The LG G8 ThinQ has been kind of getting a raw deal from the reviews and impressions that I’ve seen on it thus far. They weren’t overly negative or positive but the reviews kind of imply that the LG G8 is very ordinary and it doesn’t have anything about it that makes it standout and as a result, it’s a hard phone to recommend for anyone to buy. I take issue with that sentiment. I flatly don’t agree. The LG G8 ThinQ is a very solid phone and it’s a lot of fun to use and it can compete with anyone of your favorite phones on the market right now.
LOOK AND FEEL
The LG G8 ThinQ’s design is typical to what has been trending in smartphone design. It’s generic. It’s fairly thin and light and mostly bezel-less. The screen size itself sits at 6.1″. Lots of screen real estate and you can toggle the notch on and off with the second screen option but it’s better with the notch. The screen is bright, flawless and OLED. Looking at the screen is a pleasure, watching things on this screen is a pleasure. It’s all wrapped in Gorilla Glass so it’s also somewhat durable.
The power button is on the upper right side and the volume up and down buttons are on the traditional left. Just below it is the Google Assistant button. Definitely turn it off as soon as you can. It’s annoying. The rear cameras and flash are placed in a row on the back of the phone with the fingerprint reader just below it perfectly placed. Simple, cut and dry design that sits nicely in the hand.
The LG G8 is not lacking when it comes to hardware. Most of the smartphones that we use nowadays are internally similar especially flagship Android phones and the LG G8 ThinQ. Here is the rundown of the specs of the LG G8 ThinQ:
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform running Android 9.0 (Pie)
Display: 6.1″ FullVision Display (3120 x 1440/564 ppi)
Memory: 6Gb LPDDR4 RAM, 128GB of internal storage and a microSD that supports up to 2TB
Camera: Rear Dual: 16MP Super Wide (F1.9) and a 12Mp standard (F1.5)
Battery: 3500 mAH
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a,b,g,n,ac / Bluetooth 5/ NFC/USB Type-C
Biometrics: Hand ID, Face Unlock, Fingerprint Sensor
Colors: New Aurora Black, New Platinum Gray, Carmine red
Other: Ip68 Water Resistant, Google Assistant, 32-Bit Hi-Fi Quad Dac, DTS:X 3D Surround Sound, HDR 10, Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, Boombox Speakers
LG AIR MOTION
LG’s standout feature for the G8 ThinQ are its Air Motion features. LG has always tried to at the very least challenge what the smartphone can do since they all essentially do the same things now. What some may consider gimmicky, LG sees as a push forward in innovation. Remember the G5 and the modular mess it was? At the time I can recall wondering what the thought process behind this phone? It was bad. In hindsight, it’s still bad but I can appreciate that even for it’s poor execution, LG was at the very least trying to be different instead of playing it safe especially since they were asking for your flagship dollars. So, why did I go into this lengthy diatribe? To make the point as to why Air Motion exists on the LG G8 ThinQ. LG is trying different things.
Air Motion isn’t bad when it works. Getting it to work consistently and fluidly is where the issues were for me. There are a couple of signature things that you can do with Air Motion. Once you set up your palm via Hand ID then you’re ready to do a few things. What are those things? Phone and Alarm control is the first thing that I personally tried. You simply wave your hand over your phone to the left or right to answer or reject a call, same thing with the morning alarm. This is a feature that was actually pretty cool and I didn’t use it much because I’m so conditioned to swiping left or right but it’s good to have options.
Music and video control is another Air Motion feature that you can use to control playback in videos and volume in music via a hand gesture. You kind of put your fingers in a claw and turn it left or right. Great idea. I found it to be utterly useless however. It didn’t work at all with my PowerAmp music app and it worked sparingly with VLC which I use for video. I was forced to use them with the native LG apps for music and video and they aren’t very good apps so these two features force you to use apps you otherwise wouldn’t use.
Taking a screenshot with Air Motion is for lack of a better word a clusterf–k. At least it was for me. I got it to work once, maybe twice. It just wasn’t a feature that I can say is worthy of any use. The screenshot feature in the case of Air Motion features is a pointless one.
Air Motion on the LG G8 is admirable and I can appreciate it. LG had to take a shot, why not? It’s just impractical and unfortunately it’s a feature on the phone that I can’t reasonably see anybody using regularly.
LG’s software on the G8 ThinQ is a very light and non intrusive skin. It’s just not aesthetically pleasing. I’m not much of a native skin person on any of the flagship phones but the launcher here is okay. There are a lot of the options in the menu so you’ll have a plethora of options to customize and tailor your phone to your liking based on the skin. So it’s not bad but there are better third party options. The LG G8’s keyboard should probably be replaced with the Google Keyboard, messages too and if you really want to be fancy, use the Nova Launcher.
FACE ID, HAND ID & SECURITY
Apple may have pioneered the notch for the sake of Face ID but other companies have tried to use Face ID as a form of security. Only the method and the level of security are different for each phone that uses it. The Face ID for the LG G8 is incredibly snappy and fast. You set it up the same way you would with the iPhone. The G8 version has 3D facial authentication which means you can unlock your phone in any type of light, low light especially and even when the phone screen is off.
Hand ID is another form of security that the G8 implemented to help give you more ways to secure your phone and its data. It works with the phones’ front facing camera and Air Motion features and you do it by holding your palm a few inches away from the front facing camera. What the camera does is it uses the ToF sensor and the infrared camera within the notch to read the veins in your palm which are as distinctive as your fingerprints to secure your phone. Just like the Face ID you can use it in any light and with the screen off and it’ll work but the drawback is, the camera is very sensitive to the distance of your palm and more often than not it’s challenging to use if you don’t get the distance right. Face ID is just faster so I just stuck with the Face ID. All things considered however, it is nice to have another option for security other than a pin and a fingerprint. The LG G8 ThinQ still has fingerprint recognition as it always had so if you’re used to that you can continue to use it.
The camera. This is where the LG phones have always done well. If not anything else, the camera on the LG G8 is a winner. You don’t have to be a photographer or even understand the nuance of photography to take great photos on this phone. It has a dual camera setup on the back with a 12MP standard lens as well as a 16MP wide angle lens for those “get everything in the picture” shots. There’s OIS, 8X zoom, a food mode and Night view. There’s a lot to play with when you use the camera. Too much to play with if you ask me. There’s a Studio and Portrait mode, Auto, AI CAM, Manual, Slo-Mo, Cine Shot, Manual video, Cine Video, you get the picture, no pun intended. There’s a lot going on. I’ll talk about the modes that I used the most.
Auto, AI mode and Manual are the modes that most people will probably use. If you’re a selfie fanatic than the Portrait mode albeit weird is perfect and that 8MP front facing camera gives you crystal clear images so you won’t lose out there. The camera app has certain functions that you can use for that front facing camera as well. There’s story shot that’ll let you customize the background of your selfie, makeup pro which is like a filter on snapchat or instagram, you can use a gesture shot with Air Motion, the screen illuminates if you want it to so you don’t have to buy that bulky lighting case to take selfies and a few other modes. The camera gives you a number of things to do with selfies and the front facing camera.
Auto mode is good on the LG G8 most times and it’ll get images and scenery right and you’ll get good looking pictures but you’ll find that with auto mode sometimes you’ll get scenery that is either over exposed or under exposed and even over sharpened. The AI cam on the LG G8 seems to take auto mode a step further by adjusting to changes in lighting, scenery, faces, things, etc. I found myself using AI cam more than so than auto mode because my pictures came out more natural looking than the auto mode. I would say if you’re not going to mess around in manual mode then use the AI cam. Night view is also a option I messed around with quite a bit. The area in Queens, NY I live in gets very dark at night even with street lights and it’s hard to capture good photos without it being slightly noisy or me having to crank up the iso and overly tweaking the shutter speed. The LG G8 did a really good job with keeping my night photos looking like they were taken at night and not give off a weird lighting dusky effect.
As a non-photographer I can see that the pictures that I’ve taken on the LG G8 are really good. If you’re like me then you will not at all feel cheated by the cameras on the LG G8. LG has always done a pretty good job with their cameras. We can haggle over whether or not the Galaxy S10 does a better job or the Huawei or the iPhone but the bottom line is. If you want good pictures, this phone will give you that and that’s what it’s about.
Another one of LG’s notable well done features in their phones is the audio quality. They keep it traditional. With the G8 you get a 3.5mm headphone jack and a Quad DAC for the audiophiles out there who want to use their overly expensive headphones. Bear in mind though, having a Quad DAC doesn’t mean you’re going to have great sound. Your headphones matter, the music files and streaming service matter as well. I personally use PowerAmp and most of my music files are in lossless form so when I turn on that Mobb Deep or that Tribe album, I get that good, clear knock in my headphones. Hopefully, LG decides to keep the headphone jack and don’t follow the trend. I’m not a fan of wireless headphones.
The speakers on the phone itself aren’t bad. They’re good and loud. I’m never ever really impressed with phone speakers. The G8’s speakers are “Boombox” speakers so branding aside. If you watch a movie or listen to some music on the speakers, as long as they’re not too bass heavy you should have a good speaker experience.
While I don’t consider myself a tech expert, I’ve been doing this tech thing long enough to know what a good device is and what’s a trash device. The LG G8 is far from a trash device. The problem with the LG G8 isn’t with the phone itself, it’s mostly that some people want to like it but they have their preferences or it could be the smartphone market is really flooded or smartphone technology has kind of peaked or some people just like iPhones. Lastly and mostly, some people are genuinely full of shit and just complain because they can.
I’ve been using the LG G8 for a couple of weeks and it’s no more ordinary than 90% of the smartphones that get a “refresh” every year that you pay damn near $1000 for, just for minimal increases. The LG G8 isn’t revolutionary or mind blowing but it’s better than it gets credit for. LG is partly to blame in my opinion. They kind of just throw the LG G series phones out there and hope people will notice it. Sony does the same thing and people end up missing out on really great alternatives to the phones everybody has and then those phones become ordinary by default. The LG G8 does everything that the S10 does, does everything the Huawei phones do and it does it well. We nitpick over certain things but it’s a solid phone without question. Yes, it’s $800 plus dollars but so is every other flagship, why is that not a problem but this is?
There are a few offerings for the LG G8 ThinQ on your favorite carrier. AT&T has an offering at $829, Sprint and Verizon have it priced at $840 and T-Mobile has the absolute best offering at $619 with $200 being taken off for T-Mobile customers. It’s not a “budget” phone but it’s a lesser expensive option than the iPhone XS and the Samsung Galaxy S10. The LG G8 ThinQ is a phone that I would recommend anyone buy if they want a break from the norm. Forget the haters.