Price (RRP): $949-1224
Life would be good if all smartphones are as good and well-priced as the LG G8s ThinQ – and it is not even the company’s flagship model. The new LG V50 5G ThinQ is.
And that reminds me – if you want the bargain of the year rush into JB Hi-Fi now and get the current model LG V40 4G ThinQ 128GB for $799 (usually $1299 it is on clearance to make way for the V50 ThinQ 5G Dual screen at $1728). But back to the LG G8s ThinQ – the 4G working-class flagship.
The LG G series (LG G8s ThinQ) is not the top model, but it incorporates all the go-fast bells and whistles – top-of-the-range Qualcomm SD855, 6/128GB/microSD, 6.2-inch OLED, triple rear camera with AI, IP68, Qi charging and fast charging, DTS:X 3D/Meridian sound and a touchless gesture control. What more could you want?
Well, LG wants brand recognition in the smartphone space for producing the equal or better of any flagship brand. Do you want to know why?
When you wander into a Telstra store (or any major retailer), the salesman asks two questions?
Are you an Apple or Android person, and what do you want to spend? From that point (assuming you eschew Apple) the salesman will show you a Samsung or (in better days) a Huawei – and that is it. There are reasons why but let’s say it is easier to sell a brand with ‘street cred’ and there may be some incentive to the salesman to do so.
I strongly suggest you do as the V40, V50 and G8s are all close to perfect!
Read my lips – for the many years I have been reviewing LG’s flagship phones and for fear of sounding like a broken record – they must be on your shopping list!
LG G8s ThinQ 128GB, single SIM, Aurora Black, Tel$tra
Australian website here
Price: $1224 from Tel$tra on a 24/36-month payment plan (you can use it on any carrier) but shop around (see later*).
Buy here – or you will regret it
We issue the standard warning that you must buy the genuine model LM-G810EA TEL Mirror Black. This has Australian firmware to work on all Australian Telco carrier LTE bands and can make an 000-emergency call (not 911) without a SIM. This also has Google Pay that works with Australian PayWave readers.
International models with suffixes other an ‘EA’ are not for Australia.
Please do not confuse this with the LG G8 (no ‘s’ suffix) which uses the LM-G20 prefix. It is not for Australia.
How we rate smartphones
We develop extensive paradigms – what it must meet or exceed – and then slot them it a market segment.
Our original four categories have grown to seven, and we review against different paradigms for each.
- Foldable $2500+
- Premium Flagship $1600-2499 (usually a flagship with more memory/storage, additional camera lens and now 5G)
- Flagship $1000-1599 (account for about 10% of sales)
- Premium mid-market $800-999 (10% and often last year’s flagship at run-out price)
- Mid-market $500-799 (about 25% of the market)
- Mass-market $200-499 (about 25% of the market)
- Value pre-paid <A$199 (about 30% of the market – good for pre-paid and children)
At $1224 this fits squarely into the flagship segment. *But we note an official dual sim model is online from Mobileciti at $948 (in Teal Green and a genuine Australian model) making this the bargain of the year for a new flagship offering superior value to the Samsung Galaxy S10e ($1199)and S10 ($1349).
In the box LG G8s ThinQ
- LG G8s ThinQ handset
- Charger 5V/1.8A or 9V/1.8A (16.2W)
- USB-A to USB-C cable
- Premium 3.5 mm earbuds and mic with spare tips
- ‘Jelly’ Clear plastic bumper case
- Recycle post-paid bag
The first impression
I must be honest – Tel$tra, $1224, single sim and Mirror Black – no. Mobileciti, $949, dual sim and Teal Green (or boring black) – yes.
It is a glass slab, has quite a large notch (for a good reason), mirror glass back (fingerprint magnet), rear fingerprint sensor, three rear cameras and subtle LG G8s ThinQ branding.
Fire it up, and you get a bright, colourful flat OLED screen. Wrap around glass edges (not on this) may give the illusion of more screen space but it is not useful, so flat is good!
Oh, and that notch – it is about the same size as the Google Pixel 3 XL, but it has the speaker earpiece (that is a stereo pair with the bottom down-firing speaker) and some new tech not seen on many phones before.
The notch houses a front 8MP selfie (average), a ToF (Time of Flight) 3D send/receive sensor (depth and measurement), IR illuminator (for Face ID) and a proximity/ambient light sensor (that enables Air Motion gestures or Hand ID). Try putting all those under the glass!
This is an exceptionally well-made device with a solid metal chassis, and that gives it near MIL-STD 180G durability.
Resolution: 2248 x [email protected]
Ratio: 18.9:9 with compatibility settings for 16:9 and fullscreen
Type: G-OLED (glass OLED) with Always-on-display (AOD)
Colour depth: 16m
Brightness: Average 550, peak 650 nits
Contrast: infinite due to OLED producing true blacks (pixels are on or off)
Grey-to-grey: 8ms – suitable for games
HDR: HDR10 and Dolby Vision – great for movies
Colour gamut: 100% DCI-P3, 147% sRGB, Delta E 3.7 (out-of-the-box and you can get it <2 in Cinema mode)
True Tone: Adapts colour accuracy to light conditions
AOD: Digital clock, analogue clock, dual time clock, and
Double-tap to wake (KnockON)
|Screen protection: type: Gorilla glass 6|
|Daylight readability: excellent with auto-brightness enabled. It has a reflective screen, so angle it away from direct sunlight.|
|Pulse-width modulation: All OLED panels use PWM – if you are susceptible (most are not) an OLED screen can cause eyestrain and headaches. It is not noticeable at 80+% brightness.|
Despite the significant and necessary notch, the areas either side are for status, so it is not a major loss of space.
LG use a glass OLED screen (the previous G-series had IPS), and it makes a huge difference. It gives spot-on colour accuracy and makes it so much more daylight readable. It also has a 60Hz refresh.
Colours are perfect – 100% DCI-P3 but you can alter them to Auto; Cinema; Sports; Game; Photos; web; and Expert. You can also adjust colour temperature from cooler to warmer and individual RGB tuning means that it is perfect for professional photographers, videographers and designers.
Air Motion (LG also call this the Z camera)
When you place your hand near (6-12 cm) the screen, you can perform basic Air Motion gesture functions instead of touching the screen. These includes swipe left/right/up/down, grab (pinch) and rotate (clock/anti-clockwise). You can control music, volume, take calls, alarm off, and more.
It works, but I did not have the time to invest in trying them all. They are more a curiosity than a must-have.
Qualcomm SDM855 Snapdragon 855 (7 nm)|
1×2.84 GHz Kryo 485 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 485 & 4×1.78 GHz Kryo 485
AI Engine 3x faster than SD845
AI DSP Hexagon 690 – 7 trillion AI operations per second
AI ISP Spectra 380
X24 LTE 2/3/4G Modem
Adreno 640 250/600Mhz|
Video codecs H.265 (HEVC), HDR10+, HLG, HDR10, H.264 (AVC), VP8, VP9
DirectX 12, OpenCL 2.0, OpenGL ED 3.2, Vulcan 1.1
HDR Playback Codec support for HDR10+, HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision
|RAM|| RAM: 6GB LPDDR4x-2133|
Storage: 128 UFS 2.1 (95GB free)
OTG Support: Yes
Micro-SD card expansion: to 2TB for storage
Developer Options may enable apps
The king of 2019 processors is the Qualcomm SD855, and this is the later 7nm version. It is interesting in that it has four low-power cores for regular use, three high-power for intensive use and one ‘super-core’ for ‘turbo’. Cores idle at 300/710/825MHz.
The LG G8s ThinQ will perform similarly to any flagship SD855 smartphone
Performance tests Geek Bench 4 (on battery) single/multi/compute are (average of tests) 3500/11000/7600 – these are about 20% faster than the previous generation SD845 and about 15% faster than the Huawei Kirin 980.
The Adreno 640 is one of the fastest GPUs and can handle anything Android apps can throw at it.
Game use: The CPU/GPU will support any current mobile game at high frame rates. It has a dedicated Game launcher and tools to optimise gameplay. You can also screen record and record yourself at the same time as well as mix voice (mic) or other audio content (perfect for gameplay and vloggers).
A 15-minute test saw it throttle after 2 minutes at 100% load then waver a little up and down from two minutes to 8 minutes. After that, it throttles back to 77% until the end of the test.
That means it has the full 217,121GIPS for short term work and 165,880GIPS for long term work. Interestingly the four lower power and three mid-power cores ran flat out, and the one high-powered core throttles – probably due to heat. The SoC reached 91° (that is internal), but the battery and other components are no more than 34°. Outside it is even cooler at 32° (ambient temperature 19°).
Wi-Fi AC, dual-band, MU-MIMO|
|BT||Bluetooth 5.0 2Mbps|
|USB||USB-C 3.1 gen 1.0|
|GPS||Beidou, Galileo, GLONASS, GNSS, GPS, QZSS, SBAS|
5GHz Signal strength at 5 meters from our reference D-Link AC5300 router is -49dBm and 192Mbps. Interestingly the reference Samsung Galaxy Note9 is -31dBm (lower is better) but also 192Mbps.
GPS is extremely accurate and fast – I suspect it is dual frequency as it beat other phones getting within 4 metres of my position. It is more than capable of turn-by-turn navigation and fast route recalculation.
Cat 20 2Gbps/75Mbps DL/UL|
Carrier aggregation (5CA/3CA DL/UL)
Bands 1, 3, 7, 8, 28, 40
Telstra – single sim and dedicated micro-SD |
Dual sim model (hybrid) can use both at once and VoLTE
VoLTE and VoWiFi depends on carrier|
Signal strength is excellent at -95dBm (our reference Samsung Galaxy Note9 -100dBm) – this is in a weak reception area.
As I have come to expect of 2019 technology, the LG 8s ThinQ found the next nearest tower at -122 (the Note9 will not).
3.5mm audio jack|
Earpiece: Yes (stereo with speaker)
DTS:X 3D surround sound and Meridian tuned
Mics – 2
Premium 3.5mm buds/mic with spare tips
|Res|| Qualcomm Aqstic audio with aptX|
BT 5.0 LE with SBC, AAC/+, FLAC, aptX/HD
32-bit/192kHz, Hi-Fi DAC
|Call quality||Handsfree is excellent|
|Volume||Ring 84+dB (excellent), Voice 70dB, Music 73-75dB|
There are three tests here – 3.5mm buds, BT headphones and stereo speakers. All exceed expectations – impressive.
The 3.5mm buds are a cut above average with a braided, tangle-resistant cord and additional tips. The sound is remarkably good – I cannot measure its frequency response, but in normal mode (flat from 32Hz-16+kHz) there is a hint of bass, good flat mids and a fair amount of treble – bright vocal.
But you can also adjust the sound by the equaliser (EQ). It is everything you can hope for. It shows precisely the +/10dB setting for each type of music and allows you to customise that. So, if you like clear voice you can see what the treble boost does and tailor it from there.
Switching on DTS:X 3D sound adds another dimension to the music sound stage – it is pseudo-3D sound although this works far better with a pair of Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones that support Hi-Res aptX HD. The phone has BT 5.0 and can drive hi-res and DTS:X content – it sounds superb.
We use spectrum analysis to determine the sound signature of the speaker – front-firing earpiece and down-firing stereo speakers.
This setup seldom works because the speakers are different types. Here is where the Meridian turning came to the fore. Both speakers produce near-identical sound and volume.
There is a left/right sound stage as well as a faux centre and overhead stage – impressive. To explain, you can adjust the DTS:X sound stage to wide (all around), front (as if you are at a concert) or side to side (stereo with excellent L/R separation).
Speaker sound signature
Note: Frequency response is from 20Hz to 20kHz and tests are in normal (flat) mode
- Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – none
- Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – none
- High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – starting at 150Hz
- Low-mids: 200-400Hz – building
- Mids: 400-1000Hz – building
- High-mids: 1-2kHz – flat
- Low-treble: 2-4kHz – flat
- Treble:4-6kHz – flat
- High Treble: 6-10kHz – flat
- Dog whistle: 10-20 – slight decline to 16kHz
This is a bright vocal signature in flat mode (similar to the buds). In playing with the EQ, I could push it past mid-centric verging on warm and sweet.
Subjectively, it is one of the best smartphone sound signatures and setups that I have ever seen.
It has an HD Audio recorder that allows for normal, concert or custom modes. You can use Studio Mode to record your voice over a soundtrack or make comments for a presentation.
|Battery||3550 mAh battery|
Charger type e.g. 5V/1.8A, 9V/1.8 (16.2W) QC 3.0|
Quick Charge: Supports QC 4+ with optional charger
Wireless Qi charge: 10W (can use 5-15W chargers)
Approx. recharge time: under two hours
The battery is average for this class of device. However, a combination of the OLED panel, Android 9 battery management and the energy-efficient Qualcomm SD855 delivers excellent results. It scores 6220 on GeekBench4 100% load tests which equates to 11:06:40 minutes with the screen at 50%. What is even better is that it maintains the 100% working at capacity until the battery dies.
- 1080p Video loop: 50% brightness, Airplane mode – 12 hours
- Heavy use: 50% screen on time – 11 hours
- Under 100% load: maximum brightness and everything on it empties in just over 3.5 hours
Given typical use we expect this to run for 24-36+ hours between charges. Note the Samsung Galaxy S10/e have a GeekBench score of 2960/2810 – the LG G8s ThinQ lasts at least twice as long.
Gorilla Glass 6 (back) over alloy frame. |
Slippery – use the bumper case
|Dimensions||155.1 x 76.3 x 7.9 mm x 181g|
IP68 (certified) 1.5 meter, for 30 minutes in freshwater
up to 35°|
MIL-STD 810G (not certified)
|Warranty||2-years and remote support app for diagnostics|
|SAR||Head/Body .482/1.587 W/kg|
This is a well-built phone but use the bumper case. Note that the G8 and G8s cases/protectors are different. Avoid any accessory listings that state otherwise.
LG accessories (cases and screen protectors) can be an issue, but Mobile Zap Australia have an Olixar leather folio for $33.49. You can also find cases from Incipio, Spigen, and MobileMate has a tempered glass screen protector and an impact case. If you are after bling then hunt it down on eBay.
Fingerprint sensor on the rear (registers multiple fingers)|
Touchless Hand ID (veins in palm) and can be slow
IR 3D Face Unlock
Knock Code, Pin, or Pattern on screen
I like the good old Goodix rear fingerprint sensor – it is fast and 99.9% reliable.
Having said that with a front ToF camera and IR illuminator, the quality of the 3D facial recognition is outstanding. The speed is sub-second, even in poor light (IR illuminator). You can only register one face despite multiple account capability.
Palm vein recognition is a lot slower. It may not be as secure.
|OS|| Android: 9|
UI: LG UX 8.0
Supports multiple users/accounts
| All Google apps |
At the time of review
|1 May 2019|
Pie has loads of features, including AI to learn about your use and adapt the phone to it. In the test week, I began to see minor improvements, especially in the over-aggressive adaptive brightness setting.
LG overlays a User Experience (UX 8.0). It is straightforward to use and find everything. In some areas (like settings) it has substantial additional functionality. It offers both Android 9 style of home screen and the older Android with back, home and app tray.
It also has ‘New Second Screen’ that affects how the notch display, e.g. a black bar across the top (best for viewing video content) or as a notch.
LG apps include QuickMemo+ (note-keeping), Music, Calendar, LG Health, Email, SmartWorld store for its apps (mainly themes, games, fonts, camera filters etc).
LG Health is a basic step and exercise tracker that can link to Google Health. It integrates with most smartwatches or fitness trackers (not tested), but I suspect you would be best using the apps for those devices.
In all, it is a functional UX that gets lighter with every iteration.
Transfer to LG from other devices – it is easy
LG has reasonable data transfer setup from an old device. If transferring from Android Google Play will recognise apps that you own and reinstall them. Transfer of mail/calendar and contacts depends on the app used. If its Gmail or Outlook, it will save everything in the cloud.
If transferring from iOS, you get data, but no apps. You must ensure that iCloud and other Apple-specific apps can export to an interchange file.
What is missing
It is nice to see that it has Qi charging, IP68, a powerhouse CPU, great camera and superb screen.
Naysayers may point to the lack of reverse charging (Samsung and Huawei), dual aperture camera, 5G etc.
What I say is that if you get this for $949, then you have the best 4G flagship value on the planet by far.
And if you are wondering the G8 (full) versus the G8s. The ‘s’ has (G8 in brackets)
- 6.2” G-OLED FHD+ 2248x 1080p screen (6.1” P-OLED QHD 3120 x 1440)
- 12MP wide-angle lens (16MP)
- 155.3 x 76.6 x 8 mm x 181g (151.9 x 71.8 x 8.4 mm x 167g)
- 3550mAH (3500mAh)
Camera – LG G8s ThinQ
Rear Camera 1|
Sensor: Sony Exmor IMX363 backlit and stacked dual-pixel
Pixel Size: 1.4um
Stabilisation: OIS and EIS for 1K video
Focus type: dual pixel PDAF HDR: Auto
AI scene recognition
Flash type: dual temperature LED
Images: RAW or JPEG
Video:[email protected] (no stabilisation), [email protected] (OIS/EIS), HDR10 with stereo recording and mic
Google Lens: Yes
Rear Camera 2|
Samsung ISOCELL S5K3M5
Rear Camera 3|
Samsung ISOCELL S5K3M5
2X Optical zoom
|3D ToF camera (Z camera) that also acts as a depth camera for bokeh and Face recognition|
Why the detail?
The Sony IMX363 primary sensor is the same as the Google Pixel 3/XL/a – one of the best single-lens cameras on the planet. Coupled to the Qualcomm SD855 it is a fantastic genuine 12MP sensor with powerful post-processing. I say that because the 48MP camera in the OPPO Reno 5G, 10X Lossless, Z and Motorola Android One are quad-Bayer meaning that they only produce a 12MP image.
Then you add the wide-angle (which also acts as a depth sensor for bokeh) and the telephoto (one of the best for tourist ‘Grand Canyon’ vistas), and you have a very versatile setup.
This camera has not had a DxOMark test, but it is like the Pixel 3/XL and LG V40/50/G8 so it should score around that magic 100+. This means high-speed focus, low noise, good bokeh and importantly, great colour and detail.
In other words, you can buy this for the camera knowing that you have to spend a lot more to get the current DxOMark class leader – the Samsung Note10+ 5G at 113 points.
What I like about the LG camera/app
- Camera access: Double-press of the volume-down key. Core shooting modes include auto, AI cam, portrait, studio, and manual. Easy to select a lens to use – three icons on the right of the screen.
- Institutive app – it is easy to use, and the dual-screen gives a great preview of the shot.
- Can capture photos in wide-angle, telephoto and normal in one shot – cool as you can preview all three. Also captures 3 second GIF (moving still).
Android 9 and the Qualcomm SD855 enables many post-processing enhancements. The list below is not as comprehensive as the OPPO Reno, but it covers more than enough bases.
- Studio/Spotlight to create lighting effects and change background colours backdrop)
- Portrait – bokeh with adjustable blur strength in still and video
- Auto-focus and auto-exposure lock
- Makeup Pro – a beautify feature
- AR – My Avatar includes AR Emoji (Animal) and AR Sticker and Ani (Animated)
- AI Cam – recognises a range of subjects and shows a keyword – portrait, animals, food, sunrise, sunset, landscape, sky, beach, babies, flowers and text
- Cine shot – record three seconds before and after a still shot
- Steady Cam (OIS/EIS for video)
- Cheese Shutter and gesture shorts (take a shot with voice command or make a fist)
- Food shots (with white balance and colour adjustments)
- YouTube Live (upload live to the Internet – requires mobile or Wi-Fi connection)
- Night view – no it is not Pixel 3 standard – it just adjusts exposure and can increase graininess.
- Flash Jump-Cut (photos at 3-second intervals)
- Graphy app (manual mode)
- Video – slo-mo
- Burst shots
- Google Lens
We list these modes (there are more) that shows LG has caught up with the rest in its AI post-processing.
Tests – all auto
Indoors Office Light (400 lumens)
Low light (room with less than 100 lumens)
The selfie camera is 8MP with a ‘narrow’ one person 80° FOV. I do not publish selfies (modesty), but the f/1.9 ‘bright’ aperture coupled with the ToF depth camera produce excellent social media results.
There is no fill screen flash, but 3D face recognition works in very low light due to the IR sensor.
The rear standard camera uses the wide-angle lens for depth enabling both still and video bokeh. It is as good as I have seen.
GadgetGuy’s take – LG G8s ThinQ ticks all the boxes and then some
- Impressive camera that should score 100+ on DxOMark with lots of new AI smarts.
- Powerhouse processor – Qualcomm SD855 – and heaps of RAM/Storage/microSD
- Very long battery life with QI and fast charge
This is a phone I could use for my daily drive. It is even better if you get the dual sim model for $949.
As it straddles two categories:
- Flagship $1000-1599 (account for about 10% of sales)
- Premium mid-market $800-999 (10% and often last year’s flagship at run-out price)
I rate it a 5-out-5 for the premium market (I would give it a six if I could) and a smidgin less for flagship because the excellent V50 ThinQ 5G (review here) with its innovative dual-screen takes the crown (just) in that category.
At the beginning of this review, I said phone salesmen ask only two questions to qualify you. Are you an Apple or Android person and what do you want to spend?
They are doing you a major disservice, and you are not considering the best options if you do not include the LG G8s ThinQ in your line-up. (V50 ThinQ 5G is only from Telstra at present)