THE FIRST thing that strikes you when you hold LG's first 5G phone is how ordinary it is.
That's not a bad thing, but it serves as a reminder that the days when a new technology meant a retrograde in form factor are gone. There's nothing about the V50 ThinQ 5G that sets it apart from any 4G phone - at least on the outside.
The design language continues from other LG devices, with the standard interface - which is pretty slick in the preview model we played with - with lots of neat little additions to Android, like the ability to review the next day's agenda as you set your alarm at bedtime.
Although there's no way to really put 5G through its paces on the handset yet, we're assured that the speeds offered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset and X50 modem will surpass anything we've seen before by a factor of between five and ten10
When it was confirmed that LG wouldn't be offering a foldable phone this year, it seemed a bit of an anti-climax, given that it's the form factor du jour. In fact, LG has gone with something that could actually be even better.
LG will be offering a separate second device. This one has a display, and little else - in fact, it doesn't even have a battery. But when connected to the ‘parent' phone via POGO pins, it becomes a dual-screen clamshell, which can either be used for multitasking, second-screening, or as a touchscreen joypad for gaming.
Both 6.4in screens are QHD+ OLED with tiny bezels - crisp, bright and responsive and the resulting user experience feels a lot more natural than a folding device.
Although the v50 doesn't have the gesture controls and vein-identification of the G8 (the other handset launched at MWC - a humble 4G) it does boast some of LG's signature features, such as stereo DTS speakers flanked with the screen itself which is capable of boosting the sound.
We only briefly tested the cameras - a triple whammy of 16MP ‘super-wide', 12MP standard and 12MP telephoto lens, with an 8MP standard and 5MP front dual-camera array.
The battery clocks in at an impressive 4000mAh, which some fancy under the hood tricks has been made to last even longer, which matters when you have to factor in powering that optional second screen.
The v50 (blah blah blah) will only be released in one colour - Black - in the fine tradition of Henry Ford, but we were really struck by how light it is (131g without the second screen would be considered reasonably light on a 4G phone) and how natural it feels in the hand.
Seeing how it performs day-to-day is something we'll need to wait till we have longer with it that we do currently, but with assurances that 5G won't mean the battery takes a dive or overheats, then we have reasonably high hopes.
Is it bleeding edge? Well, by 5G standards, you could argue that it's not - but LG fans will definitely love the continuity paired with the new tech, and we can all be reassured that 5G handsets won't represent a retrograde step. μ