[MWC 2019] Hands on with the LG G8 ThinQ and LG V50 ThinQ

LG's G-series flagships and the V-series phones typically get announced with a significant amount of time in between. This time, though, the company decided to put them both out there at the same time, at least in regards to an announcement, and that seems to be because each of them has a very distinct, exclusive feature.

The G8 ThinQ has the Z Camera, which can not only log you in by recognizing your hand down to the vein pattern but also let you use your hand to control the smartphone. The V50 ThinQ, on the other hand, has the Dual Screen accessory, a protective case that, well, has a second screen. Oh, and 5G, if you care about that.

Air Motion

I'd like to start with the LG G8 because it's the phone that typically launches first and because I also think it's the least interesting of the two. It's actually the perfect example of cool technology that just shouldn't be in a smartphone. I get that it's cool to have something unique and fancy, but there's no practical use case where it's actually better to hover your hand over your phone than to just touch it.

One of the features enabled by the Z Camera is Hand ID, and there's an advantage here over fingerprint sensors if you're worried about security. Vein pattern biometrics is typically more accurate and secure than fingerprints, so that's kind of cool. However, it's kind of slow and lining up your hand perfectly can be hard.

Air Motion is what I think is really just a waste of resources. Basically, you have your hand in front of the camera, and once it recognizes you, you can move your hand to the left or to the right to open a specific app. You can change the shortcuts for this feature, and that might make it a little more useful, but it still feels like the kind of thing you'd use once to show off to your friends and then never again.

You can also control music and video playback with it, and again, it's kind of cool because, in addition to waving left or right to play and pause, you can rotate your hand in front of the camera to adjust the volume, making it act like a sort of knob. When you look at it, it's fun, but it's not something you'd have any reason to use in place of your screen and the volume rocker.

The whole idea feels like a waste of resources, especially because LG could have used those resources to improve on more important aspects of the phone. The novelty here seems very unlikely to sway anyone to buy the G8 over something like the Galaxy S10.

LG V50 ThinQ and the Dual Screen

Moving on to the LG V50 ThinQ, we have what I think is the cooler of the two innovations coming from LG at MWC. The Dual Screen case goes on your phone as any other flip case would usually go, so it'll keep your phone a little safer from drops. Of course, it's noticeably thicker than a flip case would be, and that's because on the inside there's a whole other screen for your V50.

The screen spins on a hinge that locks into a couple of positions, including one that puts it at the same angle and a 90-degree one that could be used, for example, for gaming. And of course, if you're gonna use it for gaming, LG gives you the option to get a gamepad on your second screen. In fact, you get four different types of gamepads, including one meant for racing games and one that looks like an arcade controller. For any game you play, you can choose your preferred controller style.

There's more to this second screen, too. You can, of course, have two different apps open at the same time, which lets you do things like watching a video and keep chatting with your friends. There's a ton of possibilities here, such as working on documents and talking to coworkers about them, or maybe even watching a video and playing a game, if you like doing all those things at the same time as I do.

One feature that might seem small but I thought was pretty cool is in the camera app. The V50 has three cameras on the back, and while it's not necessarily hard to switch between them, the Dual Screen makes it easier to know what the best shot is in real time. While you're pointing at an object, the second screen will show a preview of all three cameras, so you can see which one is better. In my time with it, activating this feature was a little finicky, but hopefully, that will be ironed out in time for release.

To be clear, I don't necessarily think the Dual Screen is a much better selling point than the hand gestures in the LG G8 ThinQ, but the possibilities here are a bit more reasonable in my opinion. I could never see myself using Air Motion on a regular basis, but the Dual Screen might actually add something useful.

Availability for both the LG G8 and V50 ThinQ will be announced by carriers.

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