While the smartphone may have been invented before 2010, the last decade has seen the technology become a staple for billions across the globe. As such, manufacturers have been battling to stave off competition to reach the top, bringing with it new features with every new release. As smartphone novelties become harder to produce year on year, the last 12 months has seen a huge push towards folding screen technology and the new features and uses thereof. However, with the steep price of manufacturing such devices, there have been developments from other manufacturers to reproduce similar results without the cost. Enter the LG G8X ThinQ dual screen smartphone. It may not be the foldable screen as with the Samsung or Huawei variants, but it too has its advantages.
LG G8X ThinQ Design and Screen
Typically, I separate the review sections for the smartphone’s design and build, and the screen and display. However, given that the G8X’s design is largely built around the addition of a second screen, it’s hard to dissociate the two. That said, the device can be used as a single-screen smartphone or in dual-screen mode. I’ll review the two modes as such.
As a standalone smartphone, the LG G8X ThinQ is quite conventional. It features a 6.4″ OLED touchscreen, with HDR10 support and Corning Gorilla Glass 6 screen protection. In terms of the display, it has a 1080x2340px resolution, which measures 403ppi pixel density. With a frame of 159.3×75.8×8.4mm, the G8X has an 83.3% screen-to-body ratio. Compared to many of its previous releases, the G8X follows similar suite.
The device has a highly glossy plastic finish, which, as is most often the case, picks up a lot of fingerprints on the rear. Unlike many premium smartphones, the LG G8X ThinQ doesn’t have the same edge-to-edge display, leaving quite a bit of room for the bezel. In addition to this, the device also has the notch on the screen, as with most smartphones of today. With its glossy finish, the unit has a smooth feel across the entire frame. Even on the rear, where most cameras have a slight protrusion, the G8X’s dual-camera and flash are positioned flush on the rear cover. The device also keeps its 3.5mm jack, which is slowly becoming a standout feature on higher-end models.
Switching over to the dual-mode option requires the use of the included casing, which is fitted with a second screen. The G8X fits into the right-hand side, where it clicks into place after positioning the Type-C port with the case, which makes use of a proprietary MagSafe-style port. The port has a magnetic dongle that allows users to attach the more conventional Type-C USB charger.
The case itself has a rubberised build, which will most likely absorb a lot more impact than the LG G8X unit. The case actually has two additional screens, one on the inside, which acts as a second screen, along with another monochrome screen on the front, which provides some additional information as the closed case obstructs quick access to the single-screened convention. LG has included a 360-degree Freestop Hinge to the case, allowing users to flip the device all the way around to have both main screens on the outside.
In terms of the two additional screens’ sizes, the monochrome screen is measured at 2.1”, while the inner screen matches the main screen exactly, a 6.4” OLED touchscreen and a 1080x2340px resolution. It even has the same notch, although I don’t understand why. This is great when switching between the two screens when in use. Earlier, I mentioned that there is quite a significantly sized bezel around the screen, which is duplicated on the second screen. This also means that there’s a fairly substantial gap between the two screens, even without the hinge between them to make the gap even larger.
The standalone device weighs 192g, which isn’t bad by any means, but this increases quite a bit when using both screens. I’d estimate the dual mode option to weigh in around the 260-300g mark, while adding about another third to the thickness. I’m not a big fan of the cut-outs on the case either, where it needs to allow for components such as the camera, jack and speaker to be useful.
Another drawback of the G8X’s screen is that it isn’t bright enough, especially under direct sunlight. Users will have to turn it higher as a default, but won’t get much out of it while out and about. At the same time, colour reproduction on the screen is great with a great mix of reds, greens, blues and the likes. It’s all quite crisp on default setting, which can be tuned even further for those with different preferences.
LG G8X ThinQ Features and Software
With the addition of the second screen, the LG G8X is required to bring with it a host of new features and software updates to be seen as useful and necessary to justify its existence. The first noticeable change when connecting the second screen is the pop-up shortcut on the right-hand side screen.
The shortcuts here includes the following options: Swap screens, Show main on Dual Screen, Show Dual Screen on main, Put main screen to sleep and Turn off Dual Screen. These options are all pretty self-explanatory. The second level of shortcuts is gesture-based, with features such as three-finger swiping allowing you to flick one screen over to the next. Swapping screens aren’t actually swapping the two screens as in Windows, but instead moving apps in focus between the two screens.
There are also some nifty options built into the software, which allow you to open specific apps on the second screen whenever the case is opened, to make things easier for you. One of the really cool features added to the G8X is in the gaming mode, which allows you to operate the second screen as a gamepad (known as the LG Game Pad).
While it may not support all games, it makes it very useful for most cooperative shooter-survival games, such as Fortnite, PUBG and other such games you can now play on your smartphone. The gamepad itself has four different modes to choose from, the standard game controller, steering wheel mode, arcade mode and a more old-fashioned mode. You can also customise your experience if you really feel the need to.
However, over the course of the review period, you quickly realise that there are quite a few options still missing from the second screen to make it truly flexible. These include having separate settings, being able to remove the notch, allowing users to select where the news feed can be located and the likes. That said, there’s still quite sufficient options available on the G8X to make it useful enough.
The biggest and most obvious feature of any dual-screen smartphone is the ability to continue working on one screen, while using the second to stream a video, watch a live news feed or the likes without interupting your progress. This, more than anything, is really where the G8X shines.
LG G8X ThinQ Performance, Battery and Camera
With a solid set of features on the dual screen, it comes down to how well it performs in everyday use that could make or break it. The G8X sports a Qualcomm SM8150 Snapdragon 855 chipset, which has an Octa-core CPU, although with quite a strange configuration. It has 1×2.84GHz Kryo 485, 3×2.42GHz Kryo 485 and 4×1.78GHz Kryo 485, in comparison to the 4×4 approach. The chipset also includes the Adreno 640 GPU, coupled with 6GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage. The unit runs Android 9.0 Pie with LG’s UX 9.0 UI. Hopefully, this will be upgraded to Android 10 before too long, along with additional dual screen features.
Performance is great overall, with no signs of lag, jitter or animation issues as a result of the additional resources required to power the second screen. It works just as smoothly as it does for the single-screen mode. It’s not going to set any records or even place near the top of benchmark testing, but that really doesn’t matter with the modern smartphone, where most are quite overpowered. All that matters in the end is whether there’s sufficient oomph to power two screen simultaneously without any decrease in visible performance – and the G8X does just that.
When it comes to the battery, LG has bolted on a 4,000mAh capacity battery. Using it as a single-screen device, it can easily last throughout the standard work day. Putting additional load on the device, using WiFi while streaming videos throughout, ekes out about seven to eight hours of continuous usage. Switching to gaming, this decreases to between four and five hours, dependant on the game. When adding the second screen, I was worried how it would affect the battery life, given that it doesn’t include its own battery capacity in an effort to keep the bulk down, as it was already quite thick.
During the testing, the results varied of a decrease between 10 and 20% when using the device normally. Using the device to game, while using the second screen as a gamepad reduces usage to well under two hours, although that isn’t completely abnormal. Overall, battery life is average to good, without being great. While most modern smartphones can easily have battery life into a second day, that isn’t the case for the G8X.
LG G8X ThinQ Camera
With so much focus on many of its other aspects, specifically the dual screen, it would seem there wasn’t much of the same enthusiasm placed on the camera development. Unlike most leading OEMs fitting triple or quad-lens cameras on the rear, LG has kept to the now outdated dual-lens camera. These include the 12MP main and the 13MP ultrawide-angle cameras. Under good sunlight or other well-lit areas, the camera does a good enough job. However, when the lighting isn’t perfect, the results start to diminish quite quickly. Oddly enough, the faded light may pose more problems, which then gets better when the sun as set completely to reveal the night lights and the likes.
You can’t compare the end results to the flagship Samsung and Apple cameras that tend to highlight specific components and lighting. Instead, LG takes a more natural approach to this, which, by comparison, seems grey. Users will need to do some photo editing to achieve similar results of the leading smartphones, but that’s not what many users would want to hear.
The front-facing, or selfie, camera has a 32MP sensor. However, using binning technology (Quad Bayer) to absorb more light for low-light photos, it actually works out to around 8MP resolution. The results aren’t great here, doing just enough to be useful.
While the dual-lens setup does offer different wide-angle photos, it’s lacking a telephoto lens for better zoomed images or even a depth sensor for better accuracy.
Adding a second screen to a single-screen smartphone isn’t a unique feature, but the LG G8X ThinQ is definitely the standout of the bunch. The dual-screen device adds quite a host of new features, which ultimately changes the manner in which users interact with their smartphone. Other accompanying features don’t deliver the same results but it’s still quite good overall. With a tweak on the design to reduce weight and bulk will definitely go a long way for future iterations.
LG G8X ThinQ
Retailing at around R11,000, the LG G8X is half the price of most flagships these days, making it quite good value as a mid-range smartphone.
- Dual-screen support
- A few nifty features
- Priced competitively
- Camera could be better
- Very bulky
Ease of Learning
Ease of Use
Value for Money