- Decent battery life
- Respectable cameras
- Stilted performance
- Basic stylus
- Low-res screen
LG Stylus 2 Review: LG’s cut-priced rival to Samsung’s Galaxy Note range is a mighty 5.7-inch mobile packing a built-in stylus pen, but is the LG Stylus 2 a worthy phablet for creative or business users? Here’s our full LG Stylus 2 UK review.
Samsung decided to drop a massive deuce on us Brits last year by not releasing the mighty Galaxy Note 5 on our fair shores. Instead, creative and professional UK users were stuck using the Galaxy Note 4, which to be fair is still a bloody good phablet, packing Samsung’s excellent S Pen stylus.
If you’re after a styus-based mobile but your bank roll is limited, then one possible option is the LG Stylus 2. This £250 handset also packs a huge 5.7-inch screen and stylus tucked away around the back, but the specs aren’t quite as strong as Samsung’s Note handsets, in order to keep the cost down. Of course, to confuse matters a bit, LG just launched a model with boosted specs called the LG Stylus 2 Plus, but for now let’s take an in-depth look at the Stylus 2.
LG Stylus 2 Review: Design
Like the Note series, the LG Stylus 2 is a big mother. At 5.7-inches, it’s certainly a test to try using the phone one-handed. Thankfully LG has at least added in a couple of extra features to make one-handed use less painful. For instance, you get a screen reduction feature, activated by swiping across the one-screen toolbar, and a special button on that same toolbar that pulls down your notifications bar (to save you stretching your thumb to the top of the screen).
Despite its bulk, the Stylus 2 is reasonably light and also quite slender, so I just about managed to fit it into my jeans pocket. SIlver edging gives way to a plastic back that sports a reasonably attractive brushed metal design, and the good news is you can prise that cover off to access a removable battery, plus the SIM card and memory card slots.
Around the back is where you’ll also find LG’s stylus, a slim and light pen that tucks away in its own little hole when not in use. More on this in the features section.
LG Stylus 2 Review: Screen and media
The 5.7-inch Stylus 2 display is a basic 720p IPS panel, which was a real surprise. After all, given the size of the phone and the asking price, we’d expect at least a Full HD screen. Still, high-def movies look decent and the display is perfectly fine for everyday use, if not quite a match for cheaper rivals like the Wileyfox Storm and OnePlus 2.
On the back of the Stylus 2 you’ll spot a dinky speaker grille, which pumps out okay-sounding audio. It’s perfectly fine for watching a YouTube video on the go, but you’ll want to plug in some earphones if you want to enjoy your tunes or properly get stuck into a movie.
LG Stylus 2 Review: Features
LG’s stylus is as basic as they come. Don’t expect anything approaching Samsung’s level of creative design, as exhibited in the S Pen; this is the kind of stylus you’d buy for a fiver at a random phone shop.
It’s very light and thin, and quite comfortable to wield for extended periods, but you don’t get any shortcut buttons and there’s no kind of pressure sensitivity. If you’re looking for a proper creative tool, we’d recommend the Galaxy Note instead.
That said, the Stylus 2 does at least recognise when you pull the pen free of its sheath, and displays a list of apps that make use of the stylus. This includes the kinds of note and sketch apps that you’d expect. And the Stylus 2 also packs plenty of other LG tweaks sat on top of Android Marshmallow, the same kind of stuff found on other handsets like the LG G5. This includes the UX interface, which by default annoyingly ditches Android’s apps tray. Thankfully this can be corrected in the settings (with a brief download required).
LG Stylus 2 Review: Performance and battery life
LG’s Stylus 2 uses the rather creaky Snapdragon 410 processor, a budget chipset found on some of last year’s cheapy handsets like the Moto G. Again, we’d hoped that LG would use some more modern tech like the Snapdragon 430 (launched at the end of 2015) instead, as the Stylus 2 already feels like a handset that’s ageing.
Android runs smoothly enough for the most part, but there are awkward pauses when loading up apps and occasionally when closing them down again. We can see the Stylus 2 crawling in a year’s time, so definitely think twice before jumping into a 24-month contract.
However, when it comes to battery life, the Stylus 2 fares much better. I regularly enjoyed a day and a half of life, even with plenty of use (camera snaps, messing around in apps, constant messaging and so on). However, if you try and stream video non-stop, the Stylus 2 will be dead in under five hours, which isn’t a great result.
LG Stylus 2 Review: Cameras
On the back of the Stylus 2 you’ll find a 13-megapixel camera complete with LED flash. Load up LG’s camera app and you’ll find that it’s pleasingly streamlined as usual, with the choice of a very simple point-and-shoot interface or a version with on-screen options, for fiddling with camera settings like the flash toggle and HDR mode.
My test photos came out well, with plenty of detail on offer, although they did occasionally feel quite lifeless. Still, different lighting conditions are handled well, and you don’t get grain creeping into your shots until thngs get properly dim. When that happens, the LED flash does a decent job of lighting up faces without turning everyone into ghostly apparitions.
The Stylus 2’s 8-megapixel selfie camera is a solid snapper, producing bright, attractive photos. You can activate the lens with a pump of your fist, making it easy to take shots at maximum reach, and even in low light it copes admirably well.
You can also shoot up to Full HD video on the rear camera, and my test footage looked fine when viewed back on a big screen. There’s no image stabilisation to cut back the judder when you’re moving about, however, so try not to walk and shoot at the same time.
LG Stylus 2 Review: Verdict
The LG Stylus 2 is a weird beast. It’s essentially a cut-price Galaxy Note handset, but with limited performance, a very basic stylus experience and a low-res screen. If it was only £150 then some of those flaws could perhaps be forgiven, but at £250 it’s overpriced and disappointing. Here’s hoping that the Stylus 2 Plus can correct the Stylus 2’s mistakes and step up as a proper Galaxy Note rival instead.
Thanks to MobileFun for our LG Stylus 2 review sample.
|OS||Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Storage||16GB + microSD|
|Bonus features||Stylus pen|