LG G8X ThinQ

Phones

The Good The LG G8X ThinQ’s second screen accessory gives you two displays, which makes multitasking easier and gaming more comfortable. The water resistant phone also has a headphone jack, expandable memory, wireless charging and an excellent battery life by itself.

The Bad The case makes the phone bulky and thick. When viewing shared content on both screens, there is a thick hinge down the middle.

The Bottom Line The LG G8X is an attractive and competitively priced phone in its own right, if you can snag a deal. The useful second screen is also enticing for those unsure about the more expensive Galaxy Fold.

 

8.6 Overall
  • Design
    7

     

     

  • Features
    9

     

     

  • Performance
    9

     

     

  • Camera
    8

     

     

  • Battery
    10

     

     

When it launched on Oct. 30, you could have nabbed both the LG G8X ThinQ and its second-screen accessory for $700, $750 and $780 on LG, Sprint and AT&T, respectively. It was at this price that I reviewed and recommended the phone for people interested in the G8X and its novel dual-screen design. I thought that was a great deal for the price, and I was excited to recommend this best-of-both-worlds phone and case.

It’s come to my attention, however, that these deals are being offered only for a limited time, which throws a wrinkle in my initial endorsement. After Dec. 5, for example, AT&T will sell the G8X under its “AT&T Installment Plan” for $780 and the dual screen will cost an additional $199 — totaling $979. Sprint also confirmed that its offer of the G8X’s dual screen attachment as a free gift (with purchase of the phone) will be limited as well, though it did not confirm an end date to the sale.

That said, some retailers are still selling both for under $700, like B&H and Best Buy, but these deals may not last forever, and you’ll still have to sign on to a carrier separately for the phone to work. My opinion of the phone is still the same: The G8X is great and if you can get both the LG G8X and the second screen for $780 or under, it’s an affordable alternative to the fully foldable Galaxy Fold. Outside that price range, however, and I’d hesitate to recommend this phone.

Editors’ note, Nov. 27: Updated with pricing information from carriers. The original review, published on Oct. 30, follows below.


If you’re curious about the latest trend of foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold or Huawei Mate X, but you’re not ready to commit either to the novel design or the high price tags (both cost more than $1,000), LG’s G8X ThinQ is a worthy alternative. Like the other foldable phones, the G8X doubles its screen size by opening like a book. But instead of having a flexible screen, the G8X is a regular 6.4-inch phone that attaches to another 6.4-inch screen using a special case.

It’s a similar arrangement to 2017’s ZTE Axon M (if anyone actually remembers that phone) and the upcoming Microsoft Surface Duo in that they’re really just two phones or screens attached together. But the G8X gives you the freedom to detach the phone out of the case too, leaving you with a regular premium phone if you want.

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The G8X without its case. 


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LG created a similar accessory for the V50 ThinQ, which launched in February. Unlike that release though, the G8X and its screen attachment are available in the US. The phone is available unlocked or through AT&T and Sprint.

It’s true that the G8X doesn’t have the Galaxy Fold’s or Mate X’s super elegant and novel design. It’s quite clunky to carry around and you won’t be able to watch videos on a seamless, single tablet-esque screen.

But the G8X is a durable, middleman solution. And the best part is the phone’s price. For a limited time, LG, Sprint and AT&T are selling the G8X for $700, $750 and $780, respectively. The carriers are also offering deals that lower the cost even more (for instance, Sprint has a plan that totals $270). That price puts it pretty much on par with, if not a tad cheaper than, most high-end phones these days. But LG and these carriers intend to sell the whole thing, second screen and all, at those prices during launch. International pricing isn’t yet available, but the $700 price tag converts to about £545 or AU$1,020.

Even without the second screen, $700 is a good price for the G8X, which is fast, reliable and takes good photos. But throw in two screens for the same price and LG’s got a compelling phone to offer.

LG G8X design: Double the screen, double the size

I drew a few stares while using the LG G8X at a farmer’s market. I mostly chalked it up to people wondering why I was taking pictures of produce with a big, silver Nintendo DS, but after a while I got used to handling the G8X boldly in public. After all, people buy clunky portfolio cases for their iPhones all the time. So eventually I stopped feeling out of place.

Speaking of clunky, the G8X is so thick it reminds me of what it’s like to use an ultra-rugged Otterbox phone case. Putting the phone in my pants pocket or a small clutch was out of the question unless I just wanted to use the G8X itself. Pressing the volume buttons or the Google Assistant key on the left side of the phone when the second screen is open is also difficult since the hinge gets in the way of my fingers.

The front cover, while useful for displaying the time and notifications, traps fingerprints like crazy — I often found myself wiping it clean. In addition, I thought at first that I couldn’t charge the phone inside the case, but LG included a magnetic USB-C accessory that connects outside the case and plugs into a charging cable.

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The G8X is thick when it’s inside its dual-screen case.Angela Lang/CNET

Other design takeaways

  • The G8X has wireless charging and you can charge it wirelessly inside the case too. (For some reason, my personal Qi charging pad didn’t work when I charged the G8X with its case, but I used two other colleagues’ charging pads and it worked just fine.)
  • Like other LG phones, the G8X has a headphone jack — a rarity among premium phones these days.
  • The phone has an in-screen fingerprint reader so you can it by scanning your finger right on the display. It works fast enough, but it doesn’t feel as instantaneous as the OnePlus 7T.
  • The phone is rated IP68 for water resistance, but the second screen lacks any such protection.
  • Despite the teardrop notch on the second screen, it doesn’t have a front-facing camera. (LG used the same G8X display as the second screen to save money.) You can hide this teardrop notch with a black band in Settings.

Life with the LG G8X’s dual screen

Despite my initial reservations that the dual screen was gimmicky, the accessory actually ended up more useful than I believed. Because the second screen bends all the way back, I could configure it at any angle as a kickstand. I propped up the phone sideways to watch videos and I placed it standing like a book so I can take photos at a distance. The second screen was also handy for multitasking. I can use it for navigating to a restaurant on Google Maps while looking up other options on Yelp with the other screen.

Playing games such as Call of Duty was more comfortable thanks to the “LG Game Pad,” a mode that turns the main screen into a separate game controller. There are different preset controls to choose from, like one that has a steering wheel for racing games. Not every game in the app store will work automatically with these preset controllers, so expect to customize your own controller for some games (I had to do this with Call of Duty to get it to work with the gamepad).

 

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; 2,340×1,080 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; 1,920×1,080 pixels each
Pixel density 403ppi TBD TBD 424ppi
Dimensions (Inches) LG G8X: 6.27×2.98×0.33 in Dual screen: 6.53×3.33×0.59 in Folded: 2.47×6.39×0.62~0.67 in Unfolded: 4.64×6.34×0.27~0.3 in TBD 5.9×2.8×0.5 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) LG G8X: 159.3×75.8×8.4 mm Dual screen: 165.96×84.63×14.99 mm Folded: 62.8x161x15.7~17.1 mm Unfolded: 117.9x161x6.9~7.6 mm TBD 150.8×71.6×12.1 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*