LG G8s ThinQ Review: An interesting, if slightly dated phone

Mala Bhargava | Updated on January 16, 2020 Published on January 16, 2020

A mix of features we’ve left behind with unique ones on top of a great screen and nice cameras

Is this last year’s phone? You’d be forgiven for thinking that of the LG G8s ThinQ because it was indeed shown off about a year ago. For some reason known only to LG, it came into India many months later and to us for review, even later than that. All the same, the phone is available to buy so it’s only right and proper that we should have a look at what it offers.

The G8s ThinQ comes from LG’s ‘G’ line, which is their flagship series. Each year, a G phone comes with some changes so that they don’t necessarily look as if they belong to the same lineup. No matter. The G8s does look premium in its own way even though it wears a look we’ve seen before on a few other smartphones. It’s a ‘Mirror Black’ and though it doesn’t seem terribly black, it does seem considerably mirror, looking a little like a one-way tinted glass. It’s reflective enough for you to comb your hair with but perhaps not too reliable to use to fine-tune your makeup. But the shininess does mean lots of fingerprints all over. There’s a case provided, but then there go the looks. What makes it feel premium is a solid build combined with that shiny look. It’s not very light or slim, but rather more on the substantial side.

Straight off, as one turns it over to switch on, there’s a moment of confusion as one looks for the power button in all the usual places. It turns out to be unusually high up on the right edge. In my time of using it, I could never reach that spot, but perhaps people with larger hands will have better luck. Right under the power button, where you least expect it to be, is the SIM tray. Needless to say, I keep pressing that to turn on the phone, with very little luck. On the left edge are the volume buttons and an extra button to call up the Google Assistant without alerting everyone around that you’re talking to your phone.

Turn on the device and you’re in for both a disappointment and a delight. Delight because the screen is pretty nice, colourful and bright and generally neat looking. Disappointment because there’s an almighty big broad notch on top of thicker edges than we are now used to. Why, I cannot guess. But as they say, it is what it is.

To run through some of the specs, we have a 6.2-inch OLED HD+ display with a notch, Gorilla Glass 6 and 5 protection, 3,550mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 and wireless charging, Snapdragon 855, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, hybrid SIM tray, 3.5mm jack, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, Android 9 Pie. It’s a mix of acceptable and dated specs for a flagship phone, though it is less expensive than most other phones that do have more contemporary specs. The G8s does perform pretty well, despite that. We don’t have to think too far back to remember that Snapdragon 855 was the choice for flagship phones, only succeeded by the 855+ with 865 devices still to come.

Palm unlock

LG’s interface has never been particularly popular or admired. For the most part, one can live with it, though. At least all the Settings options are logically and neatly organised unlike with many more updated interfaces. In fact, LG’s interface does have plenty of tweaks and customisations that you can tinker with. You can use three taps to wake up the phone, or even a ‘knock’ pattern to unlock. The fingerprint sensor on this phone is a physical one, located on the back and quite easily reachable. It works well, with a good functional speed. But here’s one more way to unlock the phone, apart from the usual pins, patterns, taps, and face unlock. The phone supports hand gestures so you can show your palm (after registering it, of course) to unlock. It does work but is less secure though quite usable if you’re in a safe enough place and if you’re using it as a party trick.

Clear clicks

The primary camera on the G8s is a 12MP with f/1.8 and a wide angle lens of 13MP with f/2.4 aperture. There’s also a telephoto lens with 12MP and f/2.6. You have OIS and Dual pixel PDAF. The selfie camera is an 8MP with f/1.9 aperture. No matter what the specs, the cameras work very nicely with good clear images. Selfies are not overly softened either — you can always use something to achieve that. There are plenty of shooting modes and options including an AI mode to saturate the images the way people like them these days. The camera app is a bit busy, once you start looking. I’ve found people would rather just impulsively and quickly just click and be done with it.

The G8s competes directly with the OnePlus 7T which is about the same price. The OnePlus is a more sleek and more contemporary looking design. It comes with a slightly more advanced chipset. It also has a 90Hz refresh rate display. It also offers variants for more RAM and has much faster charging. But the G8s is water and dust resistance rated and has a sturdier build. The G8s also has a headphone jack and micro-SD card support. The cameras are comparable but the G8s seems to result in pretty nice clear and detailed images and has a wider wide angle lens and a TOF sensor for more secure Face Unlock. On the software front, the G8s has busier software with some interesting unique features but the OnePlus has what is considered the best Android experience.

Price: Rs 36,990, available for less

Pros: Strong build, very good display, premium feel, great cameras, a bouquet of unique features and customisations, good audio features

Cons: Unsightly notch, too reflective for some, dated features including Android version, busy interface that needs polishing, no variants offered, competition lurks

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Published on January 16, 2020
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