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The LG V30S ThinQ is LG’s very obvious pivot to launch a smartphone at MWC 2018 without actually creating an entirely new phone. 

It’s a basic specs update to the existing LG V30, with a few tweaks that make it better than the Android phone we reviewed six months ago – and emphasis on few tweaks. 

None of the changes are going to send you upgrading. Instead, it’s the true definition of an iterative smartphone update. Here’s what we’ve experienced so far from this Android 8.0 Oreo handset while at MWC 2018.

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New LG V30S ThinQ design and specs

We’re looking at 6GB of RAM where there was 4GB of RAM before, 128GB and 256GB internal storage configurations instead of 64GB and and 128GB, and a brand new color, New Moroccan Blue, which joins Platinum Gray.

The design and specs are otherwise the same as before, and that’s okay for most people. It runs the same Snapdragon 835 chipset that’s found in most Android phones today and we’re a fan of its 6-inch P-OLED screen in a compact body. This is the thinnest and lightest phone with a 6-inch screen (or bigger). The understated design really lets this big 18:9 screen shine.

We’re still testing the phone and its 6GB of RAM to determine its meaningfulness, but we already find the internal storage configurations beneficial. While Samsung is capping its space at 64GB with microSD storage, LG V30 ThinQ starts everyone off at 128GB now and also includes a microSD storage slot. To us, that’s the right move.

About that AI camera

The LG V30S ThinQ touts new camera smarts through its AI CAM mode, which is a trendy way of saying it automatically switches between eight scenes: portrait, food, pet, landscape, city, flower, sunrise, and sunset.

Automatic scene switching is helpful rather than having to manually cycle between the modes, but other smartphones do this with a dedicated AI chip. This seems more like a software, not hardware update that’s not coming to the LV30, sadly.

There are a few other camera software tweaks here. The phone links to up services like Amazon and Pinterest to identify objects around you, while Bright mode reduces photo noise with algorithms in addition to measuring ambient light.

Bright mode could be why you’re going to want to opt for LG V30S over the original (and likely cheaper LG V30). If it can truly harness the power of algorithms to make low-light photography better, that’s good news people searching for a reason to own LG’s latest and greatest. We’ll do more side-by-side photo testing soon.

There’s very little that’s convincing outside of the camera we got six months ago on the original V30. The back of the phone has a dual-lens 16MP camera that shoots at f/1.6 on the normal lens, and f/1.9 on the wide angle lens. The front-facing camera is capable of taking wide f/1.9 selfies.

We’re a big fan of the video modes and settings found on the LG V30, and that hasn’t changed in the upgrade to the V30S ThinQ. Our favorite LG-exclusive feature is Point Focus, which lets you gradually zoom into specific spots while a video is recording, not just blow up the center of the viewfinder screen. The Cine Video menu returns for the same comprehensive color grading options.

Early verdict

All of this makes the LG V30S ThinQ a minor upgrade to what we’ve considered an underrated Android phone. It has features you may have overlooked: an impressive 18:9 6-inch P-OLED display, powerful DAC audio system and feature-packed video recording modes.

Should you buy the LG V30S ThinQ over the original or wait for this one? That’s going to depend on the LG V30S price and release date, which the company has yet to announce. It could land in Korea and the US in the next month, but both the price and official release date are up to carriers.

By the time it does launch, you may be tempted by the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy S9 Plus, which are poised to be the more powerful, capable and camera-focused Android phones of 2018. Everything comes down to what LG charges and how much you want to spend.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2018 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar’s world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

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