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LG Stylus 3 Review - Modern Budget Note

Last month, we unboxed the Stylus 3 by LG, a midranger equipped with Galaxy Note like stylus that can be used to jot down notes and unleash your creativity.
LG Stylus 3 Review - Modern Budget Note
LG Stylus 3 review

Fast forward late August, we were able to gather all the details we needed for this full review. It's time to find out if it is the best modern Galaxy Note alternative on a budget yet?


Display Quality

Bright and big 5.7 inch HD screen
Bright and big 5.7 inch HD screen

Moving to the screen, the LG Stylus 3 has a 5.7 inch HD IPS LCD with 1280 x 720 resolution at 256 pixels per inch. On paper, it isn't as sharp as full HD screens, but in person the display looks just fine and won't look pixelated at all.

Screen isn't in full HD, but quality is acceptable.

Color balance is surprisingly good. It has proper saturation and won't look blueish compared with other screens. Viewing angles are good and brightness is strong enough for outdoor use.

Moreover, it has a Comfort View for added eye protection against bluelight and reduce eye strain for long hours of use. It has 10 points of multitouch too.

Audio Quality

The loudspeaker behind is just fine. It can get loud with little distortion and has good tonal balance. But, that's it. Don't expect it to sound exceptional. It is loud enough to fill a small room with decent tunes. Expect some hissing though.

For headphones, it doesn't have a the Quad DAC goodness of G6 or even a lower-end HiFi chips, but the sound is decent and flat. When your high-quality low powered earphones are plugged expect to hear neutral sound that covers the rest of the audio spectrum nicely. Bass reproduction are mostly tight. However, driving power isn't that loud. Avoid using it with big headphones.

The Stylus 3 has a mic below and another mic on top. One of them is a noise cancelling mic to help reduce background noise. Call quality is clear and it can record audio on not that noisy places impressively.

Battery Life

Geekbench work battery life score
Geekbench work battery life score

Equipped with just an HD screen and kinda big 3,200 mAh of battery, we expected the Stylus 3 to have a better than average battery performance. But, based on our benchmark test, it only scored 5 hours and 59 mins which is just average.

Compared with competition, the score is lower than what the GR5 2017, Vivo V5 Lite, and OPPO A57.

But, in real life, the battery performance is acceptable. We tried using it as our main phone from 8 am and it lasted up to 4 pm. Our usage includes WiFi or data always on, listening to music, playing EverWing, and taking photos or selfies.

Charging time is 2 hours and 30 mins from 0 to 100 percent. Decent.


Camera

13 MP f/2.2 main camera

Behind, this device sports a 13 MP shooter with f/2.2 aperture size, autofocus and single LED flash.

The skinned camera interface looks very basic with limited modes. It has a hard to reach HDR (you need to open settings first to activate it), few filters, and panorama modes. LG failed to include a manual camera and other pretty useful settings.

Shooting speed is average. On HDR mode it's around 1 to 2 seconds depending on the lighting condition. Autofocus is very fast on daylight and quite slow in lowlight. It can focus in subjects around 3 to 2 inches near.

As expected from an LG device, color accuracy is excellent, but don't expect it to be that punchy. Daylight images also has proper highlights and resolved details. Grains aren't that noticable in well-lit conditions as well.

In poor lighting conditions, it will struggle a lot. Grains and noise will be very visible even on HDR mode. It could still be acceptable at this price point though. Use the decent flash to get better results in lowlight always.

Rear Camera Samples

HDR sample
HDR sample
Indoor well-lit 1
Indoor well-lit 1
Indoor well-lit 2
Indoor well-lit 2
Outdoor close-up
Outdoor close-up
Night
Night

For selfies, the 8 MP selfie w/ f/2.4 aperture size that has acceptable performance in daylight. It has good colors as usual and decent details. But, in lowlight, it will clearly struggle. Even if you use the pinkish screen flash, your images would still be noisy. It isn't as impressive compared with most selfie-focused smartphones in its price range.

Selfie Camera Samples

Indoor well-lit selfie
Indoor well-lit selfie
Night selfie
Night selfie
Selfie w/ screen flash
Selfie w/ screen flash

For videos, it can shoot in 1080p quality behind and 720p in front. The main camera behind shoots better videos with acceptable details. The 720p video in front is cropped though. Both aren't stabilized and doesn't focus that fast so make sure that you have steady hands when shooting.

Performance

Benchmark scores
Benchmark scores

The Stylus 3 is powered by the familiar 64 bit MT6750 octa core processor clocked at 1.5 GHz paired with Mali T860 graphics, 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of expandable storage.

Out of the 16 GB, it only has a 9.25 GB usable space for your apps and games. But, fortunately, the storage is expandable up to 2 TB (if you can find one) via micro SD card slot.

For the speed, we enjoyed using this device for running the usual social media apps and other light applications. It is swift and we never had a problem with multitasking. Heating isn't an issue as well. Throttling is minimal. Performance is generally the same with Vivo V5s and other phones with MT6750 chipset.
NBA 2K17 is playable
NBA 2K17 is playable

It can also run some heavy games like Asphalt 8, NBA 2K17, and Modern Combat properly. Just tweak your settings as Mali T860 isn't that powerful for gaming. For example, we used mostly low and some medium settings at NBA 2K17 to get the smooth gameplay we all want.

Gaming experience is decent, but it would have been better if LG used at least Snapdragon 430 like Lenovo K6 Note.
Clean UI
Clean UI

The software that LG included here is very clean. It runs with Android 7.0 Nougat OS that reminds us of the same skin that LG V20 used. It includes most of the usual Google Apps together with few social media apps and Evernote. Most of them are uninstallable so bloats won't be that much of an issue. The default skin has no app drawer.
Add caption

For note taking, we think that the Stylus 3 is the best affordable alternative to the Galaxy Note series. The stylus pen with 18 mm fiber tip is nicely designed and it really feels like a pen when in use.

The budget note!

LG even added the Pen Pop 2.0 which automatically appears once you take out the stylus from the phone. It has Pop Memo, Capture+, Pop Scanner, and Quick Memo options that users can choose from.

All of those functions are usable if you love to write, draw, and screenshot a lot using the stylus. It isn't just as good as the one found with the Note 7, but for the price, this is an enjoyable way to note using your phone. It also acts like a mouse for your phone.

The rest of the phone and telephony experience is acceptable. Fingerprint scanner is fast and easy to setup too. You can even use the usual double tap to wake if you don't want to use the fingerprint scanner.


It even has 700 MHz LTE for faster, better, and more stable internet connectivity.


Lastly, OTG works and gyroscope sensor for VR and AR is present.

Pros - Nice design, capable specs, 700 MHz LTE, the stylus pen is very useful, Nougat OS
Cons - Plasticky build, battery life could be better, grainy selfie camera

Verdict

The LG Stylus 3 is the modern budget Galaxy Note alternative. The stylus pen is useful and very easy to use. As a whole it's a midranger with capable good speed, updated OS, and capable performance.

However, it will have a tough time against similarly priced competition if you don't need the stylus pen at all. Most of the midrangers in the sub PHP 13K category all has better build, battery, and cameras than the LG Stylus 3.

Gladly, LG has recently introduced the very impressive Q6. Consider that if you don't need the stylus.

Build / Design - 3.5
Display - 3.75
Audio - 4
Battery - 3.75
Camera - 3.75
Performance - 4
Average - 3.75 / 5
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