LG V50 ThinQ 5G: Price, release date, and availability

The newly announced LG V50 ThinQ 5G is basically a souped-up version of last fall’s LG V40, complete with the same design and much of the same hardware. However, the LG V50 adds the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset and, more importantly, it will be LG’s first 5G phone.

Don’t miss: LG V50 hands-on | LG’s V-series will be exclusively 5G going forward

What’s the LG V50’s price, when will it be released, and when can you buy it? We’ve rounded up all the LG V50 availability details we could find.

LG V50 price

Unfortunately, we don’t have a specific price tag for the LG V50 at this time. The phone’s predecessor, the LG V40, launched last fall for the price of $899, but that also wasn’t a 5G-compatible phone. The price of the LG V50 could be well north of $1,000, but that’s just speculation for now.

That north-of-$1,000 price point may only be for the unlocked model though, if an unlocked model is even available for purchase. It’s also possible carriers will set their own price points for the LG V50.

LG V50 release date and availability

The LG V50 might be here before the end of June 2019, though we don’t have an exact date. It all depends on when 5G networks actually start rolling out.

The LG V50 will be available first in the U.S. on Sprint, where the phone will use the carrier’s 2.5GHz spectrum. In addition, Verizon has confirmed that it will also sell a version of the LG V50, which will work on its Ultra Wideband network. Verizon will launch its mobile 5G network in as many as 30 U.S. cities later this summer.


Have any other LG V50 price or availability details? Send us a tip! And be sure to check out more LG V50 coverage below:

LG G8 ThinQ: Where to buy, when, and for how much

LG formally revealed the LG G8 ThinQ at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. As expected, the device is a specs powerhouse rivaling other new flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S10. However, it also features a design that’s very similar to last year’s LG G7 ThinQ, which could be either a bad or good thing depending on your preference.

If you want to grab an LG G8 ThinQ for yourself, we have information below on the price, availability, and release dates for various countries.

Want to learn more about the LG G8 ThinQ? Scroll to the bottom for links to our additional coverage, such as specs sheets, hands-on reviews, and more.

LG G8 ThinQ release date

LG G8 ThinQ

LG officially revealed the LG G8 ThinQ on February 24, 2019. The device will launch unlocked as well as on various carriers at different times throughout the next few weeks.

Editor’s Pick

Unfortunately, LG didn’t divulge exactly when we will be able to get the device. We expect LG will make a formal announcement either by the end of Mobile World Congress or shortly thereafter. Since the G7 ThinQ was released in May of last year, we can’t even use the previous device to speculate when the G8 will hit stores.

As an interesting side note, LG told us it is also launching a variant of the LG G8 with three rear cameras in some markets (as seen above, the standard G8 has two rear cameras). We also don’t have any availability information for this device, but we do have the specs and know it will get a release at some point. It’ll come with the same cameras as the LG V50 ThinQ 5G: 16MP ultra-wide, 12MP wide, and 12MP telephoto lenses.

LG G8 ThinQ price and availability — U.S.

LG G8 ThinQ

Once LG makes a formal announcement of when we can buy the LG G8 ThinQ, you will be able to do so directly from the company at LG.com. Usually, LG also sells unlocked versions of its devices at major American retailers like Best Buy, Amazon, B&H Photo, and more.

The LG G8 will also likely be available from all four major wireless carriers in the United States. It certainly is coming to T-Mobile, which has already announced its intention to carry the device — although without pricing or a release date.

There is a slim possibility that AT&T will not carry the LG G8 as it did not carry the LG G7 (opting for the LG V35 ThinQ instead). However, there’s no evidence to suggest that will be the case this time around.

Either way, pricing and availability for each carrier, unfortunately, are not yet known. We expect carriers will launch the device right around the same time as the unlocked version hits stores.

LG G8 ThinQ price and availability — Global

LG G8 ThinQ

It’s possible that the LG G8 ThinQ will hit store shelves in the company’s native South Korea before it lands anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, though, LG hasn’t divulged any information about global release details, so it very well could be that the U.S. will see the device first (or any country, really). At this point, we simply have to wait until LG makes the information public.

LG G8 ThinQ additional coverage

Here’s our first look at the LG V50: 5G, triple camera, and a 4,000mAh battery

We’ve known for a while that LG would reveal a 5G phone in early 2019, just like every other OEM apparently. What we didn’t know, or even suspect until late January was the name of the device: LG V50.

Confirming a previous report from Korean media, Evan Blass just published a press render allegedly showing the Sprint version of the LG V50 ThinQ. It looks very legit, and there’s a few things worth talking about here. Let’s break it down.

  • The LG V50 looks broadly similar to the V40 before it. There’s a notch, tiny bezels, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a horizontal triple-camera setup. Considering the V40 is only a few months old, it’s possible that LG reused the platform for a new device.
  • Unlike crosstown rival Samsung and a slew of other competitors, LG is sticking to a rear-mounted fingerprint reader here. We can’t say we mind it, as in-display readers are still a little slower and less reliable than conventional designs.
  • One notable change: the cameras are no longer raised, which can mean two things: LG found a way to shrink cameras so they fit in a body of roughly 7.5mm; or, the V50 is slightly thicker than the V40, potentially to house a larger battery. The latter option is more likely.
  • LG has told us last month that its first 5G phone will be coming at MWC with a 4,000mAh battery and an advanced cooling system. The company did not confirm this phone was the V50, but we can put two and two together.
  • In fact, the leaked render all but confirms the LG V50’s MWC launch – the date shown in the image is Sunday, February 24. That’s when LG will hold its press conference in Barcelona.
  • The Sprint 5G branding is extremely in-your-face. As carriers are wont to do, Sprint emphasized its service with that heavy wallpaper and a custom 5G logo in Sprint yellow on the back. If the 4G rollout is any clue, that logo will feature prominently on retail units and throughout Sprint’s marketing, so you better get used to it. A 5G indicator is visible in the status bar. At least it’s the real thing, not the fake and misleading “5G E” logo Sprint is suing AT&T over. (Read more about Sprint’s 5G plans here.)
  • Speaking of branding, the much-derided ThinQ brand is still there. Why?

Overall, the LG V50 looks very conventional. Its main reason of existence is probably to serve as a showcase for 5G, and it may very well be a great showcase at that. But we can’t help feeling the V50 will have trouble competing against flashier competitors launching around the same time. It will probably have a high price tag too, owing to the complexities of 5G. Let’s hope the LG G8 ThinQ saves the day.

Read next: LG in 2019: No more excuses

Thoughts on this render?

Android Authority’s CES Top Picks 2019 Awards: Our favorite products from the show

We’ve spent the last week meeting with companies and roaming around the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center to find the very best of CES 2019. From laptops, to smart home devices, to drones, there’s certainly a lot to take in — that’s why we’ve created a list of the best products announced at CES 2019.

Here are Android Authority’s CES Top Picks 2019 Awards.

The best smartphone: Alcatel 1X

The Alcatel 1X is proof that you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a decent smartphone. For around 130 Euros, Alcatel’s new budget-friendly phone offers a 5.5-inch display, Android 8.1 Oreo, a 3,000mAh battery, and support for 4G connectivity. It also comes with this beautiful sandstone texture on the back that will instill nostalgia in any OnePlus One fan out there.

What’s more, it packs a dual 16MP and 2MP rear-camera setup, which actually turned out to be quite impressive during our hands-on time with the device. Portrait mode is surprisingly good too.

The best laptop: Dell Alienware Area-51m

Dell’s Alienware went back to the drawing board to overhaul its popular gaming laptop design. Called Alienware Legend, the move marks a significant change in the overall Alienware brand. That includes a reimagined shape and new color options: Lunar Light and Dark Side of the Moon. The underlying sci-fi theme fans love still remains highly relevant.

The first product based on this new Alienware Legend identity is the Area-51m. In addition to the new outward appearance, Alienware revised the internal design to provide better overclocking and a thinner form factor. All this plays host to the latest Intel Core processors and GeForce RTX 20 Series graphics. The Area-51m initiates a new era for Alienware and its fans.

The best smartwatch: Kate Spade Scallop Smartwatch 2

A ton of smartwatches were announced at the trade show this year, and the best one came from Kate Spade. We’re giving the Kate Spade Scallop Smartwatch 2 an award this year because it was clear the team listened to user feedback. With an on-board GPS and heart rate sensor, the Scallop Smartwatch 2 is now a capable fitness companion — not just a pretty watch.

Watch: The best smartwatches from CES 2019

Let’s be honest, this is still a pretty watch, though. The flower-like design surrounding the bezel adds to the classy aesthetic, backed up by the understated silicone strap and stainless steel case. Of course, the iconic spade icon is scattered throughout, adorning the rotatable crown and on the top of each Kate Spade watch face.

A pretty, feature-packed smartwatch. What more could you ask for?

The best fitness product: Withings Move ECG

Don’t miss

The Withings team is back in full force after its brief time at Nokia, and it just announced two new fitness watches called the Withings Move and Withings Move ECG. The Move ECG won Android Authority’s Best Fitness Product Award due to the overall quality of product and benefit users will get out of the electrocardiogram.

ECGs can be literal life savers for some people, and the fact that it’s packed into an attractive, affordable, and customizable fitness watch should not be overlooked. At $130, the Withings Move ECG is a no-brainer if you frequent the doctor for heart problems.

The best smart home product: Google Assistant Connect

For years Google has been trying to become the one-stop shop for smart home products, and the Google Assistant Connect is its next big push to bring even more Assistant-connected products to your life.

Assistant Connect is a set of capabilities that product manufacturers can use to connect their own products to Google Assistant-powered devices like the Google Home or Home Hub. If a product was developed with Assistant Connect, it’s able to talk to nearby Assistant devices and display your personal information (i.e. calendar events/weather) on the screen.

The most obvious example is if a company were to create a simple display without any mics or speakers, including Assistant Connect would allow it to show you content from your linked smart speaker. In this case, the smart speaker would handle all the computing on its own while using Assistant Connect to transfer and display that content on the display.

It’s an inexpensive and easy way for companies to bring Assistant to their products, which is why it’s deserving of our Best Smart Home Product award.

The best audio product: Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT

Few audio companies have the professional history of Audio-Technica, and when they throw their hat in the ring, we pay attention. Taking aim at the top end of active noise cancelling headphones, the ATH-ANC900BT has the firepower to be a blast.

By using a more energy efficient Bluetooth 5 connection, the ATH-ANC900BT has the specs to outlast the likes of Bose, Sony, and Sennheiser’s top-of-the-line headphones. Additionally, they’re also the most affordable entry into the top-end of ANC headsets, coming in at only $299.

The best concept: Whirlpool Connected Hub Wall Oven

Whirlpool surprised us this year when it showed off its Smart Countertop Oven, produced under its WLabs brand.

The WLabs Smart Countertop Oven automatically detects the type of food you’re cooking. You can then choose from additional cooking options based on your preferences. For example, if you’re cooking pizza, the Smart Countertop will give you a range of crispiness to to choose from.

Related

Whirlpool is also the first on the market with a product that can distinguish between frozen and non-frozen food. Its current cooking algorithm is set to a 95 percent confidence interval too, so cooking times and settings should be very accurate.

What impressed us most, however, is Whirlpool’s planned distribution model for this product. Whirlpool will ship just two thousand units in the coming weeks for $799 each. We’re told the reasoning behind launching under the WLabs brand is so that Whirlpool can better gather user feedback and tweak anything accordingly. That way, it can improve the experience even further before launching a mainstream consumer product.

Overall, we were quite impressed with Whirlpool’s work as is. So, we’re very happy to see a commitment to develop the concept further.

The best mobile accessory: Corning Gorilla Glass Personalized Phone Case

The Corning Gorilla Glass personalized phone case is a surprisingly fun new addition to the mobile protection market. Corning will print any photo you like on the back of its Gorilla Glass 5 which then gets embedded into a rubberized case for your smartphone. The final product is a sturdy case with a smooth, elegant glass back that also has a picture of your spouse, kids, family, pets, or anything, really.

Eventually, Corning will have vending machines that will print you a case in a matter of minutes. Just upload your photo to a web server, tell the machine which phone you own, and a few minutes later your brand new case will pop out. Keeping your phone free of scratches and dents has never been this cool.

Best innovation: LG Signature OLED TV R

LG’s Signature OLED TV R is something we’ve only ever imagined or seen in a movie or TV show. It may shape the future of TVs forever, which is why it wins our Best Innovation Award.

Watch: LG’s rollable OLED TV at CES 2019

A prototype of the TV was shown off at CES 2018, but this year the rollable TV is a real product that consumers will actually be able to buy. The way it beautifully rolls and rises out of the sound bar feels like pure magic. The TV is there when you want it, and disappears when you don’t. It can even be there when you only partially want it. The horizon-line view shows only a fraction of the display for quick access to basic functions. It’s cool, futuristic, and will be a game changer to the TV industry.


Spotlight Awards

It’s easy to focus on the biggest names in technology at trade shows as big as CES. That’s why Android Authority has chosen six of our favorite innovative tech products that may have flown under the radar.

Jabra Elite 85h


Elevating their wireless headphones game, the new Jabra Elite 85h are noise-cancelling cans made for folks on the go.

Equipped with SmartSound, these over-ear headphones adapt automatically to produce the best sound for phone calls, music, and more. Coming in four colors with a rain resistant build, enjoy ANC on the go for up to 32 hours of battery life, even longer with ANC turned off. ANC auto switching turns on and off the service based on your environment. Of course, the Jabra Elite 85h also sound great, and you can adjust the EQ and sound profiles through the Jabra Sound+ app for extra sound clarity.

Insta360 ONE X

Weather you’re skiing down a mountain or hiking up a cliff, the Insta360 ONE X should be just the thing you need to capture great 360-degree video. This 4K-capable camera features Insta360’s FlowState Stabilization, which means smooth footage even in the most

Nuu Mobile G4

Nuu Mobile showed off its brand new G4 smartphone at CES 2019, and it provides some killer value at a cheap price. It comes with a big 6.2-inch display, a 2GHz MediaTek Helio P60 processor, dual 16 + 8MP rear cameras, and it runs Android 9.0 Pie.

The best part? You can get all of that for just $249 in March 2019.

Next: All our favorite CES 2019 announcements in one place

Samsung and LG announce big profit drops for Q4 2018

The Samsung logo.

While Samsung and LG are both making major product announcements in Las Vegas during CES 2019, both companies released some bad financial news. Samsung and LG each reported that investors should expect much lower profits for the just-completed fourth quarter of 2018 when it officially reveals those numbers later this month.

According to CNBC, Samsung now says it expects its operating profit for the fourth quarter to be around 10.8 trillion Korean won ($9.67 billion). That’s down 28.71 percent compared to the same period a year ago, and 18.1 percent lower than what financial analysts had predicted Samsung would report.

This is the first such decline in profits in two years for Samsung. The company claimed the lower profits were due mainly to memory chips sales made to data center customers, which were lower than expected in the quarter. However, Samsung added that both marketing expenses and flat sales in its smartphone division also led to some of its lower profits.

LG logo CES 2018 2

LG’s numbers for the quarter will be even worse. According to Reuters, the company reported that it expects its profits for the period to be 75.3 billion won ($67.03 million), or 80 percent lower compared to the same period a year ago. While LG didn’t mention any reasons for this decline, analysts have pointed to its lower smartphone sales as part of the problem, along with smaller profit margins for its big-screen TVs.

New LG TVs will use AI to better the picture and sound based on content

High-end LG televisions come with the ThinQ branding, which signifies built-in AI features. Although previous LG TVs have included Google Assistant built in and newer ones are now featuring Amazon’s Alexa too, LG will debut a new type of AI-powered television at CES 2019.

According to an LG press release, the company’s newest flagship TVs will use a new algorithm to offer enhanced picture and sound by analyzing source content as well as optimize content by recognizing ambient conditions.

In other words, if you’re watching an action film with loud explosions and big, bold colors, the TV will respond to that and alter the picture and sound to accommodate. The TV will do likewise for sports games, TV shows, video games, concerts, etc.

Editor’s Pick

This new AI feature is powered by the company’s second-generation Alpha 9 Gen 2 intelligent processor which will power LG’s Z9, W9, E9, and C9 series OLED TVs. The optimization algorithm was built using a database of over one million visual data.

In addition to using the visual image depicted by the TV, the processor uses the TV’s ambient light sensor to measure light levels in the room, automatically adjusting brightness to compensate as needed. No more adjusting brightness on sunny days!

LG will be showing off its new TV lineup at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, which starts in a few days. Stay tuned for more info on these and other LG product releases.

NEXT: CES 2019 — What to expect

LG has vague timeline for global rollout of Pie for the LG G7 ThinQ

According to a post on the South Korean version of the LG website, Android 9 Pie will land on the South Korean variant of the LG G7 ThinQ in the first quarter of 2019.

Usually, LG updates its devices in its home country first and then rolls out the update to other countries some months later. Using this history as a rubric, it’s a safe bet that Pie will land on your LG G7 ThinQ at some point in the first half of 2019.

Or hey, maybe not. Maybe it will be sooner or later than that.

Editor’s Pick

Unlike other manufacturers who have given at least somewhat concrete timelines for the rollout of Pie to their Android devices, LG’s report on the matter is very vague. However, the company did roll out a beta of Android 9 Pie to its South Korean G7 Thinq handsets in November, so maybe the stable rollout will happen sooner than we expect.

Earlier in 2018, LG promised it was building a new division with the sole purpose of pushing faster Android updates to its phones. However, we haven’t heard much at all about this new update center since then. Judging from the fact that Android 9 Pie has been stable since August of 2018, it doesn’t appear that the update center is up and running quite yet.

If you have an LG G7 ThinQ, you will get Android 9 Pie at some point. We’ll just have to wait on LG to announce exactly when that will be.

NEXT: Some LG G7 ThinQ owners are reporting bootloops, but a fix is coming

Huawei Mate 20 Pro vs LG V40: which wide-angle camera is best?

Huawei P20 Pro vs LG V40 cameras

If you’re after a mobile photography powerhouse, the new Huawei Mate 20 Pro and LG V40 ThinQ both offer compelling triple-camera setups designed to give serious photographers that added flexibility. Both offer wide-angle shooting options, something that’s become one of the most popular camera features packed into high-end smartphones.

LG has been experimenting with wide-angle lenses for a few generations now, so it has plenty of experience here. The Mate 20 series is Huawei’s first entry into the field. Let’s break down how they stack up.

Wide Angle Camera Specs Huawei Mate 20 Pro LG V40
Resolution 20 megapixels 16 megapixels
Aperture f/2.2 f/1.9
Pixel Size 1.0µm 1.0µm
Sensor Size 1/2.7″ 1/3.1″
Auto Focus PDAF & Laser NA
Equivalent Focal Length 16mm 16mm

On paper, there’s very little in it. Both offer an equivalent focal length, have 1.0um pixel sizes, and there’s not much detail difference between 16 and 20 megapixel images either. The LG V40 has a slightly wider aperture, hinting at a lead in low light performance. However, the Mate 20 Pro includes autofocus technology, which should make it more flexible for both near and distant shots. Let’s dive into some samples.

Also read: Google Pixel 3 camera shootout

Fitting more into the frame

The whole point of a wide-angle lens is to fit more into the picture than your regular camera. So how much more can you squeeze in versus both of these phones’ main sensors?

Both the V40 and Mate 20 Pro’s main cameras offer an equivalent focal length of 27mm, widening to 16mm when switching over to the wide-angle lens. As such, both cameras widen out their field of view by a virtually identical amount and should offer virtually identical frames.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro main camera (27mm) Huawei Mate 20 Pro wide-angle camera (16mm) Huawei Mate 20 Pro main camera (27mm)

Huawei Mate 20 Pro wide-angle camera (16mm)

LG V40 main camera (27mm) LG V40 wide-angle camera (16mm) LG V40 main camera (27mm)

LG V40 wide-angle camera (16mm)

The LG V40 offers a field of view of about 107 degrees. Although the Mate 20 Pro shares the same 16mm equivalent focal, it has a slightly larger sensor and therefore a slightly wider field of view. We can see this slight extra width in our example shots above and the ones below. It’s not a huge difference — maybe a few degrees — but the Mate 20 Pro does fit a tiny bit more in the frame.

Wide-angle lenses offer a “step back” from the regular sensors. Both cameras perform their duty well enough in that regard. Colors are bright and vivid, though more so with the V40, and exposure is pretty good in most scenarios too. It’s only when we begin pixel peeping that major differences appear.

Lens quality is hugely important

While both cameras look pretty good on paper, we still need to find out the quality of both lenses. This is particularly important with wide-angle lenses, as light capture without distortion and image curvature around the edges are more important here. The less-than-ideal lighting conditions of the rainy day are a pretty good way to see how the cameras perform in the real world. Here are a couple of full frame examples.

LG V40 Huawei Mate 20 Pro LG V40

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

LG V40 Wide-Angle Full Frame Huawei Mate 20 Pro Wide-Angle Full Frame LG V40 Wide-Angle Full Frame

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Wide-Angle Full Frame

At full frame, there isn’t too much to tell between them. There are some exposure and color balance differences, but nothing you probably couldn’t even out in post. However, cropping into the details reveals some major differences in image quality. Let’s start with the center focal point of the picture.

LG V40 100 percent crop Huawei Mate 20 Pro 100 percent crop LG V40 100 percent crop

Huawei Mate 20 Pro 100 percent crop

Editor’s Pick

While the Mate 20 Pro may be a tad aggressive on the sharpening, it captures a lot more detail on both the brickwork and trees than the V40. This isn’t a megapixel issue, as these are 100 percent crops and the difference between the 20 and 16 megapixel images should be negligible. The V40’s lens setup just doesn’t allow for enough light and detail capture, which results in much lower resolution looking images than its sensor suggests. We can also see aggressive use of denoise across the V40’s image, which rubs out a lot of the detail too.

Overall, the V40 appears smudged by comparison and is almost out of focus on the background trees. This focusing issue has been a consistent problem in my experience with the camera, owing to the lack of autofocus. The focus and detail situation is even worse at the camera’s edges.

LG V40 100 percent crop Huawei Mate 20 Pro 100 percent crop LG V40 100 percent crop

Huawei Mate 20 Pro 100 percent crop

Here, the V40’s lack of focus is far more obvious. There’s no detail capture on the nearby wall or ivy, and it’s a similar situation when examining the distant bushes too. Few users will crop in on these wide-angle shots (you’d be better off using the main sensor), but serious photographers probably won’t be impressed when they come to print out these pictures.

While the lack of focus isn’t such an issue on a small smartphone screen or social media post, the loss of detail and poor focusing is much more apparent on larger displays and high-quality printouts.

Both lenses also suffer from some chromatic aberration (purple tint on high-contrast areas) towards the edges of their lenses. This is not unexpected for smartphone lenses, but the LG V40 still comes off worse in this regard too.

Few are ever likely to crop or blow up wide-angle shots, but when you do the results are night and day.

Super macro and low light

While not the main reason many will want a wide-angle camera, the Mate 20 Pro has an extra ability to focus in as close as 2.5cm in super-macro mode. So if you want to take some super close up pictures and capture fine details, the Pro’s wide-angle camera can actually be more useful than its main 40MP shooter.

The LG V40 doesn’t offer any autofocusing technology for its wide-angle camera, and the Mate 20 Pro offers both PDAF and laser options. The result is that the Mate 20 Pro can focus on super close up objects, while the V40 can’t.

LG V40 Huawei Mate 20 Pro LG V40

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

This certainly isn’t a major use case for most people who will be shooting with a wide-angle lens. However, the Mate 20 Pro’s support for super macro shooting certainly makes it the more flexible shooter for the more serious photographer.

Low light is more likely to be a common use case for these cameras.

LG V40 Huawei Mate 20 Pro LG V40

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Related

While the Huawei Mate 20 Pro might be a winner in terms of daylight clarity, the LG V40 is by far the better wide-angle camera in low light. Huawei doesn’t apply any of its usual low light trickery to the wide-angle camera, and as a result, the pictures come out very dark, lacking in color, and blurred from the combination of long exposure time and denoise algorithm.

The LG V40 take a little longer snap its pictures, hinting at some HDR magic to help boost the exposure. Although the result is still rather noisy, the V40 managed to capture much more color in low light. Even with HDR on, I couldn’t get the Mate 20 Pro anywhere near as good as the LG V40 in every low light situation I tried.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the better performer, but only just

The LG V40’s wide-angle camera is great for typical smartphone snaps. You’re unlikely to notice the focus or detail issues when viewing pictures on a smartphone screen or compressing them down for social media. The camera does its job, providing extra width for pictures just when you need it. It’s not the main camera after all.

The LG V40’s lack of autofocus lets the camera down when we go pixel peeping

Compared to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, the LG V40’s wide-angle camera clearly isn’t as consistent or as flexible in most instances. The Mate 20 Pro isn’t perfect — the company’s heavy use of sharpening won’t be to everyone’s tastes — but it captures more detail and has better focusing capabilities. However, it is noticeably worse in low-light situations. If you’re regularly capturing wide-angle shots in the evenings you might want the V40.

Overall, the Mate 20 Pro is the better wide-angle camera in daylight, which is when most people will be capturing their wide-angle snaps. This might seem like a very harsh comparison, but we’re talking about $1000 smartphones boasting some of the best cameras in the business. The LG V40 cuts corners with its lack of wide-angle autofocus that might end up being a bugbear for those looking to get the most out of their camera.

Next: Best of Android 2018: The best Android smartphone cameras

LG brings in ‘turnaround expert’ to revive mobile unit

  • LG has announced that the head of its Home Entertainment unit will take over its mobile division.
  • The Home Entertainment division has made millions in profits this year, due to strong TV and audio sales.
  • The decision comes as LG’s mobile division continues to make losses.

LG has announced its end-of-year organizational restructure plans. The company discussed the matter in a press release earlier today, offering some clues as to the direction its mobile business is heading.

The big news for LG smartphone fans is the company’s Home Entertainment unit president, Brian Kwon, is taking over its Mobile Communications (MC) division. Kwon, billed as a “turnaround expert” in LG’s press release, will replace Hwang Jeong-hwan, who held the position for a year.

Editor’s Pick

LG said Kwon’s “knowledge and experience in the global marketplace will be instrumental in continuing LG’s mobile operations turnaround.” Note LG publicly acknowledging its mobile division woes, however subtly.

The right Kwon for the job?

Kwon became executive president and CEO of Home Entertainment in a reshuffle in November 2014. This is the wing that deals with television, audio, and video. The division’s profits have continued to thrive since then, but the mobile landscape is tricky — LG has a far stronger brand identity in TV than in mobile and LG’s mobile unit has been struggling for years.

In each quarter of this year, LG has made hundreds of millions of dollars in operating profits for Home Entertainment, and hundreds of millions of dollars in losses on Mobile Communications. Kwon and  Jeong-hwan aren’t solely responsible for these wins and losses, nonetheless Kwon seems capable and a reasonable option for the mobile takeover.

Display technologies are an increasingly important part of the mobile landscape — we’ve seen the move to AMOLED panels, and then curved panels, and soon foldable displays will be the new battleground. Kwon’s experience with the successful production and sale of displays in the TV market could prove valuable in the mobile sphere.

LG V40 vs LG V30 close up of camera lenses

That said, physical hardware isn’t necessarily the biggest problem at LG Mobile — its phones are generally well-liked and well-reviewed. They just don’t tend to sell well which, in recent times, could be due to high prices, weird names (ThinQ, anyone?) and the lack of focus on the mid-tier where Chinese OEMs are thriving.

Editor’s Pick

In early 2015, Kwon said LG’s TV department was “implementing a series of marketing and product strategies to better position LG in light of this intense competition.” That intense competition Kwon referred to was from rising Chinese companies. Perhaps Kwon can also apply some of the same lessons learned there to the mobile market.

All of that being said, Kwon’s influence may not be felt until 2020 and beyond — many of the 2019 mobile decisions will have likely been decided already, such as what its folding phone will look like and when it will arrive.

Still, this strikes me as an exciting prospect for the South Korean manufacturer and I hope it begins to find its feet again; the company has contributed many good ideas to Android over the years.

NEXT: Google will use Fast Pair to sync Bluetooth connections across Android phones

Best of Android 2018: the best audio

We’ve subjected the best Android devices of 2018 to a slew of testing and can confidently inform you of what the best sounding phone is, as well as list other standout products with excellent audio. While we’ve only highlighted one phone, a handful of options produce perceptually perfect audio when it comes to noise and dynamic range. Aside from the models that are virtually indistinguishable from each other, we’ll also address a few other phones that perform well but not perfectly.

What makes something the best sounding phone?

Best sounding phone: Red Hydrogen One headphone jack

As more and more flagships drop the headphone jack, its presence has become a sought-after feature for audio junkies and is required to be crowned the best sounding phone.

As writers from our sister site SoundGuys will tell you, audio is both a subjective and objective experience. While the subjective, experiential part is valid, we’re here to highlight some of the more scientific bits to get you on your way.

When looking for a phone that produces excellent sound quality, there are a few things to keep an eye out for:

  • Noise levels should be under -96.6dB for CD-quality music.
  • Dynamic range should similarly be at or over 96.6dB.
  • Frequency response shouldn’t ever deviate from 0dB in either direction, but you won’t hear it if it’s less than 0.5dB.
  • Smartphone speakers suck.
  • Headphone jacks are the only way to ensure high-quality audio.

Only three phones tested exhibited audible errors

If you were to take a look at our huge, color-coded results spreadsheet, you’d notice right away how most smartphones in 2018 exhibit no audible flaws. When it comes to figuring out which smartphone is better than others for audio quality, only two things separate them: features (like a headphone jack), and Bluetooth.

We don’t like shaming phones around here, but these are the offending models:

  1. RED Hydrogen One
  2. Huawei P20
  3. Huawei P20 Pro

SoundGuys noted some irregularities with the Huawei phones when it came to AAC, but also noted every Android phone has errors with that finicky codec. The phones listed here can handle SBC, LDAC, aptX, and aptX HD on-spec. Additionally, the errors exhibited by those phones are unlikely to be heard by over 70 percent of the population, so be sure to temper outrage on that front.

However, the RED Hydrogen phone has frequency response errors of over 7dB, meaning you’ll absolutely hear it affect your music. It’s the lone “bad” phone for audio here.

The tests tell a very rosy story

We were surprised to find that noise wasn’t really a factor in differentiating phones, as most phones did a great job with it, however, there were a few shortcomings in other areas that thinned the herd considerably.

Dynamic Range

Higher is better

While it’s important for smartphone audio to minimize noise, high dynamic range is just as crucial. Although we’re accustomed to seeing the acronym “HDR” in photography, auditory dynamic range is the ratio of the quietest sound to the loudest sound a device can produce.

Dynamic Range

Higher is better

Speaker loudness might mostly serve to annoy the crap out of everyone around you, but sometimes you need a little boom in your mobile to catch a call or watch a YouTube video with a group. This purely tested how loud a given smartphone’s speaker can get and didn’t take into account distortion. We see quite a bit of difference between our top contenders, with the Nokia 7.1 and LG V40 ThinQ leading the pack.

Speaker Loudness

Higher is better

A fourth metric brings us back to the fundamentals of audio: frequency response. Although consumer headphones and earbuds tend to alter sound with a brand’s specific “house signature,” if you’re looking for accuracy, you want a device’s frequency response to be as neutral as possible. Though much hay is made over the high-end DAC assemblies of the LG V40 and Samsung phones, the truth is most handsets can decode and output a decent enough signal for even picky listeners. Only five phones crossed our +/- 0.5dB barrier, three of which are listed above. 

This is particularly pertinent, as it applies to the best sounding phone. By producing a neutral frequency response, a smartphone minimizes harmonic distortion at the source. Any issues with the DAC’s ability to reproduce an accurate, high-fidelity response may be amplified down the line when you plug your headphones in.

An accurate, neutral-leaning frequency response is imperative for any phone to be considered as the best sounding phone.

Most phones deviate less than 0.5dB in either direction, and score nearly perfect in this regard. Any of the phones listed today are essentially indistinguishable from one another performance-wise, making each smartphone an excellent choice when considering audio quality. While we can easily get lost nitpicking smartphone audio performance, the fact of the matter is smartphones handle audio exceptionally well. Generally speaking, you’re not going to be able to tell the difference between the top 10 smartphones for audio.

However, that brings us to a funny artifact of our scoring: only phones with a headphone jack could top our list. Dongles are a death sentence for our awards.

The current state of smartphone audio

Best sounding phone: The LG V40 ThinQ and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 standing next to each other on a shelf.

Smartphone audio has come a long way, and we’re confident that any of the notable phones mentioned today will be satisfactory.

Listen to the SoundGuys podcast: The state of smartphone audio

Yes, 10 phones is a lot of models to be indistinguishable — it serves as a testament to how far smartphone audio quality has come. Now, what makes each phone a top contender is its ability to exceed the limits of human hearing.

Human hearing ranges from 20Hz-20kHz — hence why you see that range brandished all over headphone packaging — but this range assumes a young age and unsullied ear mechanics. Most of our hearing abilities degrade naturally by the time we hit our early- to- mid-twenties, which you can put to the test here. If you find that you can’t hear a few of those files, try applying a filter in your phone’s settings (found in Samsung, LG phones). You might be surprised at the improvements you can get.

What’s more, if you’re streaming over Bluetooth, even the highest quality codec can’t keep step with wired listening. In fact, LDAC 330kbps showed itself less reliable than SBC, the lowest-common-denominator of codecs. So, the assumed codec pecking order been skewed up until now. AAC diminishes audio quality a bit when streamed over an Android device, and aptX is what listeners should be sticking to. Even then, however, wired remains king of quality.  

The LG V40 ThinQ has the best sound quality of any handset in 2018

After subjecting each of the 30 contenders to a battery of tests and analyzing the data through our in-house scoring algorithms, the LG V40 ThinQ narrowly reigned victor over the Asus ROG Phone and Samsung Galaxy phones. These phones actually beat out the V40 in some cases, but because many of those measurements lie outside the realm of human perception, they didn’t give those phones an edge with our scoring methods. The LG V40 ThinQ’s headphone jack, Quad DAC, and internal amplifier is a winning combination that’s yet to be bested.

Best sounding phone: LG V40 ThinQ camera

The LG V40’s 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC in tandem with the retention of the headphone jack makes it the best sounding smartphone of 2018.

It’s that internal amplifier that makes the LG V40 ThinQ a special phone. Where LG’s V-series has had it for a long time now, no other phones offer a 2V output, which means you can use power-hungry high-end headphones without breaking a sweat. Though it’s probably not the most practical idea to listen to a pair of planar magnetic headphones on the town, the fact is the LG V40 ThinQ is the only phone that’s going to let you do that. The Quad-DAC certainly sounds flashy, but the power behind the headphone jack is what makes the LG V40 ThinQthe best phone for audio. 

Editor’s Pick

Although it’s important to acknowledge the winner’s weaknesses, we tip our headphones to the LG V40. It — along with the Asus ROG Phone, Vivo NEX, and Samsung Galaxy Note 9 — outperforms its smartphone brethren in dynamic range. Additionally, the V40 frequency response deviates just 0.07dB, outperforming all other potential picks.

Although the V40 can’t outperform its competition in every metric, the top-notch power output makes it the best sounding smartphone of the year.

This year, there’s a wide selection of excellent phones out there for listeners who prioritize audio quality. All of the listed candidates are within a few meager points of one another and remain perceptually indistinguishable — unless you have a set of high-impedance headphones that require a lot of juice.

  1. LG V40 ThinQ
  2. Asus ROG Phone
  3. Nokia 7.1
  4. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
  5. LG G7 ThinQ
  6. Samsung Galaxy S9
  7. Vivo X21
  8. Vivo Nex
  9. Xiaomi Pocophone
  10. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

One more thing about testing

Best sounding phone: focusrite scarlett 2i2 connected to a smartphone.

We use a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 to conduct our smartphone audio tests.

Any of the nine alternatives are very close to the LG V40. We understand if you want a more financially viable choice, or a battery that’s not going to quit after a few hours. In that case, the Xiaomi Pocophone, and Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus remains standout performers. Though they’re technically not the best sounding phones, they’re sure to satisfy any enthusiast’s ears. We’ll have future comparisons coming down the line to help inform you on future smartphone-related decisions.

Although we’re not yet publishing our internal scoring, we implore our readers to learn about how we conducted our testing, and the philosophy behind it. We want to ensure our data tells a story and informs our audience of relevant information. What’s more, we want our data to be accessible to a wide array of readers, be it the computer engineer or the average consumer.

Come back throughout the week for more Best of Android 2018 coverage as we have plenty more to share with you.

Next: Best of Android 2018: The best displays