Pros: The waterproof LG G7 ThinQ has an AI camera that gives your photos a boost before you snap them. The phone has a secondary wide-angle rear camera and a headphone jack.

Cons: The phone has a familiar design, its Google Assistant button isn’t reprogrammable and battery life is unimpressive.

In General: The LG G7 ThinQ is a really good phone, but one that fails to distinguish itself from more compelling offerings from Samsung, OnePlus and Google.

Time and time again, LG has made generally excellent premium phones that are slightly cheaper than the concurrent Samsung flagship. And yet, LG still experiences stagnant sales that are far behind that of Apple and Samsung. Even worse is that people are buying fewer phones in general.

And so it goes again. The G7 ThinQ carries over a lot of things liked from last year’s flagship: water resistance, a headphone jack, a sharp screen and a capable dual-camera.

Portrait of Woman Photographing With Smart Phone

But last year, LG was digging itself out of the flub that was the modular G5, so the bar wasn’t set that high. This time around, perhaps due to the relative excellent-ness of the G6, the G7 feels like more of the same. And its new features (like an iPhone X-style notch that you can camouflage, a rough-around-the-edges AI camera and a Google Assistant button) aren’t enough to wow in 2018.

In addition, at $750 to $790, the G7 is pricier than past LG flagships — about $80 to $150 more depending on the carrier. That may be because the G7 starts out with more internal memory than previous LGs. But that price range now puts the phone closer to Galaxy S9 territory, slashing one of LG’s most notable advantages: cost-savings.

For $50 more, the Galaxy S9 serves up a longer battery life, a fantastic camera and a sleeker design. If both are out of your budget, the OnePlus 6 delivers much of the same specs (except water resistance and wireless charging) for $200 less.

The G7’s optional-ish notch

Though first introduced on Android phones, the controversial screen notch — which looks like a black cutout tab on top of the screen — was popularized by the iPhone X. And while its overall existence remains a point of contention (i.e. it gives you more screen real estate versus it’s a distracting and unnecessary aesthetic choice), more Android phones are adopting it, including the G7. It’s also built into Google’s latest OS update, Android P.

The G7’s notch is optional — kind of. Like the Huawei P20, if you don’t like it, you can go into the settings to blacken the sides that flank the tab to have a traditional-looking alert bar. There are other colors too, like gray or swirly rainbow, but honestly, anything that’s not black looks quite ugly.

While the alert bar remains black on certain things like the home screen, the settings menu or when you launch the Gallery app, it switches off when you launch other things. That means when you’re looking at text messages, Calendar, Maps or other apps, the notch is back on and visible. Why LG just won’t allow the black bars to remain consistently on or off is a mystery.

A bright screen and ho-hum looks

As for the rest of the screen, LG boasts that the G7’s LCD display is super bright (1,000 nits) and easy to view in outdoor sunlight. When I compared it to the iPhone X and the Galaxy S9, the white on the G7 was indeed the purest and brightest. Its high resolution (3,120×1,440 pixels) also makes it sharp and clear.

Person Using Smartphone While Facing Laptop Computer

But blues, reds and greens looked more vibrant and saturated on the Galaxy S9 than on the G7. In addition, the G7’s blacks could not compete with the OLED screens of the other two, and its screen looked more darkish gray than the Galaxy and the iPhone when displaying a black swatch. Lastly, even though color shifting isn’t a huge deal on phones, color tones changed more on the G7 as you viewed it from different angles.

Overall, the G7 is tall and slim, with thin bezels (save for the bottom) and a glossy design. It doesn’t have any particular wow factor (like the Galaxy S9’s curved screen) or any other thing that just sets it apart (like the Pixel 2’s glass shade). But then again, that’s like most phones. And while the G7’s back attracts fingerprints like a magnet, it also feels less fragile than the Galaxy S9 and iPhone X.

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