The LG G4 Stylus is a phone that, by virtue of its name, literally needs no further introduction. It says mostly everything you need to know about it right there, in the name. It’s made by LG as part of its current G4 smartphone lineup, and it comes with integrated stylus support.
But what is the LG G4 Stylus, really? Is it just a cheap ticket to ride the G4 series smartphone wave, or could it be a serious contender in the realm of entry-level to mid-range Android handsets? We wondered that, too, so we thought about it when writing this review.
Design and hardware
To understand the LG G4 Stylus, first you’ve got to know more about it in terms of design and hardware. One look at it and you’ll know iommediately that it’s an LG-branded phone through and through. Our review unit came in white, but it’s available in space gray as well.
First of all, there’s pretty much nothing that’s really visible on the front of the phone apart from the LG logo at the bottom. The screen, a massive 5.7-inch expanse with an HD resolution display panel, is hidden behind a thin layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 4. The only other things of note on the front are the front facing camera and earpiece for phone calls.
Turning the phone around reveals where all the customary hardware buttons have been placed on this particular smartphone. The G4 Stylus follows the design convention used in all of the previous G series phones that came before it. That back contains the up and down volume buttons, plus the power button. There’s also a rear camera with LED flash and autofocus laser.
The back cover of the G4 Stylus has a nice and smooth matte finish. It also has a pattern on it that helps give it some distinction over the plain-looking back covers on other phones. It even improves the grip a little bit, too.
When seen from the side, the G4 Stylus shows itself to be somewhat curved, a la LG G Flex. This is interesting, to say the least. But the screen on the G4 Stylus is strictly straight, to be clear. Nonetheless, this is a nice optical illusion.
To sum up our thoughts on the LG G4 Stylus design and hardware, we have to say, it’s one of the most handsome Android smartphones that we have ever seen. You won’t even notice that it’s well over 5-inches in size, because it doesn’t feel gigantic in the hand or in the pocket at all.
LG did great in the original G4 design, and it’s wonderful to see it implemented in the lower-priced G4 Stylus.
Display and speaker
Part of what makes the G4 Stylus look so good is the launcher that it uses on top of its default software. The UI of LG smartphones should be familiar to you by now, for even if you’ve never used any LG phones before, you might have already seen it anyway in one of the many China-brand smartphones that are being sold locally.
Your window to LG’s custom skin over Android 5.0 Lollipop is none other than the 5.7-inch screen on the LG G4 Stylus. It still seems crazy for us to think that the G4 Stylus actually has a 5.7-inch display on it, because it managed to fit it inside a 5.5-inch phone’s body. That means you’ll get more screen real estate than you bargained for, and that can only be a good thing.
The display is bright and offers plenty of contrast as well as color accuracy. However, from what we’ve seen, it cannot adjust its brightness automatically. So you’ll have to toggle the brightness settings manually if you need to change anything.
Like many other Android phones, navigating the G4 Stylus menus can be done using on-screen menu keys. And there is an app drawer here to hold all of the phone’s pre-installed apps (as well as all that you will install, of course). You can also use folders in the app drawer for better organization.
One thing that we really liked about the G4 Stylus is its row of menu keys at the bottom of the display. In addition to the usual Back, Home, and Recent Apps menu keys, it has a dual SIM switcher key that can be toggled at any time you want.
Meanwhile, the top portion of the screen can be swiped down from in order to access the quick settings and notifications screen. The quick settings screen in particular is useful in that it also has some extra buttons on top of the standard buttons on Android. There’s a Quick Memo+ key, for example, that lets you create notes instantly on the go.
The 5.7-inch IPS screen on the G4 Stylus proved reliable and free of problems throughout our review testing. It’s viewing angles are also respectable and we hardly even noticed that it only comes with an HD resolution panel, even when reading lots of text on the screen.
And as for the audio performance, the G4 Stylus met our expectations but didn’t blow us away. The built-in speaker got the job done when we tried watching some videos and playing some music. Then the built-in 3.5mm headphone jack and Bluetooth wireless connectivity took care of everything else.
There is an 8MP autofocus camera with LED flash at the back of the LG G4 Stylus. It’s capable of producing relatively noise-free photos in well-lit environemnts and can be used as a suitable phone for sharing pictures on social media. As long as you have a steady hand, that is.
For the most part, the camera on the G4 Stylus is a lot like previous G-series stylus-equipped phones from LG. Not the best in terms of clarity and overall camera performance, but still acceptable for the odd Facebook, twitter, or instagram photo for sharing.
Have a look at some sample camera photos taken with the rear camera on the G4 Stylus.
Before we move on, it should be mentioned here that the front-facing camera doesn’t perform at the same level as the camera on the back. It only uses a fixed focus camera sensor, so subjects aren’t always in focus in selfies and other types of photos.
It also seemed to require lots of ambient light to be able to capture decent-looking pics. But then again, so do the front cameras on many other phones.
And now for this phone’s distinguishing feature: the stylus. The G4 Stylus has a roughly 10cm long, 3.5mm diameter stylus hidden in a built-in compartment located near the upper left corner of the screen. Pulling it out seems easy enough, and it locks securely in place when it is not in use.
Immediately after we first pulled it out, the first thing that we tried to check was whether or not the phone would automatically launch some sort of stylus-enabled application. When that didn’t happen, we simply navigated to LG’s Quick Memo+ app on the app drawer to see what kind of stuff we could do there. Well, what we found wasn’t surprising.
The screen was very responsive to the built-in stylus when we tried tapping the menu buttons and launching the apps on the phone. And as you might have guessed, it was also a cinch to use the stylus for handwriting and sketching.
At times, it seemed like it was a lot easier to use the stylus when navigating the phone’s menu screens. But still, it was a stylus, something that might be lost or broken or simply misplaced and forgotten, and it would end up as just another thing that you might worry about. If you’re big on this sort of thing, then the G4 Stylus will work great for you. However, it should be pointed out that it isn’t for everyone. The stylus is wonderful when it is used and it works great, but it lacks extra features that make it truly compelling for the average user.
The LG G4 Stylus comes with Android 5.0 Lollipop pre-installed. And the custom skin we mentioned earlier, of course. There are only a few pre-installed apps on it, so you don’t have to worry about unwanted bloatware. But before you celebrate, you should perhaps first know one of the main reasons why this is so.
There’s only 8GB of internal storage on the LG G4 Stylus, and with Android 5.0, the custom software skin, and other pre-installed stuff, there’s only a little over 2GB of internal storage left for users to utilize.
You could always expand on this by adding a microSD card at the slot allocated above the battery, but there’s no denying that this is very little internal storage space on a phone that could potentially mean a lot to so many people. Anyway, that’s worth keeping in mind if you’re still interested in the G4 Stylus at this point in the review.
Gaming and battery life
There’s a Snapdragon 410 SoC powering the LG G4 Stylus, and for the HD-resolution screen, it’s more than adequate. It can handle Android 5.0 just fine, and doesn’t lag at all with the many colorful screens and apps drenched in Material Design.
Still, the processor on it is not infallible. HD games like Real Racing 3 can really stretch it to its performance limits, and it’s with games like that where it starts to lag a little at times. As long as you only partake in casual mobile games, though, you won’t have to worry about that.
That’s one of the trade-offs for having a power-efficient processor, you sacrifice a little bit in sheer performance.
Meanwhile, the battery showed itself consistently to be one of the greatest strengths of the G4 Stylus. In our testing, it always lasted up to two days of normal smartphone use before needing a recharge. This should be no surprise because the G4 Stylus comes with a 3,000mAh battery. And the best part is, it’s a removable battery. So you can carry an extra one if you buy it, and also easily replace it when you need to.
We already mentioned it earlier in passing, but it bears repeating here. The G4 Stylus is a phone that could potentially mean a lot to many people. Why? Because it’s a handsome, power-efficient phone with a positively large screen and the latest version of Android. It could be LG’s low-cost multimedia phablet of the year.
We don’t know where else you could find a 5.7-inch HD screen on a phone that could still fit inside your jeans pocket, anywhere. But there’s one problem: the G4 Stylus isn’t low-cost at all. We can’t help but think it’s simply a phone for either LG loyalists or hard-core fans of the stylus (for daily use).
The G4 Stylus is a phone for specialists, and there will be people who will end up buying it while being proud of this fact. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that.