While Samsung dominated the headlines from this year’s Mobile World Congress with the unveiling of its new flagship phones, the Galaxy S9 and S9+, LG – South Korea’s other tech giant – quietly announced a minor update to its autumn 2017 flagship, phone, the V30.
Review: LG V30 smartphone – superb photos and gorgeous display top off a hard-to-beat package
Clunkily named the LG V30S ThinQ, this new model has almost the exact same hardware as the V30, with the only changes being that RAM and internal storage have respectively been bumped up from 4GB to 6GB and 64/128GB to 128/256GB. Everything else is the same as the previous phone: a 6-inch Quad HD display with really slim bezels; dual cameras including a useful wide-angle lens; Snapdragon 835 processor; all wrapped in that same glass and aluminium sandwich look that almost every phone will sport in 2018.
If this sounds boringly familiar, rest assured there’s a bit more to the new model than meets the eye. Those familiar with LG’s products may know that “ThinQ” is the company’s AI-powered electronics line, which spans a wide range of products, including refrigerators and washing machines. As the name suggests, this V30S ThinQ is meant to be the company’s first AI-powered phone.
Most of the AI is applied to the phone’s cameras. They can now recognise scenes and objects – such as a building, or a plate of food – and LG’s software will teach the camera to adjust settings accordingly to produce a better photo.
Another feature of the camera is its ability to scan everyday items and either run a Google image search for an item, or look for similar items on Amazon for customers to purchase.
Neither of these features is new to smartphones. The scene-recognition feature was first introduced in Huawei’s Mate 10 Pro last autumn, and the V30S does it noticeably slower (about two to three seconds; Huawei’s phone does it instantaneously) because it is running a complex algorithm on a standard GPU, not the more AI-ready NPU found in the Chinese handset.
That Google/Amazon search feature, meanwhile, is essentially the same as the Bixby Vision feature launched in Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone range in 2017.
There are other AI tricks the V30S brings to the table.
Because it is running AI within its system (as opposed to through the cloud, like an iPhone), the V30S can handle more complex Google Assistant commands even when offline. You can, for example, ask the phone to jump to the camera and begin recording a video, all from the lock screen without touching the phone once.
This new AI-powered software does make for a slightly improved user experience – from my testing, the camera does take superior lowlight photos – but without the latest hardware power to run it (such as Huawei’s NPU or even the new Snapdragon chip set inside the Samsung Galaxy S9), everything runs a bit slow right now.
If you already have a V30, the V30S is definitely not worth the jump. For everyone else who may have been considering a V30, you now get more bang for your dollar.
Pricing for the phone has not yet been announced.