REVIEW | LG G8S ThinQ Smartphone

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LG has hit the streets with its latest smartphone, the LG G8S ThinQ Smartphone (G8S). The G8 with some exciting technology was announced at MWC Barcelona in February and finally reached our shores with the G8S version. There are some innovative technologies and a broad set of flagship features.

The question is has LG done enough with the G8S to stay relevant in a crowded market. Steven Ambrose explores.

The flagship smartphone market has rapidly become crowed with many great devices from Samsung Huawei Sony and others. LG has always been one of the smaller flagship players with their G and V series devices. The G8 series launched earlier this year promised some smart innovation with cutting edge technology, and LG has done precisely that with the new G8S.

The hardware

The G8S has all the ingredients of a 2019 flagship device. A QUALCOMM Snapdragon 855 processor, multiple cameras front a rear including a 3d TOF front camera, all the latest LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity all in a sleek glass front and back body. A 6.2” OLED screen along with stereo speakers and a rather large notch.

The notch will be hard to miss it dominates the top of the G8S and contains a speaker/earpiece and two cameras. The screen is a very good OLED which is far more beautiful than the IPS screen of the G7 from last year. The resolution is lower than the G7, but this difference is hardly noticeable, and the perfect blacks and excellent colour rendition make up for the slight lack of brightness.

The screen is easy to see outdoors despite the somewhat reflective front panel, and the colours and sharpness are excellent. Only the class-leading Samsung S10 screens are visibly better. The colour saturation can be set via software, and there is a truetone ability to match colour and brightness to ambient light, which worked well.

The construction is proper, and the G8S features a solid front with glass front and back, making a case an absolute must. A decent cover is included in the box. The G8S is IP68 water-resistant so small spills or a dunk in the pool are not an issue.

The cameras

LG was one of the first with multiple rear cameras and the G8S has three on the rear and two on the front.

The rear cameras consist of a 12 MP primary sensor with a 13 MP wide-angle sensor and a 12 MP telephoto lens. The primary camera is an f/1.8 aperture with 1.4-micron pixel sensors resulting in good low light performance.

There is an 8 MP sensor and a 3D ToF sensor for face recognition and superior Boke effects. It also can read the veins in your palm, which is used to unlock the phone and offers touch-free functions using your hand and gestures. This proved to be a bit of a gimmick, but it is a neat party trick

Overall performance of the array of cameras was very good, verging on brilliant. In good light and normal conditions, the pictures were every bit as good as most flagship devices from Apple and Samsung and Huawei. The setup tended to overexpose some bright scenes and underexpose some darker ones. This may be a software issue, but it was noticeable.

The ability to see all three cameras output in one shot was interesting and useful for some creative work. Overall the rear cameras will not disappoint and make taking pictures easy and fun.

The top of the line Apple’s Samsung’s and Huawei’s can offer better zoom, and accuracy in more challenging situations, but the G8S holds up well.

The front selfie camera was decent if a little uninspiring, adding the blur effect using the 3D ToF camera made for very good portraits. The 3D camera also offers swift, accurate face unlock and the party trick that impressed at MWC of hands-free operation. This is a bit tricky to use and could be useful when the G8S was flat on a desk, and the rear fingerprint sensor or face unlock was not possible. LG’s inclusion of this feature is innovative and may improve with time as they iron out the software. Into the future, 3D cameras will become more and more prevalent.

The battery and performance

The G8S has a 3550 mAh battery which is large compared to its competitors such as the Samsung S10 e. I managed a respectable full day of moderate to heavy use, and no top-up was necessary around 4pm to get you through the evening. The quick charge facility allows less than 2 hours to give you a full charge, and even 10 minutes of charging will give a useful extra couple of hours.

As befitting its top-end processor and Adreno 640 video processor, the performance was excellent on all normal functions and especially on games that demand potent processors. The combination of an excellent touchscreen and good accelerometers or motion sensors should make the G8S a solid choice from gaming now and even into the future.

Opening apps was fast, and the G8S boots quickly and is smooth in overall use. The included 6Gb of main memory, and 128 GB of storage was more than enough for most purposes.

The software

The LG G8S comes preloaded with Android 9 Pie. LG has made a few adjustments to the overall Android user interface and included a few other settings and options. The LG skin is very close in look and feel to stock Android and Android 9 gestures work smoothly and seamlessly across the device.

All the standard Google apps are present along with several duplicate LG apps and some others, such as the LG smart Doctor that optimise your phone and clear up unused apps.

Compared to some other brands, the interface can seem a little bland, but quickly becomes predictable and intuitive, and does not often get in the way of getting things done. Overall, I found the LG implementation of Android logical and user-friendly.

Conclusion

There are several great flagship devices on the market. LG find themselves right in the middle of a hugely competitive market. They don’t do cutting edge like Samsung and Huawei and don’t spend on marketing in the same way as these two do.

The danger is that merely making an excellent quality high tech device with some unique and fun features such as the palm unlock camera, may not be enough for the G8S to stand out in the crowded marketplace.

In my daily use of the G8S, I have come to enjoy the reliable performance excellent camera and overall polish and smoothness of the device. The screen is excellent, build quality and functionality that is as good as all other top-end devices in most respects make the G8S a real flagship device.

The one feature that makes the G8S compelling is the price. LG South Africa have released this phone at R11,995.00, which is substantially cheaper than the other flagship devices with similar specifications. The G8S is priced closer to the various lite version of current flagship devices, yet performs as well as their full price variants.

The LG G8S offers flagship performance at midrange pricing. In my experience, the LG devices also last better than most and keep up their reliable performance well past many of the other products on the market.

The LG G8S is a solid choice and offers excellent value and performance. As always try before you buy.

Available from dealers and networks countrywide at around R11,999.00.

For more information | www.lg.com/za/mobile |


Steven Ambrose | Techhuman | @ambio | mail me |


 

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