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LG Magna, Spirit, Leon and Joy hands-on review at MWC 2015

Magna, Spirit, Leon and Joy might sound like characters in some crazy anime, but they’re actually LG’s latest mid-range mobiles which pack some reasonably beefy specs, like the Motorola Moto G. We went hands-on at MWC 2015…

LG Magna

The Magna is the big daddy of LG’s new mid-rangers, boasting a 720p 5-inch screen just like the Moto G, and it’s a feature-packed handset that should suit anyone after a movie and gaming machine for an affordable price. It’s also a handset that’s easy to mis-spell as ‘Magma’, which then prompts an endless barrage of Dr Evil impressions.

The Magna doesn’t look massively different from the LG G3, complete with thin bezels surrounding the screen. It’s a little chunkier and the metallic sheen of the G3 has been replaced with a bog-standard mid-range plastic finish, but the Magna is still comfortable to operate one-handed.

And like the more expensive LG handsets such as the LG G3 and LG G Flex 2, the Magna wears its power and volume buttons proudly on its rear. The buttons fit perfectly beneath your index finger and you’ll get used to them in no time, which means no fumbling when you need to unlock the phone.

Back to the front, and we love the 720p 5-inch display. It’s bright and clear, easy to read even under harsh lights and with wide viewing angles. That HD resolution keeps everything crisp, and we’d happily sit down with the Magna to watch a full-length movie on a lengthy trip.

Android Lollipop has been done over by LG and crammed full of extra features – most of which come in surprisingly handy. Sadly there’s no Q-Slide feature, which allows you to quickly fade one app in and out of sight while you work on another. But you do get Knock Code for securing your device, plus Glance Screen to check for notifications without waking your device.

These features seem to work the same way on the Magna as they do on the likes of the LG G3. So if you fancy LG’s flagship but can’t afford the price tag, the Magna might be your best bet, despite that lack of Q-Slide multi-tasking.

The Magna, Spirit and Leon all pack the standard 1.2GHz quad-core processor, and performance seemed to be reliable in our brief hands-on. We didn’t see any jerkiness when opening or closing apps, but of course we’ll need some proper hands-on time to fully judge performance and battery life.

Like the Moto G, the LG Magna also packs an 8-megapixel rear camera. LG has gone for its excellent simplified camera interface, which tucks all of the options away in a hidden menu and leaves you a clear view of your subject. Just tap on the screen to focus and take a shot. Snaps take quickly and the focus seems to work well, keeping your intended subject sharp.

Selfie fans will also delight at the Magna’s 5-megapixel front-facing camera, which supports the fist-bump gesture to make solo shots easy.

LG Spirit

If you couldn’t give two toots about selfies but you still want a gorgeous HD screen, the Spirit might be a better match. This 4.7-inch blower also packs a 720p display and most of the same specs as the Magna, but the 5-megapixel front-facing camera has been scythed down to a basic VGA effort, and you’ll get either a 5-megapixel or 8-megapixel rear-facer depending on your region.

The camera once again features the simple LG interface and the shutter seems to be as quick as the Magna’s, latching onto your subject when you tap the screen and automatically taking the shot. The front-facing camera, meanwhile, features a ‘light your face up’ mode for taking those essential club selfies. This minimises the viewfinder window, placing a bright white border around it to light up your gorgeous mug. How well that works in a darkened room remains to be seen.

Aside from that, the LG Spirit looks, acts and feels much like the Magna. The back is noticeably more plastic, with a rough surface that looks kind of cheap, and of course the Spirit is a bit of a chubster. But it’s easy to use one-handed and not too hefty or light.

Android Lollipop is again on board and again runs smoothly, packing the same Q-Memo, Glance Screen etc features found on the Magna. So, if camera tech is low down in the priority list for you, the Spirit may be an even more affordable way to jump on the LG bandwagon.

We’ve just learned that Three will exclusively range the 4G version of the Spirit here in the UK, until June 2015. No details on pricing yet.

LG Leon

Another step down is the Leon, which is aimed more at people who want a simple everyday handset, but one that won’t freeze up when you try to stream a bit of YouTube or play a spot of Bejewelled. Sadly it wasn’t available for a hands-on, but we know that the 4.5-inch screen doesn’t sport HD visuals, opting for FWVGA instead.

However, you do still get full Android Lollipop, which should pack the same features, look and feel as the Magna and the Spirit. And the LG Leon packs the same 1.2GHz quad-core processors as its bigger siblings, not to mention the same 8-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras as the Magna.

LG Joy

Although it’s called the Joy, this handset is the most stripped-back, basic model in LG’s MWC 2015 line-up, and only likely to bring you joy if you want a basic blower for texting and emailing.

The Joy packs a basic 4-inch WVGA screen, and Android has been knocked back to Android 4.4 KitKat, which should hopefully run fine on the 1.2GHz dual-core processor. And while the other phones here pack an 8-megapixel rear camera, the Joy trims back to a 5-megapixel snapper, backed by a basic VGA front-facer.

Full reviews of the LG mid-rangers when they come in, as well as UK prices and specs.

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