The modular G5 was possibly the last LG phone high on crazy gimmicks – but its commercial failure sort of forced LG into rethinking its smartphone strategy. The smartphones that followed the G5 focused on getting the basics right, and that’s all. But somewhere down the line, LG was also losing its identity – to innovate regardless of sales and profits. With the new G8 ThinQ, launching at MWC 2019 on Sunday, LG is seemingly going back to its LG G5-ish weird ways.
The G8’s OLED screen doubles as an audio amplifier, as well as the earpiece. And it has a 3D Time-of-Flight front camera (LG is calling it the Z camera) that helps not only in fast and more secure face unlock and achieving greater depth of field effect in portrait selfies, it also lets you control the G8 with the palm of your hand. This includes two user cases – Hand ID and Air Motion gestures.
A ToF system essentially calculates the time it takes for an IR laser to bounce off subjects and return to the device to create a more accurate 3D picture of the environment. Only LG is using it in ways you and I never imagined, on the G8. Hand ID, as the name suggests, allows you to unlock the G8 by holding your palm in front of the phone’s Z camera – using vein maps that LG says will be hard to spoof from a security point of view. Air Motion gestures are a lot more diverse – once you get the phone’s attention by waving at it in a particular way, you’ll be able to perform a range of tasks, from playing/pausing media to dismissing an incoming call.
That’s right. In theory, the LG G8 is a phone that you can control largely without even having to touch it - by combining Hand ID with Air Motion gestures. Of course, how the two pan out in day to day usage is something only time will tell, but whatever be the case, it will take some time getting used to – even more so swapping modules.
Aside from the crazy stuff, the rest of the LG G8 is familiar. It looks exactly like G7 before it. The G8 has a 6.1-inch 19.5:9 OLED display (over the G7’s LCD) with a notch, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage (expandable), a dual rear camera system consisting of one 12MP standard camera with 78-degree field of view and a secondary 16MP wide angle camera with 107-degree field of view, a primary 8MP front camera, and a 3,500mAh battery.
The G8 uses Crystal Sound OLED, a technology that LG also uses in some of its high-end TVs. Basically, the whole display can vibrate to act as a speaker, and even though the G8 comes with a mono speaker out, it will be able to channel stereo output thanks to LG’s OLED tech. LG is also promising improved clarity.
LG’s BoomBox already amps audio coming from the G7 and V40 by turning these phones into resonance chambers. Its crazy OLED tech will add to it some more, possibly entailing in louder sound. Not to mention, LG’s signature quad DAC is sticking around as well, meaning yay points for the good old headphone jack.