Specifications

The time-of-flight sensor recognizes the veins in your palm, LG said, so you scan your palm twice to get started. The iPhone's face unlocking feature can be a little finicky for instance, if you're yawning , but doesn't need your face to be at a specific angle or an exact distance away to work. Using the G8 was a completely different experience. I really shouldn't have to work this hard to use a phone, I thought as the G8 display urged me to move my palm down, up, closer to the camera, more to the right.

The phone's depth sensor was trying to scan my hand so I could unlock my phone, but I kept missing it somehow. With other forms of biometric scanning, such as facial recognition and fingerprint-reading, you don't have to position your face or finger exactly 6 inches away from your phone. The G8 does offer both a fingerprint sensor on the back of the device below the camera lenses and facial recognition. Both methods unlock your phone quickly, and I found myself pressing the fingerprint sensor every time Hand ID failed me again.

There is a Hand ID sweet spot, and every so often I nailed it. That spot is 6 inches above the camera and squarely in the center of the camera, not the screen , although I can count the number of times I got it right on the first try on one hand. Then there's Air Motion, which uses the Z Camera's sensor to detect gestures and respond accordingly. LG offers limited customization in Settings for what Air Motion can do in specific apps.

You can use gestures to answer and end calls, play and pause music on YouTube or LG's native Music and Video apps, open apps from the home screen and take screenshots. But to get the G8 to recognize that you're trying to activate Air Motion, you have to put your hand 2 to 5 inches in front of the camera to wake it up, then make a claw with your hand, then pull the claw back so your hand is 6 to 8 inches away from the camera.

Then you can swipe to answer a call, rotate your claw-hand like you're turning a knob to control the music volume, or pinch your fingers to take a screenshot. This is not an intuitive experience. I often forgot to activate the camera first, and would sit in front of the phone making clawing motions with my hand trying to figure out why the display wasn't responding.


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This makes a person look extremely cool, in case you were wondering. To get the G8 to recognize that you're trying to activate Air Motion, you have to put your hand from 2 to 5 inches in front of the camera to wake it up, then make a claw with your hand, then pull the claw back so your hand is 6 to 8 inches away from the camera.

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I would rather take a screenshot by pressing two physical buttons than by calculating the distance from the camera to my hand and then making a claw and pinching my fingers together. When Air Motion works, it's pretty cool. But it's all just way too much work. The G8's front-facing camera also enables advanced selfie effects, thanks to the time-of-flight sensor. LG says the G8 can fine-tune the background blur with more precision due to the new sensor. Two new selfie effects, Studio and Spotlight, are designed to make your photos look better with colorful backgrounds and natural lighting.

Studio portraits are just plain bad.

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The camera cuts out around your basic shape, but the details around my hair look like someone hastily cut with scissors to add a photo of my face on some weird collage. Spotlight is a little prettier. You can angle the spotlight to create the perfect lighting conditions, sort of like being on a set with a professional photographer.

You can also use two sliders to adjust brightness and white balance to make the effect more natural. I wish I could combine Spotlight with Portrait mode to create a truly perfect selfie, like the iPhone XS does, but alas, the G8 doesn't allow it. The G8's dual-lens rear shooter doesn't offer any new features from the G7.

Both sport an ultra-wide-angle and standard lens, though the G8's main camera is 12 megapixels and the G7s is The G8 has the same artificially intelligent-powered photography software as the G7 for recognizing objects and adjusting camera settings, and it's mostly great. In this photo of a cast-iron pan of green shakshuka at an Israeli cafe, I used the G8's AI Cam which remains separate from the default camera in the Camera app.

The camera recognizes that it's looking at food and optimizes the settings accordingly to capture a more beautiful image. I compared the results to the Galaxy S10 and Pixel 3, and found the G8's image more colorful, with better contrast on the crisped edges of the pita. This time the camera categorized the scene as city. The Pixel 3 eked out a win here with a bluer sky and more contrast between the branches and the blossoms, but the G8 performed capably.

Portrait mode is where the G8 loses its edge. The camera can't seem to tell where the subject ends and the background begins, as you can see in this portrait of me against a park backdrop. The G8 confuses the green of the shrubbery with the green of my jacket and brings it all into focus.

The Pixel 3's software-based portrait mode better blurred the background and was more color accurate. LG's smartphone cameras tend to run cool. LG introduced a new Night View mode in the G8. The G7 offered pixel-binning for better low-light photos, but not a separate setting designed for nighttime shots.

We compared the results to the Pixel 3's standout Night Sight mode to see which smartphone reigns supreme.

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With the Pixel 3, I had zero control over the exposure, so it looks like the dim bar has florescent lighting. In a photo of a statue in a Brooklyn plaza, I again selected a mid-exposure on the G8 to avoid blowing out the statue. You can shoot videos in portrait mode on the G8 thanks to the phone's rear dual lenses, which separate the subject of your video from the background and apply a bokeh effect.


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Frankly, every portrait video I shot looked awful. You can shoot portrait videos of people, objects or animals. The video of the juggler was a disaster: Sometimes he's in focus, but then it would blur him into the background and focus on someone else, even as I tapped his face to keep the camera locked on him.

The effect worked better in the video of the flowers, because I was able to get up close and personal. The G8's portrait video mode requires you to be incredibly close to the subject of the video in order to blur the background, and it will often switch between "portrait mode enabled" and "you need to be closer," even if you haven't moved while shooting. I can't imagine any candid moment I'd be able to capture in video portrait mode without getting uncomfortably close to the subject, which makes the G8's new feature more problematic than useful.

The scenarios are designed to be more intensive than most real-world apps to truly stress the GPU. The LG G8 comes with a dual and triple camera configuration. The cameras are tucked behind a single glass back pane and look beautifully slick. With that said, tricky lighting conditions can throw off its HDR mode. A few pictures shot in harsh daylight show clipping in darker areas.

Tuning the post-processing to brighten the blacks would have easily mitigated this. Lowlight photography is another disappointment.

LG's G8 ThinQ is a powerful flagship phone undone by novelty features that aren't useful at all.

The image quality is still rich with detail, though. The ToF sensor not only enables Air Motion — a feature where it senses hand gestures to control the phone — but also is an essential part of secure facial unlock and — get this — handprint unlock. Aptly named Hand ID, the phone can scan the veins in your hand to unlock your phone.

For example, forming a claw shape over the front camera allows you to adjust the music volume by turning your hand left and right. A few other gestures enable screen capture, muting alarms, and answering calls. The Time-of-Flight ToF sensor activates quickly, but gesture registration is lacking. Finally, using Air Motion outdoors is a two-hand operation: one hand to hold the phone and the other to gesture, which adds unnecessary complexity. With that said, there are still other useful features available.

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Dual app installs a second instance of compatible social media apps and allows for a second account. This is useful for managing both work and personal social profiles on one device.


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Floating Bar is another useful feature, which provides a list of app and function shortcuts through an expandable floating button. LG adds two-year warranty for phones purchased in the U. Granted, I tested my unit at the sharper 1,p constantly, so dialing back on the resolution can extend the run time slightly. The included charger is a QuickCharge 3.

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The phone also supports wireless charging at 9W. One benefit of being in an awkward second place is cost. An excellent alternative, though, is the Huawei P It boasts an exceptional camera set and a much larger battery. Despite its more rounded feature set, with the ongoing controversies surrounding the U. Entity list, its future support is in potential jeopardy. The price directly reflects the feature compromises that the phone inherently carry. It nails most of the right components: a beautiful screen, fast processor, sharp cameras, and ample storage just to name a few.

It has a down-to-earth, comfortable design, great screen, and the currently fastest Qualcomm chipset. In good lighting conditions, its camera performance is excellent; boasting great sharpness and saturated colors, pictures taken on the LG G8 ThinQ definitely classify as a flagship shooter.

It only provides a marginal exposure boost relative to the regular shooting mode. In addition, its HDR mode can sometimes produce some wonky colors, leading to clipped blobs in shadows.