A little over a week ago, LG made the G3 Stylus -- a mid-ranger with a... stylus -- official, but it wasn't until today that we managed to get our hands on the actual device at the company's IFA 2014 booth. This being a phablet styled after the mighty G3 and touting the one thing the company's flagship was missing (a pen), obviously made us curious.
Did we end up liking it? Read on to find out.
As you may have noticed, large Android manufacturers generally tend to stick to a specific design language that dictates the overall shape of the device and specifies ornamentation and what goes where. LG is no exception to this rule, and, by extensions -- nor is the G3 Stylus.
Indeed, the average user will have a rather hard time telling it apart from the G3, but two are not completely identical. Sure, the front looks essentially the same, with the bottom bezel housing the LG logo, but if you turn around device you'll start noticing some differences. For example, while the power key and volume rocker are located on the rear, they look different and the volume rocker doesn't sport the same tactile-friendly mesh texture. What's more, there's no opening for the laser focus beam and the G3 Stylus has just one LED flash.
The phone is also a bit on the chubby side, with thickness of 10.2 mm (0.4 in), but that's understandable given the generous, 3000 mAh cell. Unfortunately, while the finish of the rear reminds of that of the LG G3, the G3 Stylus feels decidedly less high-end, and you're very aware that you're handling plastic.
Overall, however, the near-identical looks of the G3 Stylus with the company's flagship is a good thing, as we quite like the G3. It's also nice to see that the mid-ranger is pleasantly curved at the sides on the back, so ergonomics are as decent as on could expect with a phablet.
So far, we've mostly talked about how the G3 Stylus is alike to the G3, but when talking about the display, things are much different. Sure, it's also got an identical-sized, 5.5-inch IPS LCD display, but that one has a lowly qHD resolution, or 540 x 960 pixels. That works out to just barely 200 pixels per inch, and while that sounds underwhelming, the screen was looking alright. Obviously, while we don't expect miracles from mid-range devices like the G3 Stylus, LG could have nevertheless bumped up the resolution a little bit.
As for the stylus, it is pretty ordinary-looking -- a typical capacitive type. The writing experience on the display is mostly pretty decent, though there is some lag. That said, we can't say it performed worse than, say, the Note 3's own S-Pen.
The LG G3 Stylus has Android 4.4 KitKat on board -- the latest major update currently available. We're unaware of LG's plans concerning future software updates (Android L, anyone?), but we're pretty happy with what we've got here.
You heard that right -- while LG's UI used to be only 'okay' in terms of looks, we find ourselves liking the latest visual update of the custom overlay. It's flatter than before, and more light-weight looking, all the while retaining the same wide portfolio of extra features. If anyone could light a candle to Samsung's TouchWiz software in terms of feature set, it's LG.
So, if you're familiar with LG's current overlay, you'll expect goodies like Dual Window (run two apps side by side), KnockCode (set a lock pattern with knocks) and KnockOn (double tap the screen to wake) to be on board, and they are.
Processor and memory
Nothing fancy lies underneath the exterior of the G3 Stylus -- at least in terms of processing power. It's got a 1.3GHz, quad-core processor that LG hasn't specified, though we suspect we're talking about Qualcomm's Snapdragon 400 with an Adreno 305 GPU. Considering the phone also has 1GB of RAM on board and a lowly qHD resolution, we don't imagine you'll run into trouble running even more demanding apps. And indeed, in our time with the G3 Stylus, we had a frills-free experience.
As for internal storage, there are 8GB on board. Thankfully, there's a slot for a microSD card, so you can expand.
Embedded at the back of the G3 Stylus is a promising, 13-megapixel camera with autofocus and a single LED flash. Obviously, don't expect this to churn out photos on par with the 13-megapixel snapper on the G3, but it's certainly adequate considering the class of the phone.
At the front, LG has fitted a 1.3-megapixel snapper that should get you by whenever you need it for a video call or, of course, a selfie.
From what we know so far, LG is aiming to release the G3 Stylus in 3G markets like Bazril and Russia, but also other regions, including the Middle East and Africa, and parts of Asia. Unfortunately, we're still unaware of the way LG wants to price these, and that obviously precludes us from having an educated opinion about the handset. And price, more than anything else, is what will decide the fate of the LG G3 Stylus.