LG V40 ThinQ Review

8.5 Total Score
Bottom Line

The LG V40 ThinQ is a solid phone on paper. It is a device that can do almost anything, but unfortunately, it does not do much better than the competition. In short, the LG V40 is a true multi-tool, but very few of its components are as sharp as their competitors.

PROS
  • An incredible amount of unique features
  • Minimal bezels with a small notch
  • 5 cameras provide lots of options
  • Micro-SD, IP68, headphone jack
  • Quad DAC and Audio quality
CONS
  • Below average battery life
  • Unreasonably expensive
  • Camera performance isn't up to par
  • Cluttered settings menu
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LG’s V series has always been about doing everything. Last year, the LG V30 was one of the most complete cameras of all time on a mobile device and the Quad DAC audio solution was a treat for music lovers. This year, LG goes even further. While most manufacturers have adopted two cameras to allow options such as portrait and telephoto options, LG has added a total of five cameras to the V40, allowing for ultra-wide-angle, telephoto and front-facing lens options. With this and some new software enhancements, the V40 is a compelling phone on paper. But does not its value represent more than the sum of its parts? This is our LG V40 Review.

LG V40 Review – Design

If you like the look of the LG V30, you’ll feel right at home with the V40. It introduces the familiar rounded design that V-Series users have come to know, but hits things away with the massive 6.4-inch display. This phone is great – there is not much to do without it, but it’s a good option for someone who wants a big phone that is not a Samsung Galaxy Note 9. The V40 has a notch, although it is a little smaller than many other phone slots, despite the fact that it has two different cameras. This allows things like wide-angle selfies and portrait mode with the front shooter, which I’m happy for LG to continue.

The phone also intelligently hides the notch when you are on the home screen. You can customize this area with different colors and patterns, or hide it completely. The back of the phone is extremely similar to the LG V30, with a Gorilla Glass 5 panel, a fingerprint reader and a camera module. This year, the camera module adds an additional sensor, for a total of three. The phone is equipped with a standard 12MP sensor with a 78-degree field of view, an ultra-wide sensor with a 107-degree field of view and a 2x zoom with a 47-degree field of view.

I was afraid it might sound a little ridiculous, but in reality, it sounds pretty decent – functionality is more important to me anyway. The right side of the phone contains the power button and the SIM card tray, while the left side stores the volume switches and the Google Assistant button. I am extremely happy that LG has decided to place the Google Assistant button in the V40. Personally, I think that Google Assistant is the only viable wizard on Android and that the Samsung Bixby dedicated button could have been just as useful if it had allowed remapping.

The LG V40 ThinQ has a dedicated power button. The fingerprint reader is now a simple fingerprint reader. Unfortunately, this also seems to be a very bad fingerprint reader. Most fingerprint readers are extremely fast, but the V40 seems pretty slow. Most of the time, the phone does not recognize me at all trying to unlock my device, and I found it quite annoying while I was working with the phone. The LG V40 also includes the same LG G7 “resonance” Boombox speaker, a Type C USB port and a headphone jack at the bottom.

LG seems to be adding more and more features to its flagship products instead of removing them, and I’m very happy about that. Samsung is pretty much the only other big manufacturer to keep the headphone jack, so you do not have a lot of options if you’re serious about audio. LG is proud to keep its phones extremely lightweight, and the V40 continues this trend. I like denser and heavier phones – they give me the feeling of getting my money’s worth – but I can understand the engineering used to make the phone so light. Of course, it’s extremely subjective, but it’s a criticism, after all. I like my heavy phones.

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LG V40 Review – Display

The LG V40 sports a display resolution of 3120 x 1440, set to 2340 x 1080 by default. The screen looks good, but it is certainly not as sharp and punchy as the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. The V40 contains 538 PPI, which, strangely, does not seem so clear. As a screen maker that makes incredible TVs and other screens, I was hoping LG would use its best features, but that still does not seem to be the case. Finished the LG G7’s LCD screen, replaced by an OLED panel – this time without purge problems. This panel produces a nice homogeneous lighting, and I did not notice a blue shift from different angles.

Unfortunately, it does not become very bright either. The V40 does not have the G7 1000 nits LCD screen and if it’s nice to use an OLED again, I’m missing the brightness that LG offers in the G7. It’s a bit difficult to see the V40 outside and it’s a big disappointment. The colors are extremely striking on this thing, almost a little too much for my taste. The flesh tones and the red ones seem a little saturated, and you will like them or hate them. I just came from the Xiaomi Mi 8, which has a rather cold color temperature – that’s all but the case here.

LG has probably made this decision to make content consumption a bit more enjoyable, but it will depend on you. The LG V40 also supports HDR10, which means you can watch content with more colors than standard screens. If you need clarification on exactly what the HDR10 is, our friends at the DGiT have an excellent description here.

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LG V40 Review – Software

The LG V40 ThinQ runs on Android 8.1 Oreo and I am rather disappointed not to see Android 9 Pie at launch. Google is working hard to make it easy to update Android through Project Treble. Even phones as old as Essential Phone already have Pie. Frankly, manufacturers need to do better with the latest features and security enhancements made available to the public by Google. I am tired of excuses. LG’s user interface has always been very polarizing. On the one hand, he’s been using a unique design for a while, which is not always a bad thing.

However, it seems that LG continues to add UI elements without removing anything, and the result seems very cluttered. The home screen is quite simple, but as soon as you slide down, you are bombarded with contradictory elements of the user interface. This layering is designed to give you a top view of everything you do, but I found it too busy, with different stylistic elements that made it cluttered. Your eyes are not immediately attracted to a UI element and you can not even scan anything. The settings menu is by far the worst offender.

It’s organized into four different tabs and it’s hard to find everything you might need. LG needs a major redesign of this parameter menu, as many other manufacturers have opted for leaner and more functional approaches. There is also no default application drawer, but you can enable it if you dig enough in the settings menu.  On the plus side, the V40 ThinQ adds Google Discover (formerly Google Feed), which you can access by sliding your finger to the left of your home screen. I am a big fan of this because it provides me with the news that is important to me before I care.

If you miss Google Now, this is indeed a new version with fewer cards and more news. Either you like the V40 software experience, or you hate it. I really appreciate the simple bubble theme because it fits pretty well with Google’s Material Design 2.0. However, aspects like the settings menu leave me in a bad mood. Although I try to leave the phones in their default state during the review process, I would probably run a third-party launcher like Nova on this device if I used it in the long run.

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LG V40 Review – Hardware

The LG V40 is a true flagship product of 2018. With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, it can compete with many other market leaders. 64GB is the only storage option available in the US (a 128GB version will be available in South Korea). It’s purely subjective, but I was hoping for more. Many other flagship projects in the US have been launched with storage options of 128, 256 and even 512 GB in 2018, so it’s a bit disappointing to see the V40 lagging behind. The V40 includes the optional microSD card extension, which means you can at least charge it with one of these 400GB SanDisk cards, sold for $100 the other day. Many people might say that 64 GB is more than enough for most people and I agree with you, but you hope that LG will pass on at least the savings to the consumer who uses such a low storage option.

LG’s famous 32-bit DAC is back this year, offering high fidelity sound that sounds better than any other smartphone at the moment. LG is committed to occupying this high-quality audio niche, at least until it becomes clear, consumers do not care more than 3.5 mm. For now, it’s pretty clear that consumers are looking at removing the plug as a bad move and LG is one of the few companies listening. If you prefer to listen to music directly from your phone, LG has also included the LG G7’s Boombox speakers in this device. The phone is certainly loud, but I did not feel as strong as the G7. Unfortunately, I did not have the G7 on hand to test it, but we will run audio performance tests in our test suite.

One feature that I would like to highlight in particular is the quality of the vibration motor of this unit. LG devices have had a very good haptic in the last two iterations, but I do not think they get enough attention. Although the haptics is not as good as the LG G7, it’s still better than most other Android phones on the market. The phone is also IP68 water resistant and includes wireless charging. You will not miss a ring or whistle when you buy this device.

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LG V40 Review – Performance

The LG V40 is fast enough to compete with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and the rest of the Android phones, with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon SoC. It has the Snapdragon 845 chipset and 6 GB of RAM, which gave it excellent performance during our tests in real conditions. We did not miss anything and the startup is fast (only 15 seconds, including the time needed for the Verizon logo to disappear). It’s the same thing in our lab tests: the V40 recorded a multi-core Geekbench score of 8,787, finishing just behind Note 9 and OnePlus 6. It’s a respectable performance.

However, we do not have as much respect for the 64 GB of internal storage. Yes, there is a microSD card slot here, but Samsung offers double the storage space for a slightly higher price. We love almost everything about the specifications of the LG V40, but the price-quality ratio is not as good as it could be.

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LG V40 Review – Battery Life

The battery in the LG V40 is 3300mAh, which is certainly a bit small for a screen of this size. This also translates directly to the time spent on the screen. During the six days of phone use, it took me between four and five hours of the screen saver, and four on average. It’s not really ideal, especially when LG markets it as a phone that can do it all. I would have liked to see a battery of 4,000 mAh correctly compete with the note 9 of Samsung, but we will not see it, unfortunately, this year.

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LG V40 Review – Camera

As with all V Series cameras, the LG V40’s cameras are without a doubt the show’s star. This year, LG has decided to make every effort, including three cameras on the back of the device. Some manufacturers include a wide-angle zoom or a telephoto lens in addition to the main sensor, but LG has decided to do both. The LG V40 ThinQ is equipped with a standard 12MP lens with f/1.5 aperture and a 78-degree field of view, a 16MP wide-angle lens with f/1.9 aperture and a 107-degree field of view, as well as a 2x 12MP telephoto lens with a f/2.4 aperture and a 45-degree field of view.

These cameras have special tips, and the software allows you to see, for example, all angles of the camera before taking the picture, so that you can use the best camera possible. There is even a mode that allows you to take a picture simultaneously with all three cameras. If you’re not sure which angle you prefer, it’s a good option, but I chose to take a single picture instead. If you take an image with all three, the V40 ThinQ turns the images into a short movie, pretending to pan slowly in a scene. It’s a good idea, but in reality, it’s more like typing in Google Street View.

The V40 has another special feature that we could check out earlier, called Cine Shot. This actually allows the user to create cinemagraphs – photos with moving elements. This feature is really cool, and you can see it in action on our dedicated article here. You can also use this feature with one of the three lenses on the back of the phone, allowing you to fully control your creativity.

While the wide-angle camera offers great clarity and accurate color reproduction, the 2x optical zoom sensor was rather disappointing. The use of optical zoom versus digital should theoretically keep a clear and sharp picture, but it seemed much louder and muddy than other cameras and looked like a digital zoom. I would have liked to see a clean optical zoom, otherwise, there are ways to make the digital zoom cleaner with the software.

In total, there are two front cameras: a standard lens with an 8MP sensor, a f/1.9 aperture and an 80-degree field of view and a large lens with a 5MP sensor, f/2.2 aperture and a field 90 degrees of view. This allows for large selfie photos as well as portrait mode. From the pictures I’ve taken so far, they look good. Many manufacturers are still new to portrait modes, but LG seems to have done a good job here. You can also change the level of bokeh after taking the photo, a feature that is becoming very popular in most flagship smartphones.

Google Lens is also integrated with the camera app. It will show you information about the objects on which you point the camera. It’s a nice feature and something I wanted to see in camera apps for quite some time now. All you have to do is put the phone in Google Goal mode and you’re ready to go. LG has also integrated its famous manual camera mode, AI mode, and other cool features into the V40. There are a ton of options available in the Camera app and I do not want this review to be entirely camera-based. So we will move on.

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Specifications

LG V40 ThinQ
Display
  • 6.4-inch OLED FullVision display
  • 3,120 x 1,440 resolution (Quad HD+)
  • 19.5:9 aspect ratio
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5
SoC
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • Octa-core
GPUAdreno 630
RAM6 GB
Storage
  • 64/128 GB
  • Micro-SD expansion up to 2 TB
CamerasRear

  • Main camera: 12MP sensor, ƒ/1.5 aperture, 78° field-of-view, 1.4µm pixel size, OIS, Dual PD autofocus
  • Super wide: 16MP sensor, ƒ/1.9 aperture, Crystal Clear Lens, 1µm pixel size, 107° field-of-view
  • Telephoto zoom: 12MP sensor, ƒ/2.4 aperture, 1µm pixel size, 45° field of view

Front:

  • Standard: 8MP sensor, ƒ/1.9 aperture, 1.12µm pixel size, 80° field of view
  • Wide: 5MP sensor, ƒ/2.2, 1.12µm pixel size, 90° field of view
Audio
  • Boombox Speaker
  • DTS:X 3D Surround Sound
  • 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Audio Tuned by Meridian
  • Super Far-Field Voice Recognition
Battery
  • 3,300mAh Non-removable
  • Quick Charge 4.0-compatible (ships with QC 3.0 charger)
  • Fast wireless charging, Qi wireless charging
IP rating
  • IP68 dust/waterproof (up to 1.5m for 30 mins)
  • MIL-STD 810G certification
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
  • Bluetooth 5.0 BLE
  • NFC
SoftwareAndroid 8.0 Oreo
Dimensions and weight
  • 158.7 x 75.8 x 7.7 mm
  • 169 grams
ColorsNew Aurora Black, New Platinum Gray, New Moroccan Blue, Carmine Red

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LG V40 Review – Final Words

The LG V40 ThinQ is a solid phone on paper. It is a device that can do almost anything, but unfortunately, it does not do much better than the competition. Although I recommend LG keep a unique design, keep the headphone jack and add the Google Assistant button, I do not see any of these things (except perhaps the quad DAC) as a reason you could buy this device on another cheaper phone. The V40 costs almost $1,000 and at this price, you have to offer the best of the best in all categories. Unfortunately, the LG V40 does not do it.

If you want 95% of the features offered in the V40 for less money, I could direct you to the LG G7. Even though this phone still costs around $750, it has dropped to less than $ 650 several times. Personally, I think the G7 has a better build quality and better sound. All that’s missing is the OLED display and the big telephoto lens, even though the G7’s LCD can be extremely bright, up to 1,000 nits.

In short, the LG V40 ThinQ is a true multi-tool, but very few of its components are as sharp as their competitors. When playing with big dogs, the second best does not cut you.

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