The irritating thing about smartphone reviews

So DxO Mark finally passed judgement on the LG G7 ThinQ and the results are not great by modern flagship phone standards. A measly 83 was all it could muster, falling 20 evaluation points – the DxO Mark scoring system is very mysterious – behind the current best of the bunch. And therein lies the problem: this is a camera system that can do far more than its competitors, but only if you’re willing to put in the time.

You see, as far as I can tell (and I’m guilty of this too in my reviews) judgement is passed on these devices in a simulated use case. We get told that the most widely used camera in the world is the iPhone and because the iOS camera app is quite simple, we assume that people just want a point-and-shoot experience. That isn’t a lie because most people I know simply fire up the camera and take a picture, occasionally adjusting exposure.

The G7 has tiny image sensors and already operates at a disadvantage with regards to capturing light. But it is also the only camera system I am aware of that employs a glass lens element for better clarity and sharpness. All the others use plastic throughout. LG has also, since the celebrated G4, offered the best manual mode on a phone. Dialling in the exact settings you need to capture the image you want, or as you see it, is infinitely more satisfying than outsourcing creativity to a phone.

LG also provides the best cheat sheet with its exclusive Graphy app. Graphy is a photo-sharing platform where photographers can also share their settings. You can then download those settings as a “Lens” and the lenses are accessible from the manual mode screen. This then automatically sets the camera and all you have to do is hit the shutter button. You even get extra guidance for ISO (light sensitivity) or shutter speed (how long you’re exposing the sensor to light) settings, specific for your image.

The Graph lens was almost perfect to balance the dynamic range, but I had to adjust shutter speed to get the correct brightness.

To be honest, I too fall into the auto-everything trap because I mostly don’t have a tripod at hand and I like taking pictures of my children or dogs. If anything, the LG G7’s biggest problem is speed. Fast-moving subjects or those moments when you need to launch the camera quickly are huge obstacles for this camera. But if you can take the time to adjust settings, you’ll get some truly great images or even video out of this.

What I appreciate about the LG G7 camera is that it doesn’t try to over process the image and stays true to the real life image. I wanted a silhouette effect here.

Crucially, the G7 is a better rugged phone option than the Land Rover Explore. Unless you’re really going to use the Explore’s clip-on GPS radio that transforms it into a handheld navigation powerhouse with a massive battery, you get the same temperature shock resistance and ingress protection levels with the G7. You also then nett the other flagship-grade features like a powerful processor and amazing audio.

If you’re buying a CAT phone because you want a thermal camera and epic ruggedness, then you do you boo. But the Land Rover Explore is a blatant cash grab that can be emulated by simply slapping a MIL-STD 810G protective case (try one from Body Glove) and screen protector to an LG G7 or V30. All you’re losing out on is insane battery endurance and that GPS receiver in the Adventure Pack.

The Land Rover Explore won’t be able to take this shot.

Bottom line: all high-end smartphones have good cameras, it’s about how you want to use it. Also, the ecosystem matters. If you love listening to music, the LG G7 ThinQ is the best device for you.

 

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