It is not the most exciting surprise of the Mobile World Congress 2019, nor is it the most exciting of LG's announcements. The G8, however, is bringing the G line back to the Catalan capital with a particular focus on the selfie camera, the display and new gestures. But will that be enough to outperform the competition?
A solid and handy smartphone
The G8, I'll tell you right away, will not leave you breathless, especially since it comes after Samsung and Huawei have shown their folding smartphones. But this is another story because the G8, without being particularly surprising in its design, is pleasant in the hand and also on the eye. It's a nice smartphone, simple as that.
In the red and blue colors, the body creates pleasant reflections, but the more sober black variant also looks classy. The back, which is made of a single sheet of glass, easily attracts fingers but is linear thanks to the excellent integration of the camera compartment.
All the physical buttons already present on the G7 ThinQ can be found on the G8, including the Google Assistant button, while the bodywork houses a double (12MP and 16MP wide angle) or triple camera and the fingerprint reader. Yes, LG has decided to work on two variants of the G8 that differ in the number of rear cameras but, at the moment, it is not clear which variants will be available in which markets. The decision will be up to operators and market leaders.
The selected G8 will be followed later by the other variant, but even in this case the timing is not yet known.
A beautiful OLED display that acts as a resonance box
The large 6.1-inch Crystal Sound FullVision OLED screen, surrounded by a thin frame along the bottom edge, focuses more than ever on the multimedia experience. During our short hands-on, the colors seemed bright and the blacks deep. Even the brightness, set to both minimum and maximum, looked good.
The Crystal Sound technology implemented by LG allows the G8 display to be used as a kind of diaphragm that vibrates and reproduces sound. And speaking of sound, the G8 keeps Boombox technology, placing the speaker along the bottom edge next to the USB-C port and the 3.5mm jack for those who don't want to give up their wired headphones. There's a notch on the G8 display screen: so no holes like on the Honor View 20 or the Samsung Galaxy S10 line.
Selfie optimized with a ToF camera
In the notch, there is space for a double front camera equipped with an 8MP lens and the ToF sensor made in collaboration with the German company, Infineon. The Infineon REAL3™ sensor allows the G8 to be unlocked via facial recognition and through Hand ID without any physical contact from the user. This feature allows you to record a photo of the palm of your hand and then unlock your smartphone by placing your hand in front of the Z camera (this is the name chosen by the company).
According to the brand, it should also work even when you have thin gloves on. Another advantage this has over using the more traditional fingerprint reader is that it also works with wet fingers and without touching the smartphone. The G8 continues to offer the regular fingerprint reader on the back and I personally appreciate this choice which makes it easy to reach. But it's a matter of taste.
The ToF camera, in collaboration with the other sensor, focuses on selfies. It promises better light management for portraits. The camera app offers a manual mode, the ability to set different filters, to change the angle for group selfies and a function dedicated to light effects as well as bokeh. Note also the presence, in the video section, of a button dedicated to YouTube streaming.
Touchless control and first class spec sheet
Overall, it is not surprising to see the G8 accompanied by a good technical specification that generally translates into good performance. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, flanked by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, should ensure a smooth and responsive experience. The G8 has a 3500 mAh battery.
The G8 is being marketed under the idea is being a 'Touchless Phone', which refers not only to the Hand ID unlocking method but also to AIR Motion. This function allows you to perform various actions with hand movements that are detected by the ToF camera sensor. For example:
- Answering a call
- Manage the playback of music tracks
- Adjusting the volume
- Taking a screenshot
- Locking the alarm clock
The idea of increasingly limiting physical contact with your smartphone is undoubtedly met by the spread of voice commands. During my short time with the G8 ThinQ I tried to use AIR Motion and I have to admit that it takes some time to get familiar with these kinds of movements. In addition to the fact that I felt a little ridiculous to wiggle like that in front of the smartphone. If I had been on the train or in another public place, I'm sure that I would have attracted the attention of the people around me... but the same thing happened two years ago with voice messages, right?
LG G8 ThinQ: the competition will not wait
Overall, the G8 ThinQ makes a good impression. It's a solid, well-thought-out smartphone and LG has already proven its worth. The choice of an OLED display that also acts as a speaker, the ToF sensor and a 3,500 mAh battery (compared to the 3,000mAh of the G7 ThinQ) is appreciable.
Despite the quality of its devices, LG is struggling when it comes to sales. At the moment, the price and availability of the G8 are not yet known. Hopefully, this time it won't launch too late, when maybe Samsung's Galaxy S10 and the new devices from brands like Huawei and Xiaomi have already been on the market for some time.