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Lifewire / Jordan Provost
Can’t read long text messages
Can’t install any apps
Display is hard to see at different angles
The LG Xpression 2 is a cheap phone, by every definition. It costs next to nothing, but is also such an inconvenience to use that it’s hard to recommend.
If you’re growing tired of the constantly shifting landscape of smartphones, or if you have a loved one that needs a straightforward device that isn’t too complicated, you may be considering the LG Xpression 2. It’s an extraordinarily simple device that’s affordable, easy to use, and even has a couple tricks up its sleeve.
We recently got the LG Xpression 2 in for testing, so we can ask the important question: does a basic device like the LG Xpression 2 still have a place in 2019? The short answer is yes, but read on to find out exactly what this device has to offer.
The LG Xpression 2 looks like something from 10 years ago, which honestly endeared us to the device. It’s entirely made of plastic and features a screen that slides up to reveal a full physical QWERTY keyboard underneath. It was enough to make us nostalgic for the good old days.
The phone is very small, measuring in at just 4.24 x 2.13 x 0.64 inches with a three-inch touch display. It’s tiny, but because the entire thing is made of plastic (including the display) it should be a very durable device.
The back of the phone is even removable—something we miss in modern phones—so if your battery starts to die, you can easily replace it with a new one. As for ports, you get a Micro USB on the side, with a headphone jack at the top.
On the front of the device just below the display are three buttons: a talk button, a cancel button, and a button that hangs up a call or closes an application. There is also a dedicated camera button on the side of the device with a power button on the top. Our only complaint here is that the talk and hang up buttons aren’t color-coded, which can be a little confusing.
Then, there’s that QWERTY keyboard. It made us miss our usual touchscreen keyboards, but typing out a quick text message on the LG Xpression 2 definitely brought us back.
Because the LG Xpression 2 is a very basic device, the setup process is virtually nonexistent.
We had to buy a SIM card from the AT&T store, as the one that came in the box wouldn’t work, but after we slotted it in and activated it, we were good to go. This device doesn’t run Android and you can’t even install any apps, so there was no sign-in process or anything. Pure simplicity.
The LG Xpression is a $50 phone that can’t install any applications, so you probably shouldn’t expect much in the way of performance. It features a single-core Qualcomm QSC6270E processor, so that should tell you what to expect here. It’s a slow device, but it doesn’t really need to be anything more. There’s a single game installed called Little Big City, and we couldn’t find a way to install any other games.
However, for the core purpose of talking on the phone and sending the occasional text message, it gets the job done. In fact, that’s about all you’ll be able to get done with this device.
Because the LG Xpression 2 is limited to 3G data with extremely slow hardware, you most likely won’t be able to do any web browsing. The only page we were able to get to load was Facebook. Twitter, Lifewire, and pretty much every other site we tried triggered an error message reading “Secure connection failed”. So don’t plan on using the data connection very much.
3G service is currently being phased out by Verizon and, while AT&T hasn't confirmed its own phase-out (as of the time of this writing), be warned that this service may not be available long-term. The LG Xpression 2 is only compatible with 3G, so you may want to consider a phone with 4G LTE or 5G compatibility if you plan to use it indefinitely.
Luckily, the device is reliable enough to make a phone call—for a phone this basic, that’s probably what you’re looking for anyways.
The LG Xpression 2 has a three-inch 400 x 240 display, and it’s not exactly colorful. The viewing angles are awful and the screen became pretty much unreadable unless we were looking at it straight on. It’s the kind of device that’ll be useful for reading a text message or dialing a phone number, but that’s about it. Even looking at photos taken with the 2MP camera was an exercise in frustration.
Text is legible as long as you’re looking at the display at a reasonable angle, so it’s still serviceable. We also didn’t expect much more from a device that costs as little as this one does.
This is definitely not a multimedia phone, and as such, the audio capabilities aren’t too impressive. You can hear people clearly when talking on the phone, but the second you enable speakerphone, you’ll start experiencing a lot of buzzing.
You can also load music onto this device, but we wouldn’t advise listening to it through the built-in speakers. Do yourself a favor and pack some headphones.
With a 2MP rear shooter, the LG Xpression 2 is only capable of the most basic of shots. Indoors, even in a well-lit room, photos come out looking dark. But when we uploaded the images on the computer, nothing was blurry or pixelated. There just wasn’t much in the way of detail. The results aren’t great but the camera does work, and that’s pretty much par for the course on the LG Xpression 2.
The device is capable of shooting videos too, but it’s not exactly competent at that task. Videos are laggy, low definition affairs that really aren’t worth the space they’ll take up in the Xpression 2’s tiny 63MB (that’s right, MB) of storage space.
When we first received this phone, we charged it up to full battery, played with it for a few minutes, and then left it untouched for an entire week. When we picked it up again to start testing it for this review, it still had battery left. The standby battery life is phenomenal.
It’s only packing a 1,000mAh battery, but because it’s using such low power hardware, that’s more than enough juice to keep the phone running for days. It charges relatively quickly, too, though it doesn’t support fast charging.
The LG Xpression 2 packs what seems to be the bare minimum for software. It will let you talk, text, use a calculator, and set an alarm. It has all the basic features that phones have had for decades now, and for those purposes, it usually shines.
However, we need to talk about the text message application.
We noticed that if you receive a long text message (meaning more than a few sentences), then you’ll only be able to view about two lines of the text message and the rest is cut off. If you have friends and family that like to leave you walls of texts, you’re going to want to look elsewhere, especially since you can’t install a third-party text message application.
This issue makes text messaging on the Xpression 2 kind of painful, which is a shame because the included physical keyboard should be a texter’s dream come true.
Take a peek at some of the other best text messaging phones you can buy.
The LG Xpression 2 is a cheap device in every sense of the word. It retails for $69, but you’ll be able to find it for lower if you shop around. That kind of budget price is appealing, but there are enough flaws here that you should give it some serious thought. If you’re shopping for a senior, a simplified device like the Jitterbug Flip provides a much better experience for only a little bit more money.
If $50 is all you can spare for a cell phone (and you’re attached to the QWERTY keyboard), then this is functional. Just don’t expect to do much beyond making phone calls.
Whether you’re a senior yourself, or if you have a senior in your family that you’re shopping for, you shouldn’t settle for a sub-par device when something like the Jitterbug Flip exists. It’s not much more powerful, but it gets rid of all the faulty software and small buttons, presenting a much more user-friendly experience. It’s a bit more expensive, but it’s a device tailor-made for seniors with services that will help monitor health.
Save yourself the headache.
There are two audiences we can see for the LG Xpression 2: seniors that don’t want to deal with a smartphone, and people who are working with a very tight budget. For seniors, there are better, more accessible options out there for under $100. And if you’re simply looking for the cheapest phone you can get, we would advise looking for a used device before jumping on this one.