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LG X Screen review: Seeing double

Katharine Byrne
6 Sep 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
188
inc VAT (SIM-free)

The second screen is more useful than Samsung's Galaxy Edge efforts, but the rest of the LG X Screen just doesn't measure up

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, Screen Size: 5in (1.7in, secondary display), Screen resolution: 1,280x720 (80x520, secondary display), Rear camera: 13 megapixels, Storage (free): 16GB (10GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Dimensions: 143x72x7.1mm, Weight: 120g, Operating system: Android 6.0.1

Buy LG X Screen accessories now from Mobile Fun

LG has taken a slightly different approach to its mid-range smartphones this year. Instead of simply creating a cheaper version of its flagship LG G5, it's taking the phone's key features and sharing them out across several different handsets. The first to land in the Expert Reviews office is the LG X Screen, which takes the G5's always-on display and crams it into a second screen that sits above the X Screen's main display.

It's a similar idea to Samsung's S7 Edge forerunner, the Galaxy Note Edge, but LG's take on the second screen is arguably a lot more practical than Samsung's sloping edge display. On the X Screen, the second display only measures 1.7in and it has a tiny resolution of 80 x 250 pixels, but that's still plenty of room to display the time, date, battery status and notification icons when the main screen is turned off.

What's more, the second screen operates completely independently of the main display, so even when the main display is switched off, you can swipe right and left to access extra options, from settings shortcuts to media playback controls. With the phone switched on the LG X Screen’s second screen changes its spots and offers up  app and contact shortcuts, plus weather forecasts and more.

LG X Screen second display

On a phone that costs a shade under £190 SIM-free, it’s seriously impressive stuff, and it gives the LG an edge over more straight-laced budget smartphones such as the Motorola Moto G4 when it comes to features. I’m also a fan of the main display’s smaller 5in size, which means it’s much more compact than the Moto G4 and kinder on your pockets.

It's disarmingly light, too, weighing a mere 120g. Good thing, then, that it has a glass rear to give it some much-needed rigidity; otherwise, its featherweight chassis might have felt a little cheap and flimsy. It still picks up its fair share of fingerprints, but at least its black finish makes them harder to spot than Samsung's glass-backed handsets, such as the 2016 Samsung Galaxy A3.

Display

However, for all the second screen's extra convenience, the quality of the LG X Screen's main 5in, 1,280 x 720 display leaves a lot to be desired. Covering just 68.9% of the sRGB colour gamut, it's far from the prettiest display around, and its colour reproduction falls short in almost every major category, with reds and magentas suffering the most. As a result, colours look quite cool and muted, and its peak brightness of just 352cd/m2 makes it even harder to see them in direct sunlight.

Its contrast ratio of 1,756:1 is more impressive, but I still had issues with the phone's viewing angles. Tilt the screen slightly to the side, for instance, and the colour cast shifts almost immediately, darkening the screen. The same thing happens if you tilt it up and down, too, which can be frustrating if you're on a packed commuter train and don't have a lot of room to manoeuvre it into a better position.

LG X Screen rear

Performance

The X Screen's quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor and 2GB of RAM also lags behind its rivals for overall speed. Ever since the Moto G4 blasted away the competition with its super-fast, octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor, every other budget phone has felt sluggish by comparison, and the X Screen, sadly, also falls behind.

It showed in the benchmarks, too. The LG X Screen completed our Geekbench 3 tests with a score of only 413 for the single core test and 1,315 for the multi-core test. Compare these with the Moto G4's figures of 717 and 3,107 and the difference is night and day. The X Screen felt slow when it came to web browsing, with media-heavy pages feeling slow and sluggish when scrolling up and down.

LG X Screen display

Likewise, gaming isn’t the smoothest on the LG X Screen. The phone achieved a mere 1.8fps in the offscreen Manhattan 3.0 test in GFX Bench GL. Admittedly, it's pretty handy having the second screen here, as you can still keep an eye on the time, the battery status and any notifications that come in while you're gaming. However, the phone struggled with demanding 3D titles, and even games like Hearthstone and Threes weren't as smooth as I’d like.

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