LG V35 ThinQ vs. LG V30: Is the newer model worth the extra cash?

lg v35 thinq on wood
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

With an impressive dual camera setup, plenty of video-recording options, and A.I. smarts built into its core, the LG V35 ThinQ is an impressive new smartphone from LG. But it’s been less than a year since the LG V30 rolled out. What has the South Korean manufacturer added? Is the V35 ThinQ a major improvement over its predecessor? We decided to put the two phones head-to-head to find out.

Specs

LG V35 ThinQ LG V30
Size 151.6 x 75.4 x 7.3mm (5.97 x 2.97 x 0.29 inches) 151.6 x 75.4 x 7.3 mm (5.97 x 2.97 x 0.29 inches)
Weight 158 grams (5.57 ounces) 158 grams (5.57 ounces)
Screen size 6-inch OLED 6-inch P-OLED display
Screen resolution 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (538 pixels-per-inch) 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (538 pixels-per-inch)
Operating system Android 8.0 Oreo Android 7.1.2 Nougat (upgradeable to 8.0 Oreo)
Storage space 64GB 64GB, 128GB (on the V30 Plus)
MicroSD card slot  Yes, up to 2TB Yes, up to 256 GB
Tap-to-pay services Android Pay Android Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
RAM 6GB 4GB
Camera Dual 16MP (with OIS) and 16MP wide angle rear, 8MP front Dual 16MP and 13MP wide angle rear, 5MP wide angle front
Video  Up to 4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 30 fps, 720p at 240 fps, HDR10 Up to 4K at 30 fps, 1080p at 30 fps, 720p at 120 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-Type C 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-Type C
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 3,300mAh

Fast charging (Quick Charge 3.0)

Qi wireless charging

3,300mAh

Fast charging(Quick Charge 3.0)

Qi wireless charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support AT&T, Project Fi All major carriers
Colors Aurora Black, Platinum Gray Cloud Silver, Moroccan Blue, Aurora Black, Lavender Violet, Raspberry Rose
Price $900 $800
Buy from  AT&T, Project Fi SprintVerizonAT&TT-Mobile
Review score  Hands-on review 4 out of 5 stars

Performance, battery life, and charging

lg v35 thinq app dock
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Phones get faster every year, with many of the top flagships adopting Qualcomm’s latest processor. The LG V35 ThinQ is no exception, as it comes packing a Snapdragon 845 that is faster and more power efficient than the Snapdragon 835 you’ll find in the LG V30. While it definitely offers improvements, we never encountered any issues with performance in the LG V30. The difference between the two in everyday use is likely to be quite subtle.

The V35 ThinQ has also been beefed up in the RAM department with 6GB instead of the 4GB that the V30 made do with. How much RAM a phone needs is the subject of some debate, but if you’re not a major multitasker, dipping in and out of countless apps and games, we don’t think you’ll feel much difference here either.

When it comes to battery size and charging capabilities, these phones are identical. They both have 3,300mAh batteries that support Quick Charge 3.0 via the USB-C port, which is capable of delivering around 50 percent in just over half an hour. They also both support Qi wireless charging.

While it may not feel much different now, the extra performance and RAM will be more telling over time, and the V35 ThinQ certainly offers more raw power.

Winner: LG V35 ThinQ

Design and durability

LG V30 water splash
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

You may have trouble telling these phones apart at first glance. In fact, you may struggle to tell them apart at second glance, too. The LG V35 ThinQ and the LG V30 are identical in terms of outward appearance. They both have a 6-inch display with curved corners, small bezels, and no notch. They both have glass backs with a dual camera module and a fingerprint sensor beneath, as well as a USB-C port on the bottom and a headphone port on the top. They both …well, you get the picture.

While you’ll want a case to guard against drop damage, both these phones also boast IP68 certification, which means they can handle short dunks into water without damage. Interestingly, the V35 ThinQ employs Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4 instead of the Gorilla Glass 5 found in the V30. We don’t have unbreakable smartphone glass yet, but we do know that Gorilla Glass 5 can withstand falls from greater heights without damage. The trade-off is that tougher protection against impacts means less protection against scratching, and glancing at our well-used LG V30, it does have a few scratches on the body, so perhaps that’s why LG made the switch here.

The only other difference you’ll find is the color options. The V35 ThinQ only comes in black or gray so far. The V30 can be found in black, silver, blue, violet, and rose.

There’s not enough here to separate these contenders, so this round has to be a tie.

Winner: Tie

Display

best lg v30 cases
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

These phones both boast a 6-inch OLED screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 pixels, which translates to 538 pixels-per-inch. They’re sharp and vibrant with inky blacks and support for HDR. In short, these displays are top-notch. They’re also identical, so there’s no dividing the phones here.

Winner: Tie

Camera

lg v35 thinq city full
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The V35 ThinQ offers some subtle hardware improvements in the camera department, pairing a 16-megapixel lens with an f/1.6 aperture and a 16-megapixel wide angle lens with an f/1.9 aperture. In the LG V30, the wide-angle lens is rated at 13 megapixels. The front-facing camera in the V35 ThinQ is also better — it’s an 8-megapixel camera with an f/1.9 aperture. Compared to the 5-megapixel, f/2.2 aperture shooter in the V30, it should capture more detail and perform better in low light.

The V stands for video, and both these phones can record 4K at 30 frames per second. The V35 ThinQ has support for slow motion video at 240 frames per second in 720p, while the V30 can only manage 120 frames per second. You’ll also find Cine Mode options to help you shoot video in different styles.

The main software difference is the addition of A.. Cam in the V35 ThinQ, which automatically identifies what’s in the shot and theoretically helps you to find the optimal settings to make your photo look good. The V35 also has support for Google Lens built into the camera app, enabling you to identify landmarks, scan text, and more. However, most of these software improvements have already started to roll out to the V30 as an update.

Winner: LG V35 ThinQ

Software and updates

LG V30 DT web scroll iphone x
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The LG V30 launched with Android 7.1.2 (Nougat), but it has since been updated to Android 8.0 Oreo. The V35 ThinQ is launching with Android 8.0 Oreo and we expect it to be updated to Android P in the near future. Both have LG’s user interface over the top and a smattering of LG apps and gesture shortcuts. As the newer phone, we can expect the V35 ThinQ to be a higher priority for updates and to receive them for longer.

Winner: LG V35 ThinQ

Special features

lg v35 thinq assistant
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

There are a lot more similarities than differences when it comes to special features. The LG V30 and the V35 both offer support for Google Daydream and those large, sharp displays make them ideal for virtual reality. We already discussed some of the special video options, and the Google Lens integration, which be found on both devices.

LG has added something called “Super Far-Field Voice Recognition” into the V35, which apparently allows the phone to recognize your voice from up to 17 feet away. That should make it easier to ask Google Assistant for help. Thanks to a special level of integration, you can also task Google Assistant with things like snapping a wide-angle selfie on your V35.

Winner: LG V35 ThinQ

Price

The LG V35 ThinQ costs $900. It was sold exclusively on AT&T and Google’s Project Fi network at first, but you can buy it unlocked from Amazon now. The LG V30 costs $800 and you can find it on all the major carriers including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

That means you’re looking at paying an extra $100 for a slightly better camera, newer processor, and more RAM. We imagine you might start to see some discounts on the V30 now as well, which could increase the price gap further.

Overall winner: LG V35 ThinQ

The LG V35 ThinQ is the better phone overall, but the improvements are minor. If you’re a big selfie fan or you love to play the latest graphically intensive games, then it might justify the extra outlay, but if you already own an LG V30, we don’t think it’s worth upgrading.

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