Smartphones have become a mixed bag of late.
As eye-catching as these specialised features are, they don’t add much for the day to day user.
The latest handset from LG, the Stylus 2, strips the fluff and leaves only the features you really need. These includes a great battery life, a decent camera, and a nice big display.
There are a few shortcomings though and chief among them is its performance.
LG Stylus 2 review: Performance
The Stylus 2 improves on the performance on the G4 Stylus from last year, but we’re not witnessing a massive jump in quality – as was the case between the Huawei P8 and P9.
However, while a handset that delivers crazy performance on the level of the S7 Edge is nice, it does drain battery a lot quicker. With clever configurations this drain can be minimised but it’s often easier to switch out an octa-core running at 3.2GHz.
LG has done just that opting for a quad-core ARMv7 CPU running at a peak of 1.2GHz. That is a very small CPU but with the 2GB of RAM it performs well when faced with tasks such as browsing the web and editing documents.
Overall, performance is rather weak. The Stylus 2 is beaten out by many handsets, some even older than it, and much cheaper ones as well.
LG Stylus 2 review: Camera
The 13MP shooter at the rear of the Stylus 2 is surprisingly good. Pictures are superbly detailed and the stock settings offer users colourful, but still true-to-life images.
At the front you’ll find an 8MP snapper which we appreciate because video calling is gaining popularity and well, we all love selfies. The beauty filter on the Stylus 2 is also really good though the smoothing effect can be a bit much when you push the scale to 10.
LG Stylus 2 review: Display
LG opted to keep the G4 Stylus’ 5.7inch display in the Stylus 2 but the pixel density has been noticeably increased from 258ppi to 320ppi. The immediate advantage of this is that images and text are clear and no pixels look out of place at first glance.
Unfortunately, LG refuses to let users customise the colour temperature of its displays. The Stylus 2 does have a “reading mode” which removes what appears to be all the blue light from the display but more customisation would have been nice.
We also would have liked to see the resolution bumped up from HD (1280×720) to Full HD (1920×1080) but we suspect that wish would have resulted in a faster battery drain.
LG Stylus 2 review: Battery
We’ve saved the best for last here. The Stylus 2 houses a removable, 3 000mAh battery, which sounds tiny these days but in our testing has given us two days of use without fail.
Granted, we do sleep for eight of those hours and the phone is left to its own devices, but two days on the trot with a charge only needed when you head to bed on day two is no small feat.
Our battery abuse test yielded a time of just under 10 hours of use. Bring the screen brightness down from 100%, turn extraneous features like Bluetooth off and you could squeeze an hour or two more from the battery.
LG Stylus 2 review: The extras
The stylus hidden in the body of the phone works really well with the display. When removed from its compartment at the back, the phone will suggest apps that the stylus can be used with.
We did like the stylus in the G4 Stylus but this just feels like more of the same. Aside from a calligraphy mode, there isn’t much new functionality here. In fact you could use this phone for a while before ever needing to pull out the stylus.
LG Stylus 2 review: Conclusion
The Stylus 2 is by no means a bad phone but it isn’t the greatest nor the cheapest we’ve seen so far this year.
While business folk will enjoy the large screen and exceptional battery life, we suspect that after a few months of everyday use the limitations of the performance numbers will start to show up.
The Stylus doesn’t feel like it will be relevant for very long. The asking price is also rather steep when you consider you can pick up the older G4 Stylus for just under R4 000.
The Stylus 2 isn’t bad but it isn’t good enough to make us favour it over anything else on the market at the moment.