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HTC U12 Plus vs. LG G7 ThinQ: Which powerful flagship prevails?

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By Mark Jansen


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HTC U12 Plus Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

While we’re always the first to acknowledge excellence, it’s important to remember there are a lot of great phones out there that don’t have “Apple” or “Samsung” stamped on them. High on that list will almost always be the latest offerings from LG and HTC, and if you’re not keen on the latest iPhone or Galaxy flagship, then these companies are a great place to start. That’s especially true with the LG G7 ThinQ and the HTC U12 Plus.

Now, the question becomes which of these two should you buy? With powerful specs, great displays, and 2018-worthy designs, it can be hard to pick between the two. We’ve taken an in-depth look at both phones, so you know which one is best for you.

Specs

HTC U12 PlusLG G7 ThinQ
Size156.6 x 73.9 x 8.7 mm (6.16 x 2.9 x 0.34 inches)153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm (6.03 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches)
Weight188 grams (6.63 ounces)162 grams (5.71 ounces)
Screen size6-inch Super LCD6.1-inch IPS LCD
Screen resolution2,880 x 1,440 pixels (537 pixels per inch)3,120 x 1,440 pixels (564 pixels per inch)
Operating systemAndroid 8.0 OreoAndroid 8.0 Oreo
Storage space64GB, 128GB
64GB, 128GB
MicroSD card slotYesYes, up to 2TB
Tap-to-pay servicesGoogle PayGoogle Pay, LG Pay (in South Korea only)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
RAM6GB 4GB, 6GB
CameraDual 12MP and 16MP telephoto rear (both with OIS), dual 8MP lenses frontDual 16MP (with OIS) and 16MP wide-angle rear, 8MP front
VideoUp to 4K at 60 frames per second, 1080p at 240 fpsUp to 4K at 30 frames per second, 720p at 240 fps
Bluetooth versionBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5.0
PortsUSB-C3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C
Fingerprint sensorYes (back)Yes (back)
Water resistanceIP68IP68
Battery3,500mAh

QuickCharge 3.0 (4.0 with adapter, not included)

3,000mAh

QuickCharge 3.0 (4.0 with noadapter included)

Qi wireless charging

App marketplaceGoogle Play StoreGoogle Play Store
Network supportT-Mobile, AT&T, VerizonT-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint
ColorsTranslucent Blue, Ceramic Black, Flame RedAurora Black, Platinum Gray, Raspberry Rose, and Moroccan Blue
Price$800$750
Buy fromHTC, AmazonVerizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Project Fi
Review scoreHands-on review3.5 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

lg g7 news thinq hands on back shelf

With the brand-new and powerful Snapdragon 845powering these devices, you’re likely to get similar great performance out of them. The U12 Plus has a small advantage with 6GB of RAM as standard, but the impact is likely to be minimal. Expect great performance from both in a variety of apps and games.

The G7 ThinQ’s 3,000mAh battery surprised us during testing, providing strong performance that belied its smaller capacity. It could easily manage more than one day on standard usage, and it’s unlikely to disappoint. We’ve not had a chance to fully test the HTC U12 Plus’ 3,500mAh battery yet, but we expect the extra capacity will prove to be a strong contender in this fight. There’s QuickCharge 3.0support enabled for both right out of the box, with the option to attach a QuickCharge 4.0 adapter, if you have one. There’s wireless charging on the G7 ThinQ, but none on the U12 Plus, despite the glass back.

This is an exceptionally tough fight for us to judge. There’s a lot here that’s equal between the two phones. Without proper testing of the HTC’s battery life, we think the inclusion of wireless charging just ekes out the win for the G7 ThinQ.

Winner: LG G7 ThinQ

Design and durability

HTC U12 Plus Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The LG G7 ThinQ boasts an extremely up-to-date design with a glass body, notched display, and bezel-less design — and while that’s a good thing, it’s also a little boring. While it’s a pretty enough phone, there’s not much here to differentiate the G7 ThinQ from the competition, and that’s honestly a real downside. In contrast, while the U12 Plus hits similar notes — bezel-less design and glass build — there’s enough of HTC’s unique touches to make it really stand out. The Liquid Surface design ethos that debuted last year is beautiful, and the Translucent Blue’s transparent back is stunning. There’s at least one major downside to HTC’s design choices — the death of the headphone jack started with the HTC U11 and it has not been resurrected here.

Durability-wise, you can expect similar performance from both of these phones. Both are water- and dust-resistant up to an IP68 rating, but with all that glass, you can bet you’re going to want a protective case for both.

Despite the lack of headphone jack, the U12 Plus’ improved design just barely puts it ahead of the G7 ThinQ.

Winner: HTC U12 Plus

Display

lg g7 thinq hands on sound screen
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

There are two great 1,440p screens on display here. The G7 ThinQ’s screen is the larger of the two, a 6.1-inch LCD display running a taller than average 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 3,120 x 1,440-pixel resolution. It supports HDR10, and comes with a boosted brightness mode for direct sunlight. LG refers to the area around the notch as the “second screen,” and you can turn it into black bars if you want to hide the notch.

The U12 Plus’ 6-inch Super LCD display has a more standard 18:9 aspect ratio, running a 2,880 x 1,440-pixel resolution. It’s not as sharp as the G7 ThinQ’s display, but we doubt anyone would notice the tiny difference between the two. We did notice that the U12 Plus’ display was slightly harder to see in direct sunlight though, and while we haven’t finished our full tests on the U12 Plus’ display, that leads us to suspect the G7 ThinQ has a slight lead here.

Winner: LG G7 ThinQ

Camera

HTC U12 Plus Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The G7 ThinQ comes with a pair of 16-megapixel lenses — one standard, one wide-angle — and they provided some decent test images during our review. The wide-angle mode took some especially notable shots, but it’s let down by the low light performance, even with the Super Bright Camera enabled. The AI Cam does help in some circumstances, but on the whole, low-light performance is fairly disappointing. Still, the overall performance is solid.

We haven’t had a chance to really dig into the U12 Plus’ capabilities yet, but we’re hopeful. The phone has been awarded a high mark by camera tester DxOMark, placing it second only to the stunning Huawei P20 Pro right now, and the dual 12-megapixel and 16-megapixel telephoto lenses really seem to take care of business. We reckon the U12 Plus’ camera will be a surprise hit when we fully test it.

In terms of video, both are capable of 4K recording and slow motion of up to 240 frames per second — the U12 Plus can achieve 240fps at 1080p, while the G7 ThinQ is stuck at 720p.

Initial tests of the U12 Plus are strong, and we’re expecting it’ll do very well in our tests. It wins this round.

Winner: HTC U12 Plus

Software and updates

lg g7 thinq hands on music
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

You won’t find pure stock Android on either of these phones, but they’re pretty close. The U12 Plus is the closest to stock Android, with the phone running on Android 8.0 Oreo, with a few HTC additions like Blinkfeed. The G7 ThinQ uses a slightly adapted skin over the top of Android 8.0 Oreo, but it’s still fairly close to a stock experience. Either way, no one with previous Android experience should have an issue with these quick and snappy interfaces.

You can bet your bottom dollar that both of these phones will be getting an eventual upgrade to Android P. However, HTC has generally been quicker with Android upgrades than LG, which wins the U12 Plus this round.

Winner: HTC U12 Plus

Special features

HTC U12 Plus Review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

As befits premium flagships, both of these phones are chock-full of special features. The G7 ThinQ is part of the ThinQ brand, which means it’ll be able to talk with other LG devices with the ThinQ name. We suspect you’ll find some of the other features more useful though, with the amazing Boombox sound especially worthy of note, as is the dedicated button for activating the Google Assistant.

The U12 Plus also has its own special way of activating the Google Assistant — Edge Sense. The “squeeze-to-activate” feature from the HTC U11 is back, and it’s better than ever. HTC has added some new options in there, with the U12 Plus supporting single-edge squeezing. A double tap on either side will activate one-handed mode — a great idea on a phone this large. The U12 Plus also uses the Edge Sense sensors to detect how you’re holding your phone, so it’ll know whether to rotate your view based on how you’re holding it. The U12 Plus comes with HTC’s BoomSound for better sound quality.

In our eyes, the HTC phone has more special features that you’re likely to use day-to-day.

Winner: HTC U12 Plus

Price

The HTC U12 Plus is currently available for pre-order, and the base model will set you back $800. However, it’s only available on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon’s networks. The LG G7 ThinQ is now available for sale, with prices starting from $750. The G7 ThinQ is available from most carriers, with the exception of AT&T.

Overall winner: HTC U12 Plus

It was a hard-fought battle on both sides, but thanks to its fresh design, incredible camera, and special features, the HTC U12 Plus has come out the other end as the stronger phone. That’s not to say the G7 ThinQ is a bad choice, though — it’s got amazing power, some fresh ideas, and a super-sharp display, even if the design leaves a bit to be desired. But for our money, the HTC U12 Plus is simply the better phone of the two.


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