LG G7 One hands-on: Android One, but one stripped down device

By | 4th September 2018

Earlier this year, LG launched the G7 — a no-frills device bringing the best of Android into a solid package, at a price consumers found hard to swallow. While reception of the G7 has gotten more positive as the device’s price has declined, LG decided to develop an even simpler device with stripped down internals at a lower price. Can a cheaper G7 prevail on such a competitive market?

This is our hands-on with the LG G7 One.

LG G7 One screen

The LG G7 One focuses on delivering a pure Android One experience with a new level of integration with the Google ecosystem. It’s the most powerful Android One phone to date, though it’s also clearly a tier below the LG G7 ThinQ in order to be more affordable.

The LG G7 One is more like a G7 Lite. But the G7 One is more than just another cheap phone. It’s a mid-ranged device, but it has some of the best parts of the G7 ThinQ hanging in there.

Last year's specs are now considered mid-range, and that's a pretty good deal for most consumers.

Let’s take a look at what these two devices have in common:

LG G7 One vs. LG G7 ThinQ – what’s the same:

  • 6.1-inch Super LCD Display with notch
  • 3,000mAh battery
  • Expandable storage
  • IP68 rated for dust and water resistance
  • MIL-STD 810G certified for sturdiness
  • Hi-Fi Quad DAC audio for headphones
  • Dedicated Google Assistant button for fine AI control

What’s different on the LG G7 One:

  • Android One
  • Snapdragon 835, down from 845
  • 4GB of RAM (with no 6GB option)
  • 32GB internal storage only
  • Single-shooter, dropping the secondary wide-angle lens
  • 156g, dropping 6g
  • Two colors only
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, dropping from 4.0

LG G7 One Camera

Affordability is all about compromises

The G7 One opts for some more affordable hardware, dropping its specs down the still more-than-capable Snapdragon 835, with 4GB of RAM. This is plenty of power for most phones, especially if they run the unencumbered Android One.

The battery, at the same 3,000mAh capacity, is probably going to remain one of the weaker elements of the G7. It was in the G7 ThinQ, and even with some lower specs, we aren’t expecting much more life out of the G7 One.

We’ll wait until we can do real testing for a verdict, but it’s risky of LG not to add more capacity given battery life reviewed poorly in the flagship. Adding a touch of misery is the fact that the G7 One only supports QuickCharge 3.0, so it’ll be that little bit slower charging back up.

The one unforgivable spec for me personally is the 32GB of storage. Sure, the microSD expansion in this phone allows you to bump the capacity as high as you would need, but you shouldn’t have to buy extra accessories to make phones usable in 2018. Some people may disagree with my opinion, but with our media continually becoming more rapidly accessible and high quality, I would have liked this device to come with 64GB.

LG G7 One Front

What remains is quality

On the plus side, the G7 One sticks with what LG does well. It’s still got peace-of-mind waterproofing via the IP68 rating and the MIL-STD 810G certification, plus great audio with the Quad DAC. The display is the same Super Bright 1,000 nits release as well, and while we’d all like to see LG’s pOLED display technology in this phone, that’s not going to happen on a budget release.

Brushed glass is a great option if you hate fingerprints

The body of the LG G7 One is made of brushed glass, which feels a bit like plastic, but it’s also much better at hiding fingerprints. Buttons, ports, and layout are mostly the same compared to the G7, so you’ll feel at home here if you liked the design of that device. It’s so similar that the rear camera is curious. The rear camera housing still looks like it has a dual camera, but the “lens” on the bottom, which was the wide-angle lens in the G7 ThinQ, is actually two proximity sensors. The G7 One drops the second wide-angle camera, which is quite a drag considering how unique the wide angle was in the original model.

LG G7 One Back

What’s new, via Android One

LG’s Android skin has always been a bit polarizing, and it’s nice to see the company adopt Google’s vision for third-party Android. The result is an extremely lightweight experience with Google apps at the core. Most users will likely be happy with the simplicity of this device. If you want to learn more about how Google works with manufacturers to develop Android One devices, check out our explainer.

The G7 One camera sports Google Lens within the camera app, which is Google’s new method of examining what the camera sees via computer vision and AI. It worked like a treat while testing LG’s pre-production unit, readily identifying objects in our AirBnB. Within an instant or two, Google Lens identified our lampshade and presented us with several options to buy something of similar shape and color here in Germany. More on Google Lens and what it can do here.

Android One means the G7 One will get at least two years of regular updates, and we already know Android 9.0 Pie is coming to  “qualifying” Android One devices by the end of the fall. Our LG contact confirmed that the G7 One will get the update then, which is a nice treat for anyone looking to get in on Google’s latest and greatest.

LG G7 One Front

LG G7 One pricing and availability

In terms of pricing, the less beefy specs in the G7 One should make a sizeable difference to the MSRP. LG said in a press release both it and the G7 Fit are “priced exceptionally,” but didn’t say what that price was.

As a reference, BlackBerry made almost all the same choices in creating a more accessible model BlackBerry Key2, cutting down on performance to save on cost for the Key2 LE. Those very similar decisions saw BlackBerry cut the price for the lower-tier device by a third, so we hope to see LG go at least as far here. In theory, that’d mean a $499 device, though we’d like to see $399 or less, especially considering phones like the Pocophone have recently hit the market with flagship specs. That final figure will really, really matter given what’s on offer.

It’d be so easy to say if LG doesn’t ensure this is a significantly cheaper device, it’ll fall flat. Given the growing popularity for a stock Android experience, and the nice flagship-level device build quality, this might do well — even if LG asks for too much money for it on day one.

LG didn’t reveal availability info at IFA 2018. Our hands-on was with a pre-production model, implying full production is just over the horizon for now. We’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we have that information.

What are your thoughts on the G7 One? Is this the more affordable option you were looking for? Let us know down below.