Head to head: Lumia 950 XL vs LG G7 ThinQ

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The search goes on for a flagship phone on another platform that can fully replace a Lumia 950 XL without any showstoppers. I said earlier this year that the Galaxy S9+ and Note 9 are great options, but they're also pricey. The LG G7 offers almost everything that the Galaxys do, yet at (now) well under £500 all-in. So how does it stack up?

G7 and 950 XL

As usual, I've shaded in green an obvious 'win' for either device, I honestly have no idea which way this one's going to go (as I start to compile the feature)... Any row where a winner would be totally subjective is left uncoloured. Or, where both devices are utterly excellent but in different ways, I've given both a 'green'(!)

[By the way, if you're viewing this feature on a smaller-screened phone then the table may well cause you problems. Try viewing in landscape mode? Failing that, go view this on a laptop or tablet!]

  LG G7 ThinQ Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Date first available May 2018 November 2015 (can you believe that the 950 XL is now nearly three years old??)
Current price, availability £449 inc VAT Amazingly, there are still some of these for sale on Amazon UK, though watch out for hugely varied prices. Suggest £250 max in late 2018!
Dimensions, form factor, weight

153 x 72 x 8mm, aluminium frame, glass on back, 162g.


152 x 78 x 8mm, plastic chassis and replaceable backs (plastic/leather/wood etc, from Mozo, as modelled here!), 165g

Durability Waterproof and dustproof to IP68, but will definitely need a case because of the mass of surface glass.
No specific durability metrics, though the fact that the back comes off will help enormously for water damage, i.e. taking out battery and cards immediately, drying out the internals. Damage to the back or corners is trivial through replacement, but the screen's exposed, of course.
Operating system, interface Android 8.0 plus LG UX 'skin', virtual controls on screen, but dismissable if needed
Windows 10 Mobile, (dismissable) virtual controls, as needed

6.1" LCD (1440p at 19.5:9 aspect ratio), Gorilla Glass 5, decent visibility in all lighting conditions, though contrast tails off outdoors if not viewed head-on, for example when taking arty photos. Glance 'always on' display.

Screen area is approximately 91 cm2

5.7" AMOLED (1440p at 16:9 aspect ratio), Gorilla Glass 4, ClearBlack Display polarisers help with outdoor contrast, Glance screen available (in various colours) for always-on time, day and notification icons, plus some detailed info from a specified app.

Screen area is similar to the G7's, 90 cm2

Connectivity LTE, NFC, Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, integral wifi tethering, Bluetooth 5.0 LTE, NFC, Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, integral wifi tethering, Bluetooth 4.2. Continuum connectivity to use a wide range of first and third party UWP apps on external displays as secondary screen, independent of the phone display, this gets it the win here by a whisker!
Processor, performance Snapdragon 845 chipset, 4GB RAM, very fast indeed Snapdragon 810 chipset, 3GB RAM, faster than it's ever been now on the Creators Update though still slower for almost everything than on the Android phone. Multi tasking and app resumption is excellent though, at least with all the modern UWP apps
Capacity 64GB internal storage, expandable via microSD 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
Imaging (stills)

Twin 16MP rear cameras, main one is f/1.6, 1/3" with OIS, laser and Phase Detection auto-focus; the wide angle one is f/1.9 and fixed focus. The wide angle option is genuinely fun to use and opens up new possibilities, I'll have a shootout shortly here on AAWP. Summary so far: the G7 runs the Lumia close but doesn't quite surpass it for standard shots in all light conditions.

8MP front camera

20MP PureView f/1.9 1/2.4" BSI sensor, Phase Detection auto-focus, dedicated camera shutter button and launch key, genuine 2x lossless digital zoom (in 8MP oversampled mode), OIS. 'Rich Capture' produces customisable HDR shots and 'dynamic flash', with triple LED illumination. Outstanding shots in most light conditions, with just focussing issues in low light as an Achilles heel. Tests so far show the 950 XL just pips the G7, but watch this space.

5MP front camera


Imaging (video) 4K, optically (and optionally digitally) stabilised, stereo audio track, high quality microphones, similar to those on the Lumia. 4K, optically (and optionally digitally) stabilised, with 'Best photo' 8MP grabbing built-in, plus Rich Recording and HAAC microphones for high quality, gig-level stereo capture.
Music and Multimedia

Bottom mounted mono speaker, average quality, can be amplified by (I kid you not) putting the G7 on a table, wherein the vibrating back resonates on the surface. LG calls this 'feature' "Boombox"! Still, it all beats the Lumia's effort.

Quad DAC plus 3.5mm headphone jack, A2DP+APT-X HD.

Decent mono speaker, loud but lacking in bass and depth, though you can trade volume for fidelity in a simple tweak.

Average DAC and 3.5mm headphone jack, A2DP+APT-X, so great headphone audio too, but it can't make up for the weedier speaker overall.

Navigation  Google Maps is now the gold standard in phone navigation, tied in with many other Google services and offering true real time navigation around traffic issues.

Windows 10 Maps is now pretty mature and impressive, though at least one rung down from Google Maps in terms of live traffic awareness and re-routing.

Cortana/Voice Google Assistant is built-in (and assigned to the extra left side button) and is now significantly more capable than Microsoft's Cortana. Cortana is now mature and well integrated, and with a surprising degree of 'assistance', though it's not as far reaching as Google Assistant on the G7.
Battery, life  Sealed 3000mAh battery, plus Qi charging, USB Type C fast charging and compatibility with Qualcomm's Quickcharge 3.0. Removable 3300mAh battery, and the (now unique) ability to change cells gets the win here in my book, the 950 XL easily gets through a day (on latest firmware), plus USB Type C (up to 3A) and Qi wireless charging built-in.
Cloud aids Google Photos, once installed, does a great job of organising photos and syncing them across all signed-in phones and tablets. Plus backup space is free forever, with only a few caveats... Windows Photos syncs across all signed-in devices, subject to your OneDrive tariff (stingy, unless you have Office 365), should you have thousands of images in the system. Plus Windows 10 backs all your media, application data and settings to a separate backup folder system, tariff-free on OneDrive.
Biometrics  Fingerprint sensor (on the back) works well and very quickly. Iris recognition ('Windows Hello') works well unless you wear varifocals(!), but takes a few seconds in real world use.
Payments Fully compatible with Google Pay, accepted in most markets now. Microsoft Wallet never rolled out worldwide, so the Lumia is left out of mobile payments.
Applications and ecosystem  The might of Google and Android's app ecosystem - everything is available and almost always in first party form. Windows 10 Mobile now has just about every mainstream app covered, though third party clients are often involved, plus first party clients usually have reduced functions (e.g. Twitter). And 'long tail' niche/boutique apps are hard to find for real world companies and shops.
Upgrades and future LG has a good track record of delivering OS updates, albeit delayed by six months or so behind the cutting edge (the review device is still on July 2018). Still, the G7 should be good through mid 2019. Windows 10 Mobile will be updated through 2019, as part of the global Windows 10 ecosystem. Production devices can expect updates every month. From 2020 onwards, support will be non-existent though. 


Adding up the green 'wins' gives the LG 'G7 ThinQ'  nine to the Lumia 950 XL's four. Which sounds about right in late 2018, with the Lumia only hanging onto some USPs to give it any respectability at all.

What's more interesting is whether the LG G7 ThinQ makes a better upgrade from a Lumia 950 XL than, say, a Galaxy S9+. Both have the full range of 3.5mm audio, Qi charging, microSD expansion, and high quality cameras. The G7 scores with higher quality headphone audio and much lower price, but if you want the best 'alternative for the future' then it's hard to look past the S9 or S9+, which has the best display in the industry, decent stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos, plus the telephoto lens, should you prefer that to the G7's wide angle. Options, options. Which one would you plump for?