LG Stylus DAB+ Review: A large mid-range phone, but radio disappoints

Alex Kidman 26 May 2016

LGStylusDAB_450

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+
OSAndroid 6.0 ("Marshmallow")
Screen size5.7in
Resolution1280 x 720
Display density257ppi
Storage16GB
Weight145g
Processor1.2GHz Quad-Core
Rear camera13MP
Front camera8MP
Battery3000mAh

LGStylusDAB_Finder_450

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:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge11:55:007150
    Samsung Galaxy Note 59:18:005580
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+8:24:105041
    LG Stylus DAB+8:11:403278
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus7:48:104681
    Google Nexus 6P6:39:203754
    BlackBerry PRIV5:25:403256

    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.

LGStylusDAB_Back_450

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:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge21696446
    Samsung Galaxy S721566240
    LG G523055243
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+14924893
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge13244626
    Google Nexus 6P12514597
    Samsung Galaxy S613474569
    Apple iPhone SE25384455
    Apple iPhone 6S25404410
    Apple iPhone 6S Plus24914391
    HTC 1019424191
    Sony Xperia Z513584134
    Samsung Galaxy Note 511113686
    BlackBerry PRIV11963396
    LG G411903313
    Oppo R98673303
    Google Nexus 5X11883198
    Oppo R7s6962980
    LG Stylus DAB+4701418
    Alcatel Go Play4531368

    Equally, while it has a nice large screen for video watching, applying that power to games or video production brings mediocre results:

    Handset3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
    LG G529597
    Apple iPhone SE29276
    Samsung Galaxy S728903
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge28402
    Apple iPhone 6s28171
    HTC 1027392
    Google Nexus 6P24703
    Sony Xperia Z519197
    Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus17981
    Oppo R911053
    Oppo R7s8390
    LG Stylus DAB+4321

LGStylusDAB_DAB_450

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.

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4 Responses to LG Stylus DAB+ Review: A large mid-range phone, but radio disappoints

  1. Default Gravatar
    David | May 26, 2016

    Can I get Syd am radio in Bathurst on digital

    • Staff
      Alex | May 31, 2016

      Hi David,

      Unfortunately digital radio services are yet to launch in Bathurst, so you wouldn’t be able to access Sydney AM stations that way.

      Regards,

      Alex.

    • Default Gravatar
      Charles | September 14, 2016

      Is LG Stylus DAB+ capable of receiving AM radio signals? (I understand that FM is not a question but actually I only listen to AM talk-back radio stations in Melbourne)

    • Staff
      Brodie | September 15, 2016

      Hi Charles,

      The LG Stylus DAB+ receives both AM and FM radio signals. Though, what stations you can tune into is dependant on your location.

      Cheers,
      Brodie

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