LG Stylus DAB+ Review: A large mid-range phone, but radio disappoints
The LG Stylus DAB+ sells itself on the inclusion of digital radio, but it’s not the reason to buy this particular phone.
Smartphones as a category are very mature, with only a few features used to differentiate out each model, and that’s typically in the premium space. For a mid-range phone to include a world’s first feature is an interesting step on LG’s part, but that’s precisely what the LG Stylus DAB+ does.
|LG Stylus DAB+|
|OS||Android 6.0 ("Marshmallow")|
|Resolution||1280 x 720|
Upsides: Why you’d want the LG Stylus DAB+
- Saves money on streaming services: Digital radio is free, both in not having to pay a monthly fee for access, and in not having any data charges associated with it at all. While you lose a little in track control, that’s not a terrible tradeoff against services that can slurp up your data quota if you’re not careful.
- Stylus works well: The name rather gives away the fact that the LG Stylus DAB+ comes with an inbuilt stylus. It’s not quite as fancy as the S-Pen found on the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, but then again, the Stylus DAB+ is considerably more affordable. If all you want is a simple notetaking or screenshot capturing device, the included Stylus and small selection of apps works quite well.
- Good battery life: A larger phone gives you more scope to throw in batteries at the back, and the LG Stylus DAB+ is no slouch when it comes to battery life as a result. Using Geekbench 3’s battery test with screen dimming enabled, here’s how the LG Stylus DAB+ compares against a range of current large screen/"phablet" style devices:
Handset Geekbench 3 Battery Test Duration Geekbench 3 Battery Score Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 11:55:00 7150 Samsung Galaxy Note 5 9:18:00 5580 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ 8:24:10 5041 LG Stylus DAB+ 8:11:40 3278 Apple iPhone 6S Plus 7:48:10 4681 Google Nexus 6P 6:39:20 3754 BlackBerry PRIV 5:25:40 3256
It’s worth noting the lower performance score for the Stylus DAB against similar competitors, which is an obvious consequence of its mid-range processor.
- Acceptable camera: The LG Stylus DAB+'s camera performs almost exactly as we expected it would. It's not a great camera, or a terrible camera; it's simply acceptable within its price bracket given the general observation that smartphone cameras have gradually been improving over time anyway.
Downsides: Why you might not want the LG Stylus DAB+
- Digital radio disappointments: The inclusion of digital radio is a generally positive feature, but it’s not without some significant limitations. Your headphones -- they don’t have to be the supplied pair -- act as the effective antenna for the radio, which means you can’t just use the Stylus DAB+ as a wider broadcast radio to a room without plugging in some form of wired speaker. What’s more apparent from a week’s testing is that even in Sydney, digital radio reception on the move can vary widely. We used the Stylus DAB+ for our weekly commute in Sydney, and dealt with constant dropouts, including predictable ones like train tunnels. If you want the Stylus DAB+ for its musical chops, make sure you stay outdoors, preferably not moving much.
- Mediocre application performance: The LG Stylus DAB+ has a premium feature, but a non-premium price, and that’s largely to do with its choice of processor. The tradeoff there is that the Stylus DAB+ is a fairly ordinary phone in performance terms. We wouldn’t expect it to outperform its bigger brother, the LG G5, but even against other mid-range fare the LG Stylus DAB+ is a poor performer. Here’s how it compares using the cross-platform Geekbench 3 benchmark:
Handset Geekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better) Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better) Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 2169 6446 Samsung Galaxy S7 2156 6240 LG G5 2305 5243 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ 1492 4893 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge 1324 4626 Google Nexus 6P 1251 4597 Samsung Galaxy S6 1347 4569 Apple iPhone SE 2538 4455 Apple iPhone 6S 2540 4410 Apple iPhone 6S Plus 2491 4391 HTC 10 1942 4191 Sony Xperia Z5 1358 4134 Samsung Galaxy Note 5 1111 3686 BlackBerry PRIV 1196 3396 LG G4 1190 3313 Oppo R9 867 3303 Google Nexus 5X 1188 3198 Oppo R7s 696 2980 LG Stylus DAB+ 470 1418 Alcatel Go Play 453 1368
Equally, while it has a nice large screen for video watching, applying that power to games or video production brings mediocre results:
Handset 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result LG G5 29597 Apple iPhone SE 29276 Samsung Galaxy S7 28903 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 28402 Apple iPhone 6s 28171 HTC 10 27392 Google Nexus 6P 24703 Sony Xperia Z5 19197 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus 17981 Oppo R9 11053 Oppo R7s 8390 LG Stylus DAB+ 4321
Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?
The Stylus DAB+ sells itself on the inclusion of digital radio, but our tests with that feature left us wanting quite a bit more. Digital radio has existed in Australia for some years now and is yet to make its way out of metropolitan centres, but even in major cities reception issues make it a poor substitute for commuters who like music.
Having said that, there is a market for the LG Stylus DAB+, and it’s those consumers who want a large, phablet-style phone without the price tag of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. While the overall performance of the LG Stylus DAB+ isn’t exceptional even within its constrained price range, it is considerably cheaper than the Note 5 while still being within striking distance of its battery life.
Within its price range you’ve got a lot of potential choices, including Oppo’s R7s if you want a bigger screen, or many other smaller screened options at the same or lower price points.
Where can I get it?
The LG Stylus DAB+ sells outright for $449, or on contract exclusively through Optus and Virgin. Here’s how much you’ll pay for the LG Stylus DAB+ on a two year contract through either carrier.