LG G9 ThinQ: news, leaks, and what we want to see
After the ambitious, yet flawed, LG G5, which was focused on modularity, the company moved away from risky innovations in its flagship G-series phones. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s left LG’s G phones struggling to really stand out among the rest in the premium segment.
So, is LG going to pleasantly surprise us with the LG G9 ThinQ, or is it going to be another borderline excellent device with a couple of neat tricks up its sleeve that just falls flat when it comes to delivering a great user experience? It’s too early to tell, but we’d still like to share what we expect, and especially want, to see from the LG G9 ThinQ!
LG G9 ThinQ price and release date
LG has been known for announcing new phones at MWC, which is held every February in Barcelona. The LG G8 ThinQ was announced on February 24 this year, and launched in March, so we may be looking at a similar timeline for the G9 ThinQ next year.
As far as pricing is concerned, we may not see a big jump from the G8. The LG G6 retailed for $650 at launch, while the G7 ThinQ had an initial MSRP of $750. The G8 ThinQ launched earlier this year at $850, which made it hard to recommend at full price, though it's already been subject to a couple of discounts that have brought its price down to a more acceptable level.
With the G9 ThinQ, LG may be wise to not hike the starting price with another $100, though we won't be surprised to see the next G-series flagship starting at $899.
More versatile camera
Digging through LG patents from the past year, this one sticks out from the rest. It’s a patent for a phone with 16 cameras. Yes, sixteen. And though we doubt that the LG G9 will have as many lenses on its back, chances are, it’s going to have three, four, or possibly more.
The recent wave of multi-camera devices has proven that phone cameras can be more versatile, without adding any bulk. The optics and sensors are small enough as is, which allows engineers to cram multiple cameras with different focal lengths, while the software is getting better at using them all in tandem and further improving results digitally. So, it comes as no surprise that LG has been toying with the idea of a more versatile camera setup, as evident from the LG V40, which has three rear cameras, and the South Korean version of the G8 ThinQ, which also has a triple camera setup.
One of the proposed features of a multi-camera setup, described in the patent above, is taking a photo with all cameras at once. This allows the user to pick the one they like best after the fact. More detailed panoramas could also be created by selective image morphing and stitching.
Increasing the number of cameras also improves depth detection, which is mostly used in portrait mode, but could also play a role in AR apps.
Better OLED display
LG hasn’t exactly been leading the pack in terms of display innovation over the last years. The company’s plastic OLED panels haven’t been quite as great as Samsung’s Super AMOLEDs, both in terms of peak brightness and color accuracy, though the LG G8 ThinQ was a marked improvement over its predecessors on both accounts.
For the most part, LG has followed the pack when it comes to increasing screen real estate – moving to a taller aspect ratio, reducing the bezels, and introducing a notch. The next big step comes in the form of true in-display cameras, but we wouldn’t hold our breath to see one on the LG G9 ThinQ. The technology is still in its infancy, and though we’ve seen working prototypes, it may not be ready for prime time for the G9.
Digging through more LG patents from the last year or so, reveals that the company has been toying with the idea of a hole-punch selfie camera, so the G9 ThinQ may move from a notch to having a smaller camera punch-hole.
Of course, the best case scenario would be for LG to surprise us with a true under-display camera out of left field. The company has a huge capacity in the production of OLED displays and more than enough R&D power to come up with an implementation. The question is, will it deem the resources needed worth spending?
Last bastion of the headphone jack?
The headphone jack seems to be on its way out of the premium smartphone market for good. Samsung has so far stood its ground by keeping the 3.5mm jack in its Galaxy flagships, but the Note 10 may put an end to this. This will make the beloved jack a real rarity among flagships, but LG may hold on for a while longer.
Coincidentally, the same people who would by an LG flagship for its excellent Quad DAC and headphone audio quality, are the same people who need a 3.5mm jack. So, unless LG is planning to stop catering to audiphiles and to remove one of the current-defining features of its premium phones, we’d be inclined to believe that the G9 ThinQ may retain the headphone jack.
LG's user interface is in need of some changes
LG’s custom Android skin isn’t the worst offender out there, but it could use some improvements, both in terms of visual design and functionality. The G8 ThinQ, despite running Android 9 Pie out of the box, doesn’t have many of the new features introduced by Google, including Digital Wellbeing.
Another software feature currently missing from LG’s Android skin, that is also one of the best things to have on an OLED display, is some sort of dark mode. It’s been all the rage lately, and for a good reason. The LG G9 ThinQ is almost certainly going to have an OLED screen, and we’ve got our fingers crossed that, by the time it launches, LG will have developed a dark mode implementation that takes advantage of the technology.
Disclaimer: The images used in this article are based on patents and educated guesses