LG has been awfully quiet this year in India. It showed the LG G8 ThinQ and the LG G8s ThinQ, along with the first 5G dual-screen V50 ThinQ at the Mobile World Congress 2019 back in February and the LG G8X at the IFA 2019. But their actually availability has been patchy. In India the company launched the LG V40 ThinQ (REVIEW) in India in the beginning of this year and since then it hasn’t launched a flagship smartphone here, if you discount the domestically produced LG W-series smartphones, of which we reviewed the LG W30.
Last month LG launched its first “premium” smartphones in India as it brought the G8s ThinQ here, nearly eight months after we had seen it for the first time in February. The LG G8s ThinQ is priced at Rs 36,990 in India and it is available in Mirror Black colour variant.
In India, the LG G8s ThinQ succeeds the LG G7+ ThinQ, which we reviewed last year. The G series has changed this year. This is apart from the obvious, which is new processor and updated software. In looks it is closer to the W-Series smartphones, and it comes with a few new features such as air-gestures that LG first introduced in the LG G8 ThinQ. Before we dive deeper into the features and performance, here are the key specs of the LG G8s ThinQ.
— 6.2-inch full HD+ FullVision Display with 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass
— Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
— 6GB RAM
— 128GB storage, up to 2TB microSD supported
— Android 9.0 Pie
— Triple rear camera setup: a 12MP standard camera, 13MP super wide-angle lens and a 12MP telephoto lens. Dual front camera system with a 8MP standard lens and a Z camera with Time of Flight sensor.
— 3,550mAh battery. Quick Charge 3 supported.
— 179 grams weight
Bling is in these days because phone makers believe that people want jazzy phones, particularly the young users. With the G8s ThinQ, LG is trying to woo these users.
The LG G8s ThinQ comes with an all-glass design, created using 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass and a metal chassis. On the front, the phone has an iPhone X-like notch that houses the front camera, the Z-camera and the earpiece. At the bottom there is a speaker grille, a 3.5mm headphone jack (LG remains loyal to the jack even as other companies ditch it) and a USB Type-C port.
On the left side of the phone there are three buttons. Two are to control volume, and the third one can be used to invoke the Google Assistant. On the right side of the phone is a the power button. The buttons are easy to reach even when you are holding the phone using single hand. Below the power button is SIM card try. The phone supports two SIM cards, but one of the SIM slot is a hybrid slot that can also be used for a microSD card.
In India, the LG G8s ThinQ comes in Mirror Black variant. One look and you will understand why it is called “Mirror Black”. It is black and shines like a mirror. Literally. You can use it as a compact mirror on the go. Personally, I am not a fan of shint and mirror-like finish on phones. I prefer the classic glass design of the LG G7+ ThinQ over the gaudy and reflective G8s ThinQ.
But it’s also a matter personal taste. If you like your gadgets shiny you will appreciate LG’s attempt at jazzing its smartphones up better than I do. Regardless of whether you like the shiny finish or not, the LG G8s ThinQ is fingerprint magnet. LG ships a silicon cover inside the box and you can use that to ensure that the phone remains pristine while you use it.
What a contrast! No, I not talking about the contrast of the LG G8s ThinQ screen. The contrast here is between the back of the phone and its display. The back is unnecessarily shiny. The screen is unnecessarily dull. The LG G8s ThinQ display is not bight enough.
The LG G8s ThinQ comes with a 6.2-inch full HD+ FullVision display, which has a resolution of 2248×1080 pixels and aspect ratio of 18.7:9. The phone uses an OLED display. In other words, everything is good on paper. In reality, however, the screen of the phone is a bit boring and comes as a bit of disappointment, especially after the kind of phones (and by extension displays) that LG has produced in the past.
The colours look good on the LG G8s ThinQ not as vibrant or vivid as you expect from a phone like this. The OnePlus 7T, for example, with similar price has a better display. The problem is that the display isn’t simply bright enough and even after putting the phone on maximum brightness, reading something on it under bright Delhi sun is a bit of a problem. The display, though, is perfect in low light conditions and indoor light.
One display feature I like in the LG G8s ThinQ is ability to customise always-on-display with a clipart. It is a welcoming change from the boring always-on-display that we see in a lot of smartphones these days.
There are five cameras in the LG G8s ThinQ (see specs above). While it is not the first LG phone to come with a triple rear camera setup, it is certainly the first to come with a Z camera. This Z-camera uses a Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensor and an IR Illuminator. It powers the phone’s face unlock system. It also powers the phone’s gesture navigation system and the palm-unlock system.
The 8MP front camera snaps decent shots in well-lit surroundings. But its portrait mode is disappointing as it often fails to blur the background in the portrait mode. The images this camera clicks look half-baked, although the colours in these images are spot on and have good contrast.
The rear camera system too is below average. It performs decently but never exceedingly well. The LG G8s ThinQ clicks good images in natural light. In these photos the colours are right, there isn’t any noticeable banding and colour noise is low. But in indoor light, the camera struggles. While colours are yet again quite nice in these images, the photos lack details. There is an AI mode in the LG G8s ThinQ camera app, but that doesn’t make any difference. The camera performance of this phone in low light is not good.
In extreme low light, say on a dimly-lit road at 10PM, the camera performance of the LG G8s ThinQ is shoddy. Even using LG’s version of “night sight” doesn’t help as the photos clicked in low light lack details and look dull. The G8s ThinQ’s night sight does help in evening and you can click some interesting shades in the evening, but at night, the camera isn’t of much use.
There are unique camera features in the G8s ThinQ. The triple shot mode helps you snap pictures using all the three rear cameras at once and let you pick which one you want to keep. Then there is the Cine Shot Mode, which captures cinemagraphs – GIF like videos where the subject is in motion while everything else is stationary. You can even go live on YouTube through the G8s ThinQ using the YouTube Live Camera mode.
One thing that I absolutely love about the LG smartphones is their user interface. You can customize every aspect of an LG phone using the extensive set of controls that the company offers. The G8s ThinQ takes advantage of the company’s this extraordinary UI, giving users the freedom to experiment.
This phone has some really cool features. The LG G8s ThinQ, like all premium budget LG smartphones, comes with a second screen feature. While one screen displays your latest conversations, the other gives a detailed account of all your recent activity on your phone, whether it is an email that you have opened or a web page that you have visited. You can customise the apps that you want to see in your second screen. You can also customise the look of the second screen to pick between a notched look and a bezeled design.
The top drawer of the phone, where quick settings are bunched together, you also get some innovative features, including features such as Capture+ and Screen Recording. Then there is the Eco Playback feature that dims the overall brightness of the phone as you listen to the music. There is also a Comfort View icon that adds a shade of warm to your phone’s display for reading during the night time.
The user interface of the LG G8s ThinQ is clean, well organised and responsive. Apps are bunched together in folders, depending on their functionality. There is a “Management” folder housing apps such as the File Manager, App Trash, LG Mobile Switch, Update Centre, etc. There is “Essentials” folder storing apps Contacts, Music, E-mail, Calendar, Tasks and HD Audio Recorder that you tend to use frequently. LG has extended the same cleanliness and orderliness to its Settings apps as well. All the elaborated controls are neatly tucked under their respective sub-sections, which is easy to access and use.
Gesture navigation is another key feature of the LG G8s ThinQ. This means you can wave your hands in front of the phone to skip a song on it or for answer or rejecting calls. It’s somewhat similar to Google Pixel 4’s Motion Sense features, except that the Google phone uses a miniaturised (Soli) radar while the LG G8s ThinQ uses the Z-camera.
This Z-camera also powers the phone’s Hand ID based bio-authentication system. Hand ID, instead of scanning your face or your fingerprint, scans your hand to make a map of the blood vessels spread across the palm. This pattern, just like fingerprint, is unique. That said, LG admits that the Hand ID is less secure that other means of screen unlock. But a less secure system is not the only issue with the entire gesture navigation and Hand ID setup. The entire system is still raw and is cumbersome to use.
The Hand ID works only when hand is placed over the phone in a certain position. You have to literally train your mind to use it properly, and in most cases it takes an awful amount of time to get it right. Same is true for gesture navigation. You need to use carefully crafted moves to use the gesture navigation and even then there is no guarantee that they will reliably work. The fingerprint sensor and the face unlock system, on the other hand, are reliable and work efficiently.
As far as the overall performance is concerned, the LG G8s ThinQ does a good job. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset is speedy. You can watch videos, surf through your social media accounts and play games on the phone without the phone giving so much as a nervous hiccup even once.
LG has done a decent job with the battery of the LG G8s ThinQ. The phone’s 3,550mAh can reliably last throughout the day for regular use. I used it for checking my emails, listening to music during my hour-long daily commute, reading news articles and browsing through my social media feed and it lasted for an entire day without me having to worry about the battery running out towards the end of the day. But you do have to recharge every night for the next day’s use. The good bit is that it takes just an hour and a half to charge the phone completely.
Should you buy the LG G8s ThinQ?
The LG G8s ThinQ is a decent phone. But there are better options at this price in the Indian market. A lot has changed since February when this phone was launched.
The G8s ThinQ does have a few things going for it. It looks trendy, albeit too shiny. It has innovative features like the Hand ID, gesture navigation and tools like the Capture+ and Eco Playback features that not only make it easier for the users to use it but also to explore it. User interface is nice, performance good and battery reliably.
But then there is other side to it. The camera could have been better. The display is dull in strong sunlight. The gesture navigation needs a lot of work. And the price is too high. This is the price at which phones like the OnePlus 7T sell. Then there are the devices like the iPhone XR, which too are around the similar price point in various sales. Against these phones, the G8s ThinQ looks overpriced.