Alongside the LG G Watch R, LG has also pulled the wraps of its LG G3 Stylus at IFA 2014.On the outside it looks just like the current flagship LG G3, but it has a stylus too. “Fantastic,” I hear you say, “a new competitor for the Galaxy Note 4.” Not so fast. Anyone using the G3 Stylus with the Note 4 in mind is in for a rude awakening. The lofty heights achieved by the Note 4 are nowhere in sight for the G3 Stylus. Did LG seriously miss a trick here or is there more to the story?
- Take a look at everything released at IFA 2014.
Is the G3 Stylus meant to be a Note 4 competitor?
Not at all. One look at the specs sheet or one minute spent with the G3 Stylus clearly demonstrates it is not in anything resembling the same class as the Note 4. Simply giving a large-screened device a stylus does not a Note make. But it’s pretty obvious that LG never intended the G3 Stylus to be a Note 4 competitor.
LG obviously has a strong enough foundation in the LG G3 and the technical know-how to produce a flagship stylus-supported device, so if the G3 Stylus was truly meant to challenge the Note 4 then there’s no way LG would have released such a weak offering. No, there is clearly a different strategy at hand here.
- Read and watch our hands-on Galaxy Note 4 review.
Mid-range market space
If we accept the fact that no one can compete with Samsung in the top-end phablet space then the next obvious opportunity is the mid-range phablet space, where the only decent options are the Asus Fonepad and Samsung’s own Note Neo range.
Even with the Note name, the Note 3 Neo, is pretty unremarkable and Asus’ offering has a long way to go too. It makes sense for LG to try to carve out a niche in the mid-range stylus-supported phone market because it’s seriously wide open and the best place to produce a competitive device and build a following with which to equip itself for a future challenge to the Note down the track.
- Read our LG G3 review.
Is the G3 Stylus up to the task?
The G3 Stylus doesn't even suffer from what you’d expect from a first-gen attempt in a new category because at least in those cases an attempt has been made to succeed. Not only is the integration of the stylus in the G3 Stylus nowhere near as sophisticated at the S Pen, it is actually non-existent. The G3 Stylus doesn’t offer anything in the way of unique or useful software integration. The stylus is simply there. It's an incredibly lazy offering.
Furthermore, LG chose to seriously water down the specs sheet of the G3 in the G3 Stylus. Anyone thinking they’re getting a flagship with an additional stylus will be sadly disappointed, even if they could make their peace with not having any software functionality to make sense of the stylus' existence.
The G3 Stylus doesn’t deserve the good name the G3 has so rightfully earned for itself. While it’s fine to make a mid-range stylus device, LG shouldn’t have put the G3’s name on it. It does nothing positive for the G3 brand at all and brings absolutely nothing useful to the consumer.
- The 10 best Android phones to buy in 2014.
What’s wrong with the G3 Stylus?
Everything. From doing damage to the G3 brand to non-existent stylus functionality to a seriously weakened specs sheet, the G3 Stylus should not have been made. The stylus itself is also quite awful: a simple metal stick with a fat rubber tip. Any after-market stylus for 10 bucks would serve the purpose as well.
Where Samsung took a winning high-end recipe in the Note series and dropped the specs and the price to produce a mid-range version with very similar functionality in the Note 3 Neo, LG seem to have taken the opposite approach: produce a watered down mid-range flagship and poke a hole in it for a pen. That does nothing. And is super laggy.
|System||Android 4.4.2 KitKat|
|Display||5.5-inch IPS LCD (960 x 540 pixels, 200 ppi)|
|Camera||13 MP (rear), 1.3 MP (front-facing)|
|Processor||Quad-core (unnamed), 1.3 GHz|
|Internal Memory||8 GB|
A missed opportunity
We are big fans of the LG G3 and its simple, useful and cleaned up interface. We like a lot of the software features on the G3, including QMemo+. Adding a stylus to this winning mix makes sense, but something got lost in translation.
While I think it is clear no one is going to come out with a first-gen stylus supported phablet that comes anywhere near challenging the Note 4 right off the bat, LG could have done things a lot, lot better. Even challenging the Note 3 Neo would have required – at the very least – some significant software functions specifically for the stylus.
Since the G2 we’ve been paying much closer attention to LG’s innovative approach to smartphones. But the G3 Stylus throws that track record from the straight and narrow in a terrible way. From the G2 to the G3 LG managed to soar to the top of our list of best Android phones this year, but the G3 Stylus does that legacy no favors. I don’t know if I’d prefer to see the G3 Stylus done right, or just have it die a natural death.
What do you think of the G3 Stylus? Would you use a stylus with your phone?