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LG G3 Stylus: Can it crush the competition?

A stylus-toting G3 variant has leaked, but will this rumored LG phone have what it takes to usurp the mighty Samsung Galaxy Note?

LG Optimus Vu
The Intuition, LG's first stylus/phablet foray in the US, was a flop. Will the G3 Stylus do better? Josh Miller/CNET

A recent leaked LG video, intended to promote the Korean company's new G3 Beat phone, revealed an LG G3 Stylus handset as well, apparently by accident. This G3 variant appears to have a bigger display and -- you guessed it -- a writing stylus.

LG has remained mum about the device, and the video has been removed from YouTube (though you can still see it here). Plenty of questions and speculation remain, however, especially when considering that the reigning king of phablets, the Samsung Galaxy Note , will almost certainly launch its fourth iteration in less than a month.

LG hasn't even officially announced the G3 Stylus yet, let alone release information about where the phone will be available, when, and for how much. Until then, we're left wondering not only about the device itself, but whether or not the G3 Stylus has what it takes to compete against its biggest stylus-toting rival.

First, a bit of history

In 2012, Samsung released its envelope-pushing Galaxy Note for the US. Though its 5.3-inch display sounds pretty standard now, two years ago it seemed abnormally enormous. It came with an S Pen stylus, which could be tucked into the Note and had some of its own nifty tricks on the side.

Four months later, LG launched the Optimus Vu , or what later became known in the US as the LG Intuition for Verizon. Priced $100 less on-contract than the Note 2 at launch, it too came with a stylus that LG called a "Rubberdium pen." The stylus couldn't be tucked into the phone, however, and it didn't wield any special software features. In addition, the squarish Vu had a bizarre 4:3 aspect ratio that felt awkward despite LG's claim that it was a more natural ratio for viewing media.

LG Intuition (Verizon Wireless)
The LG Intuition for Verizon. Josh Miller/CNET

Not surprisingly, successors of the Vu, which include the Vu II and the Vu 3, never found their way to the US. The Vu 3 didn't even make it out of Korea. Indeed, after the US got a taste of the wonky Vu/Intuition, it didn't look like LG had any more plans to make a high-end phablet with a stylus for the mass market.

Riding the G3's coattails

That is, of course, until yesterday's video was leaked. Keeping the same G3 moniker, LG is using the success of its flagship to help market the smaller G3 Beat and the bigger G3 Stylus. This is a smart move, since customers will identify the G brand faster than if these devices were given a standalone name.

The G3 isn't a bad phone to to hitch your wagon to. It boasts an ultra crisp "quad-HD" display with a 1,440p resolution, a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, and a cool laser-guided 13-megapixel camera. It's also available on all four major US carriers and 100,000 units were sold in Korea the first five days of launch.

Keeping all that in mind, if the G3 Stylus were to be released in the US, it may find more success than the Intuition. True, it's unlikely LG will suddenly edge out Apple and Samsung, but as far as devices go, LG has proven itself a notable contender in the last year with the G3.

LG's current marquee handset, the G3. Josh Miller/CNET

Shoot for the king

Unfortunately, the G3 Stylus will have its work cut out fighting the Galaxy Note, a handset that now, in its fourth iteration, has a fan base of its own, and no real competitor in the US. If LG wants you to consider the G3 Stylus ahead of the Note, it must do three things. First, like the Intuition, it has to be notably cheaper than the Note. Knocking off $100 with the Intuition on-contract was a significant price cut, and it appeals to the budget conscious in the market for a phablet.

Second, the "Rubberdium pen" -- or whatever this new version is called -- must be more than just a stylus. Like the S Pen, it must serve as a productivity tool, and be closely integrated with certain apps and software. Sure, LG's QuickMemo signature app is nifty when jotting down notes, but other than that, there was no other real application for the stylus. This is in stark contrast with the Note 3 's S Pen, which packs tons of interesting (if not always essential) capabilities.

To compete with the Galaxy Note 3 (above) and the upcoming Note 4, the G3 Stylus' stylus needs to have a few tricks of its own. Sarah Tew/CNET

Lastly, the G3 Stylus needs to be a premium device. I know I said it had to be cheaper than the Note, but while the G3 Stylus doesn't have to be as powerful on a spec-by-spec basis, it will still have to be high-performing. That means we should expect at least quad-core power, a 1080p display, and a bevy of useful software features on top of the most recent version of Android.

True, at this point we have yet to know much of anything about the G3 Stylus, aside from the flash of a second it appeared on the promo video. But given how closely LG follows in Samsung's footsteps, it's not surprising to see LG gunning for the Note. This second time around, it will need a smarter approach, and the pressure will be even heavier for the G3 Stylus if it wants to outshine its competition.

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LG G3 (Metallic Black)
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