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LG G8X ThinQ review: Dual screens make this phone a multitasker's dream, but there's a pricing caveat

A few apps, though not all of them, were reconfigured to adapt to the dual screen. Texting and Gmail, for instance, placed my message on one screen and the keyboard on the other in landscape mode. This allowed me to type out messages like the old T-Mobile Sidekick days. If the phone is too wide on its side to comfortably reach letters in the middle of the keyboard, you can "pull" the keyboard to its sides by sliding it apart with your fingers. There's also a "wide view" that lets you expand one app across both screens (like Chrome), but you'll have to deal with the unseemly hinge in the middle.

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Multitasking with Google Maps and Yelp on both screens.

Angela Lang/CNET

To navigate between screens, LG added an on-screen, moveable hotkey that gives quick access to controls like "swap screens" and "show main on dual screen." The controls are straightforward, but it still took me a while to use both screens fluidly and comfortably, and there are times even now when I'm a bit befuddled about what I want to do next after calling up the menu.

You won't be able to watch videos on a seamless, single tablet screen due to the hinge nor can you mirror both screens like you could with the Axon ($154 at Amazon) M (that let me share the same video with a buddy sitting across from me). 

But the G8X's has something the other phones don't and that's -- wait for it -- flexibility. Whenever I didn't think I'd use the second screen or grew tired of carrying it around, I popped the phone out and left the rest at home. The fact that it's optional and you're not stuck with it is perhaps the most appealing thing about the G8X's second screen. In addition, as inelegant as the G8X is, I don't have to worry about its screens breaking from over exertion. Samsung claimed it fixed the issues with the Fold's display, but I have extra peace of mind that I don't have any concern about the G8X's fragility. 

LG G8X's camera is excellent but not exceptional

The G8X has two rear cameras: a 12-megapixel standard camera and a 13-megapixel wide-angle camera. LG was one of the first phone makers to include wide-angle shooters, and it's useful to capture more content in each frame. 

There is a low-light mode called Night View, similar to the Pixel 4, iPhone 11 and others. The G8X managed to capture a decent photo in a nearly dark living room -- I was able to make out various furniture and objects in the photo that I couldn't see in real life in front of me. But compared to the Pixel 4, the G8X's low light mode isn't as good. The Pixel 4 captured a much clearer image with less digital noise and more accurate lighting and color. 

With ample lighting however, the G8X takes clear and bright photos with good contrast and excellent focus. While the HDR effect doesn't make pictures look as cinematic or vibrant as the Pixel 4, colors and exposure are depicted more accurately with what I saw in front of my eyes. The results may appear "muted" overall, but the pictures are true-to-life.

On the front is a 32-megapixel camera for ultra-clear selfies, and it can take portrait pictures, too. Portrait photos were OK but not great. I noticed areas of patchiness around my hair (expected) and hands (not expected). This made the bokeh effect look artificial and unnatural.

In this bright outdoor photo, you can see the vibrant colors of the peppers and produce.

Lynn La/CNET

This closeup shot of a lily is sharp and focused.

Lynn La/CNET

Colors in this indoor picture are accurate, though they may look a bit muted at first glance.

Lynn La/CNET

Taking a picture with the wide-angle camera.

Lynn La/CNET

Taking portrait photos with the rear camera (left) and the front-facing camera (right). Notice the patchiness around my fingers.

Lynn La/CNET

LG G8X performance and battery

The G8X is equipped with a Snapdragon 855 chipset. Day-to-day tasks such as browsing the web and launching apps run fast and smooth. There were instances, however, where apps froze or sputtered and I'd have to quit the app to restart it. This happened mostly with gaming apps such as Call of Duty and whenever I tried launching the gaming pad. I also noticed there were times when the second screen would take a beat or two to rotate itself to the proper orientation when I had the game open. Other than those examples, the G8X's performance was reliable. On paper, its benchmark scores were comparable to other premium phones with Snapdragon 855 processors. (Note: The Galaxy S10 Plus and S10E have the same processor. We were also unable to run 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited on the OnePlus 7T.)

3DMark Slingshot Unlimited

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.5.0 single-core

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.5.0 multicore

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Battery testing for the 4,000-mAh battery was excellent. When I continuously played video on Airplane mode, the phone by itself lasted an average of 17 hours, 49 minutes. That's about on par with the Galaxy S10 Plus (21 hours) and OnePlus 7T (16 hours, 11 minutes). When both displays are activated, however, battery life significantly decreased to an average of 9 hours, 2 minutes. While I don't imagine people using the LG G8X's dual screen 24/7, it'd still be great if the G8X could at least last 10 hours with the second screen. The Galaxy Fold, for example, clocked in an average of 16 hours, 30 minutes for its entire screen.

LG G8X ThinQ vs. other foldable phones

LG G8X vs. Galaxy Fold: Let's get the obvious out of the way first -- the Fold looks way cooler, is more innovative and will push the phone industry farther than the G8X ever will. But are you, the person reading this sentence right now, going to drop a cool grand on it? Some of you will, but most of you won't. If you're even slightly curious then, the G8X is a water-resistant, durable and affordable alternative.

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Playing video games on the G8X like a Nintendo DS.

Angela Lang/CNET

LG G8X vs. Huawei Mate X: Assuming you can get your hands on a Mate X (Huawei equipment is banned in the US and the FCC is looking for ways to force carriers to replace their Huawei gear), the phone is nonetheless expensive at 16,999 yuan ($2,400, £1,860). It may not be exciting or cohesive as the Mate X, but the G8X features a similar amount of screen at nearly a third of the cost.

LG G8X vs. Surface Duo: We don't know much about Microsoft's upcoming dual-screen phone except that the Duo should run Android and be both bigger and sleeker than the G8X. It also should be expensive (at least $1,500), and we assume you won't be able to disconnect the two screens like you can with the G8X. Still, if you can wait it may be best to see what exactly Microsoft has in store. The Duo is scheduled for a "holiday 2020" launch.

LG G8X vs. ZTE Axon M: Though this phone is practically unknown, the Axon M is the most similar and tangible comparison to the G8X. At about $180 on Amazon, the phone is cheap; but when it launched in 2017 its specs were already outdated and it had a wonky design. Safe to say you should skip the Axon M altogether at this point.

LG G8X ThinQ spec comparison


LG G8X ThinQ Samsung Galaxy Fold Huawei Mate X ZTE Axon M
Display size, resolution Two 6.4-inch OLED; 2,340x1,080 pixels each 4.6-inch Super AMOLED; 7.3-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED 6.6-inch (2,480 x 1,148 pixels); 6.38-inch (2,480 x 892); 8-inch OLED (2,480 x 2,200) Two 5.2-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels each
Pixel density 403ppi TBD TBD 424ppi
Dimensions (Inches) LG G8X: 6.27x2.98x0.33 in Dual screen: 6.53x3.33x0.59 in Folded: 2.47x6.39x0.62~0.67 in Unfolded: 4.64x6.34x0.27~0.3 in TBD 5.9x2.8x0.5 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) LG G8X: 159.3x75.8x8.4 mm Dual screen: 165.96x84.63x14.99 mm Folded: 62.8x161x15.7~17.1 mm Unfolded: 117.9x161x6.9~7.6 mm TBD 150.8x71.6x12.1 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) LG G8X: 6.77 oz; 192g Dual screen: 4.73 oz; 134g 9.7 oz; 276g TBD 8.1 oz; 230g
Mobile software Android 9.0 Android 9.0 TBD Android 7.1.2 Nougat
Camera 12-megapixel (standard), 13-megapixel (wide-angle) 12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 40-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 8-megapixel (telephoto), depth sensing camera 12-megapixel
Front-facing camera 32-megapixel Two 10-megapixel, 8-megapixel 3D depth TBD; at least one confirmed 12-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K TBD 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Kirin 980 processor 2.15 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
Storage 128GB 512GB 512GB 64GB
RAM 6GB 12GB 8GB 4GB
Expandable storage Up to 2TB No No Up to 256GB
Battery 4,000mAh 4,380mAh 4,500mAh 3,180mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-screen Power button Power button Power button
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack Yes No TBD Yes
Special features Dual-screen accessory case; wireless charging; water resistant (IP68, phone only) Foldable display, wireless charging, fast charging Foldable display, fast charging Dual screens
Price off-contract (USD) $700 (unlocked), $780 (AT&T), $750 (Sprint) $1,980 Converted: $2,600 ($2,299 euros) $725*
Price (GBP) Converted: £545-£605 £2,000 Converted: £1,986 Converted: £538*
Price (AUD) Converted: AU$1,020-AU$1,135 AU$2,950 Converted: AU$3,725 Converted: AU$953*

*prices at launch

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