At Mobile World Congress 2018, LG is announcing the LG V30S, an evolution of the flagship LG V30 smartphone launched six months ago. This move has been anticipated by the industry ahead of the tradeshow in Barcelona, and it is the first visible change since the arrival of LG Mobile’s new CEO.
The update is a new aspect of LG’s mobile strategy of coming up with tweaks on specific handsets when it makes sense. In this case, LG is releasing a new version of the LG V30, with new colors, different storage and RAM configurations and updated software features centered around AI (Artificial Intelligence, just as we expected). If you remember, LG made a big push in January at CES with ThinQ, their overall AI platform.
Let’s go over the changes made to the LG V30S, from the LG V30 we previously reviewed:
- The RAM gets a boost from 4GB to 6GB
- Storage options go from 64/128GB to 128GB/256GB (UFS)
- The V30S comes in two new colors: New Moroccan Blue and New Platinum Gray
- Camera software
- A Bright Mode has been added for low-light situations
- AI software
- Previously, only Google Assistant was available. Now, LG adds QLens, AI Cam and Qvoice, three LG-powered AI services.
We can start with the most exciting features: AI CAM, QLens and Bright Mode are part of Vision AI, a set of features that aim to make photography better. AI CAM looks at the scene, recognizes the type of scene it is dealing with (Person, Animal, Cityscape, Flower, Sunrise, Sunset, Food and Landscape). From there, it will suggest possible settings to make the picture look better. The user can preview with one tap and take the photo if the choice is agreeable. If not, it is possible to ignore the suggestion.
The image recognition worked quite decently, and the camera app even displays what it thinks it “sees” in real-time. It can spot things like “home interior, person, headphones, etc…” among things that I pointed it at.
QLens is a reverse image search. This means that you can take a picture or show something to the phone, which will then search on Pinterest, Amazon. For example, I shot some photos of a cake, and it was able to search for other cakes on Pinterest. The results depend on the accuracy of the search parter (here, Pinterest) and could be more powerful.
“THE BRIGHT MODE RESULTS ON STATIC SCENES ARE TRULY EXTRAORDINARY”
Bright Mode is probably the most interesting camera feature (at least, to me) of all. LG has devised a new way to take low-light photography to the next level. Bright Mode works with a combination of pixel binning and low shutter speed. The Bright Mode results on static scenes are truly extraordinary.
As an example, I took a few shots of a very dimly lit scene. First, I will show you how it approximately looked using a photo captured with a regular compact camera. I intentionally made it match what my eyes perceived.
This second picture shows a photo taken with the LG V30S WITHOUT Bright Mode. As you can see, the V30 already brightens the image quite a bit, even without the new mode enabled.
And finally, the photo with Bright Mode ON. It is not exactly shot under the same angle, but you get the point: bright mode does make the image insanely brighter while keeping the level of noise low and the image relatively sharp (this was shot hand-held).
Because the shutter speed was low (around 1/7), a moving subject would probably have yielded a blurry picture. However, for static scenes, this is rather fun to do. If you want to go crazy, bring your tripod.
The pixel binning technique means that LG Engineers decrease the resolution by 2 on each axis, so a 16 Megapixel sensor would produce a 4 Megapixel image. Light is gathered from three surrounding pixels in order the brighten the photo. This is a great idea because in low-light situations details will be lost anyway, so going from 16 to 4 Megapixel doesn’t hurt at all – on the contrary: the image is a lot brighter.
The other features are rather straightforward to understand, so I don’t think that there’s a need for a long review, at least, for now.
“NEW FEATURES CAN BE BACK-PORTED TO EXISTING LG V30 PHONES”
The good news in all this is that pretty much all of these new features can be back-ported to existing LG V30 phones – at some point. LG has committed to doing it, although no agenda has been set for now. Maybe some features might get dropped, but right now, I don’t see any that would require 6GB or 256GB of storage.
The camera software team at LG Mobile has shown its creativity and talent by making the most out of the existing camera hardware. I’m impressed.
Snapdragon 835 + MicroSD