Flagship smartphones from LG don't often stay in the limelight long after their launches, as many of their competitors do. OnePlus and Samsung, on the other hand, have much more significant portions of the audience's mindshare. The South Korean company is now trying to make a mark with its own take on a foldable smartphone, with the LG G8X ThinQ. This new device can work like an ordinary smartphone, but also lets you double your screen space with an add-on display case that is bundled in the box. The G8X ThinQ is priced at Rs. 49,999 in India, including the display case, and this is the first time such a product had made it to our market. Is it useful or just a gimmick? We've tested it to find out.
The LG G8X ThinQ follows the same design language as its predecessors. This smartphone has a glass sandwich design with a metal frame between the display and the rear glass panel. This smartphone is tall and a little chubby. At the front, it has a 6.4-inch OLED FullVision display with a tiny waterdrop notch at the top. It has thin bezels on the sides but the bottom is comparatively thicker.
LG has positioned the power button on the right of the device, and it is convenient to reach. On the left side, you'll find the volume buttons as well as a dedicated button for Google Assistant. If you use Google Assistant very frequently you will find this very handy. We looked around in the Settings app but couldn't find a way to remap the button.
The LG G8X ThinQ sport a 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom along with the primary microphone, the loudspeaker, and a USB Type-C port. At the top, there's only the SIM tray. The LG G8X ThinQ is among the few smartphones to have flush-mounted rear cameras. In a time when most devices have protruding camera modules, LG has managed to give this phone a clean look. The back is made out of glass but is curved at the sides, which makes it comfortable to hold. However, the smartphone picks up smudges easily and is super slippery. We even noticed it sliding about when placed on a slanting surface.
LG ships this smartphone only in Aurora Black. Along with the Dual Screen accessory case, you get earphones and a 16W charger bundled in the box. LG has also included a magnetic connector which can be used to charge the smartphone while using the Dual Screen case.
LG has smartly bundled the dual-screen accessory with the G8X ThinQ. This case itself has two displays. The first is a tiny monochrome one on the outside which lights up for notifications or when you raise the device. It displays the battery level, time, and date along with the icons of apps that have pending notifications. The front display is hard to see when the phone isn't in use, as LG has opted for a mirror finish for the front of the case. This also picks up smudges quite easily. The shiny front panel is slightly off-centre to account for the hinge of the case.
Open the case up and you will see the second display on the inside. This is also a 6.4-inch OLED display with a waterdrop notch, to match the phone's screen. This notch is pointless here as it does not house anything, and it looks like LG has used the exact same panel as the phone's display. The case does not open flat; it's more like having a step between the two displays so they aren't at the same level at any point. You can flip the case lid around completely, and this simply switches off the secondary display.
The case has a male USB Type-C connector which plugs into the LG G8X ThinQ. Once connected, both the displays on the case are powered by the smartphone's battery. If you are planning on using the case at all times, you can expect battery life to take a hit. If the smartphone's battery level dips below 15 percent, the secondary display will turn itself off. The case also has magnets and pogo-pin contacts at the bottom so you can charge it using the included adapter, eliminating the need to pull it out of the case every single time.
The LG G8X ThinQ is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC, and has 6GB of RAM along with 128GB of storage. LG has added a heat pipe to help cool the processor when it's under load. There is only one configuration on offer. We would have preferred to see the newer Snapdragon 855+ SoC, but the Snapdragon 855 is acceptable considering the overall features and capabilities of this smartphone.
The 6.4-inch OLED display has good viewing angles and gets bright enough when viewing content outdoors. The G8X ThinQ also sports an in-display fingerprint scanner. There is support for dual 4G as well as VoLTE, plus Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi ac, NFC, GPS, and the usual basic sensors. LG has packed in a 4,000mAh battery and there is support for fast charging via the USB Type-C port.
LG ships the G8X ThinQ running LG UX 9.0 on top of Android 9 Pie, and we would have liked to have seen Android 10. LG has said that it plans to upgrade this smartphone to the latest version of Android, along with a few other models. The number of bloatware apps is under control, and those on the phone include Facebook, Instagram, and Booking.com. There are also some of LG's own apps such as ThinQ, LG Health, and LG SmartWorld.
The UI lacks an app drawer but is simple to use. The Settings app is well laid out and we found the search function to be quite handy. Just like other LG flagship smartphones, the LG G8X ThinQ has a Hi-Fi Quad DAC feature, and supports DTS:X 3D Surround sound. It also has stereo speakers, where the earpiece doubles up as the second speaker. We enjoyed watching content on the LG G8X as the audio output was impressive.
The LG G8X delivers top-notch performance thanks to the hardware it sports. We did not encounter any lag or stutter while using the smartphone. With 6GB of RAM, the device was super smooth when multitasking and loading apps. Even with the secondary display switched on and running a completely different app, the device could handle the load quite well. We would not recommend running two heavy apps simultaneously though, as this causes the smartphone to warm up. We also found the in-display fingerprint scanner to be slow and inconsistent.
The second screen was helpful for multitasking. We could run two different apps actively on the LG G8s ThinQ. The phone also allows you to swap apps between the two displays very easily using a three-finger gesture. Apps that support dual-screen mode, let you use them across both the screens at the same time, The preinstalled Whale Browser as well as Google Chrome, for instance, let you spread a Web page across both displays. While this usually works well, the fat hinge in between the two panels means that you don't get an uninterrupted view like you would with a device like the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
Like many other smartphones out there, the LG G8X comes with a game mode, but this one also takes full advantage of the second display. You can use one of the two screens as a gamepad while a game is displayed on the other. We tried this with Asphalt 9 Legends, Sniper Fury, and a few other games, and felt that it made them more engaging. The Game mode also lets you select between different types of gamepads as well, so you can select a layout that is appropriate for the genre of game you are playing.
We did not notice any lag or stutter when playing these games. Playing Sniper Fury with the dual-screen accessory did cause the phone to get warm to the touch. We also ran a couple of benchmarks to gauge performance of the G8X ThinQ. It managed to score 3,83,512 in AnTuTu and 9,486 in PCMark Work 2.0. The smartphone also achieved scores of 723 and 2,388 in the Geekbench 5 single-core and multi-core tests respectively. In GFXBench Car Chase, the phone managed 37fps.
The LG G8X ThinQ sports a 4,000mAh battery which lasted us about a day and a half with ordinary usage. With the dual-screen accessory, we did notice the battery life taking a hit. In our HD video loop test, the smartphone went on for 19 hours and 53 minutes, which is quite good. When using the supplied charger, the battery level went from zero to 34 percent in half an hour and to 67 percent in an hour. LG chould have bundled a more powerful charger in the box, as the competition offers faster charging.
While many flagship and mid-range smartphones these days boast of four or five rear cameras, the LG G8X ThinQ sticks with a dual camera setup. The primary one on the LG G8X ThinQ has a 12-megapixel sensor and an f/1.8 aperture. The secondary camera is a 13-megapixel wide-angle camera with a 136-degree field of view and an f/2.4 aperture. The camera app has multiple modes to choose from, and you also get manual mode for both photos as well as video. It also has a toggle to enable the dual-screen accessory to act as a viewfinder. This simply mirrors the output of the primary screen, allowing you to fold the device and take shots at awkward angles comfortably.
We found the LG G8X ThinQ to be quick to focus, and it metered scenes correctly. The AI is also quick to recognise scenes, and the camera enabled HDR automatically when required. The LG G8X ThinQ delivers excellent photos in daylight with good detail even after zooming in. Shots taken against a bright background with HDR enabled turned out quite well. The wide-angle camera is also capable of capturing photos in HDR. These shots had lower detail than those taken with the primary sensor, and they were also slightly warped at the edges.
The Portrait mode lets you select the level of blur required before taking the shot. Portraits had very good edge detection, and the phone could blur out the background properly. Light is metered to expose the subject's face clearly, so you might have to deal with washed out backgrounds in unfavourable light.
For close-up shots, the LG G8X ThinQ was quick to identify what it was pointed towards. These shots had a natural depth effect and had good details on zooming in.
In a dimly-lit environment the AI switches the camera to low-light mode automatically. This helps it pull in more light, resulting in a bright image. You can also switch the camera to Night mode which keeps the shutter open for longer. The LG G8X ThinQ lets you select ambient light conditions using a slider, and adjusts its settings accordingly. We found this to be useful when taking photos at dusk. Low-light camera performance was quite good, and we were happy with the level of detail this smartphone managed.
The 32-megapixel selfie camera delivers good details. You can use portrait mode with this camera and blur the background before taking a shot. We found edge detection to be quite good even with two people in the frame. Video recording maxes out at 4K 60fps for the primary camera and 4K 30fps for the selfie shooter. While the primary rear camera has optical image stabilisation, it only uses electronic stabilisation when recording video. We noticed that 1080p footage was very well stabilised. The phone also has a Super Steady mode which uses the wide-angle camera and crops the frame for steady footage. In low light, the camera managed to deliver bright output with minimal shimmer.
The G8X ThinQ is LG's unique way of joining the foldable smartphone bandwagon. While this isn't anywhere near the same as the Samsung Galaxy Fold, LG has managed to deliver something close in a cost-effective manner. Since LG bundles the dual-screen accessory with the G8X ThinQ, users get to experience a dual-screen device out of the box at no additional cost. The magnetic connector to charge the phone through the case is also a thoughtful addition.
For Rs. 49,999, LG offers a good package for someone wanting to experience a foldable smartphone without breaking the bank. It also packs in very good camera hardware that you can take full advantage of using the Manual mode. However, these are the only things that help this smartphone stand out against its competitors. If you don't really care about the second screen, you could consider the OnePlus 7T (Review) which costs much less, or the Samsung Galaxy S10 (Review) as a suitable alternative.