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LG V50 ThinQ hands-on review: LG’s “foldable” phone is anything but slick

One of two flagships announced by LG at MWC 2019, can the V50 ThinQ take the spotlight?

LG V50 ThinQ now available in UK

LG’s bizarre-looking “foldable” smartphone is finally available to buy in the UK. As it stands, the V50 ThinQ 5G is exclusive to mobile network EE in the UK, and can be picked up from £74 a month with an upfront cost of £50 and 20GB of monthly data.

If you need even more data allowance (we don’t blame you) you can also opt for the 30GB, 60GB and 100GB plans. The latter of which will cost you £89 a month with an upfront cost of £10, or £2,146 by the time your 24-month contract comes to an end.

Our original LG V50 ThinQ hands-on article continues below

LG V50 ThinQ hands-on review

Not to be outdone by the likes of Huawei and Xioami, LG has revealed two flagship phones at its MWC 2019 launch event. In addition to the LG G8 ThinQ the Korean tech giant also showcased the LG V50 ThinQ, LG’s first 5G handset. It’s a super-powered machine packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, and it has a “foldable” option, too.

The LG V50, however, stretches the definition of foldable to its limits. It’s only foldable if you add LG’s second screen accessory and attach it to the side. The main story here, however, is the LG V50’s Qualcomm X50 5G modem, which will allow the LG V50 to support movie downloads at multi-gigabit speeds. 

The phone will be available in the UK, too, unlike its predecessor the V40. This will be done exclusively via EE, which is taking a leading role in the UK’s rollout of 5G in 2019. Pricing and availability has yet to be announced, however.

READ NEXT: Huawei Mate X: The world’s speediest foldable 5G handset

LG V50 ThinQ review: Key specifications, price and release date

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor
  • 6GB RAM
  • 128GB storage, microSD expansion
  • Triple rear camera: 16MP f/1.9 ultrawide; 12MP f/1.5 standard; 12MP f/2.4 telephoto
  • Dual front camera: 8MP f/1.9 standard; 5MP f/2.2 wide angle
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem
  • 76 x 8.3 x 159mm, 183g
  • IP68 dust and water-resistance, MIL-STD-810G
  • 4,000mAh battery
  • Android 9 Pie
  • Price: From £74 a month
  • Release date: 2019, exclusively via EE

LG V50 ThinQ review: Design, key features and first impressions

Although plenty has changed inside the LG V50 ThinQ compared to the LG V40 ThinQ, the design is basically the same: sleek rounded corners and a lightweight aluminium frame sandwiched by Gorilla Glass 5.

At the front of the phone is a large 6.4in 19.5:9 aspect ratio OLED display with a resolution of 1,440 x 3,120 and a pixel density of 538ppi. At the back of the phone, the phone’s three camera modules are arranged horizontally, as with the LG V40.

Traditionalists will be happy to see that LG has retained the 3.5mm headphone jack but those hoping for an in-display fingerprint reader will be disappointed. Just like its sister phone, the LG G8 ThinQ, the LG V50 has a rear-mounted circular fingerprint reader that sits below the camera array.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the LG V50, however, is its attachable dual-screen accessory. Instead of opting to produce a proper foldable phone like Samsung and Huawei, LG’s dual-screen accessory attaches by means of a folding hinge and allows the display to flow across both, giving double the screen area.

The attachable display measures 6.2in across the diagonal, with a 1,080 x 2,160 resolution. That’s smaller and lower in resolution than the phone’s main screen, and it adds an extra 131g to the weight of the phone, so if you want your LG V50 in a pseudo folding configuration, you’re going to have to pay with extra bulk.

I’m not convinced by this at all. Compared with Huawei’s Mate X and even the Samsung Galaxy Fold it’s bulky and heavy and awkward. Frankly, it lacks boldness.

The Snapdragon 855 chipset and 6GB RAM, at least, is guaranteed to give the LG V50 ThinQ a decent power boost over its predecessor but, bear in mind, various other flagship phones in 2019 are set to include the very same chip this year, including Xioami’s Mi Mix 3 5G and the reasonably priced Xiaomi Mi 9. LG is certainly not alone in featuring the Snapdragon 855 in 2019.

It’s good news, though, that LG is addressing potential overheating issues that could be generated by all that power. That’s because LG has set aside a sizeable chunk of space within the V50 ThinQ for a vapour cooling chamber that’s 2.7 times the size of the cooling system in the V40 ThinQ. Previous V-series phones like the LG V35 were notorious for overheating and LG obviously wants to avoid that going forward.

In further good news there’s also a larger 4,000mAh battery inside the LG V50 ThinQ, which should address the disappointing battery life of the LG V40 ThinQ. Nothing is certain, however, and I can say no more on that until I get a review sample.

As for cameras, that’s looking promising too, with a triple camera array on the rear and two on the front. On the rear, these comprise one 16-megapixel f/1.9 ultrawide angle camera; a 12-megapixel f/1.5 standard-angle camera; and a 12-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto camera. On the front are one 8-megapixel f/1.9 standard camera and a secondary 5-megapixel wide-angle selfie shooter.

LG V50 ThinQ review: Early verdict

The LG V50 ThinQ looks set to be a force to be reckoned with but it faces some fierce competition in 2019. Take Xiaomi’s freshly announced Mi Mix 3 5G, which packs the same Snapdragon 855 and X50 5G duo from Qualcomm, and at the remarkably affordable price of €599.

In fact, the V50 ThinQ will even be forced to fight against one of its own, the LG G8 ThinQ, which takes the form of LG’s non-5G flagship in 2019. 5G may be the hot new thing but not everyone will want a 5G phone just yet.

Whether you’ll want an LG phone at all, though, is the point in question. With Xiaomi muscling in aggressively on LG’s traditional sub-premium price territory and the likes of Huawei and Samsung solidifying their hold on the high-end market, the LG V50 looks like it’s going to have its work cut out to persuade consumers to part with their cash.

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