Pros: The LG V40’s five cameras give you a variety of photography options. The phone has a 6.4-inch screen, but is still comfortable to hold. It’s water resistant, has expandable memory and a headphone jack.
Cons: The LG V40’s slew of photo and camera tools can be overwhelming to navigate for a casual photographer. Its battery life is average.
In General: The LG V40 ThinQ is one of the best phones of 2018, but the Pixel 3 XL has the better grab-and-go camera and battery life.
Oftentimes, LG phones play second or third fiddle to the iPhone and Galaxy brands. But with the LG V40 ThinQ, the Korean tech company is making waves as the first mainstream phone to have five (yes, five) camera lenses dedicated to taking better, more creative photos than the iPhone XS Max or Galaxy Note 9 — three on the V40’s rear, two on the front.
But despite this impressive amount of hardware, you wouldn’t knight the V40 as the best phone to take photos with. The V40, the Note 9 and the iPhone XS Max all have different strengths. And if we’re considering the best phone to simply grab and just start taking amazing photos with, the Pixel 3/3 XL gets my vote, even though it just has one rear lens.
So should you get the V40? It’s definitely worth considering if you see yourself using the wide-angle lens often — that is, taking expansive photos with a wide field of view, and fitting lots of content in each frame. It’s a signature feature in many LG phones, and the company has been iterating and improving on it for years.
But if you don’t need all that photo hardware, or already have any of the V30 models (including the V30S and V35 Thin Q), it’s best to skip this phone. In addition, the Pixel 3 XL and OnePlus 6T have exceptional cameras of their own, though both don’t have headphone jacks or expandable storage. The Pixel 3 XL starts at $900, £870 and AU$1,349, while the OnePlus 6T costs $549 and £499. Australia pricing for the 6T hasn’t been released, but that converts to AU$774.) Note that while the Pixel 3 XL starts at a cheaper price, it’s lack of expandable storage complicates its overall value.
Five cameras, lots of options
While there are many dual-rear camera phones, and future phones are expected to add even more — the recent Huawei P20 Pro has four, for example — the V40 is a rarity with five. Its rear camera setup includes a standard lens with optical image stabilization, a wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens with 2x zoom that takes dramatic, bokeh-style portraits. LG also loaded the camera with a bunch of lighting tools for portrait photos, nearly identical to the ones on the latest phones, which adds a studio-like quality to your pictures.
Photo quality on the V40 is excellent — pictures taken in brightly lit settings were sharp and vibrant. Compared to the Note 9 and the iPhone XS Max though, the V40 washed out cooler hues just a tad, though it rendered whites purer than the other two phones. But when it came to red hues or skin tones, colors were more accurate on the V40 than that of the iPhone, which had a tendency to overwarm oranges and reds.
For low-light scenes, the V40 brightened up a dark bar easily. The iPhone XS Max brought in more details, however, while the Note 9 handled different exposures better and had a wider dynamic range.
The LG V40 also handles portrait photos well, and the drop-off between the subject in the foreground and the blurred background looked smooth and natural. Of the three phones, the Note 9 is the best in this instance because of the way it correctly handled white balance and skin tones. As for studio lighting features, the V40’s image looked flat, while the iPhone’s picture had much more depth and shading.
As the only phone of the three with two front-facing cameras, the V40 took the best portrait selfies. Skin tones were true to life and faces looked sharp. The bokeh effect also didn’t look as patchy and overprocessed as the others.