Does LG's New Smartphone AI Cam Make It Worth The Purchase?

These days, lots of people tend to buy new smartphones mostly for the camera. It’s a feature we all use frequently. And many phone manufacturers recognize this, which is why they sell the phones based on the camera capabilities. So when LG Electronics made its G7 ThinQ smartphone available in America earlier this month, I couldn’t wait to try it out because it integrates Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the camera.

LG

LG G7 ThinQ

What exactly does that mean? According to LG, it makes the camera system so clever that it knows exactly what you’re shooting and automatically suggests the best filter and angle to use. “AI Cam” — as LG coins it — identifies what picture you’re taking, sourcing from 1,162 image identifiers, categorized into 19 scenes. It then provides you with four different filter options that enhance the characteristics of the specific scene, optimizing contrast, saturation and color. It also suggests when to switch over to the wide-angle lens — like when you’re photographing a group of people and those on the extreme right and left are getting cut off.

The phone includes three lenses. On the rear, there are both 16MP “Super Wide” angle (f1.9/107°) and 16MP standard angle (f1.6/71°) lenses. The front is graced by an 8MP wide angle (f1.9/80°) lens.

The camera and its AI work as billed. But I had some issues with it. When I wanted to manually swap from the standard rear lens to the wide-angle option, the virtual buttons on the screen were too tiny and close together for my fingers. Many times, I either hit the wrong button or the camera mis-took my finger as intending to refocus the image to the screen region where the buttons reside. Last week, I took this phone solely to use as my primary camera on a golf trip. Many of the course landscape photos I took were a bit pixelated for my preference — in both standard and wide angle. The color and saturation were fine. The images just didn’t wow me. Now the good news: All of the close-ups I took turned out really well. The portrait mode worked as well as it does on other leading phones, instantly blurring out the background while making the foreground razor sharp. They were stunning and the software was spot-on accurate at choosing which areas to blur. I also really enjoyed tinkering with the filters. They were pretty cool, especially helping night-time photos come out much better than I expected. And video was fine, too.

Like other new Android OS phones, the G7 also includes Google Lens that taps Google’s search engine to identify text, landmarks, artwork, media, and other objects for detailed information, reviews on the product or shop for the best price. I tried this on some books and record albums, and it worked fine. But when I found an old foreign coin that I wanted to know more about, this feature was frankly worthless.

By the way, the phone’s armed with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 mobile platform, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. In other words, it’s fast. The 6.1-inch display sports LG’s new LCD “Super Bright Display” technology. You’re supposed to be able to see it easily under direct sunlight. On the golf course and with the screen brightness maxed out, it was easy on my eyes.

One other nice feature is the sound quality: LG invites users to turn up the bass. The phone uses its inner space as a resonance chamber. Plus it has a relatively large speaker and an equalizer. So when you rest the phone on a table, it aims to use the resonance chamber as a woofer to amplify the bass effect. All I know is the sound is loud and clear — no distortion at full blast.

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Joan Guzman