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LG Stylo 3 review: The stylus phone that won't break the bank

Note 8 too pricey for your budget? LG's Stylo 3 is a cheap alternative. Just don't expect much.

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Lynn La
Lynn_La2.jpg

Lynn La

Senior Editor / Reviews - Phones

Lynn La covers mobile reviews and news. She previously wrote for The Sacramento Bee, Macworld and The Global Post.

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2 min read

Let's get one thing clear: The LG Stylo 3 doesn't even come close to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. For one thing, it doesn't have the Note's two 12-megapixel rear cameras, proven Snapdragon 835 processor or water resistance. And the LG phone's stylus, which can be stored inside the phone like the Note 8's S Pen, won't be able to carry out software tricks like selecting text to translate or creating animated messages.

lg-stylo-30969
7.0

LG Stylo 3

The Good

The LG Stylo 3 has a stylus and costs a fraction of the Galaxy Note 8's price. Its removable battery lasts a long time.

The Bad

It’s simple, laggy and nowhere near the Note 8's league. There's also no NFC for mobile payments.

The Bottom Line

If you're craving a phone with a stylus, the LG Stylo 3 is your only cheap option. Just don't expect high-end features.

Still, if you want to take notes, jot down quick memos and doodles, or just give your fingers a break while using the touchscreen, the Stylo only costs $130 on Cricket Wireless and Boost Mobile. That's a whopping $800 less than the Note 8's cheapest price (seriously, that's like seven Stylo 3s for the price of a single Note 8).

Here's a breakdown of exactly what both phones can and can't do:

LG Stylo 3 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 8


LG Stylo 3Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Embeddable stylus
Pop-up menu for stylus shortcuts
Note-taking app
Scanning app
Pen untethering detection
Screenshot a portion of the screen
Take notes on homescreen
Take notes on lockscreen
Multiple note pages on lockscreen X
Pin note to lockscreen X
Stylus cursor hover X
Create animated GIFs X
Multifunction button on stylus X
Selects text to translate X
Scroll in the browser window X
Hover to see menu options X

LG's Stylo 3 is a stylus phone for small budgets

See all photos


Other stuff to know about the LG Stylo 3:

  • The battery lasted over 16.5 hours in our first looping video drain test. That's seriously impressive.
  • Its Snapdragon 435 processor isn't very powerful, and can get a little laggy. I sometimes had to wait as I scrolled through web pages or for apps to launch and close.
  • The phone's 13-megapixel camera is good for what it is, but not super great. Brightly lit photos were clear, but did look smudgy at full resolution. Low-light photos also looked blurry at times, and there was a notable amount of digital noise.
  • Because of its slow processor, taking a photo of anything that moves remotely fast (a lively dog, for example) will come out blurry.
  • Our review unit from Boost Mobile had tons of preloaded bloatware. You can uninstall some apps, but not all of them.
  • There's a fingerprint reader on the back to unlock the phone, but since the phone doesn't have NFC, you can't use it for Android Pay.

Again, if you're lusting for the Note 8 and all its cool features, be ready to cough up the money. If you want a built-in stylus for cheap though, the LG Stylo 3 is your only choice. (True, you can buy a separate stylus for any phone, but it won't be as convenient as storing it inside the phone itself.)

If you don't care much for the stylus, however, your other option is the Motorola Moto E4. It also costs $130, but it's splash-resistant and its front-facing camera has its own flash. While its battery doesn't last as long (about 14.5 hours for the same test) and it has an 8-megapixel rear camera compared to the Stylo's 13-megapixel shooter, you can get it for even cheaper, at $70 on Verizon prepaid, or $100 from Amazon with ads.

lg-stylo-30969
7.0

LG Stylo 3

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 6Camera 7Battery 10
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