LG V50 ThinQ

Cool factor 3/5
Usability 3/5
Value for money 4/5

The LG V50 ThinQ is the first smartphone with 5G capabilities to go on sale in SA, and it is exclusive to Vodacom. The mobile operator launched SA’s first 5G service this week, and we were given an opportunity earlier to test it with this device.

The V50 ThinQ is ultra-slim, but it is also glossy, which makes for a rather slippery handset. It features a 6.4-inch OLED display with a high-resolution screen that makes everything appear vivid. It is powered by a Snapdragon 855 chip, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of expandable storage — up to 2TB — and a 4,000mAh battery.

The design on the back sets the phone apart from other 2020 models, as the trio of cameras sit flush; there is no bump in sight. It also features a 5G logo that lights up, and has a fingerprint sensor below the lenses.

The phone’s performance is slick, whether you are browsing, spending time on video apps, tuning into livetreams or multitasking. It offers 3D surround sound, and as one of the rare phones to still carry a 3.5mm audio jack, provides a 32-bit hi-fi Quad DAC sound when you connect headphones.

The rear camera is a mix of a 12MP telephoto, a 16MP super-wide and a 12MP standard lens. It supports modes that are standard today: portrait, studio, AI, manual and others like triple or penta shot.

The last takes three or five shots in succession using all cameras, and stitches them together to make a GIF or collage. I did not find this useful except for testing.

The standard single-take shots, including wide-angle and 2x optical zoom, work well in daylight but night mode could be improved.

The device includes support to stream live on YouTube natively from the camera. The dual selfie cam is an 8MP+5MP shooter with wide-angle support on the latter.

Battery capacity is 4,000mAh, which is sufficient, but with heavy use of the OLED screen the battery-saver mode is useful to manage and extend the usage.

The LG V50 ThinQ is suitable for those who want a 5G-ready handset, but its camera is no match for other flagships. However, at R13,599 it is significantly cheaper.

We tested Vodacom’s 5G just before the lockdown, at a base station in Sunninghill, Johannesburg. The speed of downloads was an impressive 469Mbit/s. Disappointingly, uploads were much slower, at 13.9Mbit/s.

We are yet to test the speeds and latency since it went live this week.