I tried the futuristic new LG phone that unlocks by scanning the veins in your palms. Here's what it's like in person

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderMeet the latest flagship phone from LG, the LG G8.
  • LG’s new G8 ThinQ flagship smartphone was announced on Sunday.
  • It has an odd vein recognition system designed to detect the veins in a user’s palm to unlock the phone.
  • In every respect, the LG G8 seems like a good, solid smartphone that’s conservative in design and features, especially compared to the recently announced Galaxy S10.

I recently had some hands-on time with LG’s new G8 ThinQ smartphone, and I came away thinking that it will be a good, solid smartphone with some extra LG quirks that makes it unique.

One of those quirks is an odd vein recognition system that detects the veins and characteristics of a user’s palm to unlock the phone. That’s adventurous for LG, or any smartphone maker; It’s far more adventurous than going for an in-display fingerprint sensor like those that have been adopted by OnePlus and Samsung in their most recent smartphones.

Apart from that, the LG G8 will be a phone for the conservative Android user who doesn’t necessarily want to pay for Samsung’s “everything-and-the-kitchen-sink” approach to smartphones.

With that said, we don’t know what LG’s asking price for the G8 will be just yet – a lot still hinges on the LG G8’s pricing announcement.

But for now, check out the LG G8:


Design-wise, LG remained conservative.

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The LG G8 has a typical notch, which is already starting to look dated ever since the OnePlus 6T and its water-drop notch was released. And notches in general are starting to look dated next to Samsung’s new punch-hole selfie camera ports.

In fairness to LG, perhaps the company couldn’t ditch the notch this time round to make enough room for technology designed for a brand-new feature called “Hand ID” (more on that later).

One of the new features on the LG G8 is an OLED display, which isn’t a new feature at all on other smartphones – it’s more like a “finally” moment for LG G-series flagship devices.

The display on the LG G8 is 6.1 inches and has quad HD (1440p) resolution. At that size and resolution, it’s among the sharper displays on smartphones.


It’s a simple, smart, minimalist design, and that’s fine because you’ll probably put a case on it the moment you buy it.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

Here are some of the internal specs:

  • Within LG G8’s classic exterior is a 3,500 mAh battery.
  • The LG G8 is running on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855 chip, which is what we’re expecting for flagship devices in 2019.
  • Alongside the Snapdragon 855 is 6GB of RAM for smooth performance while switching between apps.
  • Storage-wise, you’re getting 128GB as base storage, and no other storage options will be available. You can, however, upgrade the storage up to an extra 2 terabytes (2,000 GB) with a microSD card.

One of my favourite things about the LG G8 is just how lightweight it is, but it’s not the lightest phone you’ll be able to buy in 2019.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The LG G8 is one of the lightest phones you’ll be able to buy in 2019 at 167 grams. It’s not a small phone, either, as it has a 6.1-inch display.

With that said, the new Samsung Galaxy S10 with the same size display is lighter at 157 grams. But, somehow, the S10’s lightness wasn’t as obvious to me during my hands-on time with the device. Perhaps the LG G8 is better balanced, which would explain why it felt so light when I first picked it up compared to the S10.


The LG G8 has a dual-lens camera system on the back, as well as a conventional fingerprint sensor.

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One of the cameras on the back of the LG G8 is a regular 78-degree, 12-megapixel camera. The other is a 107-degree, 16-megapixel lens for ultra-wide shots.

Compared to the Galaxy S10 and its triple camera lens system, the LG G8 seems a little lacking. Not only does the Galaxy S10’s wide-angle lens have a wider 123-degree angle, but it also includes a 2x zoomed lens, too.

LG did introduce video portrait mode with the LG G8, which gives that blurry background bokeh effect to videos. You can usually get that blurry background effect on videos when a subject is pretty close to the camera, but LG’s video portrait mode should make it easier to get the blurry background effect against subjects at any distance.


The LG G8 makes noise straight from its screen.

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The LG G8 doesn’t have an earpiece speaker on the front for phone calls or loudspeaker audio. Instead, LG is using tech from TVs it showcased at CES in 2018 and 2019 where the display itself acts as a speaker.

LG said that when you press the phone to your ear, the sound-emitting display acts a bit like bone induction, where vibrations transmit sound directly to your ear bones, which let you hear sound. One of the benefits of a display that produces sound instead of a traditional speaker is there’s a larger sweet spot for your ear during phone calls.

There’s also a speaker at the bottom of the phone to help when the display is in loudspeaker mode.


Speaking of audio, yes, LG continues to champion the headphone jack.

Antonio Villa-Boas/Business Insider

One of LG’s signature smartphone features is a high-quality HiFi DAC (digital to analogue converter). Basically, it makes for better quality audio through the headphone jack. It’s especially noticeable if you’re using high-end headphones, and makes the most sense when used with better audio quality, like Spotify’s “Very High” audio quality setting or Tidal’s HiFi quality streaming service.

Even if you don’t have high-end headphones or streaming services, LG’s HiFi DAC in its smartphones usually makes audio sound better.

Also, note that there’s the second speaker on the bottom of the device to accompany the display speaker.


And now for the one thing that other phones absolutely don’t do: Hand ID.

Indeed, the LG G8 uses the veins in the palms of your hands to unlock the phone, which the company calls “Hand ID.” It’s a novel method, but it’s the same idea as advanced facial recognition.

To detect and recognise your veins, the LG G8 has what LG calls a “Z” camera that detects a users’ veins with infrared light. There’s also a 3D-sensing “time of flight” (ToF) camera on the front of the LG G8 that detects the shape, thickness, and other individual characteristics of a user’s palms.


Another one of the LG G8’s party tricks is gesture control for apps and media, but I’m somewhat sceptical of it.

You can hover your hand in a claw-like shape above the LG G8 to perform gestures to control certain things on the phone, like answering calls, switching between apps, and adjusting the volume of music.

It seems useful for those times when you can’t easily tap a phone’s screen when your hands are dirty from say, cooking, but LG’s “AirMotion” gesture controls needs more testing. I’m a little sceptical, as motion gestures never really seem to catch on – maybe it will be different on the LG G8.


The LG G8 will be available in the “coming weeks” in the US, and there’s no pricing to speak of yet.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

I don’t see the LG G8 being a $US1,000 phone, or even a $US900 phone like Samsung’s Galaxy S10 lineup. The LG G8 just doesn’t have the design and features that the Galaxy S10 phones have, and it would be a grave mistake to price the G8 on the same level as Samsung’s phones.

The LG G7 was $US750 when it was released last year, and I’m hoping for exactly the same price tag for the G8.

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