LG V40 ThinQ review

Five cameras for fun, not for serious shots

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Verdict and competition

The LG V40 is not only the first phone with five cameras, it’s the best smartphone that LG has ever made. Having a super-wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens flank a regular 12MP camera means you don’t have to choose between a Samsung phone with optically zoomed-in shots and an LG phone with all-encompassing wide photos. It’s the first to offer the best of both worlds, and it shoots wide selfies on the front camera, too, an asset for group shots.

It’s also happens to be the lightest flagship smartphone we’ve ever held at this size. It’s hard to believe that the LG V40 has a 6.4-inch OLED screen and an all-glass design. It looks like an iPhone XS Max, sure, but weighs considerably less.

There are drawbacks to such a light phone, of course. The battery is the biggest compromise, with a 3,300mAh capacity that’s weaker than necessary and pales in comparison to the Galaxy Note 9 that has a healthy 4,000mAh battery size. The brightness of the LG V30 is also tamped down, likely in an effort to control battery life.

You’re going to have a lot of fun with the five cameras and all of the modes, like Cine Shot (cinemagraph), Cine Video, and Triple Shot. But, shot-for-shot, this isn’t the best camera phone we’ve ever tested. It’s beaten by the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL, the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and all three Samsung flagships in 2018. The V40 prioritizes faces nicely in some shots, but its HDR isn’t enough to quit blowing out the background in photos with moderate backlighting.

Should I buy it?

The LG V40 is a little too expensive at launch – at least in the US – to consider buying over the competition. It’s a good phone worth considering at a discount, but there are several other options out there that are a better value for your money. The Samsung Galaxy S9, for example, gives you more battery life and slightly a better camera, albeit without the wide camera lenses.

Who’s it for?

The five camera make the LG V40 ideal for someone who likes to experiment with photography and capture those wide selfies without having to resort to a selfie stick. This phone excels at 4K video, too, with tools like Cine Video that aren’t replicated anywhere else. The problem is that you’ll find that the Google Pixel 2 XL offers better photos for a cheaper price, if you’re willing to forgo LG’s superior default camera tools.


Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The Galaxy Note 9 has a 6.4-inch display that matches the LG V40, but Samsung’s screen has a refined curve along the sides, no notch cut out, and a slightly better 12MP camera. You’ll have to forgo the wide selfies on the front and back with the Note 9, but both phones offer a 2x optically zoomed telephoto lens. The biggest benefit may be the S Pen stylus, something that LG hasn’t used in its flagship phones, despite the ever-increasing screen size. Yes, Samsung charges a bit more for its phone, but you’ll get 128GB of internal storage here, doubling what LG offers.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

iPhone XS Max

The iPhone XS Max is Apple’s latest and greatest smartphone, with a fantastic camera that gives you very different (more true-to-life) photo and video compared to the LG V40. In side-by-side comparisons, we found the new iPhone to have warmer tones and better HDR. iOS 12 doesn’t have nearly as much customization as the V40 and other Android phones and it’s more expensive than even LG’s higher-than-expected asking price.

Read the full review: iPhone XS Max

Matt Swider