Hands on: LG G3 Stylus review

A cheaper, weaker G3 complete with stylus

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Our Early Verdict

The G3 Stylus is a middle of the road type of device, hitting all the key points without really standing out.

For

  • Affordable price
  • Decent camera
  • Screen better than expected

Against

  • Stylus is pointless
  • Looks and feels cheap

The LG G3 Stylus aims to bring the style of the flagship LG G3 to a more affordable price point, while also getting the addition of a stylus.

LG has promised that the G3 Stylus will carry an affordable price tag, but it's still unclear what it means by that as we wait to hear official word on how much it will cost.

It's safe to say though that this 5.5-inch handset won't be challenging the might of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, as its set to slide into the busy middle market.

The stunning QHD display from the G3 has been lost on the G3 Stylus, and you'll have to settle for the less impressive qHD IPS 5.5-inch screen - that's a lowly resolution of 960 x 540.

LG G3 Stylus review

While that may sound awful on paper, in reality I found the G3 Stylus was still very readable, and it's perfectly acceptable for a lower tier device.

Pick up the LG G3 Stylus and it's immediately obvious that this isn't a flagship phone. It may sport the same design curves as the G3, but it's slightly chunkier and the plastic feels cheap.

The curved back does help the G3 Stylus sit comfortably in the hand and the textured rear provides a good level of grip. It will be too big for some, but LG has done a good job of keep the bezels surrounding the 5.5-inch screen relatively slender.

LG G3 Stylus review

The only physical keys are plonked on the rear, with a centralised power/lock button in the middle of volume up and down.

These buttons has been shaped in a way which makes it easy to find them without having to flip the phone round to see what you're doing.

The ability to wake and sleep the G3 Stylus with a double tap of the screen means you'll very rarely use these buttons, so even if you don't like their placement it shouldn't be an issue.

LG G3 Stylus review

The stylus slides into the body of the phone in the top left hand corner, but be careful as this is a slender little thing. It feels pretty fragile and I can see it getting bent or broken easily if you're not careful.

Anyone hoping for a S Pen like offering from LG will be sorely disappointed, as the basic pointing device doesn't have any additional features.

Its tip isn't as pointed as Samsung's offering, meaning accuracy isn't as good and writing notes on the G3 Stylus takes a steady hand and some patience.

LG G3 Stylus review

I found the response of the stylus on the screen was good, and I didn't need to press too hard for it to register.

Power also takes a hit with the LG G3 Stylus rocking a 1.3GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM, while internal storage is just 8GB.

That power is responsible for powering Android 4.4.2 KitKat, which has been coated in LG's new, and rather attractive, user interface which debuted on its big brother earlier this year.

LG G3 Stylus review

It's a clean, fresh implementation and I was able to browse around the phone with relative ease, although there is a second or so delay when it comes to opening apps - a sign that the G3 Stylus isn't packing a flagship punch.

With LG's user interface you get a range of the firm's own features and apps. Knock Code is present, allowing you to tap a pattern to unlock the phone rather than typing in a pin or password.

It worked pretty well for me, but it's no where near as convenient as the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S and Huawei Ascend Mate 7.

LG G3 Stylus review

Meanwhile Dual Window - as you may be able to guess - allows you to have two applications running side by side on the G3 Stylus.

The large 5.5-inch display makes this a workable option, although only select apps are capable of performing this little trick.

It's something fun to show off to other people, but I can't see myself actively using the function day to day all that often.

LG G3 Stylus review

Moving onto the cameras and the LG G3 Stylus sports a 13MP rear facing camera, while round the front you get an average 1.3MP lens.

I took some shots of the LG booth at IFA 2014, and the G3 Stylus did reasonably well in the variably lit arena with a good level of detail in the shots.

Early verdict

Is there space (and demand) in the market for a cheaper looking and feeling LG G3 with a questionable stylus? In short, not really.

To be fair it looks like the G3 Stylus will be targeted at specific markets such a Asia and Latin America, and it may never make an official appearance in the likes of the US, UK and Australia.

The screen is surprisingly good considering the resolution, performance is acceptable and there's a decent camera on the rear which may help the G3 Stylus keep its head above water.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.