LG is interpreting the concept of foldable smartphones very differently from Samsung and Huawei. But is the G8X ThinQ, with its two extra displays, really a good idea? Do we actually need three screens on a smartphone? We went hands-on with the device to find out. The approach is good, but there is still much to do...
Price and launch date still unknown
Let's start with one thing that's missing: the price and date for the launch of the LG G8X ThinQ is not yet known. The manufacturer hasn't announced either yet, and it may take some time before the G8X ThinQ is actually available for purchase.
LG G8X ThinQ design and build quality
On its own, the LG G8X ThinQ is first and foremost a normal Android smartphone, which - no wonder - looks like the G8 or the G8S. That's not a bad thing, on the contrary. With its 6.4-inch screen and rather narrow display bezels, the LG G8X is a pleasant size. The rounded glass surfaces look good and make sure that the smartphone fits snugly in your hand. The two cameras on the back do not protrude from the housing, but fit seamlessly into the glass. The fingerprint sensor is located under the display.
The LG G8X ThinQ has three buttons. On the left is the volume rocker and the button for Google Assistant, on the right is the power button. I prefer to have the volume rocker on the same side as the power button, but that's just a matter of getting used to. The build-quality is flawless.
A good OLED display is not enough anymore for LG
The LG G8X ThinQ has a 6.4-inch OLED display and a small dewdrop notch behind which the front selfie camera sits. The display pleases with beautiful colors, high contrasts and a good brightness. So far, so ordinary. But the LG G8X ThinQ has more than one screen, at least if you put the smartphone into its case.
The second large screen is fun
And the second and third display? Like the LG V50, these are in the case for the G8X ThinQ, which will probably be sold boxed with the smartphone. On the outside on the lid of the case there is a small display that shows the time and notifications, but only for 10 seconds at a time. Behind the reflecting surface it is not visible when switched off.
More exciting is the real display on the inside, which turns on when you open the cover. This is the same panel as on the smartphone, i.e. a 6.4-inch OLED display with a Full HD+ resolution. LG even brought the dewdrop notch over to the second screen, although of course there is no second front camera - that's a strange design decision.
You can do all kinds of things with the second screen, some are practical, some are not. Gamers will be pleased with the separate gamepad on the lower screen, a large keyboard for typing is also pleasant and makes the LG G8X ThinQ almost feel like the successor to the Nokia Communicator during my test. Extending the browser or other apps to the full two screens is no fun though, the hinge is much too wide for that and it ruins the experience.
The early firmware of the LG devices shown at the IFA 2019 still has a number of bugs and small inconsistencies in it. Some apps crashed, and the second screen got stuck or simply didn't work. LG emphasized, however, that all these things will be solved before the phone goes on sale.
LG has made its UI prettier
LG has redesigned the G8X ThinQ software with a new interface that not only brings new features to the auxiliary display, but it has also been upgraded. The new software, which is based on Android 9 Pie, looks more modern and appealing. We need to look more closely at what it can do when we do our full review of the LG G8X ThinQ.
As for the rest of the equipment, the LG G8X ThinQ has a Snapdragon 855 from Qualcomm, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. MicroSD cards are also supported. The performance of the LG G8X ThinQ was impeccable during my first test. The smartphone runs quickly and smoothly, as befits a high-end model. The battery is compatible with Fast Charge 4.0 and can be charged wirelessly.
Wide angle yes, zoom no
The two cameras on the back, which do not protrude from the housing, have 12 and 13-megapixel resolutions. There's a wide-angle camera, but no zoom lens . With its 32 megapixels, the front camera has a much higher resolution. The pure pixel values, of course, don't say anything about the quality of the photos and videos. We will absolutely be examining the cameras more closely when we do our full review of the G8X ThinQ.
The battery has to power a lot of screen
The battery life should be interesting, because the case with the second screen and the third mini display on the front doesn't have its own battery. The 4,000 mAh battery in the G8X ThinQ thus has to drive two large displays, which should have a big impact on battery life. In continuous operation with two active displays, the G8X ThinQ will certainly have a hard time surviving a full day without needing a recharge.
The future of this one is uncertain
I like the idea with the second display in the case very much, it seems more robust and simpler to me than a complicated and fragile folding smartphone with a flexible screen. But whether something like this can inspire the mass market is a completely different matter. Let's see what price LG pitches this smartphone at - we'll stay tuned on that one.