LG G8X ThinQ with Dual Screen Review: Keep This in Mind
LG G8X ThinQ with Dual Screen
Design & display7.9/10
- Interesting dual screen accessory that unlocks lots of capabilities
- Nice screen
- Solid performance
- All-day battery
- MagSafe on an LG phone
- Second screen might not be for everyone
- Software is getting better, but it's still LG and still Android Pie
- Cameras are good, but nothing more
- In-display fingerprint reader could be a bit more reliable
With the V50 ThinQ, LG introduced its first phone compatible with a new smartphone form factor idea: a secondary screen that was completely up to your discretion as to whether you used it or not. Whereas foldable phones are always foldable with no “typical smartphone” alternative, the V50 tried to e as versatile as it could by giving you a removable case for your phone that added a second display to its left side.
During my testing, I thought it was a cool concept, although I wasn’t sure how practical it was for everyday use. Now, LG has announced the G8X ThinQ which aims to make its secondary display both mainstream and practical for anyone to use. The most interesting part? LG will sell the G8X bundled with its Dual Screen for $700, making it a more reasonable purchase over something $1,000 or more.
Since I’ve been using the V50 with its second screen for so long, I’ve become familar with the use cases provided by having another display to the left of your phone’s screen. I think it’s cool, and the G8X adds some finishing touches that make it very interesting. It’s also enough to prompt conversations about the future of smartphone form factors.
But I can’t help feeling the G8X is designed for a particular type of person. Like most other LG phones, you kind of have to fit a mold. In other words, you have to know why you want the second screen and what type of usage you’re gonna get out of it. You shouldn’t buy this phone just because it’s different, and you certainly shouldn’t buy it because it looks cool. Because unless you have a practical use for the secondary display, it’s not gonna be worth it.
Let me explain.
Let’s start with the secondary display. After all, this is the biggest reason to even consider buying the G8X. It lives attached to a soft-touch case that’s made of plastic and, admittedly, feels a bit cheap. At least you can grip it, though.
To slot the G8X into the case, you have to go in from the top. That’s the only way you’re gonna connect the two since it uses a USB-C connector to power up. With the V50, you got pogo pins on its back to connect its Dual Screen, but I guess LG wanted to go a more conventional route with the G8X.
MagSafe on an LG phone
On the flip side, something unconventional is the way you charge the G8X while it’s in the Dual Screen case. Rather a separate USB connection, you actually use a special adapter the Dual Screen ships with, connect it to the USB-C connector on your G8X’s charger, and then connect the adapter to your phone.
The adapter works the same way Apple’s MagSafe did on MacBooks a few years ago: magnets connect the charger to your phone and pogo pins deliver a charge. And since it’s just magnets holding the charger in place, if you trip over the cord, you won’t send your phone flying to the ground.
This may be a practical reason to buy the G8X. I’m not even joking. Having a magnetic phone charger is a dream come true, especially since it’s so easy to connect, even in dark rooms where phone chargers are a bit difficult to plug in. All in all, this is a pretty great perk for buying the phone.
Design and form factor
In terms of size, the G8X with its dual screen counterpart attached isn’t extremely thick or heavy, by any means. However, the first few times you pick it up, it might catch you off-guard. It’s just a lot thicker and heavier than what most typical smartphones measure in at. That being said, it should still fit in your pocket and not feel like it’s weighing you down. It should also fit nicely in your purse or handbag, if that’s your speed.
When the dual screen is closed, there’s a little 2.1-inch LCD on the cover that displays the time and your notifications. Granted, it isn’t an always-on display, but it’s pretty handy for quickly checking your phone without unfolding it.
Speaking of which, unfolding the G8X while it’s in the dual screen case is a hassle. If you think you’ll be doing this with one hand every day, think again. This is literally a two-hand operation that will require both of your hands to be free to get into your phone. I’m not a big fan of this, especially since it completely defeats the possibility of ever using your phone with one hand once you install the case.
At the top of the case, LG includes a cut-out so you can hear phone calls. How do you answer them? By pressing the Google Assistant key on the side. This works just fine and, thankfully, saves you from opening the case, swiping your screen, and holding up the equivalent of two phones side-by-side to talk on the phone.
Okay, now onto actually using the G8X and its secondary display.
Open the accessory/smartphone combo and you’ll be greeted by two identical displays. They both measure in at 6.4-inches, have Full HD+ resolutions, feature OLED panels, and come with identical notches at the top. However, while the phone’s notch houses a front-facing camera, the second screen’s notch is simply there for aesthetics. LG says it included it for symmetry, but I don’t think it would trigger anyone’s OCD if the faux cut-out wasn’t there.
Regardless, with the G8X and its Dual Screen, you get identical panels that are plenty colorful, sharp to the naked eye, and roomy enough for all sorts of content.
Right off the bat, the second screen literally acts like a second phone. You get a home screen, an app drawer, full app support – everything you’d expect from a normal phone. This helps if you wanna run two apps side-by-side and not have to worry about sharing your phone’s screen real estate. I told a friend of mine that this is probably what everyone thought using split-screen on a phone would be like: actually useful.
There’s obviously more than meets the eye. A little floating button on the G8X allows you to swap the content on either screen, turn off the secondary panel, or even put the main screen to sleep. There’s also a three-finger swipe gesture that lets you swap content between screens. It’s by far one of the coolest features of the phone that make it feel like a preview of the future.
The G8X can also show content across the two screens. If you have a webpage open that you want to see on a larger canvas, you can turn on Wide Mode and see it across both displays. Mind you, there’s a pretty big gap in the middle that can be distracting if you’re reading a long article, but the feature’s there if you want it.
To add to the versatility of the second screen, LG also adds some functionality in the photography department. With the second screen, you can view photos you just took in a convenient preview pane, use it as a filler light that flashes when you take a selfie, or use it as a viewfinder for subjects you’re taking photos of.
Rounding things off, the second screen has a free-stop hinge, allowing you to open or close the second screen as much as you want without being locked into a few set positions.
So what are the use cases for a second screen attached to your phone? After all, that’s what’s gonna convince you whether it’s for you or not. During my testing, I was able to find a number of them.
- If you wanna watch a full-screen YouTube video while doing something else, like playing a video game or reading an article.
- If you’re copying data from one document and pasting it in another.
- If you want a Nintendo DS-like gaming system as your phone, just worse.
- If you’re an avid phone photographer and want to spice up your photography game.
- If you just want more space on your phone while still having the option of resorting back to a traditional smartphone experience.
You may fit the mold of one or two of those use cases, you may fit every single one. I can’t tell you if any of these features are worth it, though. As odd as it sounds, I think this is a subjective decision. For me, having two screens is kind of nice so I can use the second panel as a photo preview, but the rest of what I mentioned above, I barely used during my testing. Granted, I tried everything out, but I didn’t use anything else nearly as much as I did the preview pane.
Because of this, I don’t think I’d buy the G8X for its dual screen. It’s an interesting idea and it looks super cool, but I didn’t get a ton of use out of it. Full discloser: if you think you’ll get plenty of utility out of the added panel, this phone might be for you. Otherwise, I wouldn’t invest $700 in a phone just so I could connect another screen to it.
This sounds like a cop-out, and it kind of is. It’s just that I can’t decide whether I should tell you to buy this thing or not. It’s cool and it can be useful, but unless you know what you’re getting yourself into, you may be disappointed.
Read more reviews on it. Try it out in a carrier store. Form some sort of impression on the G8X and its dual screen before pulling the trigger.
Without the dual screen attachment, how’s the rest of the G8X ThinQ?
It’s actually pretty decent.
Design, audio, and security
The design the G8X is, admittedly, boring. It’s the same all-black glass sandwich LG has been cranking out for phone generation after phone generation, and it more or less resembles the G8 and V50 from earlier this year. You get the same super-slippery finish on the back, the same volume/power/Google Assistant buttons on the sides, and the same USB-C/Boombox speaker/headphone jack combo on the bottom.
Speaking of the headphone jack, LG kills it yet again in this department. Not only does it include a port for your wired headphones, but it also includes a 32-bit hi-fi quad DAC, Meridian-tuned output, and DTS:X surround sound for both headphones and the stereo speaker setup, utilizing both the Boombox grille at the bottom and the earpiece. In short, the audio experience provided by the G8X is top-notch.
I touched on the display in the dual screen section of this review, but I didn’t mention what was under the screen. For the first time in an LG phone, the company has included an in-display fingerprint reader. It’s an optical one, not ultra-sonic like the Samsung Galaxies of the world, but it gets the job done. It isn’t 100 percent reliable, but it still works around 75 to 80 percent of the time.
I really wouldn’t trust LG to do a proper face unlock in a phone (especially since they flopped hard with the G8 ThinQ’s Z Camera), so I’m glad to see them adopt what’s now a much more mainstream security method in their phone.
The G8X comes with a Snapdragon 855, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. You’ve heard this story before, and I’ll sound like a broken record here, but the phone performs as you’d expect any 2019 flagship to: pretty great. I still think the phone could use a bit more RAM, but nonetheless, the specs are there to help you tear through heavy apps, gaming, and plenty of multitasking.
On the back, the G8X includes a standard 12MP f/1.8 camera paired to a super-wide 13MP f/2.4 camera. Photos from the G8X come out pretty good with enough sharpness and saturation to make people happy. I still don’t like LG’s post-processing since it can make unflattering lighting situations look especially icky, but it looks like the company is on the right track since photos aren’t as bad as what came out of the V50.
LG also includes a new feature called AI Action Shot. This lets you capture fast-moving subjects without any blurring. In my testing, the feature worked most of the time, but sometimes, I didn’t notice a difference between normal photos and those taken with the special mode.
On the selfie side, LG includes a 32MP lens, the first for any LG phone. When taken at 32MP, selfies are plenty sharp and detailed. However, out of the box, selfies are set to capture at 8MP using pixel binning to collect additional detail information from the other megapixels. When this option is enabled, selfies come out really soft and unpleasant. I’d suggest turning on the 32MP setting as soon as you unbox the phone. You’ll thank me later.
Oh, and speaking of the selfie camera, this is the camera that’s used when using the dual screen’s Mirror Mode. For this, you’ll really wanna make sure 32MP photo capture is turned on. You’ll regret it otherwise, trust me.
As far as video goes, LG still has a ways to go to compete with what Apple is doing with the iPhone. That being said, I wasn’t too disappointed by what the G8X could capture, especially at 4K 60fps. New with the G8X is ASMR recording, allowing the microphones to increase in sensitivity and capture much softer sounds like a low tone of voice. You also get Steady Cam (stabilizing high-motion videos for more pleasant viewing) and Video Depth Control (adding a faux portrait effect to subjects in videos) that both work fine for what they are.
Rounding things off, the G8X also comes with LG’s extensive list of manual controls that are always a delight to play with.
For what it’s worth, I’m not super mad at LG with the G8X’s camera system. Granted, it’s not perfect, but it’s enough for anyone to be pleased. It’s also appropriate for a phone that costs $700. It is worth noting, though, the iPhone 11 also costs $700 and has one of the best cameras you can get today. If you’re buying the G8X for its camera, you may want to think twice and really consider what Apple has to offer.
All day long. That’s the type of usage you can expect to get out of the G8X’s 4,000mAh cell. With a mixture of the large power pack and Full HD+ screen, on a full charge, the G8X can easily last you a full day and then some. Even with the dual screen attached, I was able to get through a full day without worrying about plugging in until bedtime.
Worth noting: the G8X ships with both Quick Charge 3.0 and wireless charging, so you do have some options when it comes to juicing back up.
The software section of any LG phone review is always the part I hate to write. I don’t like being mean! But I can’t help it!
Luckily, LG didn’t do too much wrong with the G8X’s UI. It actually introduced a new UI that adds a much more modern feel. It’s also extremely similar to Samsung’s One UI, but compared to what the company had before, I’ll take this look and layout any day of the week.
Not everything is peaches and cream, however. The home screen is still terrible and still forces you to sort your own app drawer, animations are choppy and inconsistent, and there’s no promise that the G8X will get Android 10 in a timely manner. I’m asking LG if there’s a timeline for it, though, and I’ll update this review if I get an answer.
Also, can I just say that bloatware is absolutely out of control from certain carriers? I got the AT&T version of the G8X and, right out of the box, there were 29 apps that AT&T installed themselves. Fortunately, you can uninstall and disable all of them, but I don’t understand why they’re there in the first place. Why do I want two Vegas slots games? Why do I want a non-uninstallable Game of Thrones game? Why do I need the Walmart app the moment I buy a new phone? These are questions I’ll never have the answer to.
In a nutshell, LG is trying to get better at software, while AT&T keeps sucking the same eggs they’ve been laying for years.
The G8X is an okay phone on its own. Paired to its dual screen counterpart, it can unlock plenty of capabilities. You just have to know why you want it, and not just because it looks cool.
So long as you can find a practical use for the second screen and you don’t mind using an LG phone, I think it may be worth the $700 asking price. If you’re skeptical at all, though, about using the secondary display, really consider what else on the market. You can find plenty of great phones for $700 and under.
The obvious differentiating factor here is the second screen, and without it, the G8X is a pretty rudimentary flagship Android phone. It’s only worth buying if you think you can make use of its accessory. Otherwise, go buy a discounted Galaxy S10 or OnePlus 7T. You’ll be way happier.
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