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LG G8 ThinQ review: LG's flagship phone can't catch a break

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Your hands won't look totally natural while using Air Motion.

Angela Lang/CNET

Hand ID doesn't work as fast as the face unlock or the fingerprint scanner (which you can also use on the back of the phone) and you need to hover your hand at just the right spot for it to register. Air Motion doesn't work instantaneously either. It took a beat or two to recognize my hands and a couple of tries before the controls would pop up. And even then, my motions had to be very deliberate in order to register. After a while, my arm got tired trying to get these controls to activate.

In the end, I hardly used the feature and it was much easier just to pick up the phone and do whatever I had to do the old-fashioned way. The execution on the G8 is rough around the edges (as it was when we saw something similar in the Galaxy S4's Air Gesture) and it still has limited software features.

But I do find the idea pretty compelling. If LG and other phone-makers run with this concept, a future where we can freely navigate our phones without tapping the screen appears not too distant. For now though, you can only use it in very specific ways. You'll also attract a lot of looks while making a Frankenstein claw to control your phone.

LG G8 is super speedy with solid battery life

With Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chipset, the LG G8 has a top-of-the-line processor. Its performance is fast and reliable and I didn't notice any hiccups. It performed just as well as the Galaxy S10E in our benchmark tests (which makes sense since they have the same processor), and it predictably edged out the OnePlus 6T ($585 at Amazon) given that the 6T has last year's Snapdragon 845 chipset.

As for the battery, the LG G8 averaged about 16 hours, 37 minutes of continuous video playback in airplane mode. Although that's an excellent time, competitors like the S10E and the OnePlus 6T lasted a bit longer at 17 hours. In the real world with medium to high usage, the phone lasted throughout the night without a charge, no problem.

3DMark Slingshot Unlimited

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

LG G8 ThinQ
60,908
OnePlus 6T
64,993
Pixel 3
61,673

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 single-core

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 multicore

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

LG G8 ThinQ versus the competition

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The LG G8 in black, gray and red.

Angela Lang/CNET

Galaxy S10E and Galaxy S10: The Galaxy S10E has an excellent camera (though it doesn't have portrait mode for video), the same fast processor, slightly longer battery life and a headphone jack. At $750, it's $70 to $100 cheaper than the G8 too. And even if you did have extra money to spare, the marquee Galaxy S10 costs about $50 to $80 more than the G8. It also has a third rear camera and clocked an even longer battery run (18 hours).

OnePlus 6T: The OnePlus 6T has dual-rear cameras too, but instead of a wide-angle camera, it has a telephoto lens for a clearer zoom and portrait mode. It also runs last year's processor, the Snapdragon 845. But while it may be "older" (with the OnePlus 7 expected some time this spring), specs across the board are pretty comparable. You wouldn't be making many sacrifices -- especially since the phone starts at $549.

LG G7 ThinQ: If you already have the G7, don't feel the need to update. But if you're thinking of getting the G7 instead, expect deep discounts with the release of the G8. The G7 has 2018's processor and you won't get any of the fancy 3D mapping or motion tracking with the front camera, but you'll get very similar design and user experience for a couple of hundred dollars less.

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The LG G8 (left) with its predecessor the G7.

Angela Lang/CNET

LG V50 ThinQ: Expected later this spring, the V50 ThinQ may be the LG phone to wait for. It has mostly the same innards as the G8, but it's slightly bigger, and will have triple rear-cameras and dual front-facing cameras. Most importantly: it'll have 5G connectivity. In the US, the V50 will arrive on Sprint first, then roll out to the other carriers afterwards. LG didn't officially announce any pricing, but with all the extra cameras and 5G capabilities, expect it to cost a pretty penny. My best estimate would be at least $100 more than the G8, possibly reaching close to $1,000.

LG G8 ThinQ vs. competitors


LG G8 ThinQ Samsung Galaxy S10E Samsung Galaxy S10 OnePlus 6T LG G7 ThinQ
Display size, resolution 6.1-inch OLED; 3,120x1,440 pixels 5.8-inch AMOLED; 2,280x1,080 pixels 6.1-inch AMOLED; 3,040x1,440 pixels 6.41-inch AMOLED; 2,340x1,080 pixels 6.1-inch IPS LCD; 3,120x1,440 pixels
Pixel density 564ppi 438ppi 550ppi 402ppi 563ppi
Dimensions (inches) 5.98 x 2.83 x 0.33 in 5.6 x 2.8 x 0.27 in 5.9 x 2.77 x 0.31 in 6.20 x 2.94 x 0.32 in 6 x2.8 x 0.31 in
Dimensions (millimeters) 151.9 x 71.8 x 8.4 mm 142 x 70 x 7.9 mm 149.9 x 70.4 x 7.8 mm 157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm 153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 5.96 oz.; 167g 5.3oz.; 150g 5.53 oz.; 157g 6.5 oz.; 185g 5.7 oz., 162g
Mobile software Android 9.0 Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 with Samsung One UI Android 9.0 Android 8.0
Camera 12-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (wide-angle) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 16-megapixel (standard), 20-megapixel (telephoto) 16-megapixel (standard), (16-megapixel (wide-angle)
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel 10-megapixel 10-megapixel 16-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K 4K
Processor 2.84GHz octa-core Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Snapdragon 855 Octa-core Snapdragon 855 2.8GHz octa-core Snapdragon 845 2.8GHz octa-core Snapdragon 845
Storage 128GB 128GB, 256GB 128GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB 64GB
RAM 6GB 6GB, 8GB 8GB 6GB, 8GB 4GB
Expandable storage Up to 2TB Up to 512GB Up to 512GB None Up to 2TB
Battery 3,500 mAh 3,100 mAh 3,400 mAh 3,700 mAh 3,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back Power button In-display In-display Back
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Special features 3D scanning and motion capture with facial recognition; Air Motion and Hand ID; bone-induction receiver; water-resistant (IP68); wireless charging; Quick Charge 3.0 Wireless PowerShare; hole-punch screen notch; water-resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare; hole punch screen notch; water-resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 In-display fingerprint sensor, dual-SIM, Dash Charging, notifications toggle Water-resistant (IP68), wireless charging, DTS:X 3D Surround, Quad DAC
Price off-contract (USD) $820-$850 $750 $900 $549 (6GB RAM/128GB), $579 (8GB RAM/128GB), $629 (8GB RAM/256GB) $750-$792 at launch
Price off-contract (GBP) TBD, converts to £650 £669 £799 £499 (6GB RAM/128GB), £529 (8GB RAM/128GB), £579 (8GB RAM/256GB) £599 at launch
Price (AUD) TBD, converts to AU$1,200 AU$1,199 AU$1,349 Converted: AU$774 (6GB RAM/128GB), AU$817 (8GB RAM/128GB), AU$887 (8GB RAM/256GB) AU$1,099 at launch

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