Hands on: LG Stylus 2 review

A low-rent Galaxy Note

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

So-so specs and questionable stylus don't do enough to grasp the imagination, and unless you must have a pen for your phone and you're on a restricted budget there are better options out there.

For

  • Android Marshmallow
  • Expandable storage

Against

  • Stylus a little pointless
  • May have limited release
  • Under powered

The LG Stylus 2 offers up a big screen, stylus and medium-to-low tier specs as it looks to undercut Samsung's Galaxy Note series by hitting those who don't have deep pockets.

[Update: The LG Stylus 2 price has been cut, making it a more attractive proposition, but even at the lower price handsets such as the Moto E4 and Moto G5 offer better value for money and newer features.]

It replaces the LG G4 Stylus from 2015 - a phone which only got a limited release - but the Stylus 2 has enjoyed a wider roll out.

LG Stylus 2 review

Design and display

Slightly annoyingly the LG Stylus 2 we got hands on with had a cover that we couldn't remove, so we didn't get a perfect look at the design - but even with the case it was still pleasingly slender thanks to its 7.4mm plastic frame.

It's still a commanding presence in the hand though, with the 5.7-inch display pushing the dimensions to 155 x 79.6mm while the Stylus 2 tips the scales at 145g - which isn't all that heavy.

The flagship LG G5 and its successor the LG G6 may have ditched the rear buttons which featured on the LG G2, G3 and G4 - but they're still going strong on the Stylus 2 with the power/lock key and volume buttons forming a column below the rear camera sensor.

LG Stylus 2 review

They do fall nicely under finger when held in the hand, but they're a little on the flat side making it tricky to know which key you're hitting without looking.

The main attraction is found in the top right corner of the handset, where the stylus slides into the body of the phone. Pull it out and, well, it's a stylus. There's no fancy tech inside like Samsung's S Pen - it's all pretty standard.

It's also rather thin and we worry about it getting bent or snapped, so you'll want to treat it with a little bit of care and attention. Thankfully you shouldn't lose it, as the Stylus 2 will alert you - via a feature known as Pen Keeper - if you start moving off with the phone when its stylus port is empty.

LG Stylus 2 review

LG claims its stylus is now more accurate due to the fact it's ditched the rubber nib from previous iterations, replacing it with a nano-coated tip. We didn't witness any obvious improvement, but it may become clearer with extended use.

When you do slide the stylus out of the handset, the phone vibrates and launches Pop Menu and Pop Scanner, allowing you to sketch and note take right away.

The stylus was smooth and provided a pleasing level of accuracy, but you do have to prod the screen with some force, as lighter taps didn't seem to register.

LG Stylus 2 review

Like with many stylus-toting smartphones its inclusion seems a little pointless. It doesn't add a great deal to the overall experience.

The 5.7-inch display is bright and clear, although the 720p resolution means it's not the sharpest screen around at 258 pixels per inch.

Power, OS and specs

The Stylus 2 comes with Android Marshmallow dressed in the South Korean firm's own interface overlay. The main change LG has made is removing the app tray. 

In terms of looks it's clean and fresh, with LG sticking closer to Google's vision this time around.

LG Stylus 2 review

A quad-core Snapdragon 410 chipset and 1.5GB of RAM are responsible for powering the LG Stylus 2, and while Android ran smoothly during our hands on time we fear things may begin to slow down when you starting firing up intensive games and large applications.

There may only be 16GB of internal storage, but LG has at least provided microSD slot so you can expand on that, while the sizable 3,000mAh battery is removable.

The LG Stylus 2 does sport a couple of decent cameras, with a 13MP sensor on the rear and an 8MP snapper on the front. From our short time with the phone, we were able to take a few decent quality snaps.

LG Stylus 2 review

Early verdict

The LG Stylus 2 isn't a phone that's going to appeal to many people. Its so-so specs and questionable stylus don't do enough to grasp the imagination, and unless you must have a pen for your smartphone and you're on a restricted budget there are better options out there.

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.