The LG G9 ThinQ could be LG's saving grace
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 wasn't necessarily a bad decision, but it left LG’s G-series phones in a bit of an identity crisis, 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 "just alright" device with a couple of neat tricks up its sleeve that just falls flat when it comes to delivering a great lasting impression? 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
G8 ThinQ was announced on February 24, 2019 and launched in March, so we may be looking at a similar timeline for the G9 ThinQ in 2020.LG has been known for announcing new phones at MWC, which is held every February in Barcelona. The LG
As far as price goes, we may not see a big increase compared to the G8 ThinQ. The LG G6 retailed for $650 at launch, while the G7 ThinQ had an initial MSRP of $750. The G8 ThinQ launched earlier in 2019 at $850, which made it hard to recommend at full price, though it's already been subject to a number 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 launch price with $100 over the previous model, though we wouldn't be surprised to see the next G-series flagship starting at $899.
Better, more versatile camera
Image source: LetsGoDigital | LG Patent
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 display with a smaller notch (or sans)
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.
About LG's troubled Android skin
LG’s custom Android skin hasn't been the worst offender out there, but it could definitely use some improvements—both in terms of its visual design and actual functionality. The G8 ThinQ, despite running Android 9 Pie out of the box, doesn’t have many of the bells and whistles that other custom skins—and even "stock" Android itself—have to offer.
LG recently sort of unveiled the next version of its UX Android skin (yep, it's called UX) and it seemed to address many of the issues that we've had with previous iterations. In a recent teaser trailer for the upcoming update, the company showed off what looked like a total redesign of the interface, packing a lot of new features, such as system-wide night mode.
The video immediately started drawing comparisons with Samsung's One UI and was promptly taken down by LG, hence why we can't show it to you. We don't know if the company decided to remove all information about LG UX 9.0 due to the apparent similarities with One UI, or simply because it was shared earlier than intended by mistake, but what we saw in the video has made us both optimistic and worried at the same time.
LG's Android skin has long needed a major overhaul, and we wouldn't say that the company taking a page from a competitor's book—a competitor who's been criticized for its UI in the past but is now doing markedly better—is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it could be a good thing for LG at this point.
Disclaimer: The images used in this article are based on patents and educated guesses