Feature | The LG V40 ThinQ was the underappreciated flagship no one bought
Every year, a flagship is launched that goes under the radar or is, well, not quite as appreciated as it should be. Every year, the flagship carries an LG brand. Make no mistake about it, the new LG V60 will be regarded similarly in posterity, but for today, we look at the LG V40 ThinQ.
The V40 ThinQ was released back in 2018, within the same window as flagships like the Galaxy Note 9, iPhone XS Max, Google Pixel 3 XL, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and OnePlus 6T. In hindsight, that was likely a major reason why the V40 ThinQ fell flat on its face and never got the attention it deserved.
The flagship sported a 6.4-inch P-OLED display with a QHD+ display, competitive with the absolute best on the market. However, previous devices in the series didn't quite have the best displays around. The V30 was notorious for its display issues, and those issues carried over to the Pixel 2 XL. The Mate 20 Pro also had its fair share of issues—a green tint problem specific to units with LG's AMOLED panels.
Simply put, 2018 was a bad time for LG Displays. And yet, the LG V40 ThinQ's display had none of those issues. No doubt, it wasn't as good as the S10 series which was released six months after. But it held up well when compared to phones like the iPhone X or S9. The damage was already done, though, as public opinion at the time leaned towards LG displays being awful. That sentiment remains till this day, even though it hasn't been true in a long time.
The LG V40 ThinQ was the first phone to deliver the ultimate triple camera setup. A main wide-angle lens, an ultra-wide-angle lens, and a telephoto lens. Until then, the only other triple camera system from a reputable brand was the P20 Pro, which used a monochrome sensor in place of an ultra-wide. BW sensors are awesome, no doubt, but that's a story for another day.
The V40 headlined with a ground-breaking penta-camera setup: the aforementioned three lenses at the back, and two selfie cameras, one slightly wider than the other. That's about as good as it gets even till today, although an argument can be made for the superiority of 3D ToF sensors. While more isn't always better, the V40's cameras were—and still are—capable. At least on par with the Samsung Galaxy S9.
The rest of the phone was competitive. A Snapdragon 845 and 6 GB of RAM. 64 GB of storage may be underwhelming these days, but that's what the Pixel 3 also offered, without the V40's expandable storage. In addition, it also delivered a 3.5mm headphone jack—a feature LG still retains, albeit regularly without a Hi-Fi Quad DAC; a Boombox speaker setup that's still louder than most flagships today; and a MIL-STD 810G rating.
Why exactly was the LG V40 unappreciated, then? For one, it had a small battery. The Galaxy Note 9 offered a 4000 mAh battery, the Mate 20 Pro delivered a 4200 mAh battery, and even the Pixel 3 XL shipped with a 3430 mAh unit. The LG V40, though? A puny 3300 mAh battery.
The Snapdragon 845 was even less efficient than the Snapdragon 835, so while a 3300 mAh battery offered adequate real-world numbers on the LG V30, it failed to keep up with the competition on the V40.
Pricing was also an issue, as the V40 carried a hefty US$900 MSRP in the US. US$900 may have been the typical price tag of phones in that segment at the time but the V40 was saddled with the stigma of previous poor LG displays and a small battery. A history of bootlooping didn't help much either. The LG brand hasn't been the most prestigious in a long time, and that showed with the V40.
Launched alongside a slew of heavy-hitters, weak brand cachet, and poor marketing. The three reasons for the LG V40's gross underappreciation.