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LG's G8X Dual Screen Phone Gives You the Most Screen For Your Money

By Sam Rutherford on at

Back in 2011, the original Samsung Galaxy Note confirmed people had an insatiable appetite for big screens. And just in the last couple years, we’ve had phones with extra long screens, transforming screens, flexible screens, and even wraparound screens. But now with the G8X Dual Screen, LG is hoping to top them all by giving us more display (or should I say displays) for way less money.

Ok, so what are we looking at here? On its own, the LG G8X is a pretty standard Android phone with specs that fall between what you get on a Pixel 4 XL and a Samsung Galaxy S10+. We’re talking a Snapdragon 855 chip with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, 4,000 mAh battery, microSD card expandability, and a 2,340 by 1,080 6.4-inch OLED screen. It’s a pretty respectable package, and when you throw in some nice bonuses like a headphone jack, in-display fingerprint sensor, an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, and Qi wireless charging, the G8X easily qualifies itself as a solid high-end (though not exactly flagship-level) smartphone.

But where things get really interesting is that bundled along with the phone is LG’s Dual Screen accessory, which adds an identical 6.4-inch OLED screen that’s attached to a nifty folding cover. Technically, LG’s Dual Screen accessory adds two screens, because in addition to that big interior screen, there’s a tiny cover screen on the outside that lets you quickly check the time or recent notifications. And the total asking price for both the phone and the Dual Screen accessory? Just $700 ( £543, UK pricing TBA).

Forget talk of aggressive pricing, that’s practically theft in today’s market. Two 6.4-inch displays gives you more screen real estate than what you get from the £1,800 Galaxy Fold (since you can’t use the Fold’s interior and exterior screens at the same time), but for way less than half the price. If there was a stat like WAR in baseball for phones called screens above replacement, then the LG G8X Dual Screen is basically Mike Trout.

Now I admit, there’s a lot of people out there that don’t want or need that much screen, and that’s fine. But for power users, gamers, or anyone who really likes to multitask, the LG G8X is almost downright delightful. Business types can use both screens at the same time to check their calendar while writing an email.

Meanwhile, social media mavens can watch a show and live tweet all on the same device – no extra gadgets needed. (Or have apps like Twitter and Instagram open at the same time, if need be.) But personally, my favourite use of the LG’s dual screens is to help wind down before going to sleep by watching sports or YouTube and banging out daily quests in one of the too many mobile games I play.

And to support all the various ways of using the G8X Dual Screen, LG has equipped the phone with gesture controls (three-finger swipe) and a simple floating button for switching apps between screens, with additional shortcuts for turning the second screen off, or dimming the main screen. Also, because the Dual Screen accessory has a relatively stiff hinge, you can set the phone up like a 2-in-1, complete with tent and presentation modes.

LG didn’t stop there though, because, for serious mobile gamers, the Dual Screen can also serve as a configurable controller. By default, LG has provided a basic layout that works for most RPGs and action games, and in this mode, the Dual Screen communicates with the phone over Bluetooth, so a lot of games will detect the Dual Screen as a native gamepad. However, if you want to get creative, you also have the ability to create custom layouts with individually mapped functions, which is great for shooters or other titles that often rely on onscreen virtual controls.

Combined, if you factor in the Dual Screen’s programmable gamepad support and general use, LG says that practically every app on the Play Store works on the G8X’s second screen in some fashion. That said, not everything works as expected. For example, you can’t watch YouTube and YouTube TV at the same time, because the second you press play on one app, the other pauses itself. Additionally, even if you do find two video players that can play simultaneously (like YouTube and Vimeo), you can’t select which audio you want to listen to, it’s both or nothing.

Not only does the Pixel 4's pics have richer colours, if you zoom in a bit, you’ll see that Pixel 4 captured more detail too.

Again, the Pixel 4 edges out the G8X thanks to more vibrant colours and better sharpness.

On its own, the G8X’s picture is fine, but it can’t quite keep up with the Pixel 4.

The G8X comes close here, but thanks to better white balance, the Pixel 4 takes the win again.

With their respective night modes turned on, the Pixel 4's pic looks richer and has less noise.

Unfortunately, a lot of these issues are out of LG’s control, as Android itself has limits on how many apps can be in focus at the same time. And if you wanted to try to outsmart Android by plugging in headphones for one app, while listening to another using the G8X’s stereo speakers, that won’t work either. And for people who might have multiple Instagram or Twitter accounts, there isn’t a great way to have multiple versions of the same app running on each screen too, which is a bit of a bummer. Right now, Android isn’t fully prepared for tech like this.

When it comes to the rest of the phone, the G8X features a high-res 32-MP selfie camera in front, along with two cams in back: a 12-MP main cam, and a 13-MP ultra-wide cam with a 136-degree field of view that offers some of the widest shots you can get from any phone. And with helpful modes like 4K time-lapse, automatic scene tuning, and a built-in steady cam feature, the G8X has a lot of photo-related tricks up its sleeves.

Because there isn’t room for a normal USB-C port on the Dual Screen accessory, to charge using a wire, you need to use LG’s custom magnetic charging adapter (which comes included), or take the phone out of the case.

Although the G8X lacks a dedicated telephoto cam and doesn’t have the overall photo prowess of some of its competitors. It can’t quite keep up with some of the smartphone cameras on the market. In almost every picture from head-to-head shoutout against the Pixel 4, the G8X’s pics weren’t quite as rich, detailed, or sharp as what I got from Google’s phone. It’s close, but G8X was always just slightly behind.

The G8X Dual Screen can also be awkward at times. With a 6.4-inch screen, the G8X is already pretty big, but when you add a second display and a plastic frame to hold everything together, the G8X can turn into a real handful. The G8X also suffers from sub-optimal button layout, because when the phone is fully open, the Dual Screen’s hinge makes it difficult to use the phone’s volume rocker.

This is the standard virtual gamepad that works natively with a lot of games. But if you don’t like it, you can create your own custom layout.

But what’s even more annoying is that because the Dual Screen connects to the G8X via its USB-C port, you need to use a special adapter to recharge the phone, unless you want to detach the phone from the second screen or use a wireless charging pad every time. The dongle attaches to the end of a normal USB-C cable and acts much like the MagSafe connector on old MacBooks (remember those?), but for frequent travelers or people who prefer wired charging, it can get kind of tiring trying to keep track of where you left that tiny adapter.

Also, despite Android 10 being released in early September, almost three months later, the G8X is launching with the older Android 9 Pie. Worse, right now, LG doesn’t have a timeline for when Android 10 might be available. With LG’s history of slow OS updates, I wouldn’t bank of getting anything soon.

The second screen (left) doesn’t need a notch, but it was cheaper to keep it than make another display without one.

To make all this possible, LG cut a couple of corners as well. When I said earlier that the G8X’s second screen is identical to the first, I wasn’t kidding, because if you’ll notice, the second screen has a notch despite not actually having a camera behind that notch. For LG, it was simply easier and more cost-effective to source two of the exact same panel, instead of making a second 6.4-inch screen without a notch.

And for some reason, the G8X doesn’t support face unlock of any kind, which seems like a major omission. Ideally, you’d want the phone to unlock automatically when you open it up. However, because there’s no face unlock, you have to use the in-display fingerprint reader (or rely on smart unlock), which means using the phone doesn’t feel as smooth as it could be.

Thankfully, for those of you worried about the G8X’s battery life (especially when connected to a second screen), things are actually pretty good. On our standard video rundown test, the G8X on its own lasted 14 hours and 17 minutes. When combined, even though the Dual Screen doesn’t have its own battery, LG says running both displays at once only sucks up an extra 20 to 25 percent of the phone’s juice. This may have been a bit too optimistic on LG’s part, but not entirely outlandish, because after enabling the second screen and repeating our rundown test with two videos playing, the G8X Dual Screen managed to last 8 hours and 23 minutes, which ain’t bad at all.

While I wish LG gave the G8X a more up to date version of Android and that I didn’t need to worry about special power adapters, I just can’t ignore how much value this phone offers. In some, ways, you might even think of the G8X’s Dual Screen accessory as the ultimate phone case. Not only does it protect the phone, it adds a ton of utility. The LG G8X isn’t for everyone, but if you simply want the most screen for your money, the G8X Dual Screen deserves a serious look (or two).

README

  • Nearly every Android app works on the second screen, but if you are trying to do things like watching two videos at the same time, things don’t always play out like you would expect.
  • LG’s customizable gamepad makes the G*X Dualscreen a great choice for heavy mobile gamers.
  • Despite being relatively slim, when connected to its second screen, the G*X stills feels a bit bulky.
  • Two 6.4-inch screens and solid specs for just $700 ( £543) is a steal.