A few years ago, slightly lesser specced versions of flagship phones provided the best value for money on the local market. Those days are gone now, with the mid-range segment filled to the brim with well specced phones that cost half that of their flagship brethren.
So where does the new LG G8s ThinQ fit in? Not quite a mid-range price at R11 999 (RRP), and not sporting quite the same specifications as the newer flagship phones on the market.
Is the latest device from LG stuck in limbo or a surprisingly good smartphone that people are quick to ignore?
A baby G8?
So I don’t know what the “s” in G8s stands for. It can’t be small, as the phone is fairly similar in dimension to its more expensive big brother. For all intents and purposes then, only the eagle-eyed amongst us would notice the subtle differences between both phones.
One of the telltale signs is the screen notch on bezels up front, with the latter being quite large. As such things don’t quite go edge-to-edge on the G8s as they do on the regular G8, but given the price tag, it’s easily forgiven.
Not being a fan of screen notches in general, I quickly changed the top edges of the phone to be blacked out to “create” a larger bezel in its place. I was prompted to do so as the screen notch can prove to be a bit of an eyesore when trying to read something online, or watch videos, immediately drawing your attention to the blacked out middle portion of the screen.
Is this a deal breaker? No, not by any means, but if you’ve tried out any of 2019’s flagship phones, you can definitely spot and feel the difference.
Thankfully the rest of the G8s is premium. The mix of aluminium and glass feel solid, although the glass back cover is a magnet for fingerprints and smudges. As such you’re not only going to want to employ the clear protective case provided in the box to ensure against bumps and scratches, but smudges too.
A confusing layout
Sticking with the aesthetics for a couple of paragraphs longer, the button layout on the G8s is puzzling at best. On the left hand side is the volume rocker and a dedicated Google Assistant button. The latter makes sense there, but on the vast majority of phones I’ve reviewed, the volume rocker has been on the right side, making this an odd choice by LG.
The power button is on its usual side, the right, but is placed quite high up on the body of the G8s, making it a tad difficult to reach during one-handed operation.
It’s small things like that which make me think LG didn’t spend enough time thinking about in-hand use for this device.
The rear mounted fingerprint sensor, however, is easy to reach and responsive, located just below the trio of lenses LG has employed on the back. Even with the protective cover on, the sensor worked quickly and accurately, which is at least a saving grace for an otherwise odd button layout.
The nitty gritty
Now that I’ve had a good gripe about the design of the G8s, let’s touch on one area it shines – performance. Here the South Korean manufacturer has not held out, placing an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor in the device, which is certainly the type of silicon you expect from a flagship device.
Things moved along rapidly while multitasking on the G8s, and no lag scuppered the experience whatsoever. As for the other internal elements, a generous 6GB of RAM is on offer, with 128GB onboard storage available too.
The mix proved quite impressive in benchmarking, with the G8s ThinQ managing a score of 336 434 in AnTuTu. To put that in perspective, the Huawei P30 Pro, which is a thoroughly impressive phone, mustered a score of 290 186.
It’s important that people don’t place too much weight in mobile benchmark tests, but given the scores of the G8s, it’s clear that this device is not left wanting. As such it should stand you in good stead from a processing perspective for a few years to come.
Point and shoot
Now let’s talk about the camera setup on the G8s, which is deceptively impressive. A triple lens orientation is found on the rear, which isn’t all that groundbreaking these days, but once you start snapping some pictures, you begin to see how good it is.
The AI Cam mode was my go-to during the review, and worked quite speedily, which is good as little time is wasted for the system to recognise the object its shooting. Colour representation and detail in particular was impressive in this mode and never left me wanting.
There’s also a manual mode for pros to tinker with, along with portrait mode that adjusts the level of bohek (blur), which means the G8s can handle pretty much everything asked of it. With a 12MP standard, 12MP telephoto and 13MP ultrawide on offer, the G8s may not be touting massive amounts of megapixels, but the work behind the scenes results in an extremely solid all-round shooter.
Up front there’s an 8MP selfie camera that operates as advertised, and a ToF (Time of Flight) lens designed for the hand gesture controls. For me the latter feels a little gimmicky, and proved difficult to work at times. As such it’s a rather forgettable feature, and one the G8s is better off not having.
Three to four years ago, R11 999 for a flagship phone was about standard. Now that price point has jumped closer to the R20k mark.
Relatively speaking then, the LG G8s ThinQ is good value for money. It looks like a flagship phone, has above-par performance and an all-round camera setup which adds up to an experience better than most premium mid-range phones on the market.
It also has a charming UI and is a nice change of pace from the Samsung and Huawei phones that have been dominating the Android market at the moment.
As such the G8s ThinQ could fly nicely under the radar as a device that savvy phone fiends should be interested in.
FULL DISCLOSURE: THE LG G8S THINQ WAS RECEIVED AS A SEEDING UNIT.