LG's New Dual-Screen Phone Is Like Two Phones in One!

Photo: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

The name says it all: LG G8X ThinkQ Dual Screen. It’s an updated LG G8 phone with an additional screen that effectively operates as a second device tethered to the main one. In a briefing at IFA in Berlin, the company framed the dual-screen phone as the inevitable solution to our multitasking inclinations. After spending a few minutes using the G8X, I’m wondering if I should be multitasking more.

The dual-screen moniker is almost misleading with the G8X. The second screen is really more like a jacked-up case, so you can use the primary device like a regular phone or plug it into the screen case to get the dual-screen experience. Once engaged, the second screen almost operates as its own device. The 6.4-inch OLED screen itself is the same size and resolution as the screen on the main device. The second screen has its own navigation bar and can display apps independently. Heck, the second screen even has its own notch, even though You can’t actually use the second screen as its own phone. Maybe that’s obvious. The whole experience is very similar to having an external monitor attached to a desktop, and when you think about it that way, the idea of a two-screen phone seems more reasonable. Imagine how you might want to watch a YouTube video and read your favorite website at the same time on your phone. Or, if you’re a livestreamer, you might watch yourself in the selfie cam on the primary device and then read the comments on the second screen. At launch, LG is also releasing a couple of apps—namely the camera app and corresponding photo gallery—that are specifically designed to live on both screens. Mobile gaming can also be easier and more fun, since the second screen can be configured as a custom-designed controller.

As complicated as the two-screen situation sounds, it actually feels more complicated to use. I only had a few minutes with a prototype in Berlin, but it was immediately obvious that there’s a learning curve when it comes to dealing with two screens at once. Since the second screen serves as a cover, I felt surprised to see it light up when I opened the phone—so surprised, I was never really sure what to do with it. It was handy to use it as a game controller, but I also wondered if I wouldn’t prefer an actual controller. The same goes for the second screen as a keyboard, though I realize that the compact case-like screen design is much handier than carrying around a Bluetooth game controller or an external keyboard.

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The design is pretty sleek, too. The G8X has a 360-degree hinge so you can flip the second screen completely around, and there’s enough friction that you can lay the phone on a table and flip the screen up like a little bitty laptop. In theory, you could use it like a tiny laptop, although, the full keyboard on the second screen is an awkward size to type with both hands. You can split the keyboard to make it easier on the thumbs, but holding the device like this essentially sucks. The whole situation is impressive! I just wasn’t ever sure what to do with that second screen. It’s also fingerprint city since three out of the four surfaces of the device are made of glass.

Seriously, fingerprint city
Photo: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

I can’t emphasize enough how little time I had with the new LG G8X ThinkQ Dual Screen. It was a handful of minutes in a hotel, where I fumbled with the wifi settings and struggled to come up with reasons to use the second screen. I could definitely see how using the device might be fun once the training wheels came off. The G8X is a powerful flagship phone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor, an in-display fingerprint sensor, and a 32-megapixel camera. Unlike LG’s previous dual-screen phone, which was released in Asia earlier this year, the G8X will not offer 5G support.

LG hasn’t yet revealed pricing or availability for the G8X. For now, the company says that specifics of the dual-screen offering will depend on the carriers. At this point, it’s a bit of a race between LG’s take on the extra big-screen phone and the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which just finally got a September 6 release date in Korea. May the best wacky thing win.

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Adam Clark Estes

Senior editor at Gizmodo.

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