LG G8X ThinQ and Dual Screen Review: A cheaper take on folding phones

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The latest trend in mobile phones is folding or foldable screens, with only a handful of manufacturers designing devices that cater to this new form factor. At one point in time LG was said to be a firm dabbling in the display technology for a phone, but nothing has come of it to date.

Instead the South Korean firm has looked at different approaches to offer users multiple screens on a single device. An example of this is the G8X ThinQ and Dual Screen from LG, both of which we’ve been reviewing for the past couple of weeks.

Can such a setup provide a viable alternative to the far more expensive foldable phones on the market, or is this yet another LG gimmick?

But can it phone

Before we delve into how the G8X ThinQ and Dual Screen perform as a pair, it’s worthwhile touching on the smartphone portion on its own. Here LG has done a truly solid job, with the G8X being quite similar in experience to the G8s ThinQ of last year, which was a sleeper hit of a smartphone.

In terms of what the device is packing, a 6.4″ display (2340×1080) is up front with minimal bezels on all sides and a screen notch placed centrally to house a 32MP selfie camera. Biometrics are handled via a fingerprint sensor underneath the display and LG has gone for a glass back cover in terms of aesthetics.

By modern flagship phone standards then, the G8X ThinQ definitely looks the part.

Internally it’s nothing to turn your nose up at either. LG has opted for the 7nm octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor to do the heavy lifting, and paired it with 6GB of RAM to keep things ticking over. There’s also a generous 128GB of storage onboard, as well as a large 4 000mAh battery, but we’ll touch on the latter a bit later.

In-hand the G8X ThinQ is rapid, handling multiple apps running at one time easily and showing no signs of lag when utilising particularly taxing applications. This was backed up by a superb showing while benchmarked on AnTuTu, getting a score of 345 376. For context one of the best phones of 2019, the Huawei P30 Pro managed a score of 290 186 on the same benchmark test.

While we like to say that benchmarks only tell a portion of the story, for those who put a lot of weight on them, the G8X ThinQ will certainly come up trumps.

Another element we quite enjoyed on the G8X is its camera setup. On the rear a dual lens setup is present – 12MP and 13MP ultrawide – which is something that LG first pioneered a few years back. It’s as enjoyable a photography experience now as it was back then, and on this device the dual-pixel predictive autofocus onboard yields sharp images.

The UI for the camera app is also rather intuitive, and easy to use for those who may not want the imposing options that some Pro modes often provide. It handles photography while in low-light well, but is even better when shooting outdoors.

Working in tandem

Now let’s talk about the reason why LG thinks people will want to buy this phone and its accessory – the Dual Screen. It’s a concept that the manufacturer first showed off in the early part of last year at MWC 19, but this is the first time that South Africans will have the chance to experience it.

Designed in a cover form factor, the Dual Screen features a USB Type-C connection so the G8X can be slotted into place. From there the UI automatically detects the Dual Screen and you’re good to go.

From an interface perspective you essentially have two 6.4″ displays at your disposal.

Unfortunately doubling the screen real estate does not mean you can increase the amount of things the phone is capable of.

Instead the Dual Screen allows for more content consumption, whether that be games which split the on-screen action and controls between the two displays, or watching videos one one screen while reading emails or browsing the web on the other.

The Dual Screen can also be posed in a few different modes, much like a convertible notebook can, but this does not feel like a good enough feature to get this form factor on its own.

While you have more screen real estate to call upon thanks to this affordable foldable phone setup, LG may have missed the reason why foldable phones are so interesting – the fact that their screens can bend – which opens a variety of different options moving forward.

As such the Dual Screen feels less like a savvy way to get a foldable experience, and more like a gimmicky accessory.

This is a real pity as the G8X on its own is a great handset, and one that can stand up to most of the premium flagship devices on the market today.

Final verdict

At R13 999 (depending on the retailer), the LG G8X ThinQ and Dual Screen is definitely one of the less expensive flagship phone options out there.

Bundling the Dual Screen accessory is an interesting prospect, but only makes sense if you plan to do a lot of mobile gaming or watch plenty of videos. If that’s not you, this setup is not geared towards productivity or multitasking at this stage.

That said the price is still quite tempting, not to mention that the G8X by itself is an impressively solid device.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.