After a long reign by Samsung, Huawei has finally usurped the throne with its triple-camera stunner, a big, beautiful phone that's packed with power and features. But now the question is: how long can Huawei hold onto that vaunted position?
LG is the next big challenger with its G7 ThinQ, which offers a similarly iPhone X-esque notched design and plenty of flagship power, albeit with a different set of features in store. Will it be enough to help LG cut short Huawei's reign? We'll find out soon once we get our final review unit, but until then, here's how this battle is shaping up.
Design: Two of a kind
At a quick glance, it would be easy to confuse these phones: both plaster a large, super-tall screen on the front and cut down on bezel to maximise its impact. And both have a cutout at the top of the screen to accommodate the camera module.
But there are differences, of course. The P20 Pro still keeps a fingerprint sensor at the bottom, which extends the phone's "chin," while the LG G7 ThinQ smartly trims down that extra bezel (its fingerprint sensor is on the back).
Flipping over, the P20 Pro certainly has the cleaner-looking back, following the format of the iPhone X even further – and if you get the fabulous gradient Twilight colour, you'll get a visual perk that no other phone can quite match.
On the other end, the G7 ThinQ looks a bit plain from the back. They're very close overall, though, and we'll want to compare these glass-and-aluminum flagship beauties with our own eyes.
Screen: Notches all around
Both of these phones go for screens that are large and in charge, each coming in at 6.1in with the notch cutout up top - love it or hate it. But they're different in key ways.
The P20 Pro opts for a bold OLED panel, which impresses with its strong contrast and deep black levels, but it's at a lower resolution than many flagship phones today – it's a Full HD+ (1080p) display. As a result, it's not as crisp as, say, the Samsung Galaxy S9.
LG's screen is a QHD+ (1440p) screen, on the other hand, packing in more sharpness – but it's an LCD instead of an OLED. That said, it looked fantastic in our initial hands-on testing, and a "Super Bright" mode should ensure that it stays incredible bright even in tough viewing scenarios.
We'll have to see how they look side-by-side, however. Note that both phones can "hide" their notches via software, putting the status bar info on either side with a black background, and the P20's OLED screen should do a better job of masking the cutout thanks to its inky blacks.
Camera: Triple or double?
Here's a category in which we expect a comfortable win from Huawei. The P20 Pro just beat the Google Pixel 2 to claim the world's best smartphone camera thanks to its triple-camera setup.
It features an 8-megapixel telephoto sensor, a 20MP black-and-white sensor, and the crown jewel: a 40MP RGB sensor. Between the three, you get a 3x optical zoom and very good 5x "hybrid" zoom – as well as excellent everyday shots in most scenarios. Just considering shutting off the A.I. assist, which tends to blow out the colours in certain presets.
That said, we're hopeful that the LG G7 ThingQ's camera setup will also be very strong. It's a dual-camera array, with two 16MP back shooters – standard (f/1.6) and wide-angle (f/1.9). Test shots looked great during our-hands on, plus the "Super Bright" option should help loads in low-light scenarios. We're curious how well LG's own A.I. assists will work, however.
Performance: No slowdown here
Considering a pricey flagship in 2018? Yeah, it'll be plenty powerful – both of these phones certainly are.
The P20 Pro packs in Huawei's own Kirin 970 chip, and while it's been used in phones for several months now, it's still near the top of the pack in terms of raw processing power. And with 6GB RAM onboard, this Android never faltered in our experience no matter what we were doing with the phone.
On the other hand, the LG G7 ThinQ uses the newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, which has scored moderately higher in some benchmarks but shouldn't show any noticeable difference in day-to-day usage. The G7 has 4GB RAM in the base model and 6GB RAM in a surely-pricier edition, so you've got a choice – but 4GB should be plenty to keep things running smoothly.
Battery and perks: Big differences
When it comes to battery life, the P20 Pro is one of the top performers in the flagship class with its massive 4,000mAh cell. The LG G7 ThinQ comes in much lower at 3,000mAh, but it also has the higher-resolution screen to power. We'll see how that affects uptime, but at least the G7 has wireless charging (which the P20 Pro lacks).
The P20 Pro arrives with 128GB of internal storage, but that's your cap – you can't pop in a microSD card for more. Meanwhile, the LG G7 ThinQ offers 64GB and 128GB options, and then you can go nuts with expandable storage via microSD. That's a big advantage here.
In terms of bonus perks, the G7 puts a huge emphasis on audio – not only for listening but also with its A.I. assistant of choice. The G7 ThinQ has a "boombox" speaker, which uses a resonance chamber to significantly boost the volume. Seriously, it's loud. It also has a Hi-Fi Quad DAC and DTS: X 3D sound functionality.
And it's super primed for the Google Assistant. It has a dedicated button for access on the left side of the phone, plus it has far-field microphones to hear you from a distance when you need it. Furthermore, it packs in some new Google Assistant commands that you won't find on other phones. That's pretty handy. The P20 Pro uses the Google Assistant, as well, but it doesn't have those bonus bits.
Also, the LG G7 ThinQ keeps the 3.5mm headphone port, while it's been unfortunately banished from the P20 Pro.
If you're big on using your phone for work and productivity matters, however, you might be glad to hear that the P20 Pro lets you hook up to an external monitor for a PC-like desktop mode.
Initial verdict: LG has a tough battle
The Huawei P20 Pro is an excellent all-around phone elevated by some dazzling looks – on the Twilight model, at least – and the best smartphone camera around. The LG G7 ThinQ looks similarly top-tier as an overall device, but will it have a standout highlight feature to truly elevate it above the competition?
Right now, we're not sure. The added Google Assistant stuff sounds great and overall it seems like there will be a lot to like about the handset, but we're not yet convinced that it can topple the likes of the Huawei P20 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S9. It's certainly possible, but we need to spend much more time with the G7 ThinQ before we make up our minds.
And pricing will come into it, to. As of this writing, we don't know how much LG plans to charge for the G7 ThinQ. Meanwhile, the Huawei P20 Pro feels well-priced for what you get at ₹64,999. If LG undercuts that price point by a fair margin, then it could prove to be a big advantage.
We'll update this comparison with further details and a final verdict once we've completed our LG G7 ThinQ review, so be sure to check back if you're considering these two top-end phones.