On the contrary to previous releases, LG has now taken a different approach when it comes to its flagship G and V-series. This time around, the V50 ThinQ 5G is the safer bet and almost all of the new and exciting tech is crammed up inside the G8 ThinQ. Perhaps in LG's mind, the dual-screen functionality and the 5G connectivity are enough standout features.
Speaking of standout features, the G8 ThinQ delivers some interesting features on paper, at least. We've got a 3D ToF front-facing sensor enabling advanced features along with a resonating OLED screen that acts as stereo speakers. And the OLED panel is a first for the G-lineup.
The new G8 ThinQ isn't all that different from its predecessor with only small adjustments to the design. But you probably already know the drill - glass sandwich design with metal side frame. Interestingly enough, the Gorilla Glass 6 sheet is placed on the back of the phone while the front settles for the Gorilla Glass 5.
Still, the G8 ThinQ doesn't miss on the MIL-STD 810G military standard, which is inherent to previous LG handsets as well. Moreover, the chassis is IP68 water and dustproof.
While most of the competitors are looking away from the notch or at least trying to make it as small as possible, LG has taken a more conservative approach yet another year. But the designers have a good excuse - in addition to the front-facing camera, there's a 3D ToF camera as well. We will talk about that later.
Anyway, side bezels are reasonably thin, the chin is as small as you'd expect while the top bezel is a bit on the thick side. At first glance, the screen-to-body ratio won't give LG some bragging rights.
Going around the sides, we see that the 3.5mm is staying for another year. After all, the LG's phones have a history of excellent audio performance so keeping the audio jack does make a lot of sense.
We are left with the back where the triple-camera module sits flush with the glass back design. There's no protrusion and the horizontally-stacked camera module sits comfortably under the Gorilla Glass 6 sheet. The fingerprint reader is the only thing that feels different from its surroundings. Oh, and the LED flash looks a bit out of place.
As expected, the LG G8 ThinQ carries powerful hardware and offers flagship-worthy features. We have a Snapdragon 855 running the show, a 6.1-inch QHD+ (1440 x 3120) OLED screen supporting HDR10 with tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The chipset is aided by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage with support for up to 2TB microSD cards.
To minimize the bezels, the notch and essentially remove everything that isn't the screen, LG has implemented a resonating panel that emits sound. It acts as stereo speakers (LG calls it Crystal Sound OLED) and in combination with the Boombox speaker tech, it promises amazing sound quality. There's an inner chamber used for resonance, which helps with the bass, the fullness of the audio and loudness as well. The screen speaker also acts as an earpiece during normal calls clearing up some space at the top bezel/notch.
We saw a slide during the announcement that suggested placing the phone on the table when listening to music using the "loudspeaker" but we don't know why. Perhaps making contact with a solid flat surface makes for a better listening experience. Also, we are puzzled by the grille at the bottom next to the USB-C port and the audio jack. It's probably used for the resonating chamber somehow but we can't confirm at this point.
The camera department is just as exciting as it's confusing. Depending on where you live, your LG G8 ThinQ might end up with rear triple-camera setup or with a dual configuration. In case you are lucky, you get all the essential lenses. Just like the V40 ThinQ, the G8 ThinQ offers a standard camera combined with a super wide angle and telephoto units.
The standard camera uses a 12MP sensor with 1.4Ám pixels and f/1.5 wide aperture. The telephoto lens (f/2.4) uses once again a 12MP sensor while the super wide angle lens comes with f/1.9 opening and a 16MP sensor. The field of view is 107 degrees. No over-the-top features here except for the portrait video recording. Yep, you read that right - the G8 ThinQ supposedly records videos with bokeh effect. We don't know how that works but we will make sure to find out and test it in the full review. It definitely sounds interesting.
Kudos to LG to be one of the few manufacturers to implement the 3D ToF camera where it's supposed to be - on the front next to the selfie cam. We've seen several smartphones like the Oppo RX17 Pro and the Honor View 20 offering the 3D sensing camera on the back where functionality at this point is quite limited. However, placing it on the front makes all the difference.
The 3D ToF sensor - also called Z Camera by LG - is capable of capturing a 3D image of an object faster than Apple's current Face ID implementation and also more accurately than the dot projector. This has allowed LG to add not one but two more advanced unlocking methods. It also says that it's more secure than the standard rear-mounted fingerprint reader.
We are talking face recognition and Hand ID. We all know how the first one works, but the Hand ID sounds cool on paper but probably a gimmick in reality. The 3D ToF sensor can take an accurate 3D image of your palm along with all of its quirks, wrinkles and even the blood flow in your veins. Just like your fingertips, the wrinkles and the veins on your palm are unique. Placing the palm in front of the front camera will instantly unlock the device. LG says that it will work even if your hand is dirty or covered in flour, for example. Temperature won't affect the unlocking process as well. We will put that to the test.
Nonetheless, we can't seem to understand the practical nature of this unlock method. Maybe it will be a more convenient method for unlocking when the handset is placed flat on its back on the table or perhaps while driving.
But in addition to the unlock methods, the G8 ThinQ supports hand gestures. They can be used for changing the song, control the volume, switch between apps, take screenshots, answer or dismiss incoming calls, snooze your alarm, etc. We can see this coming in handy if the phone is attached to the dashboard in your car and using the gestures to control it. Feel like you are driving one of those high-end Audis and BMWs.
The Z Camera has been put to work in the photography department as well. Combined with the 8MP (f/1.7) selfie cam, it would supposedly help create awesome selfie portrait shots. That extra depth measurement capability of the 3D ToF sensor will surely come in handy if LG has done it right. In fact, portraits with the front camera could potentially turn out better than the normal portraits.
Traditionally, LG's phones have always excelled in audio quality and the G8 ThinQ makes no exception. The good old 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC is here to stay with additional support for DTS:X 3D Surround Sound for headphones.
The rest of the specs include a 3,500 mAh battery supporting Quick Charge 3.0 and charges over USB-C 3.1 connector. The handset runs on Android 9.0 Pie out of the box with LG's own take on the UI.
For another year LG tries to impress the crowd with some out-of-the-box thinking. We've got a slew of new features to keep us busy during the review process of the G8 ThinQ and the V50 ThinQ 5G with its Dual Screen add-on. But are they enough to lure in potential buyers?
As always, the audiophile fans will once again come running for the new LGs and since the standard G8 ThinQ comes with a rather compact 6.1-inch screen, it will be one of the few options in the premium market with such commodity.
The V50 ThinQ 5G, on the other hand, feels like a half-baked product that LG felt pressured to release in order to keep up with the current trends. It has 5G connectivity using the Snapdragon X50 modem and a secondary foldable (sort of) screen although, you have to buy this accessory separately. But at the same time misses on the new Z Camera-related features.
It all boils down to the newly introduced features to keep the new flagship lineups afloat and it remains to be seen how well implemented they are and will they deliver on the much-promised polished user experience.