LG X Screen review

The mid-range phone with the always-on second screen

LG X Screen review

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Easily the stand-out feature for the LG X Screen is its titular second display.

Prior to this, LG has reserved its quirky ticker display for the high-end LG V10, which launched in late 2015. Now it's brought the technology to this much smaller mid-range offering.

Sure enough, the secondary display is more compact and less sharp on the LG X Screen. It sits directly on top of the main display, and measures 1.76-inches with a 520 x 80 resolution.

LG X Screen review

It's always on, perpetually giving you the time, date, battery level, and any relevant notification icons from your apps. This secondary display remains quite dim when the phone is in sleep mode, which can make it difficult to read - I often had to pick it up to get a good look, which defeats some of the point.

You do notice it in bed at night, though, where it gives off a slightly eerie, dull glow. I found that I had to flip the phone over onto its front, but then I'm the kind of freak who needs total darkness in order to nod off.

To be honest, while it's a neat novelty, I found the secondary display to be largely superfluous. You can swipe across it to access quick settings and launch a selection of apps, but this is somewhat unnecessary when you're actually using the phone.

The home screen is right there below, and the settings are generally easier to access through the swipe-down notification menu, given the secondary display's awkward positioning and small size.

LG X Screen review

It's more useful to be able to access those settings toggles when the phone is in sleep mode, particularly when you want to, say, quickly mute the phone.

About the only genuine advantage to this second screen during active use, I found, was when watching videos or playing games. On such occasions, native app notifications will crop up there instead of getting in the way of what you're doing.

But even then, you'll probably be watching/playing in landscape, so you'll have to twist your head to the side to see them. Third party apps such as WhatsApp don't make the same use of the secondary screen in such situations, either.

LG X Screen review

Another key feature here, which you might not expect to find on a £200, US$360 smartphone, is an 8MP selfie camera. That's higher than usual in a phone at this level. LG clearly knows that this phone will be competing in the competitive tween and teen smartphone market, so it's understandable that LG has boosted the megapixel count beyond the norm.

I have to say, though, that I didn't notice a jump in quality for the pictures I took with the front camera. Even once I'd pushed the freaky beauty slider right down - a feature that initially made me look anything but beautiful - my selfies still tended to look slightly blurry and out-of-focus - particularly indoors.

LG X Screen review

Taking the phone outside in good natural lighting and using it to take a 'normal' picture confirmed that this isn't the hot camera its spec sheet seems to suggest, with lots of noise and a lack of dynamic range.

It's a slight shame also that there's no front-facing flash like you get with the Moto Z, Moto Z Force, and Moto Z Play, or even LG's own budget LG K7 and LG 10 range.