LG Stylo 5 - Review - An Affordable Alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Note?

LG Stylo 5 - Review

LG's Stylo series of Android smartphones offer customers an affordable alternative to Samsung's Galaxy Note series, by including an in-built stylus for note-taking and productivity. We've already seen LG find moderate success with the previously released LG Stylus 4 and we now welcome its successor the LG Stylo 5 to the market.

The LG Stylo 5 (LM-Q720) we are reviewing is offered for $199.99 (plus tax) on BoostMobile.com. Additionally, for those new to Boost Mobile and looking for a family plan, they can also snag four lines of unlimited data, talk, and text for only $25 per line per month.

Each line includes mobile hotspot per line, mobile-optimized streaming videos, gaming and music, and 4G LTE for most everything else.

Key features of the LG Stylo 5 include:
  • 6.2-inch FHD+ FullVision display for photos and video
  • Fast-focus camera with 13MP
  • Long-lasting battery
  • 1.8 GHz Octa-Core processor for high performance



The LG Stylo 5 is a fairly large device, which is mostly made up of its 6.2-inch display. Despite its display size, the hand has a sleek design which is easy to hold and handle.

There is an aluminum frame running around the sides of the device, while the rear is made of plastic. The bezels around the display are not too thick, making the handset decently modern to look at. You will also find the single 5-megapixel front-facing camera on the top left side of the device.

The power button is located on the right side, while the volume buttons can be found on the left. While I found the buttons easy enough to reach personally, I did worry that someone which smaller hands will find themselves stretching in order to reach these physical buttons.

On the bottom, you will find the USB Type-C port, 3.5mm audio jack, and the single speaker, alongside the stylus in its silo.

Turning the device over reveals its single camera and flash, and the fingerprint scanner on the rear

Fingerprint Scanner

The location of the fingerprint scanner is a little hard to reach on a device of this size... Ideally, I would like to see the rear scanners like the one found here to be slightly more recessed, making it easier to identify with your finger. However, it was pretty responsive for the most part


The LCD display has a 1080p (full HD) resolution which offers sharp output and great color reproduction. This should result in a great experience when consuming multimedia on YouTube or Netflix or browsing the web. One issue we faced with the display was using it under direct sunlight, where the reflection made it impossible to view anything on the display, even with the brightness set to maximum.


The 13-megapixel camera on the Stylo 5 is capable of decent photographs as long as there is ample lighting. We took the device around town for the usual sequence of day to day photos and were quite impressed with the regular photos. We kept the HDR mode set to auto during these photo sessions and also found that the device took a few seconds to process each photo after it was captured.

However, when it came to lowly lit situations, there was a lot of noise and graininess in the pictures.

 We wouldn't recommend this device for anyone who is looking for a camera capable of capturing their night out in the town, but for folks who like photos on and off, the Stylo 5 camera should work just fine.

Interestingly LG has implemented a portrait mode on the single front-facing camera but has chosen not to offer this feature on the rear one. While more expensive devices generally make use of multiple cameras to achieve this mode, the fact that LG has used it on the front camera indicates that they could have done so on the rear one as well.

Video recording on this device maxes out at 1080p at 30fps. LG appears to be using digital stabilization during the video recordings (sample can be found in the album linked above) which has some jittering if you capture video while you move.


The stylus is easily one of the top defining factors of the Stylo 5. LG's Stylo smartphones are probably the only handsets to come with an inbuilt stylus besides Samsung's Note series.

Pulling out the stylus when the display is switched off launches a memo pad for quick motes.

If you pull out the stylus with the device switched on, you get a pop up offering various apps that you can interact with your stylus. We will discuss what each of these apps offers in the 'Software' section of this review. You can add a total of five apps to this list.

You can also use the stylus for general navigation around the phone if it's your preferred means of input.

Internal Hardware

The device features 32GB of internal storage and you can further expand this with microSDby an additional 2TB.

The LG Stylo 5 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 chipset paired with 3GB of RAM. These specifications are reasonable for a device in this price range, and capable of running most day to day apps. However, we did find minor stutters and lagging a few times. This smartphone is clearly not meant for graphic intense games like Fortnite, but it is more than capable of social media, web browsing, responding to messages and simpler games like Minecraft.

LG has packed in a decent 3500mAh battery inside this device. While this isn't the largest battery around, it is capable of easily getting you through a day of use on a single charge. While testing the device, we even found it lasting up to two days on a single charge, which is a great selling point for this handset.


The LG Stylo 5 runs Android 9.0 Pie, the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. LG has added its own customization on top of Android and included several of its own apps along with some from Sprint to "enhance" your experience.

The LG Launcher

The default launcher on the LG Stylo 5 offers three separate layouts
  • Home
  • Home & app drawer
  • EasyHome
Home offers an experience similar to the iPhone with all your apps being displayed on your homescreen. This may be a good experience for someone switching over from an iPhone.

Home & app drawer is a more traditional layout, which allows the user to swipe to access all their installed apps. This was the layout I used the most out of the three.

The EasyHome layout is probably best suited for older users, offering larger icons and fonts with a simple interface. This layout even offers quick contacts on the homescreen by default, ideal for someone who wants to get in touch with a loved one quickly.

If you don't like any of these launchers, you can always download one of your favorites off the Google Play Store.

LG lets you further customize your experience by including a store for wallpapers, themes, and icons. You can access these with a long press on your homescreen and selecting Wallpaper & theme.

There are a few more things you can do to further customize your experience on the Stylo 5

Head over to Settings and navigate to Display > Home touch buttons and you can turn on the gesture-based navigation from Android Pie. LG additionally allows you to customize the color of your navigation bar and to autohide navigation for certain apps under this Setting.

For customers who find the 6.2-inch display too large for single-handed use, LG has included a 'Mini View' which can also be found under Display settings. Once enabled, you can swipe from the left or right edge of the screen to enable this view.

LG Customizations

Now let's dive into some of the customizations LG offers on the Stylo 5

 The 'Sharing Panel' found under Settings > Network > Connected Devices allows LG users to expand their content sharing with nearby devices or use Direct Share with frequent contacts.

Customers can also use LG's SmartShare Beam to share files from their Stylo 5 with other LG devices. The Media Server feature will allow users to stream content from their DLNA compatible devices on their Stylo or stream content from their smartphone on devices like your LG TV.

You also get LG AirDrive which lets you wirelessly manage content on your device through the LG Bridge on your computer. LG Bridge also lets you backup your device to your computer and install software updates. You will have to connect your device to your computer using your Google account.

The Stylo 5 takes advantage of the large display offering a multi-window mode for multi-tasking. Every app capable of multi-window mode will display an icon allowing you to watch YouTube while browsing the web or taking notes. You can pin certain apps you want to make always available for the multi-window mode as well.

LG Apps

LG has heavily customized the stock version of Android, making the Stylo 5 user feel very much a part of the world LG has created for its customers.

Pulling the stylus out of its silo when the device is switched on displays a list of QuickMemo+ apps optimized for stylus input:
  • Pop Memo - Offers a quick popup memo on your home screen where you can take notes and save them to your memos or gallery.
  • Coloring book - Coloring book offers a collection of pictures you can color in with your stylus
  • Scratch Art - Another colorful artbook which lets you create beautiful creations.
  • Drawchat - This feature lets you create dynamic written text, which is saved to your gallery for quickly sharing with your friends. 
  • CapturePlus - This is an enhanced screen capture tool, which lets you take notes on the specific screen you are looking at... This is a great tool for users who quickly like highlighting and sharing screenshots.
  • GIFCapture - This app allows users to select a part of the screen they wish to record and capture short animations which they can later save and share online.
  • PopLens - Allows users to capture sections of their screen and display color pop enhancements to that captured section.
Besides these apps, you can also add other apps you want to quickly access from this list by clicking the '+' which appears. You can add a total of five different apps to this menu.

LG Smartworld

Smartworld is a marketplace offered by LG on the device to download new themes, fonts, and wallpapers for your handset. Customers will be able to download from the free and premium collections.

The 360 Wallpapers looked very appealing, allowing a dynamic live wallpaper experience on your handset.

LG Update Center

The LG Update Center app can be used to update the preinstalled LG apps and to install software updates to the device. Ideally, we would have preferred to see this functionality integrated into Android and have the apps offered through the Google Play Store instead.

LG Game Launcher

With the Game Launcher app, users will be able to adjust device audio and disable alerts when they are playing games. The app automatically detects games, but you can also manually add your games to the app if they don't appear.

Sprint and Boost Mobile apps

You do get a few preinstalled apps from Sprint and Boost on the Stylo 5, including My Sprint, My Boost, Caller ID and Voicemail.

Amazon Apps

Amazon Shopping and Amazon Prime Video come pre-installed on the Boost Mobile variant of the Stylo 5. Neither of these apps can be uninstalled, but users will be able to disable them if they don't wish to use these services.


The Stylo 5 is a great option for anyone looking for a phone with an in-built stylus, not willing to spend what Samsung asks for the Galaxy Note 9. You also get a decent battery life and a stylish device with a large display for media consumption.

The device does have its shortcomings in the camera department and is a mid-tier in performance. LG's recent software updates also suggest you won't likely get the Android Q update on this handset.

Do you have any questions or comments about the LG Stylo 5? Are you considering purchasing this smartphone? Leave us a comment below and we will answer any questions you have

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