LG G8 ThinQ Unveiled with 3D Face and Hand Unlock, Vibrating Display Speaker

LG G8 ThinQ header

LG held an event today during MWC 2019 to unveil its G8 ThinQ flagship. The device succeeds last year’s G7 with even better specs and a ton more pony tricks.

First off, let me touch on the design. LG is sticking to a familiar formula consisting of a glass and metal sandwich that looks more or less like last year’s G7 and V40. It’s not exactly a bad design by any means, but it does look a bit dated, especially since it still has a notch while other companies switch to a hole-punch cutout in the corner of the screen.

Still, the G8 does enough to make it a worthy upgrade over its predecessor. For one, LG uses a Time-of-Flight sensor on the front of the device that allows for true 3D facial recognition, similar to Apple’s Face ID. But that’s not even the best part. The best part is all the hand detection stuff that the so-called “Z camera” enables.

According to LG, with the Z camera, the G8 can identify the veins inside your hand and unlock your phone simply by waving your hand in front of it. This works by mapping out your veins using the hemoglobin in your blood and reading the reaction it has to IR light. If the stored values match the ones scanned, your phone unlocks. It’s unclear how secure this really is, but it would probably come in handy since you could just hover your hand over your phone while, say, it sits on your desk.

If neither 3D facial recognition or Hand ID are your speed, LG also includes a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. The company bucked yet another trend by not including it under the display, but it at least made up for it by converting the screen into a speaker.

The way LG does this is by implementing a Crystal Sound OLED panel that’s capable of vibrating enough to produce sound. You won’t find an earpiece at the top of the G8 for this reason. In the same breath, there’s still a Boombox speaker at the bottom that uses the rest of the phone’s body as a resonance chamber to prodouce sound for other types of media. The vibrating display appears to be exclusive for phone calls and such.

Speaking of the display, the G8 opts for a 6.1-inch 3120×1440 OLED panel with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. This is a big upgrade over the G7’s LCD panel which, quite honestly, sucked compared to all the other OLED screens on the market. Thankfully, LG made the switch this year to OLED, and the market will no doubt thank them for it.

In terms of specifications, the G8 packs a Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of baseline storage. It packs a quad DAC along with a headphone jack on the bottom, Android 9 Pie with LG’s skin on top, and a 3,500mAh battery. You’ll also find wireless charging, a USB-C port, and IP68 certification.

For cameras, LG packs in its usual array of dual cameras consisting of a main 12MP f/1.5 lens and a secondary 16MP f/1.9 ultra-wide lens. The front houses an 8MP f/1.7 selfie shooter. New with the G8 is a Night View mode for better nighttime photography and a portrait mode-style video shooting mode.

Of course, there’s also that Z camera we mentioned before which actually packs in a few more features worth mentioning.

Since the ToF sensor can already identify your hand to unlock your phone, LG figured it could also track your hand and turn gestures onto actions. So, with the G8, LG is introducing Air Control. Basically, this lets you hover your hand over your phone to perform different actions while it’s unlocked such as taking a screenshot, navigating between apps, and adjusting the volume by twisting your hand like you’re turning a knob. This works while your hands are both wet or covered with a glove. Obviously, I’ll have to test this feature for myself to determine whether it’s actually any good, so I’ll let you know once I get to spend some time with it.

In addition, the Z camera also enables better portrait photography and new AR/VR experiences. It’s not clear what those experiences may be like, but we’ll let you know when we get to test them.

Alongside the standard G8, LG will also introduce a special version of the device called the G8s overseas with a third, telephoto camera, a Snapdragon 855, 6GB of RAM with either 64 or 128GB of storage, a 3,350mAh battery, a 6.2-inch OLED display, and stereo speakers.

According to LG, the G8 ThinQ (god, that name is awful) will launch in Aurora Black, Moroccan Blue, and Carmine Red. No word yet on pricing and release information, but then again, we never get that type of info from LG at launch. We also don’t have any release information on the G8s just yet.

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