LG X Screen review

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

LG X Screen review

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One of the main areas in which an affordable phone with ideas above its station like the LG X Screen is often found out is performance. You can apply all the metal-effect plastic and eye-catching features you like, but if there's a hint of jerkiness in the UI and apps, the illusion will be rudely broken.

Fortunately, this isn't an area in which the LG X Screen suffers. I found the experience of using the phone to be smooth throughout, whether I was skimming through its home screens, browsing the Google Play Store, or playing anything but the most demanding games.

Perennial test favorite Dead Trigger 2 stuttered a little on 'High' graphics settings, but that's not surprising. Sonic Dash 2 and Horizon Chase - two fast-paced 3D games - ran well (though all showed up how poor the phone's single bottom-mounted speaker is).

LG X Screen review

The phone runs on Qualcomm's 64-bit Snapdragon 410 CPU, which is a trusty low-to-mid-range runner. It's the same processor that powers the Moto G (2015) and the Wileyfox Swift - two more classy-but-affordable phones of recent times.

Backed by 2GB RAM, it provides ample power for general and even fairly advanced tasks - something that's aided by a relatively undemanding display resolution.

Sure enough, the Geekbench 3 benchmark results were expectedly decent, and in keeping with other similarly spec'd phones. The average multi-core score was 1474 which places it in the same region as the aforementioned Wileyfox Swift (1330) and Moto G 2015 (1590).

LG X Screen review

I should also note that the LG X Screen is supported by 16GB of internal storage, which is pretty normal for a phone of this spec and price. You can bolster this yourself by way of a microSD slot.

Of course, hardware is only half the story when it comes to a phone's performance - particularly one that runs Android. Another major factor is the version of Google's OS that it's running and, more importantly, the degree of meddling the manufacturer has done with it.

The LG X Screen scores well on both counts. It runs Android Marshmallow, which is typical of budget phones since Android Nougat is so new. That places this humble phone in an elite minority. On top of that, you get LG's own UX interface.

LG X Screen review

It's still not the lightest of Android skins, and nor is it one of my favorites. It feels a little garish, with cheap touches like a screen-stretching animation when you reach the edge of the scrolling home screen layout. Much of LG's work here feels crude, like it belongs to a much older version of Android.

But in fairness to LG, the UX never gets bogged down, and while I could happily lose all the superfluous LG apps that appear on the second home screen, they don't get in the way. They won't constantly nag you with advice and update requests either like, say, Sony's tend to do.

Nowadays LG omits the app drawer by default, lending the OS something of an iOS feel (if you really squint). I can't say I missed it, but those who do can restore it through the settings menu.

Battery life

The LG X Screen's 2300mAh battery may sound fairly modest by modern standards. It's certainly smaller than both the Moto G (2015)'s 2470mAh unit and the Wileyfox Swift's 2500mAh one.

But that doesn't seem to have affected its stamina too much. After well over 24 hours of moderate to heavy usage, which included the phone being placed on airplane mode overnight (as is my wont), I would find that the LG X Screen still had around 30 percent of its battery life left. The battery menu estimated that this translated to 11 hours of life.

Sure, some modern low-to-mid-range phones will carry you through two full days on a single charge, but the LG X Screen's stamina remains perfectly adequate.

There's a battery saver mode, as you'd expect, which can be toggled to kick in when there's only 15 or even 5 percent remaining. But if you're in the habit of charging every night, you won't need it.

LG X Screen review

This decent stamina is borne out in the standard techradar battery test, which involves playing a 90 minute looping 720p video with the screen brightness cranked up to maximum.

The LG X Screen used up just 16 percent of its battery on average. By way of a comparison, the Moto G (2015) lost 19 percent with its bigger battery.

There's a good chance that the move to Android 6.0 Marshmallow has had a big say in this strong battery performance, but that just means that LG is deserving of praise for not sticking its affordable phone with an out-of-date OS.

To be honest, the LG X Screen's battery could have been better if it wasn't for that secondary screen. LG says that this headline component uses just 0.8 percent of the phone's battery capacity every hour, but when you tot that up over a full day, it's quite a chunk.