LG V50 ThinQ first impressions review

Chris Rowland 28 February 2019 NEWS

Here are our early impressions of the LG V50 ThinQ at MWC 2019.

LG has had a big show at MWC 2019 announcing two new flagship phones, the LG V50 ThinQ and the LG G8 ThinQ.

We've had the chance to take a look at the LG V50 ThinQ, which has an interesting dual-screen accessory alongside 5G network support. Not long enough for a full review, but enough to gain some first impressions of where LG's new flagship 5G phone stands up well – and where it might falter.

The LG V50 ThinQ is the next instalment in the V-series of handsets, and while it doesn't – by itself – seem too remarkable, the dual-screen phone accessory technically makes this a foldable phone and that is the flavour of the moment at MWC 2019.

LG V50 ThinQ: On the plus side

  • Dual display.The LG V50 ThinQ is a phone that, out of the box, has a great screen on its own. However, add the second screen accessory and the LG V50 ThinQ essentially becomes a foldable phone with twice the available screen space.
  • Optional dual display. The second-screen accessory is offered as such and doesn't come in the retail box – customers will have to buy it separately for a couple of hundred dollars. It fits onto the LG V50 ThinQ like a case and is powered by a couple of pogo pins on the side. Clipped on, it doubles the V50's screen space and can be used to run just about any app in a second screen mode. This is mostly how we've seen it and it doesn't appear to support extending the screen across both. However, the software experience isn't final and this may come, but it seems unlikely.
  • Good camera. If you ask me, LG has always been capable of producing a great smartphone camera, and the LG V50 ThinQ is no exception. Featuring a triple-camera array on the rear with 40MP wide angle, 12MP standard and 12MP telephoto lenses, the V50 is going to take some great photos. We've taken the LG V50 ThinQ out for a bit of a run for some photos and as you can see from the samples, it takes a decent photo in a number of different environments.Bear in mind, though, that the sample device we've used is not final hardware or software, there will be some changes between this model and what goes on sale in Australia. However, from what we've seen today, the V50 holds promise.
  • Strong hardware. LG's V50 is powered by the latest Snapdragon 855 SOC paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB onboard storage. This is the current standard for premium devices, though other brands do offer higher specification options.
  • Android 9. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the LG V50 ThinQ ships with the latest version of Google's Android OS, and is eligible for regular security updates.

LG V50 ThinQ: On the minus side

  • Telstra exclusivity. Not strictly a negative, but at least to begin with, the LG V50 ThinQ (being a 5G handset) will be a Telstra exclusive. It's unclear whether (or when) the V50 will be available in other stores, or from other carriers.
  • Chunky with the second screen. Folded, the V50's second screen gives it the very distinct resemblance of a Nintendo DS gaming console. The LG V50 ThinQ is quite thick with the second display attached. It's hefty too, meaning that many users are probably less likely to want to leave the second display attached for daily use.
  • Software isn't quite ready. While the dual-screen accessory certainly has people talking at MWC 2019, it's clear that the early software we've witnessed isn't quite ready. The concept shows promise, but I do wonder how many people will actually buy (and actually use) this accessory much.
  • First generation 5G handset. Being an early adopter of new technology has its rewards, but equally, it pays to remember this is a first for LG (and, indeed, for the smartphone industry). First-gen 5G handsets are expected to have some quirks that might annoy or upset some users.

LG V50 ThinQ: Early outlook

LG has made a promising handset in the LG V50 ThinQ; it has matched premium construction and design with the low-frills utility that LG has been known for in the past. Gone are the somewhat silly modular concepts of just a few years ago, replaced with a phone that, in its own right, appears to be very capable.

Unfortunately, LG has been a little less popular in Australia in recent years for a number of factors – releasing phones that were a little too bland, and some which had fairly well-known issues. In 2019, though, it seems both those areas have been addressed – the V50 is definitely not bland, and (we're hoping) that the hardware issues which affected LG a few years ago have now been resolved.

Taking the V50 for what it is by itself, we have a premium handset with a great display, and sufficiently powerful internals; this is adding up to be a strong handset with no obvious flaws.

The second screen is perhaps less of a hit. As much as I like the idea from a technical standpoint, I just don't think the second screen is going to hit the mark with customers, especially with the extra cost on top of what will, most likely, be a premium-priced handset.

With the rumoured exit of Sony Mobile from Australia, LG has an opportunity to get back in favour with carriers and customers alike.

The V50 ThinQ offers LG the best chance at regaining some decent market share in Australia, and that's before the bells and whistles of 5G and second displays. One can only hope it's enough.

For more news from MWC 2019, check out our MWC 2019 news hub.

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