LG’s G8X ThinQ – Foldable(ish)

LG's Dual-Screen is a practical answer to foldables

TL;DR

Pro: Build quality, good bang for your buck, Dual Screen accessory included in the box, impressive audio quality.

Cons: Massive bezel when viewing content with both screens, software updates still lag behind (the G8X is still running on Android 9.0 Pie), the camera is “good” not amazing, the under-screen fingerprint reader is hit and miss, few apps for Dual Screen.

As mobile technology advances, phone manufacturers are trying their best to improve their offerings by bringing us the fastest, shiniest, most powerful phones in their attempt to keep us interested and to keep the industry moving forward.

We’ve gone from phones with physical buttons, slide-out keyboards, flip phones, rotating cameras, the iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile and now we have phones that have more RAM than the average computer with cameras that can be used to film professional-grade series and music videos.

There’s only so much you can do with the glass-slab form factor which has forced companies to push the boundaries of what we know smartphones to be with new designs.

Introducing the foldable era of smartphones.

Technically this could be considered the second generation if you count flip phones of the early 2000s. Todays’ foldables have come a long way since then, by seemingly bending glass, inventing new bendable plastic screens or giving us two screens attached together by plastic.

This is where LG’s G8X ThinQ comes in.

Instead of opting for a foldable display like Samsung’s Galaxy Fold or Z Flip or Huawei’s Mate X and Mate Xs, LG has opted to go with the more practical – and conservative – route by creating a phone that works with a second screen attachment to create a dual-screen device.

Inside the box is the LG G8X, a fast-charging brick, USB type C cable, Dual Screen accessory and wired earphones. You’ll also find a magnetic pin charger to charge the device when using the Dual Screen attachment included. While it is easy to lose, it’s worth noting that the phone can be charged wirelessly even when using the Dual Screen attachment.

The G8X features a 6.4” OLED screen with 403 PPI display with a dewdrop notch and a dual rear camera setup with a 12 MP, f/1.8, 27mm standard lens and 13 MP, f/2.4, 9mm ultrawide lens with a 32MP selfie camera up front. All of this is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset and a 4000mAh battery.

The camera on the G8X shows that the company has come a long way since its previous phones. The rear 12MP camera takes excellent pictures with great colour accuracy and the 13MP ultrawide camera does a great job of fitting everything in the picture while maintaining a decent level of quality. Low-light images are good and bright thanks to Night View but are not on the same level as those taken with the iPhone 11 Pro or Huawei’s P30 Pro. With a 32MP selfie camera, you’d expect excellent quality pictures, but somehow, it’s a miss here.

On the video front, LG is touting 4K video recording on this phone, which should be great for all those content creators out there.

In terms of security, LG have moved away from the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor found on the G8S ThinQ and have opted for an under-display fingerprint scanner in the G8X, making it easier to unlock when the somewhat cumbersome Dual Screen is attached.

LG continue to be rebels in a time of USB-C and Bluetooth headphones as they have maintained the 3.5mm audio jack, which is a great benefit for a device with 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC tuned by Meridian Audio.

Unlike Samsung, who has finally removed the “structural bloatware” that is the Bixby button, LG has retained the Google Assistant button on the G8X but has removed the facial recognition and hand ID technology found in the G8.

Looking at all of these stats, it’s clear that on paper, the G8X is a very capable modern flagship smartphone but in reality, it’s a device that won’t be blowing you away, until you attach the LG Dual Screen accessory that is. This phone goes from being ordinary to something completely different. You now have a dual-screen (foldable) phone with a 360-degree hinge that works seamlessly. The outside of the Dual Display attachment has a 2.1″ low-resolution screen which shows notifications and the time when the phone is closed.

When opened, the Dual Display uses the same notched display panel like the one on the G8X itself which means that you get the same display quality on both screens.

With the Dual Display, you can use a different app on each screen at the same time, which means that you’ll be able to do everything from watching a YouTube on one screen and using Whatsapp on the other.

Thanks to the 360 Freestop Hinge, you can fold the screen into various configurations which gives you more versatility when using it for watching your favourite content, much like a high-end laptop with a 360-degree hinge. Another great feature is the ability to have your browser stretch across both screens, something that LG calls “Diverse Multitasking.”

One of the standout features of the LG Dual Screen is gaming. This is where LG has other smartphone manufacturers against the ropes.

The Dual Screen lets you use one screen for your mobile game and the other screen as your control pad. What’s even better is that it allows you to customize a Game Pad to the game you’re playing. This didn’t work all that well with every single game I played on the phone but on some – like Fortnite and Asphalt 9 – it worked better than expected. I did experience some issues with this Game Pad but I can excuse the app development because it’s still in its infancy and needs more developers to work with their apps to optimize them for this type of dual-screen device.

As e-gaming explodes globally and many children half your age earn millions for winning a single gaming championship, mobile gaming will be an ever-growing option for gamers around the world. This phone seems to want to please this niche market, while still being grown-up and allowing you to work with both screens and do “grown-up” things (whatever you think those are).

The verdict:
The LG G8X ThinQ is a great phone that does everything a phone is meant to do and it does it well. W hile the design might be understated, the build quality is flagship premium and results in this being a truly beautifully made phone.

Now I know a phone doing the bare basics shouldn’t be our standard for what makes a great phone in 2020, but if I’m being honest, LG isn’t known for this.  The past few generations of LG handsets, from the G5 onwards, have shown us that the company has lost the lead and the focus it had with the G4, and have focused too much on “gimmicks” which they had hoped would make their phones stand out from the crowd.

The UX is LG’s latest and is beautifully simple- a sentiment that I know is not shared by everyone – even removing their own in-house apps for Google alternatives, thereby removing the bloatware. While this phone can certainly not be called “foldable” in the same way you’d call the Huawei Mate X and Samsung Galaxy Fold a foldable, it’s still safe to call it a Dual Screen in 2020. While we have only begun to see how different manufacturers go about bringing more screen real-estate to their phones, LG have given us a great, practical example of how to go about this.