“The G8 ThinQ packs some interesting and innovative tricks up its sleeve, and features top-of-the-line hardware”

Keeping its tradition of launching a G series flagship a day before the MWC officially kicks off, the Korean giant LG has taken veils off the newest smartphone in the range – the G8 ThinQ. Unless you’ve been living under the rock, the phone has been leaked quite often in all its glory, and the actual device confirms all of the rumours. Yes, there’s a notch. Yes, the G8 ThinQ comes with a conventional fingerprint scanner, placed on the back. Yes, the handset doesn’t feature a triple-camera setup (in all the markets, as the phone will also be available with dual rear cameras as well, depending upon the region). All of this brings us to the inevitable question – what exactly does LG’s latest flagship packs to attract the potential buyers? Well, I managed to spend some time with the smartphone at the launch event, and here’s what I thinQ (get it?).

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Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way: the LG G8 ThinQ looks exactly like the G7 ThinQ (review). While that’s not a bad thing as that means the phone continues with a stunning glass-sandwich design and a military-grade build. However, there’s also a wide notch present on the latest model – which instantly makes the G8 ThinQ a smartphone from 2018. Furthermore, the glass back attracts fingerprints and smudges like anything. Having said that, I absolutely loved the compact and lightweight build of the LG G8 ThinQ as it’s just 8.4mm sleek and tips the scales at 167g.

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Flip to the back and you’ll be greeted with a triple-camera setup placed horizontally. The good thing is that the camera module sits flush with the body, and below that, you’ll find the fingerprint sensor. Now, I don’t have anything against physical fingerprint readers, it’s just odd to see LG continuing with the feature when the world is moving towards under-display fingerprint scanners. Apart from that, the device follows the conventional placement for buttons and ports.

Now that notch atop the display isn’t just for the sake of it, which is good. Accompanying the selfie shooter is a 3D Time of Flight sensor, which the Korean giant is dubbing as the Z Camera. While the use of the ToF camera isn’t new as manufacturers have used it for enabling face unlock or accurate depth mapping, LG is using it to be able to capture veins of your hand (which are unique) to offer better, and secure unlocking experience. Dubbed Hand ID, the feature is quite interesting and I can see why this would be useful in certain scenarios like when you’re cooking or shaving your beard and still need to check something important, then you don’t have to touch the G8 ThinQ in this manner. For this, all you have to do is to bring up your palm 6cm away from the front camera. But the brand didn’t stop at that as it also lets you initiate various actions with the AirMotion gestures. Depending upon the gestures you can open apps, take screenshots or even increase or decrease the volume. All that makes for a neat party trick I must say, but it’s yet to be seen how easy and seamless it is. And even if it doesn’t turn out to be a frustrating experience, I couldn’t help but draw parallels with Samsung’s Galaxy S4, which also had features like Eye Tracking, Air View, etc.

That’s not the only interesting thing that LG’s G8 ThinQ brings to the table. The smartphone also uses its display to produce sound. Referred to as the Crystal OLED sound, I’ve to say that it’s a good idea to offer a louder sound output considering the phone has a larger surface area. In my test in the noisy indoors, the audio did seem to be quite loud and clear.

Of course, you also get a gorgeous display panel, which measures 6.1-inches diagonally and offers Quad HD+ resolution. With an aspect ratio of 19.5:9, the P-OLED screen delivers punch colours and crisp visuals. Protecting the display is a layer of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5.

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Hardware wise, LG’s G8 ThinQ is like any other 2019 flagship, i.e. the performance is taken care of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset, which is paired with 6-gigs of RAM. The 7nm octa-core chipset is clocked at 2.84GHz for its prime cluster, while a quad-core cluster tuned at 1.8GHz is aimed at handling power-efficient tasks and a 2.42GHz tri-core cluster is meant for the powerful tasks. During my initial stint, the smartphone came across as a smooth performer. For storing files and apps, the device ships with 128GB of memory onboard, which can be expanded further as well.

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For imaging, the LG G8 ThinQ borrows the camera configuration of the last year’s V40 ThinQ. You get a 12MP standard shooter with an aperture of f/1.5, which is paired with 16-megapixel f/1.9 ultra-wide snapper and a 12-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto sensor. Based on my brief time with the device, the cameras seem quite capable, and switching between them is quite instaneous too. The focusing speeds and shutter speed are quick too, though we’d refrain from saying anything about the imaging quality before spending more time with the phone. Yet another reason the G8 ThinQ doesn’t come across as a phone for 2019 is the fact that the company is continuing with an 8MP selfie camera, which can’t match up to high-res sensors available on the front these days.

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Of course, the G8 ThinQ comes with LG’s custom UI running atop Android 9.0 Pie. While even Samsung has moved towards minimal bloatware with its OneUI, the proprietary skin looks quite heavy. Fuelling the smartphone is a 3,500mAh battery, which by 2019 standards, seem to be on a lower side. LG has offered a Quick Charge 3.0 support.

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As you can see, the LG G8 ThinQ evokes mixed emotions. Don’t get me wrong – I love the innovative quotient of LG smartphones. Back in 2016, when I attended my first MWC, I adored the G5 which came with a semi-modular design. But four years later, when the smartphone industry is going in another direction, the brand seems to be sticking to its guns and offering party tricks in the name of innovation, which is quite perplexing to say the least. LG hasn’t announced the pricing or availability info of the G8 ThinQ, and if you ask me, a lot depends on the price tag of the handset. If just like its predecessor, the brand’s latest is priced attractively, it could become a worthy affordable flagship, but otherwise, the handset doesn’t look enticing enough to sit alongside 2019’s flagships, including the recently-announced Samsung Galaxy S10 (first impressions) range.