LG’s G8 ThinQ lets you control it with a wave of your hand

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Struggling phone maker LG isn't throwing in the towel just yet. The Korean electronics giant used Mobile World Congress to announce its new flagship LG G8 ThinQ Android smartphone. At first glance, the G8 ThinQ looks a lot like the G7 ThinQ, but there's more to their similar metal and glass constructions. Housed inside of the notch is a new camera sensor that recognizes hand gesture and can be used to control features like the volume, calls, and media playback. SEE ALSO: Huawei's Mate X is the most promising foldable phone yet By all accounts, the LG G8 ThinQ is a premium phone with flagship performance. The phone's glass and metal design is as good as any other and the specs all check out. The G8 ThinQ has a 6.1-inch OLED screen with QHD+ (3,120 x 1,440) resolution. It's powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chip and 6GB of RAM. There's 128GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot for adding up to 512GB of additional storage. And the 3,500..

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Struggling phone maker LG isn't throwing in the towel just yet. The Korean electronics giant used Mobile World Congress to announce its new flagship LG G8 ThinQ Android smartphone.

At first glance, the G8 ThinQ looks a lot like the G7 ThinQ, but there's more to their similar metal and glass constructions. Housed inside of the notch is a new camera sensor that recognizes hand gesture and can be used to control features like the volume, calls, and media playback.

SEE ALSO: Huawei's Mate X is the most promising foldable phone yet

By all accounts, the LG G8 ThinQ is a premium phone with flagship performance. The phone's glass and metal design is as good as any other and the specs all check out.

The G8 ThinQ has a 6.1-inch OLED screen with QHD+ (3,120 x 1,440) resolution. It's powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 chip and 6GB of RAM.

There's 128GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot for adding up to 512GB of additional storage. And the 3,500 mAh battery is reasonably large and supports QuickCharge 3.0 and wireless charging.

The 6.1-inch OLED screen is big and bright.

The 6.1-inch OLED screen is big and bright.

On the rear, there's a dual camera system consisting of a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens with f/1.5 aperture and a secondary 16-megapixel ultra-wide lens with f/1.9 aperture. Both cameras looked pretty capable from what I could tell in my brief hands-on with the phone.

The cameras are flush with the back! No bump! There's also a fingerprint sensor on the back.

The cameras are flush with the back! No bump! There's also a fingerprint sensor on the back.

And the G8 ThinQ's "Crystal Sound OLED" display also doubles as a receiver by vibrating sound off the glass so there's no need to have a cutout for one at the top. Other phones like the Xiaomi Mi Mix used the same "piezoelectric" vibrating display sound technology, but few have done them well. Phone calls through the Crystal Sound OLED screen didn't sound as tinny compared to other phones with the same tech, though.

The G8 still has a headphone jack!

The G8 still has a headphone jack!

All of these are great features that make the G8 ThinQ competitive with other 2019 flagship phones. But that special camera inside of the notch is something entirely new altogether.

Called a "Z camera," the "time of flight" (ToF) sensor is able to capture information along a z-axis to better recognize what's happening in 3D space. LG says the camera is a miniaturized version of the special camera used inside of devices with Google's Tango technology used for augmented reality experiences.

The Z camera's hiding in the notch next to the 8-megapixel selfie camera.

The Z camera's hiding in the notch next to the 8-megapixel selfie camera.

With the special camera, LG's added two features to the G8 ThinQ that it thinks helps it stand out from other phones.

The first is enhanced biometric security. You can still use the fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone to unlock the G8 ThinQ or the 2D-based face unlock from the 8-megapixel selfie camera. But with the Z camera, you can also unlock the phone with your hand.

After setup, LG says the Z camera is able to recognize your unique vein patterns by extracting images of the hemoglobin within your blood. LG says these vein patterns are incredibly difficult to forge compared to fingerprints, which can be photographed with high-resolution cameras.

The second unique feature the Z camera allows for is hand gestures or "Air Motion" as LG has branded it. When you hover your hand above the camera, the phone displays controls at the top of the screen. These can be two icons that let you switch between apps using a waving gesture to the left or right. Or they can be as simple as buttons to control playback or volume.

Is anyone asking for hand gestures on their phone?

Is anyone asking for hand gestures on their phone?

It's a neat idea, except the hand gestures aren't easy to use. The camera requires your hand be a minimum six inches away. But that's not even the worst of things. You also need to drop your fingers down into the shape of a claw before you can wave in any direction.

And even then, the Z camera had trouble recognizing my clawed hand.

Making a claw is no fun.

Making a claw is no fun.

LG let a dozen or so tech journalists — geeks who eat these kinds of new innovations up — try the Air Motion out and nearly everyone including myself found the hand gestures unintuitive and cumbersome.

Here you can switch between the music app and YouTube with a wave.

Here you can switch between the music app and YouTube with a wave.

But again, does this even look fun to use?

I struggled to get the Air Motion gestures to work and gave up in the end.

I struggled to get the Air Motion gestures to work and gave up in the end.

At the end of my brief hands-on time with the LG G8 ThinQ, I couldn't help but ignore the special Z camera. Maybe it'll work better on the launch device, but from what I saw it wasn't ready for primetime. To be honest, the feature isn't worth the headache and you're better off just tapping the screen.

Like foldable phones, the feature is new and different, but it doesn't really make using your phone better. I can see it being useful in situations where you don't want to or can't touch the screen with your hands (like when you're coming out of a shower or cooking in the kitchen), but wouldn't voice controls work better?

WATCH: Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S10s

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