Goondu review: LG V40 ThinQ is a decent phone but faces tough rivals

March 8th, 2019 | by Alfred Siew
Goondu review: LG V40 ThinQ is a decent phone but faces tough rivals
Cellphones
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LG’s V40 is a decent flagship phone but it faces tough competitors in a crowded market. PHOTO: Alfred Siew

LG’s V series phones have always impressed with their music playback and useful camera features in the past and the V40 ThinQ launched here in Singapore in January offers more of the same.

The difference, of course, is that there are a lot of other challenges in the field, from cheaper Chinese brands such as Honor as well as fellow high-end flagships from Samsung and Huawei.

It doesn’t help that the V40 is late to Singapore, months after it had started shipping in the United States. So, should the LG phone still be something to check out?

I’d say it’s a competent alternative if you don’t fancy the increasingly expensive flagships from rival manufacturers. Certainly, it’s a decent phone in its own right, thanks to no fewer than five cameras onboard, for starters.

The V40 sports a satin-like finish that does away with fingerprints – mostly. PHOTO: Alfred Siew

The look and feel are attractive as well. The finish is a good balance between shiny and fingerprint-resistant. So, unlike most flagships with a glass backing, the V40 should be relatively free of ugly fingerprints.

What LG has introduced, unfortunately, is a notch at the top of the screen. Though not as big as what you get on the Pixel 3 XL, it’s still a distraction.

Yes, you can “turn off” the notch by adding a thick black bar at the top but this is not a feature you’d see a lot of in 2019. Many manufacturers have gone for a pinhole camera, like on the Samsung Galaxy S10+, for example.

You get no fewer than five cameras – two in front and three at the back (pictured here). PHOTO: Alfred Siew

What LG scores in are its useful camera features. An interesting CineShot feature lets you pause parts of a frame in a video so you get a slightly unusual and eye-catching clip. Great for Instagram.

Yet another feature lets you take a selfie and “green screen” the rest of the background and replace it with something else. Yes, you can fool people into thinking you’re on some exotic holiday, or that you’re in the office.

I’m not really in front of QB House. I just took a selfie and superimposed it onto an image of the barber shop. PHOTO: Alfred Siew

It helps that the V40 has no fewer than five cameras – two in front for selfies and three at the back for regular shots. They work very well in different situations.

What I particularly like is the Triple Shot feature, which lets you take a shot with all three rear cameras, so you can easily choose one. In other words, no need to snap three times.

The main 12-megapixel camera lets you capture at a field of view of 78 degrees, which is handy for most regular shots like portraits.

The other two are more interesting – a 16-megapixel, super wide-angle camera for taking shots of landscapes and a 12-megapixel, zoom camera for when you want to capture something from afar, such as a bird.

Decent in dim light in a restaurant. PHOTO: Alfred Siew
Good amount of detail from the regular camera. PHOTO: Alfred Siew
The espresso beneath the milk is the right shade of brown. PHOTO: Alfred Siew
Bright enough at night but fortunately, not that noisy. PHOTO: Alfred Siew
Another handheld night shot. No avoiding a bit of blur with fast moving objects. PHOTO: Alfred Siew
Yes, there’s a bit of warping at the corner but this is much better than many other phones. Taken at night too. PHOTO: Alfred Siew.

All three cameras in the back are more than competent. They are also handy for different occasions, something that other phone makers are offering now with similar multi-camera setups.

Night shots with the V40’s regular camera, which offers f1.5, are bright enough and don’t suffer from too much noise. Generally, photos also don’t seem as over-saturated as they were previously on the V30.

If the camera is the biggest selling point, the audio quality that LG has been known for is also not far behind. The Hi-Fi Quad DAC (digital-to-analog converter) used here is, as before, impressive.

Yes, the V40 comes with a headphone jack that let’s you plug in your earphones for a great audio experience. PHOTO: Alfred Siew

The headphone jack is a unique feature for audiophiles now, seeing other phone makers have given up on it. With the V40, you can plug in your favourite earphones and be assured of high-quality audio that’s full of body and offers clarity.

Another plus point for the V40 is its OLED screen. Yes, after strangely going for a more regular LCD in the G7 earlier in 2018, LG has turned back to OLED on the V40, which gives you crisper blacks and better contrast.

The 6.4-inch QHD+ screen is a great companion for trips when you want to catch up on some Netflix shows, or for a game or two.

What I do wish to have more of is battery capacity. The 3,300mAh power pack is handy for a day’s use, but it holds less charge than, say, Samung’s Galaxy S10+, which has a 4,100mAh battery.

Another thing to take note of is that the V40 is still using the Android 8.1 operating system instead of the newer Android 9.0 that new flagships come with now.

Fortunately, the interface is still zippy, letting you in on apps without delay. The information density is also good, not wasting much space on a small screen.

The dreaded notch. For some users, this is a deal breaker. PHOTO: Alfred Siew

In the end, what makes the V40 most attractive now may be its price. After going on sale in Singapore just over a month ago at S$1,098, the LG phone can be had today for just S$850 at some retailers.

That’s more than S$500 cheaper than Samsung’s S$1,398 Galaxy S10+, for example, while sporting still very decent hardware.

Okay, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 on the V40 isn’t as new as this year’s Snapdragon 855, but it’s still a high-end processor great for just about any app.

The LG V40. PHOTO: Alfred Siew

The 6GB memory is handy, as are the 128GB of storage. So, performance-wise, the V40 is up to speed, even in comparison with newer models.

The question is whether users will give LG a chance with so many other options around. Unlike a year ago, Chinese phone makers from Honor to Oppo have a lot more attractive designs.

The V40 might have to appeal to a relatively narrow segment of the market who don’t want Chinese-made phones or Samsung’s Galaxys. Even then, it should have hit the stores here earlier.

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