This is a smartphone that had its launch in February, but hit stores in Europe in July. This is a great device, though the manufacturer deprived it of some elements, which until now distinguished top LG models from their competition.
LG did not introduce G8 ThinQ and V50 ThinQ models to the European market, which is why LG G8s is a smartphone that is supposed to fight with the flagship competition. This is an elegant, solid and efficient flagship, which leaves a bit to be desired in some aspects.
The strong CPU, loads of memory, the quality of construction, the presence of stereo speakers or the wireless charging deserve a commendation. There is a nice camera with wide angle and triple optical zoom and an enhanced module at the front (Z Camera), which covers a ToF sensor and infrared illuminator. In addition the whole is dust- and waterproof and it fulfils the military standards when it comes to falls. On the other hand there is a too wide notch and the glass housing that easily catches fingerprints. There is no Boombox speaker and Hi-Fi Quad DAC system – especially the latter one is one of the most important and distinguishable features of LG flagships. The camera is slightly weaker than the one in LG G8 ThinQ and the display has “only” Full HD+ resolution. Still, even deprived of some functions, G8s is still a great model, which works in every usages and has a lot to show off against competitions’ flagships.
- Packaging and accessories. Housing and display
- System and applications
- Sound. Photos and video
- Communication. Voice calls. Efficiency (benchmarks)
- Battery. Summary. Advantages and disadvantages
Packaging and accessories
LG G8s ThinQ is packed in an inconspicuous, black box. Inside, next to the phone, we will find a USB cable and a charger (9V-1,8A/5V-1,8A), earphones and a needle for opening the tray for SIM/microSD cards. In the set there is a silicone etui as well, which is solid and fits tightly and protects the smartphone efficiently. Though I must add that it influences the usage in some way – the upper part of the plastic is so thick that we need to put more force into pressing buttons.
Housing and display
LG spent no expenses on the quality of assembly of its smartphones. Here both the design and the quality of used materials are of the highest class. The whole is profiled great, but the ergonomics of this smartphone was not thought through to some degree. First of all, the device is rather wide and it influences both the comfort of usage and how the phone lies in hand (especially when we will put the etui on). Second of all – physical buttons. LG placed the power/lock button a bit too high – on the right edge of the device, but around 2 cm above where our thumb rests while holding the phone. I can complain about keeping G8s clean. The smartphone catches fingerprints both on the front and on the back, and the back panel is simply a mirror.
When it comes to looks, we can only complain about the fact that LG G8s is far from contemporary trends that are among the highest shelf smartphones. Next to a model like OnePlus 7 Pro, LG G8s ThinQ looks a bit old. The display is surrounded by a visible bezel, at the backs there is a round fingerprint scanner (in flagships this is a passé solution) and the wide notch only makes it worse. From positive sides we need to draw our attention to the solidness. The glass backs of LG G8s are protected by Gorilla Glass 6, and the display – Gorilla Glass 5. In addition the phone is resistant to falls (MIL-STD-810G) and has the IP68 certificate of dust- and waterproofness.
I have no major concerns towards the display – it is big, bright, readable, with great colours and view ability angles. This is an OLED panel with 6.21-inch diagonal and 18.7:9 ratio, which supports HDR10 and Always-On-Display. The display resolution is 2248x1080 pixels, which gives 401 ppi – you cannot see single pixels with your naked eye. When it comes to LG G8 ThinQ we can only notice that the manufacturer decided not to use a QHD+ display (1440x3120) in favour of a FullHD+ one. The display is surrounded by a not-so-discreet bezel, especially in the bottom part. While in the upper part of the display there is a large and a not too aesthetical notch, which can be hidden thanks to an appropriate function in settings. But the wideness of the notch is justified. LG packed not only the speaker for calls (that works as the secondary speaker) and the selfies camera, but the ToF sensor and the infrared camera as well.
They are responsible for the heightened security of the biometric authorization access to the device: 3D face scanning and Hand ID. The ToF module provides an additional novelty – controlling the device using gestures above the display (AirMotion). 3D face scan, which is now conducted not only by the front camera, but with the ToF sensor as well, is much quicker, safer and more comfortable than a typical facial recognition, in addition it works at night as well.
Hand ID is unlocking the smartphone using veins scanning. What is more, we can wake and unlock the screen without touching it – we just need to hold the hand above the phone for a moment. It requires getting used to this and some precision, it works slower than the rest of biometrical security, but it remains a cool, unconventional alternative for the fingerprint scanner and facial recognition – and it is supposedly much safer. In total, LG G8s offers four security methods: a traditional pattern, PIN or password, fingerprint scan, facial recognition and veins scanning.
AirMotion are gestures made by the user above the display, which are supposed to provide a touch-less control. Appropriate motions control the music, changing the volume or taking screenshots. How does it work? We need to hold our hand around 20 cm above the notch and wait for the Z Camera to detect it. After that we need to arrange our hand into a shape of a claw and move appropriately to selected functions. However, this is an innovation that looks better in theory than in practice, in my opinion it is not too intuitive and requires too much time and precision. I cannot imagine that someone could choose this gymnastics above the display instead of a quicker and more natural pressing of buttons or touching the display.
At the back panel, our attention is mostly drawn by the triple camera module with a LED flash, which is placed horizontally. It stands slightly above the panel, however if we will put on the etui from the set, the level difference is compensated. At the back we can find the fingerprint scanner as well – a round element can be found under the camera module and our index finger can reach it without any problems. There is a printed manufacturer’s logo and the name of the model, and in the lower part we can notice barely visible markings and certificates.
Two glass panels are connected by a metal frame, intersected with antennas’ bars, on which there is an enhanced set of elements. On the left we have buttons for volume control and a button for waking up the Google Assistant (we can turn it off in settings), while on the right there is a power/lock button, placed too high in order to easily reach it with our thumb. Below this button there is a tray for SIM cards in the nano size and a microSD card. This is a hybrid solution, in which one socket is used for placing either a SIM or a memory drive cards. On the upper edge we can only find the hole of the microphone for the noise reduction, while the lower edge is packed the most – we can find here a universal jack, the hole of the main microphone, USB-C socket and the external speaker.
System and applications
The smartphone works with Android 9 Pie and the LG UX add-on, along with security updates from the 1st of May 2019. The LG interface is not for those who prefer the pure Android. It has a different looks, different notifications bar, settings menu is spread in other way and provides numerous additional functions:
- we can select the main screen with all apps or with a separate tray with apps,
- themes support,
- New Second Screen – that is the possibility to hide the notch or adding different colours to it (in LG apps). Let us add that the wideness of the notch makes icons more cramped, there are no chances to show battery level in percent,
- the possibility to control using buttons or gestures,
- True View – the possibility to adjust the colour of the display to the light around us,
- HDR video effect,
- reading mode (blue light filter),
- comfortable brightness control from the level of notifications bar,
- display colour – we can choose 6 predefined settings and the expert mode, in which we can adjust the colours temperature, RGB levels and saturation, shades and sharpness of the display,
- the possibility to quickly run Google Assistant using the button on the side of the housing – in settings we can deactivate it, but we cannot program it for another function,
- numerous personalization options of the Always-On-Display function,
- Smart Doctor app for monitoring, testing and diagnosing,
- Floating Bar – additional bar with shortcuts to different functions,
- Context Awareness – changing settings, running modules or apps and reminding us about different things based on our usage and location,
- dual app – cloning apps like Facebook or Messenger to be used on another account,
- Shortcuts – apps and functions run with shortcuts using physical buttons,
- KnockON – dual tap that turns the display on or off,
- Games Manager – functions dedicated for gaming, like turning notifications off while gaming, making pauses or adjusting the graphics in games.
Besides the set of services from Google, among the preinstalled software we can find utility apps (mail, files manager, tasks, music) and apps like SmartThinQ, LG Health, LG Mobile Switch, RemoteCall or QuickMemo+. Among the preinstalled soft from external manufacturers we have Facebook, Instagram and Amazon Assistant – the latter one cannot be uninstalled.
The smartphone ensures a great sound – not only does it have stereo speakers (the speaker on the lower edge and above the display), but it can boast with the DTS-X 3D technology and the cooperation with the Meridian company as well.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer did not use the Boombox speakers and instead installed the Hi-Fi Quad DAC system (which is a quad, 32-bit converter and earphones amplifier from the ESS Sabre series), which other smartphones from the G or V series could boast. For those who care about the best quality of music through earphones, this is a big disadvantage. However, for most users the quality of sound will be more than enough – it is loud and has a great sound.
There is of course a 3.5 mm minijack. In the set, along with the phone, LG provides a good quality earphones. For playing music we can use the Google app or preinstalled Music player. There is no FM radio in LG G8s.
Photos and video
The manufacturer equipped the G8s ThinQ model in a triple camera, which consist of these elements:
- standard camera - 12MP, f/1.8, PDAF, OSI)
- telephoto lens (12MP, f/2.6, PDAF, OIS, 1,8x)
- wide angle (13MP, f/2.4, FF, 136 degrees)
The camera works fast and ably, it catches the focus instantly and the photography results are definitely pleasing. It perfectly represents colours, provides photos with a good dynamics and with a minimum integration from the software. The only thing that can be sometimes noticeable is a bit too high contrast in some photos. Fortunately this is an exception rather than a rule. The camera does not work that great in less favourable lighting, which mostly results in a loss of details (especially while taking photos with the wide-angle lens).
Basically the set of cameras in LG G8s is a set worthy of flagships, maybe not on the level of the best models offered by Huawei or Samsung, but it is still in the top. What is more, the Korean manufacturer underlines that LG G8sreached the first place in the VCX ranking (https://vcx-forum.org/score). In a more popular DxOMark, G8s did not have its debut yet, but its older brother, LG G8 ThinQ, achieved a nice score of 96 points. Of course cameras in both models are not identical - G8 ThinQ has brighter cameras, and its wide-angle module has a higher resolution.
Photos from the main camera are great, with natural colours and a high level of details. Zoom comes in handy in many situation, but I enjoy the work of the wide-angle camera the most.
In order to see how a captured photo will look like from each of these cameras, we just need to hold the icon on the screen a bit longer, and we can see the preview from standard, telephoto and wide angle lenses. Though a more intuitive markings of particular modes would have been nice – the wide-angle lens icon is obvious, but icons of standard and zoom lenses look almost identical. There is a Triple Shot mode as well, in which the camera will take something similar to series, using each camera in sequence.
And here are photos taken in different lighting conditions. All of photos below and above can be seen in the full resolution in the gallery:
The camera app is enhanced when it comes to modes and it ensures numerous functions for taking photos and recording videos. Among available modes we have auto mode, mode with an AI support, manual, portrait, studio and many more, available in the additional menu. From the level of the main panel there are colour modes, while built in QLens or Google Lens (we can choose) can recognize objects in photos and are responsible for virtual shopping and scanning QR codes. What is more, we have HDR that works in the auto mode. The maximum resolution of photos is 12 MP (4032x3024 pixels) and UHD 60 frames per second (3849x2160 pixels) when it comes to videos.
An 8-megapixel camera with an f/1.9 brightness and HDR is responsible for selfies. There is a ToF module (Time-of-Flight), which provides a bokeh effect and the infrared sensor responsible for the facial unlocking function. And what about the photos quality? It is decent, but it does not stand out among other flagships or even middle-shelf models. The maximum resolution of this camera is 8 MP (3264x2448 pixels) and FHD when it comes to videos (1920x1080 pixels).
The quality of recorded videos is definitely an advantage. LG G8s can record videos in the 4K quality with 60 frames per second. However, due to the work of the stabilization or the possibility to use Tracking focus, it is best to remain with Full HD. During the recording we can switch between lenses. Here are video recording results:
LG G8s has everything that a contemporary smartphone should have. There is a dual-channel Wi-Fi module that works in 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, fast LTE cat. 19, and a navigation receiver that supports GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou systems. From physical sockets we have a universal jack and a USB type C socket with OTG. While being outside the smartphone had no problems with catching fix and connecting to satellites, achieving great accuracy and stable signal. Inside a building, even next to the window, the smartphone did not manage to connect with satellites – and many cheaper smartphones managed to do this. But on a road, while driving a car or while walking, it worked perfectly.
The smartphone ensures a decent quality of calls. The microphone nicely transmits the voice and the sound from the receiver is clear and loud enough, though I would not describe it as crystal clear. I had no problems with understanding my interlocutor (and vice versa). The loud speaking mode works great and the microphone for noises reduction proved to be efficient.
Memory and efficiency
The built-in memory in the reviewed LG smartphone is 128 GB, but the user is left with less, around 104 GB. If this space for data and apps will not be enough, we can use the additional memory drive – on the expense of one of the SIM cards.
I do not think that there is anyone who would complain about the efficiency – in the LG G8s model the manufacturer has placed Snapdragon 855 with 2.84 GHz, supported by 6GB of RAM and Adreno 640 GPU. Both benchmarks results and an everyday usage of the phone show that this is in fact the highest shelf. I do not have slightest concerns when it comes to speed, smoothness and efficiency while handling multimedia, in demanding games or while working with many apps in the background.
The 3550 mAh battery provides good lifespans. It will be enough for a whole day of an intensive work, and with a less exploitive usage – even two days. Basically it does not provide impressive lifespans, but they are perfectly acceptable.
The charger added to the set is not the fastest one. In order to fully charger the smartphone with it we need around 2 hours. The possibility of wireless charging is an advantage – the Qi technology is supported. And here are lifespans in different scenarios:
- lifespan with the display on (YouTube, 1 SIM card, active Wi-Fi module, 50% screen brightness, minimum sound level) – 13 hours and 24 minutes,
- PC Mark battery test result – it was impossible to conduct it due to software incompatibility,
- Geekbench (full discharge) – 5970 points, discharge after 9 hours and 54 minutes,
- an hour of video streaming (Chrome, 1 SIM card, active Wi-Fi module, 50% screen brightness) - 8%,
- an hour of video streaming from the phones memory (airplane mode, 50% screen brightness) - 6-7%,
- half an hour using online navigation - 6-8%,
- half an hour playing Real Racing 3 - 8%,
- 8 hours in the standby mode – around 6%.
LG G8s ThinQ is a peculiar model. On the one hand it is packed with innovative technologies and functions, which cannot be found in any other smartphones, but on the other it is clearly toned down when to comes to its archetype, that is G8 ThinQ. With the launch price of 769 euro it does not have an easy job among flagships of the competition, like Huawei P30/P30 Pro, OnePlus 7 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S10e or Oppo Reno 10x Zoom. But we know that LG smartphones prices drop down fast, so soon LG G8s ThinQ will be a much more lucrative purchase.
Advantages and disadvantages
- great quality of construction
- Gorilla Glass 5 at the front, Gorilla Glass 6 at the back
- great OLED display
- ToF (Time-of-Flight) module, using infrared for analyzing information from the surrounding
- efficiency and speed of work
- stereo speakers
- high durability to falls (MIL-STD 810G)
- numerous biometrical security
- dust- and waterproofness (IP68)
- minijack socket
- etui in the set
- inductive charging
- triple camera, especially the wide angle
- Hand ID and AirMotion are slower and less comfortable than traditional unlocking methods and standard gestures
- the housing captures fingerprints a lot
- hybrid tray for SIM/microSD cards
- lack of solutions known from other flagships from this manufacturer (Hi-Fi DAC, Boombox)
- lack of notifications LED
- wide notch
- the power/lock button is placed in an uncomfortable position