Technophile

LG pushes the envelope with X Screen

Visvaksen P | Updated on January 17, 2018 Published on August 10, 2016

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But is the addition of another, always-on notification screen a big enough USP to lock into the new handet?

Of all the major Android smartphone manufacturers, LG has always shown the largest appetite for taking risks and trying to push the market in new directions. The trend continues with their latest device, the X Screen, which apart from being a solid mid-range smartphone, also features a 1.8-inch always-on secondary display above the actual display.

While LG’s constant attempts at innovation are great at keeping reviewers like us occupied, they don’t always translate into features that users fall in love with. And so it remains to be seen whether the X Screen’s dual-display set up actually enhances the user experience or if it is simply just another gimmicky add on that will eventually fall by the wayside.

Design

The X Screen is a typical mid-level Android smartphone from a few years ago. While most of its competitors have moved onto all-metal bodies, LG continues to persist with polycarbonate shells and a faux-metal spine. There is a glass sheet covering the rear – reminiscent of Samung’s Galaxy series – which gives the device a slightly more premium feel.

The overall design is very cookie cutter – the kind that will not offend anyone because it doesn’t really try anything new. Even the rear-mounted power and volume buttons, which are quickly becoming an LG trademark, are in their usual position on the side in the X Screen. The only variation is, of course, the extra display – a small rectangular strip positioned above the 4.93-inch primary display.

Specs and performance

On the inside too, the X Screen continues to live in the past. Its beating heart is a Snapdragon 410 chipset featuring four Cortex A53 cores paired with Adreno 306 graphics and 2 GB of RAM. The fact that the 410 is from Qualcomm’s previous generation lineup does put the device at a disadvantage in a specs shootout with handsets like Xioami Redmi Note 3 and Motorola G4, but in terms of real world performance, it still manages to hold its own fairly well.

Multitasking is fluid and most apps and games that we tested worked well, with the exception of the odd stutter from a graphics-intensive game on demanding settings. The 720p display, which is just under 5 inches in size, is quite accurate in terms of colour reproduction but is far from the brightest or the most dynamic. While the less than Full HD resolution is easy to adjust to considering the size of the screen, issues with legibility under direct sunlight is something that irks us more.

Anyone intending to use the X Screen for media playback is in for further disappointment, because the speakers are sub-par, producing rather tinny, distorted sound.

The handset is equipped with a 2300 mAh battery. This might seem weak, but considering the lower resolution of the display, which is the primary source of battery drain, it proves sufficient to power the LG device for a whole day.

The second screen

The distinguishing feature of the X Screen, the small rectangular strip at the top end of the device, does everything it says on the Box fairly well. It offers programmable shortcuts to apps, settings toggles and easy access to notifications.

However, none of this is particularly significant as the secondary screen gets quite dim when the device is sleeping and Android has evolved to handle most of these use cases extremely well when the device is actively being used.

It is hard to categorize the second display as a hit or a miss, but one way to put it is that we wouldn’t exactly miss it if it wasn’t there.

Camera

Most mid-range phones, even those aimed specifically at photography enthusiasts tend to disappoint in the camera department and the X Screen is no exception. Its 13 MP rear camera and 8 MP front camera will satisfy casual snappers who need to save a memory here and a scenery there for posterity, but looking deeper than that is asking for too much.

Photos are frequently over-exposed, lacking in detail and blurry. They also tend to much warmer than they should be. On the plus side, the camera software is easy to use and features plenty of options to fiddle around with.

Software

The most modern component of this LG device is undoubtedly its software, which is based on the Marshmallow release of Android. LG has tacked its own custom UI on top of it, which while not as garish or obtrusive as some of the worst offenders, rarely improves the experience in any perceptible manner. The app drawer has been done away with, although it can be summoned back in settings if required. There are also several manufacturer-installed apps which cannot be removed.

Verdict

The LG X Screen is destined to be an also-ran. It’s major differentiating feature, the secondary screen, is simply not compelling enough to sell the rest of the device – which is a solid mid-range offering from last year.

Price: ₹12,990

Love: Build quality

Hate: Camera, Previous-Gen Chipset

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Published on August 10, 2016
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