Jeremy Laukkonen is automotive and tech writer for numerous major trade publications as well as the creator of a popular blog and video game startup. A fan of EVs since the early 2000s, he stays up-to-date on the myriad complex systems that power battery electric vehicles.
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Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire
Great stylus built right in
Crisp display with thin bezels
Looks really good
Great battery life
Cameras aren’t that great
Teardrop camera cutout is ugly
The LG Stylo 6 is an example of a phone that looks fantastic and comes in at a budget price point but falls short in the performance category.
We purchased the LG Stylo 6 so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The LG Stylo 6 is the sixth iteration of LG’s Stylo hardware, and it looks better than ever. With a huge display, beautiful mirror-finished back, enough battery life to last several days, and a price tag that seems too low for its upscale looks, the Stylo 6 makes for an intriguing option if you’re in the market for an affordable phone. This phone also manages to stash a nice little stylus inside its relatively thin frame as an added bonus.
I recently had the opportunity to spend a week with a Stylo 6, testing everything from performance, to battery life, to the functionality of the camera and stylus. I used it for voice calls, texting, a little video conferencing, and even squeezed in a few games here and there to see if a phone that looks this good and costs so little can really be as good a deal as it seems.
There’s no real reason to beat around the bush here: LG knocked this one out of the park. The Stylo 6 represents a sharp departure from the design ethos of its predecessor, ditching the chunky bezels and thin plastic back for a teardrop cutout and a glass back that features a beautiful mirror finish. Holding this phone in your hands, it’s hard to believe it’s a budget model and not a flagship.
Holding this phone in your hands, it’s hard to believe it’s a budget model and not a flagship.
The bezels are a bit thicker than a modern flagship, of course, and the design of the teardrop is a bit ugly, but this really is one stunning handset when you consider the price. Both front and back are smooth as silk, and the glass back has a bit of an iridescent sheen to it that’s really striking when light hits it. It’s almost a shame to cover that up with a protective case.
Apart from looks, this is a big phone. The display itself is a 6.8-inch IPS LCD, and it weighs in at 6.4 ounces, so some may even find it a bit unwieldy. Even with fairly large hands, it failed the standard one-hand-operation test, with my thumb unable to reach the corners even when repositioning the phone to achieve optimum positioning.
In keeping with the overall upscale look, the Stylo 6 features a massive 6.8-inch IPS display that looks great in 1080p with a pixel density of 395ppi. The colors are vibrant, the image is sharp, and viewing angles are great. It is a bit dim for full daylight viewing though, even though it seems quite bright indoors.
The colors are vibrant, the image is sharp, and viewing angles are great.
My only real issue with the display is that the camera notch doesn’t look very good. Instead of a thin teardrop, LG went with a thick nub that sticks straight down from the top bezel at nearly right angles. While the rest of the phone looks and feels like a flagship, the notch feels like a poorly handled afterthought.
This is where things come down to earth a bit for the Stylo 6, as its performance just doesn’t live up to its premium look and feel. Saddled by a MediaTek Helio P35 processor and just 3GB of RAM, the Stylo 6 struggles to get out of its own way in benchmark tests.
The first benchmark I ran was PCMark’s Work 2.0, which measures the ability of a device to perform basic productivity functions like launching apps, multitasking, word processing, and image editing. The Stylo 6 scored an unimpressive 3,867 overall, with 3,373 in the web browsing test and a slightly better 5,469 in the photo editing test.
In practice, the Stylo 6 performs adequately for a budget Android phone. Apps took a bit longer to launch than I’m used to, and I noticed some lag at times. For example, tapping the URL field in Chrome should result in the keyboard snapping up immediately, but the wait for it to appear on the Stylo 6 was just long enough to cause some frustration.
In addition to the productivity benchmark, I also ran a few benchmarks from GFXBench. First, I ran the Car Chase benchmark that simulates a fast-paced 3D game with advanced lighting, shaders, and HDR graphics. The Stylo 6 stumbled right out of the gate, managing only a paltry 2.8 frames per second (fps), which would be an unplayable mess if you were trying to play an actual game. I then ran the less demanding T-Rex benchmark, where the Stylo 6 managed a slightly better result of 19fps.
With those unimpressive benchmarks in mind, I downloaded Asphalt 9 and fired it up. The result was better than I expected, and I was able to get in a few races without too many performance issues. The game didn’t look as good as it does on better hardware, and it did drop frames here and there, but it ran well enough.
The bottom line here is that the Stylo 6 really isn’t built for gaming, or really anything that takes a whole lot of processing power, but it performs well enough for a budget phone.
With how great this phone looks, and how big the display is, it’s almost easy to forget that the stylus is meant to be the main attraction. The whole point of the Stylo line, after all, is that they all include a built-in stylus, and the Stylo 6 is no exception. On the bottom, opposite the headphone jack, you’ll find a shiny nub that you can push in to release the spring-loaded stylus.
While the stylus is a bit stubby, at about 4.5-inches long, it’s just long enough to hold comfortably. Popping it out automatically launches an interface that allows you to create a hand-drawn memo, draw a memo on your screen, and a few other options. When a memo or drawing app isn’t engaged, you can use the stylus to navigate in lieu of your finger.
The stylus feels responsive, and palm rejection is excellent.
The stylus feels responsive, and palm rejection is excellent. In the included memo app, only the stylus is able to draw. In other apps, palm rejection kickeddd in flawlessly if I touched the screen first with the stylus and later brushed the screen with my palm. There is noticeable lag if you move the stylus especially fast, but that isn’t really an issue when writing normally.
In addition to support for a variety of LTE bands depending on your carrier, the Stylo 6 also supports Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC, has 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and can operate as a hotspot if your carrier supports it.
Call quality was good overall. Nobody I called had any trouble understanding me regardless of my environment, and the people I called always came through loud and clear. I did experience some issues with cellular connectivity, with the Stylo 6 offering worse reception than my Pixel 3 in a lot of areas with both connected to the same T-Mobile network via Google Fi.
Signal reception probably also played a factor in the Stylo 6’s lower than expected LTE data speeds. Tested using Google Fi, I wasn’t able to achieve download speeds any faster than 7.8Mbps down and 1Mbps up with the Stylo 6. In that same location, also connected to Google Fi, my Pixel 3 registered 15Mbps down and 2Mbps up.
Wi-Fi connectivity speeds were better and fairly impressive for a budget phone. Using my 1Gbps Mediacom connection and an Eero mesh Wi-Fi system, I tested the Stylo 6 at varying distances from the router. Tested near the router, the Stylo 6 managed just 255Mbps compared to my Pixel 3, which measured 320Mbps at the same time in the same location.
After that initial measurement, I moved the phone 30 feet from the nearest router or beacon. At that distance, the connection speed dropped to 207Mbps. It dropped further to 119Mbps at 50 feet and down to 80Mbps about 100 feet away down in my garage. At that distance, in my network setup, those are pretty decent numbers. Not the fastest, but plenty of speed to stream video, place calls over Wi-Fi, download apps, and just about anything else.
The Stylo 6 leverages two speakers to provide decent sound quality for a budget range smartphone. One speaker fires from the bottom through three large holes, and the other leverages the earpiece. The sound was especially impressive when playing Asphalt 9 and watching movie trailers on YouTube. The main issue is that the bottom-firing speaker is easy to cover with your fingers when holding the phone in portrait mode, which reduces the sound to a tinny-sounding nothing.
In addition to gaming and YouTube videos, I also logged into YouTube Music and cued up Imagine Dragons’ “Believer”. Vocals came through loud and clear, and though the bass was a bit lacking, I didn’t have any trouble picking out individual instruments. YouTube Music automatically served up “Bad Liar” next, also by Imagine Dragons, and that vocal-heavy track sounded even better.
The Stylo 6 features three camera sensors in a horizontal array on the back. The main attraction is a 13MP primary lens, backed up by a 5MP wide-angle lens and a 5MP depth sensor. Around front, it has another 13MP camera for videoconferencing and selfies.
The main rear camera works well enough, turning in its best performances when there’s plenty of natural light.
The main rear camera works well enough, turning in its best performances when there’s plenty of natural light. In those conditions, my snaps turned out well, with decent color reproduction and good depth of field enabled by the depth sensor. Low-light shots are a different matter, with an unacceptable amount of noise and loss of color.
The wide-angle lens is fun to play with, but the results were unimpressive. The overall quality of wide-angle shots was lower than pictures taken with the main lens, and it was even more dependent on light, with a sharp drop off in anything less than ideal lighting.
The front-facing sensor provides more of the same, turning in great selfies in ideal lighting conditions, with accurate colors and a decent level of sharpness. That quality tanks in low light though, so you might want to invest in a ring light if you plan on using the Stylo 6 for video conferencing.
Within its massive frame, the Stylo 6 conceals a respectable 4,000 mAh battery that lasts a decent amount of time even when called upon to power the huge 6.8-inch display. I was typically able to go about two days between charges when using the phone normally.
To get an idea of exactly how long that big battery lasts when using the phone constantly, I connected the phone to Wi-Fi, cranked up the brightness, and set it to stream YouTube videos in an infinite loop. Under those conditions, the Stylo 6 held out for just over 12 hours. Not the best result I’ve ever seen, but pretty great for a budget phone with a display this big.
The Stylo 6 ships with Android 10, but it’s a version of the operating system that LG has tweaked. This isn’t a dealbreaker, but it definitely isn’t my favorite flavor of Android. It is clean and easy enough to use, without too much bloat but features some confusing changes.
The first thing I noticed when using the Stylo 6, and this is true of other LG phones I’ve tested as well, was LG's custom UX 9.0 skin doesn’t have an app drawer. Instead, it just dumps all of your installed apps on the home screen. You can enable app-drawer-like functionality by removing all apps from the home screen and accessing them from an icon on the home screen, but this is less than ideal. To restore normal Android 10 functionality to the home screen, you have to install a custom launcher.
In addition to Android 10, the Stylo 6 also comes with a handful of productivity apps pre-installed. You probably have your own apps that you’ll want to install though instead if this isn’t your first Android phone. It also includes some questionable apps, like one for Booking.com, that seem more like bloatware than anything else.
While the Stylo 6 ships with Android 10, there’s a good chance it will eventually receive an upgrade to Android 11 based on the history of previous phones in the line.
The LG Stylo 6 has an MSRP of $300, which is a bit on the high side for the level of performance I saw during my time with the phone. It looks and feels like a flagship, which is remarkable for a sub-$300 phone, but you can pay less for a phone that runs a whole lot better. It seems like you’re mostly paying for the upscale look and feel of the device, which is fine, just as long as you don’t go into it expecting top of the line performance as well.
The Moto G Stylus is strong competition for the Stylo 6, as it has the same MSRP and also conceals a stylus within its body. It’s a smaller device, with a 6.4-inch display compared to the 6.8-inch Stylo 6, and it doesn’t have precisely the same flagship-lite flair as the Stylo 6 either. Its stylus snaps into place instead of being spring-loaded, and it doesn’t have NFC.
What the Moto G Stylus does have is a more powerful processor and a whole lot more onboard storage. In the Work 2.0 benchmark, the Moto G Stylus nearly doubled the Stylo 6’s score. It’s also much better at running games, multitasking, and just about everything else.
While the Stylo 6 is a more attractive handset, it’s hard to ignore the fact that you can pay about the same for a phone that essentially runs circles around it in terms of performance. If you want a phone that looks nice, and you won’t use it for much more than phone calls and texts, web browsing, and streaming video, then the Stylo 6 will probably satisfy you just fine. But if you value performance over appearances, the Moto G Stylus is a significantly better deal.
Flagship looks great, but suffers from bargin bin performance.
The LG Stylo 6 is a beautiful phone that performs well in some areas, like call quality and connectivity, and stumbles hard when it comes to actual performance. The slow processor, small amount of RAM, and insufficient storage space all conspire to hold back this otherwise fantastic phone. If you want a beautiful phone that you won’t use for much more than phone calls, texting, and light web browsing, then the Stylo 6 might be what you’re looking for. Otherwise, there are a lot of phones out there that perform much better for the same price.
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