It’s been a good few years since LG had a flagship in the spotlight. The G5’s modular accessories were a misfire, the G6’s bezel-trimmed approach was outclassed by the Galaxy S8, and the notched LG G7 ThinQ just didn’t stand out from the crowd.
What about the LG G8 ThinQ, then? LG has already confirmed the device, and while a first glance at concept renders (based on current leaks) suggest an incredibly familiar-looking device, rumours point to a pretty big twist that might help LG combat the coming tide of foldable phones.
Will the G8 ThinQ reinvigorate excitement about LG’s flagship handsets? Here’s everything we’ve heard so far about what could be LG’s most compelling handset in years.
When will we see it launch?
LG had a history of announcing its new flagship at Mobile World Congress, but last year opted to hold tight on the LG G7 ThinQ and hit late (northern hemisphere) spring instead. Not this year!
Confirming previous reports, LG says the LG G8 ThinQ will debut at Mobile World Congress in late February. Prior to the announcement, LG sent an invite to publications with the above YouTube video, which hints at potential interface changes for the device in question. It’s not specifically identified as the G8… but it’s be mighty surprising if it was something else.
How much will it cost?
The LG G7 undercut a lot of the flagship competition with its R14,000 price. Plus, it’s prices tend to drop dramatically over time (the G7 is currently priced at R7,000… or half its starting price). Similarly, the recently launched LG V40 has a starting price of R12,500… which is extremely competitive for a three-rear-camera phone. But we’re not sure that LG will go that route again with the G8. In fact, one purported leak suggests that the LG G8 could aim a fair bit higher on the price scale.
A Reddit user shared what’s claimed to be an image of a retail inventory system from a Canadian store, and it shows an $1,199 CAD price tag. That equates to about R13,400, but a straight conversion seems unlikely if true. In fact, the CAD price comes to about US$900, and given that we’d expect an SA price more in the R14,000-R18,000 range. LG’s recent V-series phones have been $900 in the US, so that kind of pricing window certainly isn’t out of the question.
Note that the image above suggests 128GB for the model, and it’s unknown whether that’s planned to be the base storage or a step above. If it’s the latter, then the base price could ultimately be more palatable.
What will the G8 look like?
What you’re seeing above is a purported leaked press render of the LG G8 ThinQ via XDA Developers. It pretty closely matches earlier leak-inspired concept renders developed by prominent leaker OnLeaks and shared via 91Mobiles.
And it’s nearly identical to the LG G7 ThinQ, aside from the camera setup on the back. No, that’s not terribly exciting.
But there’s something we’re not seeing here: CNET reports that LG will release a second screen case attachment, allowing you to open up the case and effectively double the size of the display. It’s like a foldable phone that can also be… well, fully normal. How that will work and how much it’ll cost remain to be seen, but it certainly is a unique premise.
If true, sticking with last year’s core design is a bit boring – but we need to see how the reported second-screen attachment looks.
What do we know about the display?
Beyond the rumours of a second screen attachment, we haven’t really heard anything yet about what to expect from LG G8 ThinQ’s built-in screen.
The G7’s was pretty strong, with a Quad HD 6.1in LCD panel – not quite OLED quality, but very good all the same. The OnLeaks renders suggest identical dimensions for the screen, but hopefully LG makes the move into OLEDs instead as it’s done with the V40 (the phone’s display is one of our favourite things about an otherwise middling device).
We’re just speculating at this point, but we’re definitely curious to hear more about the optional second screen.
How much power will it pack?
An LG flagship launching in 2019? Yeah, that almost certainly means the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 will be in tow.
The latest top-end Snapdragon will soon be rolling out in an array of new handsets, and promises more speed and AI-crunching capabilities than before. With Android 9.0 undoubtedly onboard, it’s sure to be a super-fast smartphone.
The LG G7 ThinQ offered adequate battery life due to its modest 3,000mAh cell, but it sounds like LG has a bit more in store for the G8 ThinQ. Mobielkopen shows a battery pack from Brazil’s Anatel certification, and it notes a 3,400mAh capacity. That won’t put it near the top of the flagship pack, but it ought to provide a couple of extra hours of daily uptime.
Leaks suggest that the Snapdragon 855 won’t top benchmark leaderboards, but it ought to be plenty capable all the same.
What sort of camera sensors will it have?
What kind isn’t yet clear, but how many… well, we might know that and it’s frankly a bit of a surprise. The OnLeaks renders point to two back cameras. Last year’s LG G7 and this year’s V40 both have three on the back.
Scaling back always seems like a no-no in a market defined by incremental upgrades, plus flagship makers are expected to add more cameras this year rather than pull back. Could it be a cost-cutting measure to trim the price tag, or might there be multiple models? Alternatively, has LG packed in some software trickery of the sort that sees Google sticking to one camera in its Pixel devices?
LG has announced that a 3D time-of-flight camera from Infineon “will play a key role in the front-facing camera of the LG G8 ThinQ”. The time-of-flight system measures infrared light as it bounces off of the subject, providing accurate depth measurements. It’s likely to be the backbone of a Face ID-like facial security system expected on the G8.
We’d be surprised to see LG cut back on this year’s flagship specs without a pretty compelling reason.
What else we know…
5G will be one of the biggest things in the smartphone world this year, but not on the LG G8 ThinQ. ETNews suggests that LG will reveal its first 5G-capable handset separately, however we’ve also seen rumours that suggest an MWC reveal for it.
Also interesting: the OnLeaks concept renders don’t show an earpiece. Why? Because the LG G8 ThinQ reportedly uses vibrations along the screen to send sound to your ear instead. That’s unique in smartphone land, but something some TV makers have been incorporating into their designs. We wonder if it will be as effective and reliable a solution as a dedicated earpiece.
The LG G8 ThinQ will almost certainly run Android 9 Pie, but LG’s MWC invite tease (video up top) suggests some kind of gesture-based interface that doesn’t require you to actually touch the phone. We imagine touch controls will still be used for most everyday tasks, but we’re curious to see what kind of innovation LG is teasing here.
Based on the current leaks, the most interesting part of the LG G8 ThinQ equation sounds like the secondary screen attachment… which we haven’t seen yet. But the leaks are sure to keep coming, so stay tuned for more.