Thursday, August 8, 2019

LG Stylo 5 vs the Stylo 3: a quick review after 1 full week of use

I've had a Stylo 5 for a full week. It's natural to compare it to my Stylo 3, which I've had for over a year. My Stylo 3 has been a better phone than it deserved to be for the price ($50), and I've only grown more fond of it over time. If it were just a bit faster and had a decent camera I'd be happy to use it as my primary phone. 

Enter the Stylo 5, which on paper is both those things. (I skipped the Stylo 4 because it was too expensive for most of its life for what it offered). What follows are my hands-on experiences with the 5. All numbers are self-measured, using calipers or other fine instruments. Lots of websites publish inaccurate measurements. These are at least accurate to the sample I own!

So what's it like? Lots has changed, not all of it good. The screen is much taller (142mm vs 126mm).  Part of that is smaller bezels, but also the phone itself is slightly taller (161 vs 155mm). The screen is the same width in both cases: 70mm (the 5's body is 79mm wide and the 3 is 80mm). A little taller doesn't count for much, but the phone is also noticeably thicker (9mm vs 7.9mm). That doesn't sound like a lot but it feels like it. Perhaps the 3 has a more gently rounded back cover? Whatever. In your hand the 5 feels much thicker. Finally, weight. The 5 is much heavier: 180g, vs the 3 at only 149g. This I also really feel. Combined, the weight and thickness of the 5 really makes the "hand-feel" much less nice than the 3. I actually can feel my hand getting tired holding it for extended periods of time. Sorry, I guess I'm just a weakling. Maybe with time I'll grow used to it, but this is definitely the most disappointing aspect of the 5.

Let's counter that with the most impressive aspect: the screen. It's super high res, at 1080x2160, vs 1280 x 720 for the Stylo 3. That makes a difference you can definitely see in terms of sharpness. While a flagship might be even sharper, the returns are surely diminishing.  It's also plenty bright and colorful.

Performance is great. Websites load quickly and scroll smoothly. We have finally reached the age where a budget chipset is more than enough. That said developers at Google and elsewhere are always hard at work adding bloat. Luckily, the Stylo range never gets OS updates so you'll never have to experience added bloat. But you say, who cares about how it "feels". What about cold hard benchmarks? The Stylo 5 gets a geekbench score of 753 (single), 3789 (multi) when plugged in. My Stylo 3 gets 649/1815. I'd say the multi-core score is more reflective of the actual experience.

Storage. The Stylo comes with 32gb of storage. Sounds like a lot but after uninstalling what Boost bloat you can, only 14gb are available for you. In fact Boost isn't adding that much - the OS takes up a full 16gb. Thanks, Google. It's sad to think how much baggage the Android OS drags around now. Overdeveloped. That's Android. So much has changed since KitKat, and so little of it for any good reason.

Not that 14gb is so little space to play with. Certainly enough for your apps. And there is a SD card slot, so while the wastefulness of Android is offensive, in practice just spend $10 on a SD card for your music and photos, etc.

So that's my 1 week review. I'll post another more fully developed review in another week or so.