examples of the portrait mode... 
mine you can see hairs that were blurred that shouldn't be
the one of my friend looks so natural it's awesome!

a little overblown here, odd considering it was pouring rain and clouds

This one is just amazing to me, it captured the moment awesomely
My absolute favourite shot EVER!

Really great shots... really!