Using the LG G8 ThinQ gave me the feeling that I was a failed Jedi or an incapable Dr. Strange. The flagship phone from LG uses new hand gestures to operate the phone thanks to the innovative camera with time-of-flight feature. This is the future I want to live in, but it’s not the right time yet. The G8 is not all wavy hand gestures. It is a first-class device of fair quality, with the latest specifications and a relatively compact and high-quality design. With multiple cameras, more biometrics than James Bond’s Aston Martin and a Crystal Sound OLED, there is a lot of promise. So, does the LG G8 ThinQ delivers? Here is our LG G8 ThinQ Review.
LG G8 ThinQ Review – Design
Some things are one or the other, and some are both. The LG G8 ThinQ is certainly the first, but I would not describe it as the last. The G8 is a recycled G7 as far as the basic blueprint allows. It is almost impossible to distinguish them a few meters apart. Only the shape of the camera module ensures that they are visually separated from each other. LG calls the grim glass-and-metal look ‘minimalism’. Others (including myself) could call it boring. Ultimately, the G8 looks great.
This visual similarity is unfortunately at the expense of the performance that LG has made with the materials of the G8. The company applied a “four-sided bending method” to all edges so that the aluminum frame and the Gorilla Glass 6 panels merged seamlessly. I have seen sleek designs before, but the G8 is really tight. There is absolutely no unevenness – the glass and metal fit together perfectly.
The result is two-fold. The phone is incredibly smooth and comfortable to use. There are no sharp edges to catch your skin or get stuck in your inner pocket. However, the G8 is also one of the smoothest devices I have ever had. It’s like walking around with a wet bar of soap. Of course, it is smooth, but it will jump out of your grip with the slightest provocation.
The LG G8 is a great size. The dimensions of the phone make pairing easier than larger phones such as the S10 Plus or Pixel 3 XL. LG kept the phone’s waist narrow, which works wonders for usability. If you are skeptical about the largest devices of today, the G8 finds the right comfort zone.
Everything on the basic hardware of the phone works perfectly. The screen lock button on the right and the volume and the assistant shortcut buttons on the left all provide excellent action. The headphone jack, USB port, and speaker are all on the bottom where they belong and the SIM drawer is accessed via the pen tool on the right.
Corning’s Gorilla Glass 6 gives the G8 a tougher appearance. LG says the phone is certified for MIL-STD 810G for abuse, but I am not about to throw down a few concrete stairs to test that. However, I have immersed the phone in a little water and as expected, the IP68 rating means that the phone is water resistant for up to 30 minutes up to 1.5 meters. Accidents around shallow bodies of water may not be a death sentence for the G8.
LG G8 ThinQ Review – Display
LG Display continues to make excellent screens for its mobile phones. The screen of the G8 is pretty impressive and comes with 6.1-inch Quad HD+ OLED FullVision, 3,120 x 1,440 resolution, with a 564ppi display and 19.5:9 aspect ratio. It overrides the basic specifications of the G7, with HDR10 for richer colors and deeper contrast. Colors look lush, blacks look inky and the overall cast is perfect. It does not shift blue or yellow and the viewing angles are excellent. In short, the screen is beautiful. The OLED pumps out a solid amount of light. I was happy with the brightness of the screen, both inside and out. I took it for a walk on a sunny afternoon and had no problems using the camera or reading the menu screens.
You can’t ask for much more pixels than the G8. LG has crammed ~ 4.49 million of them into the display, allowing the G8 to display the smallest details down to the smallest details. Speaking of content, HDR movies from Netflix look phenomenal on the G8. I enjoyed recovering parts of Avengers: Infinity War for the upcoming release of Endgame.
Yes, the G8 has a notch – no tear or hole punch – with a traditional, boat-like shape. You can determine whether the notch is visible. LG calls this the ‘new second screen’. I like to blacken the inciting wings, so all I see is the status bar. LG put the front camera, the time flight camera and the IR sensor in the space between the notch wings. You will not see a slit in front of the speaker, because there is none. The screen itself vibrates to create a sound for calls and media (more on that later).
You have control over a wide range of display functions, such as resolution, color saturation, blue light, night mode, and so on.
LG G8 ThinQ Review – Software
The LG G8 ThinQ runs Android 9 Pie from Google, along with the user interface from LG. The UX feels natural in some ways and harsh with others. Of course, you can really pinch it. I like that you can choose between a home screen with or without an app drawer, whether your Google feed is displayed as the left-most home screen and whether the settings menu is arranged in tabs or a list. If you are familiar with Android, you will find enough familiar behavior.
The special Google Assistant button has two functions. The assistant opens with a push of a button and a double press shows your info feed, just like you see on a Pixel phone that is based on the Pixel standard from Google.
As always, with LG you can configure your own set of ticks to activate or unlock the screen, install themes and rearrange the app drawer. An interesting bug: when you move or remove apps from the app drawer, the drawer does not automatically fill in the empty space. In addition, freshly downloaded apps are not arranged alphabetically (if they are), but appear at the end of the list. In other words, it only takes a little more effort to manage the app drawer than it should.
We find it important to note that LG does not have a good track record for software updates. The G7 and V35 still have to receive Android 9 Pie, although similar phones from Samsung, Huawei, Sony and OnePlus do. (LG says the G7 update is only available in Korea but is still on the way.) It’s hard to tell if LG will ever come close to updating the G8 to Android Q, which allows Pixel devices to be installed in a few be hit for months.
LG G8 ThinQ Review – Hand ID
The G8 ThinQ can read your blood. More specifically, the ToF camera and infrared sensor work together to map the veins in your palm. This card is unique and cannot be forged or counterfeited. It is really safe James Bond-like things. Hand ID training requires patience. You should start with your hand about a foot over the phone and slowly move to the top edge, where the ToF and IR sensors are located. It almost feels like you’re trying to hit a bug in slow motion.
You unlock the G8 by repeating this slow-motion approach with your palm. Start about six centimeters above the phone and move slowly to the top edge until you are about ten centimeters away from you and then hold. You will see a yellow light frame at the bottom of the screen and work its way up. When it turns green, congratulations, you have unlocked the G8 with your hand. If it stays yellow, you have failed.
Expect to see a lot of yellow. This feature worked successfully 20 percent of the time and it takes forever. The people next to me at Starbucks also looked at me like I was crazy. The fingerprint reader is much faster and more reliable, just like Face ID.
LG G8 ThinQ Review – Air Motion
You can operate the LG G8 without touching the screen. When the device is unlocked, Air Motion offers a few shortcuts, using a similar process as Hand ID. Hold your hand on the sensor for a moment until the G8 sees it and the Air Motion menu turns on. It is obvious because light falls near the notch. You must then withdraw your hand and form a claw with your fingers. Air Motion trusts that your fingertips work. Hold your clawed hand over the sensor to communicate with the shortcuts.
Air Motion comes down to two options, one on the left and one on the right. You turn your crazy clawed fingers in one direction or the other to select what you want. These options depend on the context. When an alarm or timer goes off or a call comes in, you can turn off the alarm or answer the call with Air Motion. On the home screen, you can set the shortcuts for opening media apps such as music and YouTube. When you are in a media app, you can even control the playback volume by turning your fingers in a circular motion, as if you were choosing a massive volume control.
Air Motion also lets you take a screenshot by pinching your fingers together, actually making a snake with your hand. Seriously, don’t do this in public. I like the ideas of LG here, but the implementation is just not there. Everything about Hand ID and Air Motion is too slow and unreliable. It is much quicker and easier to communicate directly with the phone as you normally would, even if your hands are wet or messy. Remember that the phone is water resistant and that you can rinse it off if necessary.
LG G8 ThinQ Review – Performance
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855, its first system-on-a-chip, delivers great results in performance. The phone may have 6 GB of RAM, with some competitors having 8 GB, but the LG G8 still ran smoothly over the 10-day assessment period. I didn’t come across a single hiccup, suspension, or nuisance. Screen transitions are smooth (if they are not sometimes overloaded with animations), apps are opened in an instant and the phone never let me wait.
The G8 scored well in the benchmark tests. It reported 5,627 on 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme (OpenGL ES 3.1), putting it at 99 percent of competing phones. AnTuTu scores looked good. The main score was 118730 (CPU), which beat 88 percent of competing phones. Finally, the G8 scored 10788 and 3447 respectively on the multi-core and single-core Geekbench tests. These figures put the G8 almost at the same level as the Galaxy S10, which has the same Snapdragon 855, but 8GB RAM.
If something distinguishes the G8, this is the audio experience. LG’s flagship telephones do everything to seduce audiophiles everywhere. As mentioned earlier, the G8 does not have a traditional earphone speaker. Instead, it has a – wait for it – “Crystal Sound OLED.” Fancy, right? The OLED display of the phone functions as a speaker diaphragm. An exciter behind the glass ensures that it vibrates so that the display transmits the sound. Surprisingly, it works. Phone calls sound pretty clear and I found them easy to hear, even in loud rooms.
When viewing the video, the Crystal Sound OLED works in conjunction with the speaker with the lowest tones to create two-channel stereo sound. I wouldn’t call it compelling, but it sounds great if you jam at a few Spotify movies or watch a short YouTube clip. DTS: X high-quality 3D sound system. These are specific to the 3.5 mm headphone jack. The DAC can up-sample most audio files to improve their fidelity. In addition, it contains presets, user-adjustable controls for the sound balance and filters to clean up your streaming music. The DTS: X is intended to improve the film experience.
On the wireless front, the G8 picks up Bluetooth 5 with aptX HD. This delivers just about the best quality that you can expect from wireless headphones these days. I was satisfied with the sound that is reproduced by the Bluetooth radio of the G8.
LG G8 ThinQ Review – Camera
The competition to make fascinating cameras is fierce. Each manufacturer has chosen a slightly different approach to its cameras, and LG is no different. Just like the G7, the G8 has two rear cameras, a normal and a wide angle. If you wonder why the G8 does not have three rear cameras, such as the Galaxy S10 and the P30 Pro, it is because LG has decided to reserve the three-camera setup exclusively for its V-series phones.
- Rear cameras:
- 16MP wide-angle lens (ƒ1.9 aperture/ 1.0μm pixels/ 107 degree field of view)
- 12MP standard lens (ƒ1.5 aperture/ 1.4μm pixels/ 78 degree field of view)
- Front camera:
- 8MP standard lens (ƒ1.7 aperture/ 1.22μm pixels/ 80 degree field of view)
- Z camera (time-of-flight (ToF))
Let’s start with the app. The camera application from LG follows what has become a fairly standard setup for flagships. The viewfinder is flanked by quick control buttons on the left (flash, filters, settings) and the shutter buttons and mode selector on the right. With a small switch at the top of the screen, you can jump between the two cameras for normal and wide-angle shots. The app runs quickly and is opened with a quick double press on the Volume Down button.
One usability error drives me crazy. On many devices, you can switch modes by swiping the entire viewfinder in one direction or the other. On the G8, the viewfinder folds in any direction (from left to right or from top to bottom) towards the selfie camera. To access portrait mode, manual mode, and others, you must use the words in the ribbon next to the shutter keys. There seems to be no way to change this.
The results of the photos are everywhere. Some are perfect with regard to color, exposure, and sharpness. Others fail with all three. Noise reduction is too aggressive everywhere and the contrast is variable. Results vary even when you switch to AI-cam or manual mode. In my eyes, many of the shots look flat, with poor color saturation. None of them cheated on me and that is a pity. The LG G8 performs better than your average $200 – $400 mid-range, but it just doesn’t achieve the quality offered by the S10, P30 Pro or Pixel 3.
Regarding the video, you can capture images in numerous aspect ratios and resolutions. The G8 offers 16: 9 in HD, Full HD 30 fps, Full HD at 60 fps, 4K and 4K at 60 fps, as well as 18.9: 9 in HD and Full HD. The results were generally better than what I saw from the camera. The G8 responded faster to changes in lighting and delivered an accurate white balance and color. The focus was sometimes soft and noise reduction was not too aggressive.
Then there is a Portrait Video. The G8 is one of the first phones that can make a video with a blurred background. Let’s say it’s a work in progress. The results are on the map. The problem is edge detection, which never seems accurate. This is especially a problem when the subject is moving. The two major functions that LG plays on the G8 are Hand-ID and Air Motion, both of which are powered by the ToF camera on the front. Now I am looking for companies that are trying out something new, but it has to work and it has to improve my life.
LG G8 ThinQ Review – Battery Life
The battery performance in the medium-sized flagship is remarkably consistent. Like many competitors, the LG G8 ThinQ continues with a battery life of more than a full day – at least with somewhat conservative use. Jimmy and I both thought that when the screen is set to Full HD + resolution (instead of the native Quad HD +) the G8 doesn’t sweat from morning to midnight.
- 3,500mAh Lithium-ion
- Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
- Qi wireless charging
If you choose to keep the resolution at the highest level, the G8 struggles to reach the end of the day. Does the resolution lower the screen image? No, not at all. Your eyes can hardly tell the difference between Full HD and Quad HD.
The 3,500mAh battery of the G8 is considerably larger than the 3,000mAh power cell on the G7. Frankly, I hoped it would bring more. LG offers numerous tools for managing battery life, such as the energy-saving mode. These different modes adjust certain behaviors, such as which radios are on, to save power. With QuickCharge 3.0 on board, the G8 charges quickly. LG packed one of its FastCharge chargers in the box. The G8 juiced from 50 percent to 90 percent in less than 30 minutes. The phone also supports Qi wireless charging, which means that it is compatible with most wireless chargers and accessories sold today.
LG G8 ThinQ Review – Conclusion
LG tries hard every year to surpass Samsung and others, and every year it comes close, but in the end, it just falls short. This is again the case with the LG G8 ThinQ. The hardware does not inspire me much, although it uses new production techniques and high rates. The OLED screen from LG is beautiful, and the phone delivers a lot of time on core functions such as the headphone jack and advanced audio, as well as wireless charging, water resistance, expandable storage and more.
The software shell of LG for Android is polished but feels a bit too heavy, with deep menus and difficult controls. Important apps such as the camera work well and there are absolutely no performance issues. The Hand ID and Air Motion, the big gimmicks of the G8, are not the Jedi future we were hoping for. I desperately want to operate my phone by waving my hand over it, but the G8 doesn’t quite understand it.
If you are an LG fan who wants to spend less than $ 900 and like the size and form factor, the LG G8 ThinQ should work pretty well. That’s it for our LG G8 ThinQ Review.
LG G8 ThinQ Rating – 8.1
The LG G8 ThinQ is a perfectly beautiful phone, but LG may have played it too safe. The phone is indeed a powerful update of last year’s G7 as far as specifications and performance are concerned, and yet LG has not done anything to really make the phone shine. The G8 ThinQ is a useful device for those who take the vanilla approach to life.
- Beautiful OLED display
- Capable battery
- The flexible dual camera system
- Headphone jack + Hi-Fi Quad DAC
- Good size
- Slippery hardware
- Slow fingerprint reader
- Unusable palm reader
- Inconsistent camera results
- Boring design