Hands On with the LG K10 and K8
LG popped out new K series devices this week. LG's K series generally represent entry-level phones. The K10 and K8 definitely fall into that category, but represent a welcome improvement in design and quality. These devices would do well with U.S. carriers as affordable alternatives to today's flagships. Though LG hasn't announced specific plans to sell the phones in the U.S., it's likely variants of them will show up eventually. Here are our first impressions.
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Color me surprised. LG's K series phones make no bones about the entry-level status. They often leave LG's V and G series to steal the spotlight at trade shows and events, while making up for it on the store shelves of prepaid carriers where they sell in volume. That's why I'm stunned to see that LG gave them such a stylish refresh. More so than just a coat of paint, LG gave the K10 and K8 entirely new identities thanks to improvement all around.
The K10 is made of metal! Seriously! It has a U-shaped metal frame and a metallic rear shell that has a cool horizontal pattern to it. The materials are solid and well assembled. A piece of 2.5D curved glass spans the entire front surface. It's overall shape is a little generic. You could say its front resembles the Pixel XL (from 2016) just a bit. The corners are rather plain, but the glass is paired well with the metal frame and the whole thing comes off as much more substantial than its price point might suggest.
A 5.3-inch screen covers the face of the K10. It has rather chunky bezels, particularly above and below the display. There are no buttons or controls on the glass. The 720p HD resolution looks fine for this 16:9 display. It's a satisfactory display.
LG put the volume controls on the right edge of the phone. The buttons have been separated into distinct nubs. They are a little had to find and use. There is no screen lock button, though a SIM tray is easily located on the right edge. I like the feel of the metal frame, which gives the phone distinct and strong side edges to hold.
The rear shell has metallic pain, though it is not actually metal itself. The horizontal pattern isn't ribbed, but to does have a fine texture to it. LG put the fingerprint reader, which doubles as the screen unlock button, in the middle of the rear. This helps with discoverability. The flash and small, round camera module area above it.
The K10 feels a hair bigger than it should for a phone with a 5.3-inch screen. Still, it's a fine piece of hardware and will make a good starter phone for someone. LG hasn't said if or when it might go on sale in the U.S.
The K8 is LG's true entry-level phone. Previous generations saw the K8 as a plasticky piece of junk. No so the 2018 K8. It's go a strong polycarbonate frame and a hard, textured rear shell that lends the phone some authority.
The smaller 5-inch screen helped LG keep this phone's footprint well in check. It will work well for people with smaller hands (i.e., kids.) The front glass is curved minimally right at the very edge where it joins the polycarbonate framing. The 5.0-inch display floats in a sea of black bezel. This gives the phone a bit of an outdated look and signifies its low-cost status more so than anything else. The 720p screen actually looks better than that of the K10 because the pixel density is a bit higher. It is color and bright.
LG is moving to homogenize some of its design traits. That means the K8's buttons mirror those of the K10. The two volume keys are high on the left, while the screen lock button doubles as the fingerprint reader on the rear. These basic controls are familiar and easy to find/use.
The rear panel has a deep pattern that would sound like a zipper should you drag your thumbnail across it. The panel is fitted into the polycarbonate frame tightly. You'll see two slits towards the bottom to signify the speakerphone. The flash and round camera module are above the fingerprint reader.
Both phones run Android 7, which is a bit of a disappointment. Google launched Android 8 fully six months ago. It's time for all new phones to ship with Oreo, not Nougat. (Heck, Android P is going to be announced in mere weeks!) The platform ran smoothly on the units I saw in Barcelona.
The K8 come in blue, black, or gold. LG didn't say when it will go on sale.
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