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LG G8X ThinQ review: Hands on with LG’s hinged folding phone

LG improves on its dual-screen phone design and you’ll actually be able to buy this one in the UK

LG doesn’t normally launch flagship phones at the Berlin IFA technology show – it normally reserves that privilege for its mid-range and budget K-series handsets – but this year it’s bringing out the big guns with the introduction of the LG G8X ThinQ.

A refinement of the LG G8 announced earlier this year, the LG G8X has a folding design and twin 6.4in displays, plus all the usual specifications you’d expect of a flagship phone in 2019.

This is no Samsung Galaxy Fold, however. While that phone uses flexible LCD technology that, once unfolded, provides a seamless expanse of screen, the LG G8X comes in the form of separate, twin displays, joined together at the hip by a hinge.

LG G8X ThinQ review: Specifications, price and release date

  • 2 x 6.4in, 2,220 x 1,080 AMOLED displays
  • 2.8GHz Octa-core Qualcomm 855 processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB Storage
  • Dual rear camera: 12MP primary camera, with OIS; wide-angle 13MP camera
  • Front camera: 32MP
  • IP68 dust and water resistance, MIL-STD-810G tested
  • USB Type-C charging with Fast Charge 4 support
  • In-display fingerprint reader
  • 76 x 8.4 x 159mm (WDH), 192g
  • Price: Not announced
  • Release date: Not announced

LG G8X ThinQ review: Key features and first impressions

The LG G8X definitely isn’t as exotic as the “proper” folding phones we’ve been waiting on for so long but, then, it’s not likely to be as plagued by problems as those handsets have been, either. 

For starters, hinges and clamshell designs such as these are a tried and tested tech we’ve seen before in mobile phones. The displays themselves aren’t required to bend, so LG has been able to top them with scratch-resistant glass and, because the displays fold inwards when you fold the phone away, there’s no way your keys and other sharp objects can damage them.

As for those worried about the size and weight of the thing, there’s more good news: the second screen isn’t a permanent attachment. Instead, it’s mounted in what looks like a folio case which you can pop your phone out of at any time. If you don’t want to take the whole shebang out with you on a night out, for instance, you can leave half of it at home.

Even then, the LG G8X doesn’t feel too bulky or clunky. Sure, the LG G8X is thicker and heavier than most regular smartphones but if you normally carry around yours in a flip case, you won’t notice too much of a difference.

LG has also, rather neatly, included a third display on the reverse of the second screen. This small, monochrome screen displays the time and basic notifications so you keep up to date without having to power on the phone and open it up.

What is weird about the design of the second screen in particular is that it has a small, teardrop notch at the top, despite not needing one – there is no selfie camera on this screen. When questioned about why the notch was there an LG spokesperson said this was for reasons of symmetry. I think it’s much more likely to do with being able to use screens from the same stock pool as the phone itself, thus saving a bit of money. 

Either way, the whole thing hangs together a lot better than the first LG G8 dual-screen effort we saw at MWC earlier this year. The phone itself doesn’t stand out in any particular way but together with the second screen it certainly offers something different.

The success of the LG G8X will likely hinge on what you can actually do with the second screen. And here, the picture is less than clear. Naturally, LG has worked on its own apps and software to deliver second screen features. In the Gallery app, for example, it’s possible to select a thumbnail image on the main screen and have the full version displayed on the secondary screen. It’s also possible to have the keyboard shown full on one display and your document or message on the other above, like some mini laptop.

One thing to note, however, is that the two screens will be treated separately from each other and not as a single entity that apps can stretch images and video across. That makes sense as there is quite a sizeable screen border between the two screens. Watching a movie stretched across them wouldn’t be the best experience.

LG G8X ThinQ review: Cameras, performance and features

As for the rest of the package, that looks surprisingly good. As befits any flagship phone launched in 2019 it has the fastest, most efficient Qualcomm chip at the helm – the octa-core Snapdragon 855. It comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage plus a microSD card slot if you happen to run out of space. Backed with a 4,000mAh battery this ought to deliver both slick performance and decent battery life.

There’s also a pretty good rear camera setup, if LG’s third-party testing is to be believed. Using VCX’s test results, the 12-megapixel primary and 13-megapixel wide-angle camera setup scored 77, which is five points better than the superb Huawei P30. Clearly, LG doesn’t think much of DxOMark’s (the organisation most other phone manufacturers quote) camera testing methodology. Essentially, the camera is identical to the camera in the much-reviewed LG G8.

The rest is considerably less exciting fare. You’re getting “perfectly balanced” 1.2W stereo speakers, a newly revamped software UI (running on top of Android, naturally), and a collection of gimmicky extras, the most eye-catching of which is a video mode optimised for recording ASMR (auto sensory meridian response) videos.

Slightly less superficial is the ability to adjust gamma, a feature aimed at anyone frustrated by the inability to see what’s going on in dark movies, TV scenes or games. Essentially, this allows you to brighten the dark parts of the display without making the brighter parts look washed out.

LG G8X ThinQ review: Early verdict

It’s hard to tell how good the LG G8X might be at this stage for various reasons but mainly because LG has been so inconsistent with its phones over the past few years. It’s followed good phones up with poor ones with such regularity that you just don’t know what you’re going to get.

First impressions of this one are more positive than the original LG G8 but we’ll have to wait and see. At least LG has committed to bringing the G8X to the UK and Europe. We await review samples with interest.

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