It’s not sufficient for LG that the G8 ThinQ has one of the best processor, a fantastic display screen, a formidable battery, and a strong digicam. Like practically each G telephone that got here earlier than, the G8 additionally needs to be totally different, and that’s the place it will get tripped up.
Had LG targeted on the issues that matter whereas undercutting its Samsung and Google rivals, it might need had a success on its fingers. Instead, the LG G8 is full of gimmicks that is likely to be enjoyable initially, however their persnicketiness and common uselessness in the end frustrate and cheapen the expertise.
That’s a disgrace, as a result of beneath the entire gimmicks is basically good telephone. Maybe even a fantastic one.
Mind you, the G8 remains to be saddled with LG’s overly staid design language and UI deficiencies. But with top-of-the-line specs and gesture navigation, LG’s newest flagship ought to have the ability to stand as much as the Galaxy S10 or Pixel 3 XL. And it most likely would, if not for all of these gimmicks.
This overview is a part of our ongoing roundup of the best Android phones. Go there for opinions of competing merchandise and the way we examined them, plus shopping for recommendation.
The design stays the identical
If you’ve ever seen the LG G7, you already know what the G8 seems to be like. It has the identical 6.1-inch show, ports, and general form, and is available in the identical two colours: black and silver. The devoted Google Assistant button stays. While the G8 is a contact heavier at 167 grams (versus 162 for the G7), the 2 telephones have an especially related aesthetic and body, proper right down to their unbalanced bezels:
- G8: 151.9 x 71.8 x 8.4mm
- G7: 153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9mm
Things are a bit totally different on the again. LG has mounted the digicam array horizontally fairly than vertically, bringing it extra in step with the V40 than with earlier ‘G’ telephones. It’s additionally totally encased beneath the glass, which provides it a sleeker, smoother look in comparison with different all-glass telephones. If not for the fingerprint sensor within the center, in truth, the again of the G8 could be simply as easy because the entrance. It’s a great look, and makes the digicam bumps on iPhone XS all of the extra ugly.
One downside to all that uninterrupted glass, nevertheless, is slipperiness. On a number of events, my G8 slipped off a desk that both had an in any other case imperceptible decline or was rattled sufficient to maneuver the G8. For the primary time since I’ve been writing telephone opinions, I truly needed to ship it again as a result of my first overview unit fell and cracked. So you’ll most likely wish to put it in a case, which negates the smoothness of the design.
A top-notch display screen, processor, and battery
The G8’s show is identical dimension and backbone because the G7’s, notch and all, however there’s one large change: LG has switched from LCD to OLED. LG’s OLED screens have been considerably problematic previously, with boring colours and banding, however there’s no such points right here. It’s undoubtedly a pleasant improve over final yr’s LCD, even with a notch that LG insists on calling a “new second screen.”
Audio continues to be one of many hallmarks of the LG’s flagships, and as such, the Quad DAC headphone jack and Boombox sound make a return on the G8. What isn’t current is a receiver on the entrance, however most customers most likely received’t discover it’s lacking. For one, there’s nothing within the design to point that it’s lacking, however most significantly, LG has developed a nifty know-how known as Crystal Sound OLED that makes use of vibrations to show the show right into a speaker, which could appear bizarre nevertheless it’s not. There’s no perceptible really feel to Crystal Sound when on a name, and it doesn’t sound like a speakerphone both. It’s one of the best sort of tech—it simply works.
Two different excessive factors on the G8 are its pace and battery life. Like the Galaxy S10, the G8 makes use of the latest Snapdragon 855 chip. Consequently it’s an absolute workhorse, launching, switching, and dealing with apps with ease. Benchmarks backed up my real-world impressions, and whereas it’s not an enormous enhance over the G7’s Snapdragon 845 (8,980 vs 7,832 primarily based on PC Mark’s Word 2.0 rating), it’s undoubtedly greater than sufficient pace for any consumer.
LG has upped the battery capability from 3,000mAh to 3,500mAh, and the distinction is obvious. For no matter purpose I haven’t been in a position to run PC Mark’s Work 2.0 battery life take a look at on an LG telephone because the G6, however suffice to say, it’s a marked enchancment over the G7, which was considerably disappointing. During my testing, I by no means needed to plug it in earlier than I used to be able to put it down for the night time. Only as soon as did I attain a crucial state under 15 p.c.
The G8 runs on Android 9, so that you get an analogous implementation of gesture navigation as you’ll discover on the Google Pixel. LG nonetheless hasn’t fairly mastered the app drawer, however the implementation is sweet and you may toggle again to the previous approach in case you’d choose.
Unfortunately, the remainder of UX 8.0 leaves a lot to be desired. LG’s Android pores and skin is each boring and unintuitive, with bloated settings, undesirable apps, and an general clunky aesthetic. Much like Samsung did with the wonderful One UI, it might use a whole makeover.
Time-of-flight is dumb on arrival
The remainder of the G8’s featured tech is the place the issues creep in. Filling the area left by the receiver within the notch is the G8’s distinctive signature function, a time-of-flight “Z Camera” entrance sensor that’s used for 3 issues: 3D facial unlock, vein and palm unlock, and touch-free gestures.
Let’s begin with one of the best of the three, facial unlock. It’s been greater than a yr and a half since Apple unveiled Face ID and the True Depth digicam within the iPhone X. The G8 is the primary Android telephone transport within the U.S. that even comes near mimicking the tech. The idea is identical—transfer your face in a round movement to register it and easily take a look at your telephone to unlock it—and in my testing it labored properly. The sight view is roughly the identical as Apple’s, so that you’ll want to carry your telephone straight as much as your face for it to work. I used to be impressed with the accuracy, although the angle isn’t as forgiving as it’s on the iPhone, and it lacks an consideration toggle for an additional layer of safety.
Hand ID, LG’s title for its weird palm unlocking function, doesn’t work practically as properly. Not solely did it fail to acknowledge my hand greater than half the time, however I struggled to discover a reputable case state of affairs by which it might be helpful. Even if it labored, elevating your palm to your telephone whereas holding it with the opposite hand is cumbersome at greatest. Presumably LG is pondering of these occasions when your G8 is mendacity flat on a desk. But it’s simply as fast to make use of a sample or a PIN.
While Apple has baked Face ID into all facets of iOS, LG reserves face unlock and Hand ID for unlocking. That’s partly as a result of Android doesn’t help time-of-flight scanners for system-wide authentication, and partly as a result of LG has targeted its time-of-flight improvements on what is likely to be probably the most ineffective function to ever seem on a smartphone: Air Motion.
Sadly, it is also the G8’s most marketable function, permitting you to regulate elements of the telephone with no need to the touch the display screen. Instead of faucets and swipes, you maintain your hand a few six inches from the entrance digicam till your hand is acknowledged. Then you’ll be able to wave to do issues like play music and reply calls, and twist to lift and decrease the amount. It’s one thing individuals are going to wish to check out and it’d even persuade just a few individuals to purchase one.
However, it does not nothing to make the G8 higher. When Air Motion works, it’s enjoyable to make use of and exhibit. There’s an incredible potential for accessibility that would alleviate the necessity for cumbersome head switches, and the prospect of waving your hand to dismiss a name is sort of intriguing. As it at the moment stands, nevertheless, Air Motion requires a precision most customers received’t be prepared to cope with. It’s nonetheless simpler to press the buttons.
A digicam with little new to supply
There’s nothing unsuitable with the G8’s digicam, there’s simply not a lot new about it both. Like the G7, the G8 has a twin digicam, and the specs are very related:
- G7: 16MP, f/1.6, 1 μm + 16MP, f/1.9, 1 μm
- G8: 12MP, f/1.5, 1.4 μm + 16MP, f/1.9, 1 μm
As such, the 2 telephones take very related pics. In an age of triple and quadruple cameras, the G8’s array feels a bit pedestrian. Its ultra-wide lens is now not a novelty, and what was as soon as a number one digicam app is kind of run-of-the-mill now. Thankfully, the ThinQ bits have been toned down, too: For occasion, the AI Cam, which used to visually course of each side of the scene with phrases that flew throughout the display screen, is little greater than regular computational changes on the fly now.
The G8’s digicam provides just a few enhancements. Auto focus works higher and quicker, and the brand new Night View mode isn’t practically as synthetic trying because the Super Bright Camera mode was on the G7. However, when evaluating the G*’s photographs to these of a top-notch digicam such because the Pixel 3, and even final yr’s Samsung Galaxy S9, the variations are stark.
For $849, I anticipated extra from the LG G8. It’s a bummer than it reserved its triple-camera setup for the worldwide variant. Last yr’s LG V40 has one of the best cameras in a smartphone, if for no different purpose than it was tremendous enjoyable to make use of, however the G8’s digicam is simply drained.
Should you purchase an LG G8?
There are loads of causes to purchase the G8: top-of-the-line processor, glorious battery life, nice display screen, strong digicam. But nice specs and good aren’t sufficient once you’re competing with the Galaxies and Pixels of the world. The distinctive options that ought to make the G8 worthy of its $829 price ticket are sadly the place it falls quick.
The G8 could be simpler to advocate if it had been $200 cheaper. As it stands, you may get a Galaxy S10e or an iPhone XR for $70 lower than a G8, and each of these ship a greater UI and equal or higher efficiency with out a budget tips. The G8’s time-of-flight tips solely serve to cheapen the expertise, fairly than strengthen it with robust facial recognition and portrait photographs.
So if you may get it for a wholesome low cost, I suppose the G8 is price contemplating. But even then, I’d most likely advocate the Galaxy S10e as a substitute. For my cash, the G8 is only one too many gimmicks over the road.