New OLED display, penta-camera combination and high-end specs make a great package.
We already had a darn good idea of everything the LG V40 ThinQ was going to offer, thanks to leaks and LG’s own pre-announcements, but it’s all official now. (And yes, this is a "ThinQ" phone officially, but I’m just going to mention that here once and move on.)
LG did all it could to make a modern high-end flagship phone.
LG’s story with the V40 is essentially that it’s a big, powerful flagship-level phone with a new camera setup and all of the hardware features you want. The cameras are indeed the differentiator. As some companies have done, there are three rear cameras: a 12MP main camera, 16MP wide-angle camera and 12MP 2X zoom telephoto camera. The standard camera is a notable upgrade from the LG G7, with 1.4-micron pixels and an f/1.5 lens. The wide-angle is the same as the G7, which is great because of the unique field of view but somewhat disappointing because it doesn’t have OIS and the sensor quality is just average. The telephoto camera enables portrait mode shots and lossless zooming at 2X, which is basically table stakes for phones nowadays.
The LG V40 offers a typical high-end spec sheet. It has a Snapdragon 845 processor, supported by 6GB of RAM across the world with no restriction to any sort of "plus" variant. There’s 64GB of storage as well, again worldwide. The battery takes a bump up from the G7, now 3300mAh, underneath a larger 6.4-inch display. Yup, it has a notch, but it’s also a different display from the G7 — this one’s OLED, with a 3120×1440 resolution (and super-tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio). The brightness doesn’t quite match the G7 in raw nits, but it can max out its brightness automatically as ambient conditions require, rather than being triggered for a short time manually.
The V40’s hardware is effectively a scaled-up G7 … except for that amazing matte glass finish.
The design of the V40 is effectively a G7 scaled up to fit the larger screen. Even still, this isn’t a huge or particularly unwieldy phone compared to the Galaxy S9+ and Note 9 — dimensions land within 1-2mm. It’s tall, for sure, but importantly it’s narrow, thin and light. The metal frame has a high-gloss finish on its rounded exterior that flows directly into the glass curves on the front and back. LG has also deployed a fantastic new matte finish on the V40’s rear glass, which reduces fingerprints and adds grip. It’s a frosted-style finish that’s gorgeous — but disappointingly, it isn’t available on the Aurora Black color, which is one of two options in the U.S. You’ll also have the choice of Moroccan Blue, which I will instantly recommend to anyone over black purely based on the feel.
LG basically made its own Galaxy S9+ — and that’s probably a fine strategy.
The rest of the hardware rounds out just like the G7 — but that’s a good thing. It has the same button and port layout, BoomBox speaker, headphone jack with 32-bit Quad DAC, IP68 resistance and wireless charging. The phone’s launching on Android 8.1 as well, which is unfortunate with many manufacturers getting Pie out the door — and LG isn’t giving a timeline for the Android 9 update. But for what it’s worth, LG’s making a concerted effort to limit the amount of bloatware and duplicate apps on the V40, which I can always applaud. LG’s integration with Google services continues to run deep, with the Google Feed on the stock launcher, Google Assistant button, Google Lens in the camera, and Google Calendar taking over as the sole calendar app on the phone.
Rather than the month (or more) we’ve waited for so many other LG flagships, the V40 is available for pre-order right away and will release fully on October 18 — an excellent improvement. In the U.S. it will be available from all major carriers, but we don’t yet know unlocked availability. Pricing will give many of you sticker shock: the LG V40 starts at $900, varying between carriers, with Verizon coming in the highest at $980. Pre-orders will receive a DJI Osmo Mobile 2 gimbal and a SanDisk 256GB microSD card, a $260 combined value, which could ease the blow for potential buyers.
Regardless of any pre-order incentives, that pricing competes directly with the Galaxy Note 9, and gets undercut by the Galaxy S9+ by $100-150. That may make it a tough sell for a V40 that is closer-matched to the less expensive (and extremely popular) Galaxy S9+. Given LG’s history of quickly dropping prices after launch, though, the V40 could be extremely enticing at the $800 mark in a month or so.
October 3, 2018 at 12:00PM