If there’s one reason to buy the LG V40, LG’s latest flagship, it’s ALL about its 5 cameras, the most cameras on a smartphone to date until Samsung copies and launches the Galaxy S10 next year. With 3 dedicated rear cameras and 2 front cameras, the LG V40 can give you more camera angles from a single smartphone than any other smartphone on the market. In this review, I really wanted to focus on its 5 cameras, since the LG V40 is really about the cameras along with its hidden advanced features you probably will never use.
LG V40 comes with a 6.3-inch POLED screen, Snapdragon 845 processor, 6gigs of RAM, and 64 to 128GB internal storage with microSD card slot, Boombox mono speaker, and a total of 5 cameras, which is a world’s first for a smartphone. The 5 cameras include 3 back cameras, one normal, one telephoto, one wide-angle and also the front has 2 cameras including one normal and the other wide-angle.
First, let’s talk about the 3 back cameras. It’s got a 12MP F1.5 main camera, 12MP F2.4 2X optical zoom telephoto camera, and 16MP F1.9 wide angle camera to give you a total of 3 different angles when shooting photo or video. Whether you need to zoom in for a shot to quickly take a photo of an insect or zoom out to get a wide-angle shot, the LG V40 is versatile and can do it all.
The main camera also has much-improved low-light performance over the LG G7 that launched earlier this year with 40% bigger 1.4 micron sensor and I would highly recommended over the G7 if low-light performance is important to you along with added telephoto camera that G7 is missing. While wide-angle has not changed much over the G7, it still gives you a very wide-angle shot while its F1.9 helps to give you the best performance in low-light.
The main camera is probably the my favorite of them all since it has the bigger 1.4 micron sensor along with the best dynamic range, clarity, and images. I would use the main camera mostly and the telephoto/wide-angle cameras are really extras in situations where they may come in handy such as trying to get a zoom-in shot with a small bird without scarying it off or perhaps taking a wide-angle shot over the edge of a cliff where you can get a very dramatic look. The LG V40 is about having that option to use telephoto or wide-angle if the situation calls for it. It doesn’t mean you should use it all the time as you will still get the best performance out of its main camera. With that said, I have found the extra cameras very useful and was able to take close-up shots and wide-angle shots otherwise not possible.
For photos, LG V40 does well in auto mode but for pixel peepers like myself, I feel LG’s auto-processing is slightly too sharp. However, turn on the manual mode and take photos in RAW mode, which results in much better photos that you can also edit without losing much quality. Now, you don’t have to use manual mode in manual, in fact you can use the camera in manual mode with auto settings but this will give you the extra ability to take photos in RAW. For those of you who know a little bit about editing RAW photos with Photoshop, you will be able to take full advantage of LG V40’s camera. It’s actually not that hard for basic photo processing, you can just use Photoshop and usually just bring up the saturation all the way along with adjustment for highlights and shadows. Simply doing this and comparing with photos in auto mode proves edited RAW photos are much better. There are also numerous apps you can use to accomplish the same thing, I should have a tutorial on that soon, make sure to subscribe to my channel so you will get notifications when I upload it. I know, this seems like a lot of work but it’s actually the best way/only way I would actually take photos on the LG V40 these days. For people who just don’t want to mess with their photos and need the best auto camera, I do suggest getting another phone like Galaxy Note 9/S9 or the Pixel 3, as it takes much better photos in auto mode. For posting on social networks, auto mode shouldn’t pose a problem but honestly, I feel auto mode for anything important sucks due to its over-sharpening nature. Or you can also grab a ported Google camera app, which should give you excellent results in auto mode.
There are AI and other new features like CineShot that LG V40 has but I just don’t use them much. They are simply not the best features about the LG V40 and the manual mode is where it’s at for photos, you will get 10 times better photos than both Auto and AI in my opinion. This also goes for low-light, I would not use the low-light feature as it gives you lower pixel photo and you would do a ton better by using manual mode and RAW files then bringing up darks/removing noise in post.
For videos, LG V40 has OIS(Optical Image Stabilization) for the main back camera and EIS(Electronic Image Stabilization) for all 5 cameras! EIS works quite well and with good lighting, you will get excellent stabilized videos on the 3 rear cameras(one of the best I have tried), and decent stabilization for two front cameras. Now, EIS can also be turned off for all 5 cameras, which will give you the full view of the camera instead of having a cropped video as EIS crops your video to give you software stabilization. While EIS can be left on for handheld shots, it can also be turned off easily when using a tripod or gimbal to give you wider view and more details in the videos. I find EIS unnecessary on the front cameras, especially the wide-angle as stabilization is good but not good enough where I would rather have a wider angle than stabilization. Overall, I find videos is where LG V40 really shines, stabilization is one of the best out there for all 3 rear cameras and having 3 different cameras with 3 different angles give you a huge advantage over phones that have just one camera like Pixel 3 or 2 cameras but no wide-angle like the Galaxy Note 9 and S9. To take full advantage over LG V40’s video abilities, you can also use manual mode as it has one of the best video manual controls on the market along with higher bitrate recording, higher audio quality recording, and even HDR10 for HDR videos. If you need the best smartphone video camera, I think LG V40 is definitely my #1 choice.
Now, this review is really going to focus on its 5 cameras. But I will tell you that the 6.4-inch 1440P display with 19.5:9 aspect ratio is beautiful to hold and feels great in your hands for people who love big phones. While the notch is ugly and you can hide it, I wish LG would have had gone with no notch or hide the notch by bringing down the whole notification panel like you can do on a Pixel 3XL. 4G LTE has been great, you will get gigabit 4G LTE connectivity on networks that support it such as T-Mobile. My T-Mobile 4G LTE speeds have been outstanding, I was able to get near 500Mbps download speeds in same places where I normally get less than 50Mbps. Battery life has also been very good, no complaints there. Even with a 3,300mAh battery, I have had zero issues for all-day use due to very efficient POLED display. Charging is super-fast as it supports Quick Charge 3.0 along with fast wireless charging. Its Boombox speaker is super loud along with a high level of bass that you will appreciate when playing music on a flat surface. Of course, LG V40 also has a headphone jack, Quad-DAC and the most powerful amp for those of you who use headphones. If you use high-impedance headphones, you will be able to use LG V40 without a portable amp. LG UI has not changed over the years too much, you may like it a lot or not but I personally feel they are very simple and easy to use without the extra stuff you don’t need. The extra Google Assistant button is nice too, actually more useful than Samsung’s Bixby. UI performance is excellent, you won’t find lags like you’ve seen in older LG phones. LG V40 is also one of the best smartphone to take in the water, thanks to its IP68 rating, it is safe enough to challenge your shower, spa, pools, and great for cleaning off all those germs at the end of the day.
What’s wrong with LG V40?
Photo Camera auto processing can sometimes suck especially in HDR mode due to over-sharpening but manual mode and RAW photos are awesome. In fact, I can take star photography with 30-second shutter speeds in RAW mode and boy, the results are better than any other smartphone out there. Videos are fantastic with 3 different angles. While telephoto mode gives you slightly softer images, this is not an issue as I don’t use it unless I have very good lighting where softer images are still very acceptable and high quality. If there is something that’s missing, manual mode does not work with telephoto mode. Also, when recording video in auto mode, you cannot switch between wide angle and regular/telephoto. You can only switch between regular and telephoto or use wide-angle mode once recording has started, you cannot switch between all 3 while recording.
Portrait mode for front camera is only supported for the main front camera but not wide-angle camera. Pixel 3 takes excellent wide-angle front camera selfie portraits and I wish my LG V40 could also do that but it can’t.
Triple shot is a new feature but LG never got it to work 100% as telephoto mode does not auto-focus correctly at all times. But I feel this isn’t a feature I need to use anyways, I usually find the best camera for the shot, I don’t take 3 different shots from the same spot then choose later. By switching the camera manually, I feel you get better photos and compose the shot correctly with the best camera.
Also, LG phones nowadays do not come with unlocked bootloader, you can only unlock bootloader on international European models. However, you can always grab the international European model so you can unlock the bootloader.
Overall, LG V40 is really made for photographers/videographers who know how to use the manual mode to take full advantage over its photo camera and its hidden features like RAW files, HDR10, higher audio recording, and higher bitrate recording. While it’s not bad, I still would prefer photos taken in Galaxy Note 9 or Pixel 3 any day for auto mode. For videos, the LG V40 is definitely my #1 choice as stabilization is out of this world and having 5 camera angles helps out a ton getting you the most creative shots. For now, I will end this review but if you are buying the LG V40, definitely it is because you need 5 cameras or have 3 backup cameras because you never know that one day you may need it. I couldn’t cover every single detail in this review as it has gotten too long already but if there’s something I didn’t cover in this review and you had a question on it, definitely leave a comment on my video or on our HighOnAndroid forums and I would be happy to answer all your questions.
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