Foldable devices are promising, but the first breed of these devices — Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X — show these still are the early days for the flexible bendable screen; it needs some polishing before it becomes ready for smartphones. While some smartphone makers continue to invest in flexible-screen technology, some others are experimenting with dual-screen iterations of their foldable devices. The LG G8X ThinQ is one of the latter type.
The LG G8X ThinQ has a two-piece design — a standalone smartphone and a foldable case with secondary screen. This smartphone has a regular LG design affair with premium glass-metal construction and obstruction-free profile on the front and back. It boasts an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance and the phone is MIL-STD tested for shock resistance. The LG G8X ThinQ is neither heavy nor bulky and feels ergonomically quite appropriate. However, attached with a foldable case, it is a different story altogether.
The case is wide and bulky, and when attached with it, the smartphone feels heavy too. As for the quality, the case is sturdy and has a good leatherette feel to it. It connects with the smartphone through a USB type-C port, and has a pogo-pin charging connector that comes bundled in the box. Though the case is easy to open and supports a 360-degree movement, its wide profile makes it difficult to operate using just one hand. Thankfully, the case has a smaller monochromatic screen on the front for a quick glance at information like time, date, caller ID and notifications.
The LG G8X ThinQ is the first phone in India to feature a dual-display design, which allows it to work as a standalone device, much like any other smartphone, or as a foldable device (attached with the case) with dual displays working together. Both the displays are OLED units of a 6.4-inch screen estate; they have a fullHD+ resolution and 19.5:9 aspect ratio. For on-screen content consistency, each screen has a waterdrop-shaped notch on top. However, the notch area on the primary screen features the phone’s front camera, whereas the secondary screen’s notch area is blank. Both screens are bright and vivid, and tuned to render warm colour tones by default.
As for utility, the dual-display design enables easy multitasking by allowing two different supported apps to work simultaneously (one app on each screen). Attached with the case, the phone’s primary screen shows a floating widget that allows you to activate secondary display, swap on-screen content displayed on each screen, move content between screens, and switch off the secondary display to save battery. Moreover, the widget also allows extending the primary display on secondary (wide view). However, this feature is limited to select web browsers only.
Another use for the dual-display case is gaming. LG has designed an onscreen game controller (gamepad), which seems to be a digital iteration of physical game controllers. It has action buttons, trigger buttons, D-Pad, etc. While there are several pre-loaded modules for different game genres, there is also a provision to make a custom one for games that do not support the existing modules.
There is a lot that you can do with the LG G8X ThinQ when you attach it with its dual-display case. However, the combination does not feel polished and leaves you asking for more. This is partly due to the Android operating system and its applications ecosystem, neither of which currently supports a dual-screen platform. As a result, the phone’s dual-screen foldable form factor seems more like a prototype released in a rush.
Imaging has been considered one of LG’s strengths in smartphones, but the LG G8X suggests otherwise. The phone has a dual-camera set-up on the back, featuring a 12-megapixel primary sensor of an f/1.8 aperture and a 13MP ultra-wide sensor of an f/2.4 aperture. The primary camera supports dual pixel phase detection autofocus and optical image stabilisation. On the front, the phone has a 32MP selfie shooter, which supports the pixel-binning technology to take photos at an effective megapixel count equivalent to 8MP.
Technical details aside, the phone’s dual rear cameras are satisfactory at best. In day light, the primary sensor takes decent shots with ample details. However, the output shows traces of a soft purple colour across the frame. Similarly, the ultra-wide shooter does its job of capturing wide frames without barrel distortion, but the output lacks sharpness and there are softer-looking frames. In low light, the dual rear cameras struggle to find right exposure values. As a result, you end up getting inconsistent results.
Thankfully, the phone gets LG’s immaculate manual mode, which provides complete controls on cameras’ granular settings that allow you to capture what you could otherwise not. There is also a manual mode for videography, and it is a great addition for those in content production.
The LG G8X ThinQ is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 system-on-chip, mated with 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage. The phone’s performance is sleek and it handles everyday tasks without stutters. It boots Android 9 Pie operating system-based LG UI, which looks neat and is easy to use.
Powering the phone is a 4,000 mAh battery, which is good for single-day usage. Though the phone supports fast charging, the charging time is slow — it takes more than two hours for the completely drained out battery to charge to 100 per cent.
At Rs 49,999, the LG G8X ThinQ is expensive, as it does not match competitors in imaging, performance or on-battery time. Nonetheless, it is the only phone that comes with a unique dual-screen case, which is good for multitasking, gaming and browsing the web. Try the LG G8X to experience something fresh, but do not keep your expectations too high.