LG G8s ThinQ - unobtrusive iPhone clone

LG's smartphone branch has been yearning for sales success for years and is making another attempt with the G8s ThinQ. Are high-end specifications, three cameras on the back and gesture control enough to choose this device over the competition? You can read it in this LG G8s ThinQ review.

LG G8s ThinQ

MSRP € 699,-

Colors Black

OS Android 9.0 (LG shell)

Screen 6.21 inch OLED (2248 x 1080)

Processor 2.8GHz octa-core (Qualcomm Snapdragon 855)

RAM 6GB

Storage 128GB (expandable)

Battery 3,550 mAh

Camera 12, 13 and 12 megapixels (rear), 8 megapixels (front)

Connectivity 4G (LTE), Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC

Format 15.2 x 7.2 x 0.8 cm

Weight 167 grams

Other 3D Face Protection, Gesture Control, Headphone Port

Website www.lge.com/nl 6 Score 60

  • Pros
  • Premium and complete design
  • Powerful hardware
  • Good battery life
  • Negatives
  • Smooth Fingerprint Magnet
  • Photo quality cameras
  • Software(policy)
  • Gesture control is disappointing

LG presented the G8s ThinQ at the end of February, along with the G8 ThinQ. The latter is not coming to the Netherlands, the G8s ThinQ has been for sale since mid-July for a suggested retail price of 699 euros. At the time of publication, mid-August, you can buy the smartphone from 499 euros. A huge price difference, especially in such a short period of time. The G8s ThinQ is now a direct competitor to the Samsung Galaxy S10e, Huawei P30 and Xiaomi Mi 9.

Strange Button Design

In any case, the exterior of the G8s ThinQ reminds a lot of the competition. A glass back that looks nice for one minute and then is a fingerprint magnet, three cameras on the back and a USB-C port on the bottom. The presence of a 3.5mm audio port is nice, which is no longer standard on this type of device. The G8s ThinQ is also waterproof and dustproof (IP68).

Where more and more high-end smartphones have a fingerprint scanner under the display, LG provides the G8s ThinQ with a trusted scanner on the back. We're fine with that, because it's fast, accurate and reliable. The button layout is less appealing to us. The on and off button on the right side is remarkably high, with a SIM card slot underneath. As a right-handed user you automatically press the SIM card slot and as a left-handed user it is completely difficult to reach the on and off button. The volume buttons on the left side are ideally placed for left-handers. Below these keys is a separate button that starts the Google Assistant with one push or opens Google Lens after clicking twice. You can talk to the Assistant, while Lens recognizes objects in the camera app. Handy techniques, but you can also start them by holding the virtual home button for a second. We therefore find the usefulness of a special button limited.

Face protection a la iPhone X

Something else that stands out: the front of expensive smartphones increasingly consists of screen. Edges get narrower and narrower and the much-needed selfie camera disappears into a notch or pops out of the top. LG does that completely differently and provides the G8s ThinQ with a notch that occupies at least two-thirds of the screen edge. This makes the device reminiscent of the iPhone X and newer. This notch contains a speaker, selfie camera, infrared sensor and Time of Flight sensor. LG calls the infrared and TOF sensor together the Z-Camera and it is used for face protection. This 3D technique is safer than facial recognition via the selfie camera as is possible on many smartphones. However, LG's technology can't quite match Apple's Face ID for the iPhone, because that method uses an extra sensor.

After making a 3D scan, the G8s ThinQ usually accurately unlocks your face, even in the dark. The scanner does take a long time, at least a second. Another disadvantage is that you have to keep your face straight or oblique in front of the cameras and that is not always the case. If the smartphone is on your desk, you will first have to pick it up to unlock it. Using the fingerprint scanner is therefore not possible because it is located on the back of the device. A fingerprint scanner behind the screen is more practical at these times.

The stereo speakers (one in the notch, one on the bottom of the smartphone) deliver decent sound.

Display

The screen of the G8s ThinQ measures 6.21 inches and that is comparable to the direct competition. Although that is quite substantial, you can operate the smartphone nicely with one hand. LG has also included a one-handed mode in the software and it works well.

The display is an OLED panel with a high maximum brightness, although the Samsung Galaxy S10e can be a bit brighter. The screen calibration leaves a lot to be desired. Colors don't look as realistic and white is more greyish. We would have expected a better adjusted screen in an expensive smartphone from a display manufacturer such as LG. You can tinker a lot with the screen display in the settings of the G8s ThinQ, so that is not an unnecessary luxury.

By the way, keep in mind that there is only one app icon in the notification bar. Due to the wide notch and information as time, there is no more space. That takes getting used to.

Gesture Control

A special feature on the G8s ThinQ is the gesture control. The TOF sensor on the front allows you to partially operate the device without touching the screen. Do you get a call? Swipe left or right to answer or decline the call. With a pinch you take a screenshot and by turning your hand you change the volume of the music. Swipe gestures also let you pause the music and skip to the next track. Very nice possibilities on paper, but in practice the gestures often do not work well. Plus, we wonder how useful they are. In short: a nice concept that falls short in the implementation.

Smooth hardware

The specifications of the G8s ThinQ are very standard for a high-end smartphone at the moment. Under the hood runs a Snapdragon 855 processor and the working memory measures 6GB. The device is nice and fast and handles all apps and games effortlessly. Still, the G8s ThinQ doesn't feel as smooth as the Galaxy S10e or OnePlus 7, probably because the software isn't fully optimized.

With 128GB of storage memory, you have plenty of space for multimedia and apps. This is also common in this segment. You can further increase the memory with a micro SD card. If you don't need a memory card, the smartphone takes an extra SIM card and you therefore benefit from dual SIM. Of course, the G8s ThinQ also has NFC, Bluetooth 5.0 and 4G.

Three cameras on the back

Like many competing smartphones, the G8s ThinQ features three cameras on the back. The primary lens is a 12 megapixel one with an aperture of f/1.8. A 13-megapixel wide-angle lens captures a wider picture and is especially useful for large buildings, landscapes and group shots. Finally, there is a 12 megapixel zoom lens that offers a few zooms.

The regular camera is of good quality and almost always takes decent pictures. The night mode is disappointing and only seems to adjust the ISO value. In any case, the Google Pixel 3 and Huawei P30 Pro take much better photos in the dark. The G8s' wide-angle lens doesn't win a prize either. It is true that there is more to fit, but the pictures seem to have been taken from the ground. Objects are tilted backwards on it and that looks crazy. Here, too, competing devices do better. The zoom lens brings the image closer with minimal loss of quality, which is handy. The photo quality is fine, but not as good as that of the primary lens.

Below you see two situations with first the primary camera, then the wide angle and then the zoom.

Battery life and charging

If the G8s ThinQ is almost empty, you can charge the battery with the included Quick Charge 3.0 plug. With 18W, this charger has no special power. iPhones (5W) and the Samsung Galaxy S10 (15W) charge slower, but there are plenty of competitors that charge with 22W or more. The higher this number, the faster the battery is full again. That takes a while with the G8s ThinQ, also because the battery capacity with 3550 mAh is slightly larger than average.

Our tests show that the battery charges exactly from 0 to 30 percent after half an hour. Full charging takes a long time: about 2.5 hours. You can also charge the battery wirelessly, but that is even slower with 9W. We don't find that a problem, because the battery life of the device is fine. With normal use, the battery has about thirty percent left in the evening. Charging at night is therefore the most convenient. If you take it easier, you can also refuel halfway through the second day.

Software and updates

The LG G8s ThinQ runs as you would expect on Android 9.0 (Pie). We now know this version inside and out, but LG still manages to surprise. The self-developed shell differs in several respects from the standard Android software. For example, the settings screen contains four tabs for different settings. A nice idea, but the layout takes some getting used to. All in all, we do not find the navigation an improvement compared to the list of settings as it is in Android.

The software also makes separate choices. For example, features that improve the display of the screen are disabled by default. And if you swipe down from the home screen to search your device or the internet, you can't type directly. You must first tap the search bar before the keyboard appears. Clumsy. There are even more quirks that make the software no more user-friendly than the standard Android version.

LG's update policy is also nothing to write home about. The manufacturer is usually very slow with the rollout of Android updates, also to its high-end devices. Improvements have been promised several times, but in practice we do not notice this. LG promises two years of Android updates for the G8s ThinQ. The first update will be Android 10.0 (Q) that will be released this fall. It is still unclear when the software for the smartphone will appear.

At the time of publication, the G8s ThinQ is running the May 1st Android security update. Google makes an update available every month, which means that LG is three months behind. That's a bad thing and competing smartphones get more frequent updates.

Conclusion: buy LG G8s ThinQ?

LG smartphones have been dealing with the problem for years that they do not excel in any area and are often as expensive as the competition. That is why it is difficult to recommend an LG device. The new G8s ThinQ cannot remedy this shortcoming. The smartphone scores pretty to good in all areas, but does nothing better than the rest. The 3D facial protection is an excellent feature, but not an improvement compared to a good fingerprint scanner. The hyped gesture control turns out to be disappointing. LG also has steps to make in the software field. All in all, the G8s ThinQ is a great smartphone, but for the same or less money you get a better smartphone. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S10e, Xiaomi Mi 9, Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro and Huawei P30 offer better value for money.

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