LG has revealed its latest attempt at a dual-screen phone during IFA 2019, the rather tongue-twisty G8X ThinQ Dual Screen.

In reality, of course, it’s not a dual-screen at all; instead, it’s a new version of the original G8 along with a Dual Screen attachment. The new phone is also running the latest iteration of LG’s user interface – UX 9.0 which is itself based on the new Android 10.

The main change to the phone itself is that it now has a larger screen. Both displays here are 6.4-inch Full HD+ OLED screens with a 19:5:9 aspect ratio – there’s no difference between them aside from the fact the main phone’s display has an in-display fingerprint reader underneath.

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The Korean company first demonstrated a second screen attachment at MWC 2019 for its V50 ThinQ phone. It believes there’s clear merit for having a second screen you can attach to an existing smartphone, rather than rivals’ approach of trying to get bigger by having a foldable phone.

As before the Dual Screen is a case, effectively, which wraps around the main handset and provides the second left-hand display – a bit like a folio phone case. It has a full 360-degree hinge, so you can use the screen in numerous ways including lying it flat or using it in ‘tent’ mode.

The front of the Dual Screen attachment has a small display for the time and basic information, such as who is calling, but this wasn’t working on the (very) pre-release device we saw.

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We’ve known for a while that LG would introduce a second-generation of the dual-screen tech here at IFA 2019 and it’s alongside the G8X. We thought there might be an update to the V Series at this show, but in reality networks in the UK and elsewhere have only really just started rolling out the V50 Thinq – available on EE in the UK – because they’re only just starting to roll out 5G.

The phone itself has 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage, but we believe LG is also set to have a 8GB/256GB version in some territories. The handset runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 (not the newer 855+, strangely).

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The Dual Screen has been refined from its previous iteration and now is reflective of the design of the handset its designed to sit alongside. The two displays look like two halves of a whole now, while the V50’s Dual Screen attachment (with a smaller 6.2-inch display) did look different than the phone. 

Note that the Dual Screen doesn’t have any major circuitry on board – it doesn’t have a CPU for example – it uses the main handset’s power and brain. There’s a USB-C plug that goes from the case into the phone, but there’s another charging port on the bottom of the case. Fast Charge 4.0 is supported for quick juicing of the 4,000mAh battery. 

Note that there’s also a five-pin connector on the bottom of the dual-screen case. We don’t yet know what this is for, but we’re guessing it’ll be for a similar system to Samsung’s DeX.

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The dual-screen is an interesting approach, and it’s not without merit because we all do stuff where we need to go between two apps. While LG has numerous examples such as having a Game Pad gaming controller on one screen and the game on the other, the most likely scenario is more mundane – a gallery of your photos on one screen and editing on the other or email on one screen and Maps on the other.

Or perhaps you want to see a web page on one screen and have your notes app on the other. Uber drivers could have the Uber app on one screen and Google Maps on the other side, reasons LG. Software-wise, LG says it is utilising the Android Extended Screen API. LG also adds you can set an app to always open on the left display. 

However, the Dual Screen does add to the weight of the phone significantly – you’d expect this to be honest. The main handset is 192g, while the Dual Screen adds an extra 134g. It also predictably adds to the thickness significantly – with the Dual Screen attachment the device is nearly 15mm thick instead of 8mm. LG does say that the new Dual Screen is lighter and thinner than the predecessor Dual Screen. 

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The phone itself is IP68 water and dustproof, but the Dual Screen attachment isn’t.

In terms of cameras, the rear camera on the G8X ThinQ is 12MP, with a 13 megapixel wide camera and LG has modes such as extreme steady cam, AI Action Shot that adjusts shutter speed depending on the moving subject and improved night time shots. Sound is also an area that LG likes to pay attention to, with a 32-bit Quad DAC and support for DTS:X 3D Surround Sound.

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First Impressions

The Dual Screen idea makes a lot of sense for some users and, save for the increased weight and size, it could well be a simple way to give more of us extended smartphone real estate without having double the expense - which is what we're seeing with the foldable handsets. 

As for the G8X, our feelings about it are very similar to how we felt about the original G8 - it's a decent smartphone that plays it safe, but really it doesn't excite. The problem is that LG really needs to give us a desirable contender of a smartphone and this isn't it. Could a 2020 G Series handset turn the tide?