Flashback: the LG G8 lost the plot

Peter, 15 October 2023

Samsung and LG are two tech giants from South Korea that have a healthy rivalry in so many markets – this used to include phones, until LG pulled the plug in 2021. Today we want to rewind to a couple of years before that for the story of the last of the G-series.

The LG G8 ThinQ marked an end of an influential and fairly popular series of smartphones that began in 2012 with the Optimus G. The G-family also included innovative phones like the LG G3 and the LG G5. But things were already falling apart by the time that the G8 came around.

The LG G8 ThinQ The LG G8 ThinQ

First, you may have noticed the change in naming. The “Optimus” brand never quite gained the recognition of Samsung’s “Galaxy”, so the phones quickly switched to the short and sweet “LG G” naming scheme.

This lasted until early 2018 when “ThinQ” was added with the LG V30S ThinQ, a refresh of the existing LG V30. ThinQ (pronounced “think-cue”) is LG’s branding for its premium lines of TV and home appliances.

It was first introduced on a smart fridge of all things, a fridge that had an LCD to help with food management – it kept track of what’s in the fridge, when it expires and so on, which you could view on your smartphone while shopping at the grocery store. People may have hated Bixbi, but at least they talked about it. The response to ThinQ on mobile was indifference.

Anyone remember ThinQ? Anyone remember ThinQ?

Branding aside, LG was also falling behind the competition in terms of design too. Just check out the size of that notch – that was out of fashion well before 2019. Compare the G8 to the Galaxy S10, which launched at the same time.

The S10 used a punch hole instead of a notch, it had an under display fingerprint reader and there was a telephoto camera on its back. These were (and still are) the common traits of an Android flagship.

LG G8 ThinQ LG G8 ThinQ Galaxy S10 Galaxy S10
LG G8 ThinQ • LG G8 ThinQ • Galaxy S10

Here the story gets a little confusing. The LG G8 did have a telephoto camera... in some places. The model for South Korea featured a 12MP module with a 52mm lens (2x zoom) and OIS. However, we never got to test that as we only got the global unit for review. That one had only two cameras – 12MP wide and 16MP ultrawide.

The LG G8 ThinQ launched in the US at $820, though there was a $150 early bird discount. The Korean model was KRW 897,600. The Galaxy S10 was $900 instead, so it was pricier, but it looked like it too. And prices equalized pretty quickly anyway.

There was a more affordable version of the G8 too, the LG G8S ThinQ. It had a 6.21” FHD+ OLED display, lower resolution than the 6.1” QHD+ panel on the G8. However, it used the same Snapdragon 855 chipset as the G8 (and some S10 units) and it did have a tele camera, a 12MP 49mm unit. What was the point of launching a very similar phone? LG should have just put those tele cameras on the global model and be done with it.

LG G8S ThinQ LG G8S ThinQ
LG G8S ThinQ

There was yet another model, the LG G8X ThinQ. This one came with a meaningfully larger display, a 6.4” OLED panel with FHD+ resolution again. And it used the Snapdragon 855, though this one skipped the tele camera. The battery capacity went up to 4,000mAh (from 3,500mAh on the regular G8), which gave it much better endurance. Still, this was neither an LG G8+ nor an LG G8 Lite.

LG G8X ThinQ LG G8X ThinQ
LG G8X ThinQ

Samsung, meanwhile, had a well-structured lineup. It launched the Galaxy S10 and S10+, expecting them to be the best-sellers of the year (and they eclipsed the S9 series). It tried something different too with the small Galaxy S10e. Then it released the first-ever 5G phone, the Galaxy S10 5G. Samsung’s first foldable, the original Galaxy Fold, came in early 2019 too.

Galaxy S10, S10+, S10e and S10 5G Galaxy S10, S10+, S10e and S10 5G

Samsung had the backbone of a vanilla and plus models to carry the year while making tentative first steps towards the future of 5G and foldable devices. Meanwhile, LG left us scratching our heads with the G8, G8S and G8X. They were similar enough to confuse people about which one they should get. And despite having three models, the series felt like it lacked a phone for those who knew they wanted something different.

When all the dust had settled, we felt that the LG G-series had lost its shine. The V-series still held a lot of promise, but it looked like LG didn’t know which direction to go. This was evident with phones like the LG Wing, which was crazy cool (or maybe just crazy), but it’s just a footnote in mobile history. Meanwhile, these days every brand is rushing to launch its own foldable phone.


Reader comments

Yes I agree, S20FE is good for the trash.

LG phones are still amongst the best, though the velvet was just a upper mid ranger but, all other past Flagships were Lit, I pray they shock the world and come back Strong

  • bund
  • 29 Oct 2023
  • snU

I had G7 for about 3 years, easily best phone I ever had. I'm sad I sold it. You can compare it to Samsung phone, only if Samsung is using snapdragon chipset. Otherwise is LG all day. I switched to S20FE after G7 and it was such a dow...

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