Pros: The LG G8 ThinQ has a bright, sharp screen, a second wide-angle rear camera and a fast processor. It’s also water-resistant and has a headphone jack — a rarity among premium phones.
Cons: The phone’s touch-less hand controls are annoying to use. Portrait mode for video isn’t very smooth or natural-looking.
In General: The LG G8 ThinQ is an objectively great phone, but with a high price tag and no standout features, it’s not great enough to beat the Galaxy S10E.
You have to hand it to LG for trying. While LG was launching its LG G8 Thin Q ($850 at Amazon) flagship phone, its biggest rival Samsung announced five Galaxy Phones, including a 5-G enabled model and the headline-stealing Galaxy Fold. But the biggest threat to the G8 isn’t next-gen data speeds or fancy folding displays. It’s the price. Of all the new Galaxy phones, the more affordable Galaxy S10e is the phone LG needs to lure potential buyers away from.
And lure it must. Though the company overall is profiting, its mobile division posted a $172 million loss in the second quarter of 2018. And while smart phone sales are down globally, things are especially difficult for LG. Its last couple of flagship phones did not take off, and it still must compete against bigger companies like Samsung, Huawei and Apple too.
The G8 in and of itself is a great phone. Priced higher than any previous G-series flagship before it, between $820 and $850 depending on the carrier, it’s available on April 11. It has a slim, sleek design, it’s water-resistant and it still has a headphone jack, which is perfect for die-hards unwilling to let go of their wired headphones.
LG G8’s bokeh for video needs some work
The G8 takes solid, sharp photos with vibrant colors. Although its photos are comparable to the Galaxy S10E’s, there are some differences. The Galaxy S10E’s wide-angle camera has a wider field of view, and takes sharper images. Colors on the G8 are a bit deeper and warmer though, which I prefer. Finally, the Galaxy S10E renders portraits a bit more expertly. The falloff between the foreground and background is smoother on Samsung’s phone, especially when it comes to resolving small patches around strands of hair, for example.
The LG G8 also has a low-light setting called Night View. Though Night View does brighten up the exposure, some photos turned out similar to the Galaxy S10E, which has automatic low-light settings built into the camera, but not a standalone low-light mode. The Pixel 3’s dedicated Night Sight mode, however, is superior to both these other features.
LG also added a bokeh video recording that mimics the depth-of-field effect of a full-frame camera. The feature still needs to be ironed out; it’s nowhere as smooth as what you’d get from an SLR camera. The blur looks artificial and the effect between the foreground and background can be patchy and inconsistent, especially if your subject moves around. (And since people usually don’t stand stock still during video, you’ll see the patchiness appear more often than not.) But for those who already love the blurry background effect for still portrait pictures, this lends some of that same artsy and dramatic look to videos.
LG G8’s Hand ID is kind of neat, but rarely used
The phone’s front-facing camera includes a new IR sensor and transmitter for 3D mapping and motion captioning purposes. This enables the G8 to use 3D mapping for face unlock, similar to the iPhone’s Face ID feature. And because last year’s G7 ($360 at Amazon) only used 2D facial recognition, face unlock on the G8 is supposed to be more secure (though not secure enough to use for mobile payments).
The G8 also allows you to unlock the phone by having it scan the veins in your hand. To use the Hand ID feature, you hover your hand over the camera to unlock it. Hand ID builds into another feature called Air Motion that also lets you navigate the phone without physically touching it. For example, by pinching my fingers and thumbs together (as if making a bird’s beak) and pointing it downward over the phone’s camera, I could swipe left and right to launch certain apps, pause or play media and even adjust the volume by miming a twist of a jog dial.
Hand ID doesn’t work as fast as the face unlock or the fingerprint scanner (which you can also use on the back of the phone) and you need to hover your hand at just the right spot for it to register. Air Motion doesn’t work instantaneously either.
The execution on the G8 is rough around the edges and it still has limited software features.
If LG and other phone-makers run with this concept, a future where we can freely navigate our phones without tapping the screen appears not too distant. For now though, you can only use it in very specific ways. You’ll also attract a lot of looks while making a Frankenstein claw to control your phone.
LG G8 is super speedy with solid battery life
With Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset, the LG G8 has a top-of-the-line processor. Its performance is fast and reliable and I didn’t notice any hiccups. It performed just as well as the Galaxy S10E in our benchmark tests (which makes sense since they have the same processor), and it predictably edged out the OnePlus 6T ($470 at Amazon) given that the 6T has last year’s Snapdragon 845 chipset.
As for the battery, the LG G8 averaged about 16 hours, 37 minutes of continuous video playback in airplane mode. Although that’s an excellent time, competitors like the S10E and the OnePlus 6T lasted a bit longer at 17 hours. In the real world with medium to high usage, the phone lasted throughout the night without a charge, no problem.
LG G8 ThinQ vs. competitors
|LG G8 ThinQ||Samsung Galaxy S10E||Samsung Galaxy S10||OnePlus 6T||LG G7 ThinQ|
|Display size, resolution||6.1-inch OLED; 3,120×1,440 pixels||5.8-inch AMOLED; 2,280×1,080 pixels||6.1-inch AMOLED; 3,040×1,440 pixels||6.41-inch AMOLED; 2,340×1,080 pixels||6.1-inch IPS LCD; 3,120×1,440 pixels|
|Dimensions (inches)||5.98 x 2.83 x 0.33 in||5.6 x 2.8 x 0.27 in||5.9 x 2.77 x 0.31 in||6.20 x 2.94 x 0.32 in||6 x2.8 x 0.31 in|
|Dimensions (millimeters)||151.9 x 71.8 x 8.4 mm||142 x 70 x 7.9 mm||149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8 mm||157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm||153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm|
|Weight (ounces, grams)||5.96 oz.; 167g||5.3oz.; 150g||5.53 oz.; 157g||6.5 oz.; 185g||5.7 oz., 162g|
|Mobile software||Android 9.0||Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI||Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI||Android 9.0||Android 8.0|
|Camera||12-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (wide-angle)||12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle)||12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto)||16-megapixel (standard), 20-megapixel (telephoto)||16-megapixel (standard), (16-megapixel (wide-angle)|
|Processor||2.84GHz octa-core Snapdragon 855||Octa-core Snapdragon 855||Octa-core Snapdragon 855||2.8GHz octa-core Snapdragon 845||2.8GHz octa-core Snapdragon 845|
|Storage||128GB||128GB, 256GB||128GB, 512GB||128GB, 256GB||64GB|
|RAM||6GB||6GB, 8GB||8GB||6GB, 8GB||4GB|
|Expandable storage||Up to 2TB||Up to 512GB||Up to 512GB||None||Up to 2TB|
|Battery||3,500 mAh||3,100 mAh||3,400 mAh||3,700 mAh||3,000 mAh|
|Fingerprint sensor||Back||Power button||In-display||In-display||Back|
|Special features||3D scanning and motion capture with facial recognition; Air Motion and Hand ID; bone-induction receiver; water-resistant (IP68); wireless charging; Quick Charge 3.0||Wireless PowerShare; hole-punch screen notch; water-resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0||Wireless PowerShare; hole punch screen notch; water-resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0||In-display fingerprint sensor, dual-SIM, Dash Charging, notifications toggle||Water-resistant (IP68), wireless charging, DTS:X 3D Surround, Quad DAC|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$820-$850||$750||$900||$549 (6GB RAM/128GB), $579 (8GB RAM/128GB), $629 (8GB RAM/256GB)||$750-$792 at launch|
|Price off-contract (GBP)||TBD, converts to £650||£669||£799||£499 (6GB RAM/128GB), £529 (8GB RAM/128GB), £579 (8GB RAM/256GB)||£599 at launch|
|Price (AUD)||TBD, converts to AU$1,200||AU$1,199||AU$1,349||Converted: AU$774 (6GB RAM/128GB), AU$817 (8GB RAM/128GB), AU$887 (8GB RAM/256GB)||AU$1,099 at launch|