LG's G7 ThinQ smartphone looks like a great handset but it creeps me out

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/05/02/lgs-g7-thinq-smartphone-look.html


Is the battery user-replaceable? When my old Note 4 finally craps out, I want the three practical features that were common then: headphone jack, microSD card, and replaceable battery. I fear that this means I’ll have a long search.


The button in no way, shape, or form reduces your security. Which is to say even if you disable all the Google apps, Google has already pwned your phone. If you don’t like the Assistant then disable it, (for whatever peace of mind that may or may not bring), and call the button a hand-grip, or file it off, or who cares. (And move on with your life man!)


Last week, I flew to Toronto to check out a new smartphone

What an interesting life you have.


There’s a button baked into the side of the G7 ThinQ that can only be used to call up Google Assistant. Topically, it’s not a terrible idea: having a button to call on Google’s digital helper means no more having to yell “OK, Google” for everyone in the room to hear. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a win. But here’s the thing: this button, which the PR reps assured me was made possible by an exclusive deal with Google, can’t be reprogrammed to do anything else.

Then do not get a Samsung. They have a button for their toothless, banjo-playing cousin to Google Assistant, as well as crap baked into the OS to make it jump on you like Clippy on bath salts. Roughly every 35 minutes I hear my wife scream, “F$@& you Bing! Go #&:wink: your *@)&=? in a $)£¥% with =_+;<®¢! ©¤¢€$¥¢€#®!”


Have you ever used the GSMArena site? Makes it quite easy:



It’s part of my job, man. I’m not a fan, to honest. It’s a privledge to go, but quick overnight or same-day round trip flights mess me up.


Nope, sorry. The battery is baked in.


Way of the world…used to be more pissy about it, but I think I just need to buy a good backup charger.

LG’s aren’t the easiest phones to customize, especially if you are looking to root them. I have a later generation G3 and as far as I know it is not rootable. I guess the removable battery is nice, but having replaced it around the two year mark I did not see much of an improvement in battery life.

But here’s the thing: this button, which the PR reps assured me was made possible by an exclusive deal with Google, can’t be reprogrammed to do anything else. At least that’s what LG’s people told me. I find this both gross and intrusive.

If you think that’s gross, wait till you see the advertising monstrosity Verizon is about to unleash. Under their Oath umbrella which combines data gathered about you through your Verizon internet, texting and cell usage (including your location data) with your Yahoo and AOL services (including all your IMs and email you’ve ever been sent or written with those services) they are creating a profile about you which they intend to sell to advertisers to directly market to you based on some of your most intimate, private information thanks in large part to their boy Ajit Pai revoking net neutrality and consumer protections against ISPs collecting data on its users.

But it gets worse.

New Samsung phones have Bixby, a similar side button activated attendant as on the LG phone. Verizon is implementing an exclusive Oath empowered version of this app for their own cell phones (and later to all Samsung phones sold in the US) which will not only profile your interactions into the data gathering soup Oath collects about you but also to serve as a way to get Bixby to direct market to you as well.

Welcome to the ad-pocalypse.


I have a Samsung Galaxy S8 with the crappy Bixby button. I’m at level one with Bixby. I’m frankly a little insulted that Samsung feels the need to gamify their stupid personal assistant with things like “levels”. So, I don’t use Bixby. Bixby could fellate me daily and I still wouldn’t use that piece of crap.

Aside from that, it truly is a fantastic phone.


just, pretend the button isn’t there. problem solved.

I wouldn’t usually waste time writing a comment saying I agree 100% with the author. I think he’s nailed this, though, especially about the slippery slope, “end of privacy” aspect of that button. I wonder if it could be reprogrammed on a rooted phone.

One thing’s true for me: it will be a cold day in Hell before I own a smart phone that includes an “always on, always watching” feature like one of those digital assistants. I’ll go without and resurrect my old Palm Tungsten before I let that happen.

Some of my personal data isn’t under my control. What I can control, though, I prefer to protect.


How dos that work? When I see a button, I am compelled to press it. Just to see. Click. <RUN!>

Even if you root your phone, and install a alternative version of Android (usually LineageOS) and you don’t install the Google apps package you are usually still using the Google core apps.

It is possible to not install these, I did this on a previous phone. However this makes other apps, that rely on that layer, stop working. Notable examples at the time being: Pokémon GO, Snapchat and (the oh so privacy conscious) Signal.

Recently the drop-in replacements for these apps are looking better and better:


Dear Lazyweb: Is there a Mobile Data Marketplace in which people say that if they can consistently tell the phone they’re touring the world at the speed of will, and posting on Artists & Illustrators Magazine forums, no leaks, they will pay the data provider? [Apollo wants the quadratic root of systemd, and mint wedges…not lemon wedges…oops…]

Earlier betas of the LG G7 reviewed:
Flipfold case with tick honeypot ™ bladder, flint, hide sueding blank, bouncy rubber panel, the phone of course, and marbled glass.
Phone with incidentally hollow band that tells you whether the telomeres are longer in either of two sweat samples. One end has french pleats and the other plaid motif.
Jeff VanderMeer Relationship Signature Edition
Keyshia Kaoir X John Sziecka Bright Trucks Big City Trap Phone GL 7G
Ridick Thick China Sea Isles VR BBQ Tourguide, With Nubby Nick
Teething G7
The back is e-paper with color sections and sometimes flashes organ donor deets.

I started with the G3 then to the G4… My wife went from G3 to G5. I loved the G4 and didn’t care for the G5. I eventually ended up getting the constant power cycle problem and had to get a new phone, opting for the G6… After 6 months I still don’t care for it and miss my G4. Since I still owe almost $500 on it I won’t be upgrading again for a while but the G7 looks like a good step in the right direction to fixing all the things I don’t like about the G6… That said, I would like to see a return to the slightly curved body of the G4 as well as the volume control on the back instead of the side controls. Once you get used to it, feels like it’s the perfect location for the up and down keys.

The surveillance economy is a quite big problem and it should creep you out. Personally, if I wanted an android phone, I would want to replace its OS with lineage OS and not install gapps. I would lose the play store, but there are only a very small number of apps which I want anyway. Really “free” software can still be downloaded from Fdroid.

The really big problem is if I would live in one of these countries where it becomes necessary to pay with your phone (I think part of China, scandinavia, probably others). Then you have no choice but use a non-rooted phone because the banks insist on Apple or Google “trusted platform” (trusted meaning cryptographically protected). And then of course, they sell every transaction to the highest bidder together with gps coordinates, and even your earth rate and blood pressure at the time (if you have one of those new watches).

I don’t use voice assistants, BTW. I need to use several languages and they don’t work properly then.


Just FYI, while you can’t reprogram the Bixby button, you can disable the button and the Bixby voice assistant. This is the S9, but the procedure is the same on the S8 as long as the OS is up to date.

Even if I could reprogram it, I probably wouldn’t. Too close to the volume rocker and now I don’t have to worry about hitting it when I’m trying to lower the volume.

It’s also a good idea, whatever mobile OS you use, to check you app permissions and make sure nothing you don’t want to have access to the mic and camera don’t.