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LG G7 One hands-on: The G7 sold its soul for great Android One software

LG used the IFA 2018 trade show to announce its first-ever Android One phone — and it did so with the least amount of fanfare possible, simply dropping a press release. That's mostly because the LG G7 One is ... kind of an odd phone. Ostensibly it's an LG G7 — except in a handful of places where it definitely isn't.

The LG G7 One has the exact same dimensions as the standard G7. It has the same 6.1-inch display, and same hardware features in terms of its headphone jack and DAC, BoomBox speaker system, 3000mAh battery, IP68 resistance, fingerprint sensor and buttons. But the changes are in the details — the metal frame has a slightly textured matte finish, not unlike the the Galaxy Note 9, and the glass back is frosted for a soft texture as well. It's a classy, understated look — which is decidedly different from the regular G7. It feels great, too — but it's definitely lost all of the LG flair that made the G7 stand out from the crowd a little bit.

You keep a surprising amount of the unique hardware features, and lose LG's software.

I love that LG has retained most of the G7's core features for this Android One version, but you do have to take a few annoying spec shortcomings in order to get the nice hardware and software combination. The lack of a secondary wide-angle camera is the biggest one — our friend MrMobile is right when he says that one of the main reasons to buy a G7 for its unique wide-angle shots. The processor steps down to a Snapdragon 835, but I'm not worried about performance with Android One in tow — the same could be said for the 32GB of internal storage, but I sure wish it was 64GB like the standard G7.

But in return for losing some of what gives the G7 its soul, you get Android One instead of LG's software. For as much as that software has improved over the past two generations, many will say they'd just prefer LG get out of the way and let Google handle that part — and that's what you get here. You get the necessary bits to interact with LG's hardware features — like the Quad DAC — and that's it, the rest is Android One like any other phone with the brand. You also get guaranteed security and platform updates, which you definitely can't count on with LG's own support.

It's frustrating to lose some features, but this could still be the best Android One phone.

It's tough to fully evaluate the LG G7 One right now, because pricing and availability information is going to make or break it. On one hand, it's disappointing that the couple of spec drops and the loss of the wide-angle camera make this a pretty generic device rather than one that builds on LG's few unique strengths by being "a G7 with cleaner software." But at the same time, the LG G7 One could easily be the best Android One device yet, as a majority of the phones with Android One software land in the mid-range price segment or have many more compromises.

It's pretty clear what LG's attempting to do with the G7 One. It's inexpensive to keep making G7s, swap out a few components and put Google-provided software on them in order to expand its phone sales and address a different price bracket. But in doing so, it clearly made deliberate decisions to remove things that would've made the G7 One more desirable. LG kept most of what makes the G7 unique, which is why this is such a nice phone, but dropped a few key parts to make sure the Android One version doesn't outshine the ThinQ model.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • Hoping it's a reasonable price. If it sells well, maybe it'll open the door for more higher spec'ed Android One phones.
  • What huh, last years SOC, the loss of the wide angle camera, 32gb's. Whatever LG is smoking I don't want any. It appears your moving backwards instead of forward. Yikes!
  • 835 is still one if the best available, not every Android device can be powered by the newest flagship SOC.
  • Agree with the 835 being a good one. The 845 does have GPU and imaging advantages, but there's not a big speed difference. Matter of fact, the HTC U11 with the 835 is faster than the Galaxy S9 with the 845.
  • Agreed. 835 with Android One and no bloat. Device should run fine with no issues. Depending on price, I would think long and hard about the 32GB.
  • The simple Android One software on this good hardware? I'd say it's a step in the right direction. It's basically like the Google Edition phones from years ago. Edit: yes it's not Android Go. But still, stock Android on this hardware is nothing to be bummed about!
  • Trust, this is still a good move for the 'long con:" Android has spent almost a decade trying to saturate the market with mediocre spec'd phones in an effort to, as Apple continues to do with the optimization of their software, coax & convince carriers to provide more favorable support; all while hoping users grow more dependent on the Android ecosystem throughout this transition. Countries like South Korea have already proven time and time again that Android to any capacity is great if the telecommunication services provided are up to par (the Galaxy S3 was the country's most used handset until early 2016).
  • The entire point of the Android One line is to be lower in price, right? So they are not going to build flagship spec phones, there's always going to be some compromises
  • Android One has no requirement nor even desire to be predominantly on lower priced devices. It simply offers Google's guarantee of software and security updates and allows the manufacturers to follow Google's vision of Android more closely, without the hassle of dealing with their own code. The reason we don't often see Android One on flagship devices is because most manufacturers develop their own skinned versions of Android that they would rather customers use. For example, the upcoming Nokia 9 is fully expected to use Android One, just like the Nokia 8 Sirocco, despite being fully committed to the Android One platform.
  • You are mistaking Android One with Android Go
  • Lets just hope the price is right as it could make an exceptional phone.
  • LG's not smoking anything...a top notch(not the top) processor, Top of the line body, Decent camera...still great sound with a headphone jack...Depending on the price they could sell a ton of them...if they actually let people know it's out there that is.
  • LG and Marketing, meh, they haven't gotten it now, they never will.
  • I'm still hanging on to my htc 10 because of the amazing sound from the headphone jack. If this is priced right, I will definitely pick it up. Now if it's going to cost me more than I'm comfortable that I will just hold on to my htc 10 for a bit longer. I'm in no rush
  • I'm not complaining but can't understand the logic of behind this phone. The point of Android One is to be able to release phones with very little storage and weak cpus to keep the price down.
    So why would they still still stick 32gb in? Seems like overkill for Android One. Similar with that could..🤔
    I love barebone Android, but where does LG think it'll fit with this phone? High end of budget phones?
  • I think you may be confusing Android One with Android Go.
  • An awful lot of the Android One devices have 32gb or more storage though. It's not like the G7 One is unique in that regard. It's functioning as a higher end Android One device. Akin to the Nokia 8 Sirocco.
  • The Android Go phones match your description. The Android One program has changed. It now incorporates all types of phones. It offers Android as Google created it with frequent updates.
  • Android One is a program designed by Google to allow manufacturers to easily guarantee software and security updates without the hassle of dealing with their own code. It also has the additional benefit of being much closer to Google's vision of what Android should be (i.e. stock Android) than what manufacturers like LG or Samsung typically use. For all intents and purposes, this is full Android, without limitations.
    Android Go is a newer program designed by Google that aims to cut out all of the unnecessary features from normal Android to create a far lighter, more optimized mobile operating system capable of running on far weaker hardware than is suitable for full Android. On the surface, it may look similar to Android One, but simply by using Android Go for more than a few moments it is blatantly obvious it is not the same. In addition, Android Go may encourage but does not require the manufacturer to follow Google's vision of Android, which is exactly what Samsung has done with their first Android Go device.
  • LG should just ditch their skin and put android one on all of their devices. 
  • No thanks. Not everyone likes stock Android.
  • Then check out the play store. At least the all of the apps should work, unlike the situation for a phone with skins.
  • I can't always see where LG is going with some of the things it opts to do. To my way of thinking this phone should have been a G7 variant with all the perks of the original but aimed at those who want the stock Android experience. However if they wanted to make it appeal to the mid range it's over speced and will probably be over priced. The 835 is still an awesome flagship chip and not cheap I'd guess. Dropping the storage to 32 gb isn't going to save them much either but it will be a sore spot with most people. Personally I'd be thrilled with this phone but I'm sort of a unique dweeb.
  • I agree, but it's an important first step for LG. Maybe in the future we'll see identical flagship launches with both software options. Or maybe LG will go all in with Android One like Nokia did. It wouldn't affect LG's ability to have the wide-angle camera and the Hi-Fi DAC. We've already seen that you can build your own camera app and other functionalities and features on top of Android One.
  • You are not alone, I'm also thrilled by this phone. This is a great move I hope this is a move more OEMs can follow. If for example OEMs with heavy Android skins can start making their immediately previous gen top end devices to be Android One at a slightly lesser price I would be very happy.
  • If they hadn't destroyed the display with a notch and gave it a slightly bigger battery, this would have been a home run.
  • I get the notch not being a...good thing. But why are you so against it? You're not losing any display. This is a normal 18:9 display, with a little extra display added on top replacing the bezel on either side of the notch. I'm not a fan, but it's not a deal breaker either.
    The notch does not cut into the 18:9 display. The 19:9 display cuts into the bezel. That's an important distinction.
  • This is a great direction for LG. I already have the V30 so this wouldn't really be an improvement for me. I'd be buying a whole new phone (not financially an option right now), losing the awesome wide-angle camera, getting worse battery life, that controversial notch, half the storage, and an otherwise identical phone performance wise. What would I be gaining? Android One software and the improved speaker. If this is priced right, it could be a great device for LG's lineup, but it's definitely not for me right now. I do hope this encourages LG to use Android One more often in the future. If we got two V40's, both identical, with only the software being different? I think LG would see what people like more.
  • Remember the Play Edition phones of a few years ago, they did not sell anywhere near as much as heavily skinned phones that they were copies of. That might have showed companies that the Google's Android version look doesn't sell as much, after all the Pixels sell in very small numbers.
  • Google play phones weren't even marketed correctly as Nexus ruled the roost at a much lower price. However this time round consumer awareness & Google pushing their stock versions hard with the Pixels makes these phones a viable attractive alternative
  • Google Play Editions didn't sell because they were second class citizens for manufacturers and got next to no marketing, carrier support, or love in general.
  • I prefer LG's skin and added features over "stock." Thank goodness for choice.
  • I've always liked LG's ui. Ive heard a lot of negative comments made about it mostly on AC. To me it seems practical and almost utilitarian.
  • It really isn't bad. I prefer it over Samsung by a long ways. I just wish LG's phones supported fingerprint sensor gestures.
  • Too bad they removed the wide angle camera for this. I have it on my Moto X4 Android One model, and it's very useful.
  • Lol, sure it is.
  • This is the kind of goofy thinking that ruins programs like Android One and the overall customer appreciation for OEM devices. No phone should come with less than 64gb of space these days because of the changes in Oreo and Pie with regards to updates and dual system partitions. Now you even have less space than before. Let's pay a likely higher price and have a phone that is out of space after installing just a few programs and taking some pictures. The processor is more than adequate and sure the other camera would be nice but I think the real killers when it comes to these types of phones are lack of ram and storage. I don't expect these phones to be flagship material but just be sensible with their design choices.
  • 835 ismuch better then 600 series processor.
    Pure Android is better then the LG skin.
    OIS rear camera. No other Android one phone has OIS. You only need one good camera, look at the pixel phone.
    64 GB memory would be better, but 32 is okay with the SD card.
    I like LCD screen better, because the screen burn in bothers me on OLED screens.
    If this is under $500, it's a great deal.
    It will be the best best Android one phone for now. I want a good phone no more then $500. Good camera, timely updates, and no bloat. Manufacturers do not like to update phones so you will but a new phone every year. Android one is a cure for that.
  • I totally agree, let's just see what the price is gonna be.. I would prefer this over the gastly Pixel 3XL which will be almost double this price I imagine
  • Are you sure this has OIS? I thought it didn't. Game changer if so!!
  • It's the same main camera as the regular G7, so it should have OIS.
  • LG has been narrowing that wide angle every year too. Its the only feature that lured me LG 3 years ago, and I had V10, G5, then V20. The wide angle front camera was great too and so useful. But the current models are not as wide either front or back, and that is a shame. Every year that make it more narrow. Just 1 reason why I left LG phones.
  • Lg, unlike samsung, realized that hardware isn't everything.
  • And with the introduction of this device, LG is no longer dead to me. I hope it can do well enough to last until I'm ready to replace my current phone. Yes, there are hardware concessions, but gaining updates and ditching a much unloved UI customization make the trade off worth it to me. Your priorities may be different of course.
  • I am soooo thankful to LG. If it isn't too much, I will get me one!! I thought that my Moto G5 Plus was it with a almost pure Android but after almost 2 years and no update..... Fool me once Motorola, you WON'T do it again!!
  • What is carrier availability?