LG X Power review: A turbo-charged battery with little to power

I have gone on record stating that one of the most important things to me in a phone is the battery. After all, what good is a zippy processor and high-quality camera if your phone craps out mid-way through the day?

After spending a month with the LG X Power, the phrase “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind.

LG’s most recent entrant to the budget smartphone market has a whopping 4,100 mAh battery — and unfortunately not much else.

From overheating issues to inconveniently poor sound quality, issues run rampant with this phone, while benefits are few and far between. The only thing that might save it — at least in the eyes of the less tech-savvy demographic that might purchase it — is its $250 price.

Considering it as it should be viewed, a $0 phone on a basic plan, the question shifts from, “is this a good phone?” to “is this a good enough starter phone?”

Specs

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.3GHz quad-core cortex-A53
  • RAM: 1.5GB
  • ROM: 16GB
  • Battery: Li-Ion 4,100 mAh with Quick Charge 2.0
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Camera: 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, 5 megapixel front-facing camera
  • Display: 5.3-inch 720 x 1280 HD IPS LCD with Gorilla Glass 3
  • Weight: 139 grams
  • Dimensions: 148.9 x 74.9 x 7.9 mm
  • OS: Android Marshmallow 6.0.1
  • Fingerprint sensor: No
  • NFC: No
  • Waterproof: No
  • Ports: MicroUSB and 3.5mm headphone jack

If only every phone could last this long

lg x power

To begin on a high note, the X Power’s battery offers the luxurious, long-lasting experience I’ve always dreamed about. I used the device from July 9th to August 9th, 32 days in full and only charged the handset 17 times in that time span.

Considering that I would’ve charged my previous phone, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, every night in the same period of time (often due to necessity), that’s a nearly 55 percent improvement over a market-leading Android.

On average, I got two to three days of use out of the device, and would describe my usage as light to medium. On a typical day, I’ll browse using mobile data for thirty minutes, browse on Wi-Fi for around two hours, message throughout the day, make one or two calls and stream music over data for two to three hours.

lg x power

The phone’s Quick Charge 2.0 technology also fared well, erring only moderately over its estimated 2.3-hour charge time. My charges ranged from two to three hours, most clocking in closer to three.

Unfortunately, more than once, charging heated the handset up to 45 degrees Celsius, far too hot for optimum battery health. In fact, one major downside of the phone is that it runs hot. It rests at about 30 degrees Celsius and, at its highest, spikes to 55 degrees Celsius while in use. In comparison, the $400 Moto G4 Plus, which I also felt had a heat issue, spiked at only 45 degrees and rested at 29.5.

This tendency to overheat is all the more tragic because it’s the surest route to quick battery degradation, which could eliminate the most endearing feature of the phone by far — its long battery life.

Not a big dog when it comes to processing

lg x power

One of the reasons behind the X Power’s impressive battery life is also a major detractor. The phone doesn’t have very much horsepower underneath the hood.

The phone runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core SoC and 1.5GB of RAM. Heavy processing apps like Snapchat and Apple Music occasionally crash and performance is generally plodding.

When it comes to graphically intense games the phone provides a frustratingly slow-loading and glitchy experience. With the viral phenomenon Pokemon Go, for instance, the handset wasn’t able to even attempt augmented reality mode, which is unfortunate because otherwise the battery might have made it ideal for the notoriously energy-draining game.

Having said all that, I managed to use the phone for a month, so it wasn’t intolerable, it just felt exceedingly outdated, especially for someone used to current-generation flagships.

A phone made for selfies

lg x power

Another throwback element of the Power X is the 8 megapixel rear-facing camera. There’s no two ways about it: it’s terrible.

Photos come out looking grainy, dark and amateur unless you take a shot in the best of lighting conditions. Even then, they tend to look washed out. Pictures in low-light are impossible, resulting in darkish blurs. All in all, using the rear-facing camera feels like travelling back in time five years to a much less sophisticated mobile era.

The 5 megapixel front-facing camera seems like a much more reasonable experience in comparison, as that standard of quality is relatively average for modern day selfie cams.

It’s clear, too, that this is where LG has chosen to put its priority in terms of photo features, touting Auto Shot, in which the front-facing camera automatically registers your face and snaps a pic.

At least they didn’t try putting lipstick on a pig

lg x power

The LG X Power is ugly. Not in an interesting way, either — it’s boring ugly. Admittedly I’m a little hyper self-conscious, but the entire time I had it I felt that strangers were judging me for breaking my previous phone and settling for what was clearly a $0 upgrade.

I’ll commend the company, though, for at least not attempting to jazz the phone up with any gimmicks. It’s just a plastic slab — only available in black in Canada — with a textured back and no fingerprint sensor or home button.

One would think that, given its utilitarian looks, the handset would at least have the benefit of a pop-off back, but unfortunately, the phone is sealed. This is worrying, especially because its tendency to overheat means the battery, regardless of size, will lose its edge before long, which would’ve made the ability to swap it out for a fresh one ideal.

lg x power

I will say, however, that the phone is impressively light for holding such a large battery. It’s only 139 grams. Comparatively, the similarly specced Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime is 156 grams, and it only carries a 2,600mAh battery. The more current Moto G Play, however, which is set to come to Canada soon, is 137 grams. It packs a 2,800mAh battery and 5-inch display.

It’s also slim at 7.9mm, and can be held in my small hands without any strain, while giving off the appearance of a plus-sized device due to its 5.3-inch, 720 x 1280 pixel HD display. The screen is crisp, with bright whites and rich colours, but fares extremely poorly in direct sunlight, becoming almost illegible — another major downside.

lg x power

One good thing about the X Power’s build, however, is its sturdiness. Although it’s only coated with Gorilla Glass 3, its plastic bumpers and sealed back have protected it from many a fall from my clumsy hands. As for ports, the phone carries a MicroUSB charge port and 3.5mm headphone jack at its base.

Adding to its list of outmoded elements, the phone isn’t NFC-capable.

Dummy-proof user interface

lg x power

The X Power runs Android Marshmallow 6.0.1, with its own LG-made skin. The skin keeps close to stock Android, with the main differences being omissions.

There’s no Google Now feature, or anything hidden to the far right, and nor is there an app drawer. This makes it feel slightly limited, though many, especially less tech-literate users, might consider that a bonus.

The lack of bloatware also has the advantage of freeing up a decent amount of the 16GB of internal storage. With over 5GB taken up by system data, however, the ROM is sure to run out eventually. In that event, the handset is also capable of taking a microSD card with up to 2TB of storage.

Like screaming into a tin can

lg x power

Now we come to the age old question asked of any telephonic device since the invention of the very first: can you hear the person on the other side, and can they hear you?

Unfortunately, the answer for the LG X Power is barely.

While call quality has certainly become less of a priority for mobile users in recent years, it’s still a regular occurrence for many, myself included. This was an issue with the X Power, as I found myself unable to make out anything that was said over the device unless I was in a silent room.

The phone’s miniscule top front-facing speaker was almost completely ineffective, and it’s more powerful — though still flawed and tinny — main speaker is inexplicably placed on the back of the phone, in the lower right hand corner.

lg x power

This made speakerphone calls difficult, as well as listening to music and podcasts, because setting the phone down would muffle the sound, necessitating a flip on to its front, obscuring the screen and making it vulnerable to scratches.

On top of all that, those I spoke with also often told me they couldn’t hear me either. After a while of getting used to the device, I realized the only way I could make calls was by putting on my headphones and shouting in to the receiver.

So, on a very basic level, the LG X Power fails its test as a telephone, an unfortunate detriment when so many of its benefits would’ve made it otherwise appealing to the senior demographic, who need loud and clear call quality.

Is it good enough to be a starter phone?

lg x power

Now we return to the question posed at the beginning of this review: is the LG X Power good enough to be someone’s starter phone? My answer would have to be no. I wish for the sake of its glorious battery, that I could recommend it, but it’s many flaws disallow me from doing so in good conscience. There are simply better options in the same range. A Samsung offering like the Galaxy Grand Prime (also $250) will offer a much better display and sound quality, for instance. For about $100 more, a Sony Xperia XA will get you a 13 megapixel camera and octa-core processor.

There may be an extremely niche use case for it, though. Perhaps, this could be a dream phone for a person who can’t remember to charge their phone and has very small hands, as long as they don’t make calls, play processing-intensive mobile games or take any photos but selfies.

Other than that, potential buyers are likely to find the LG X Power wanting.

Pros

  • Fantastic battery life
  • Light & slim
  • Relatively fast charging

Cons

  • Runs hot
  • Lacklustre processing power
  • Poor quality rear-facing camera
  • Very poor sound quality

Comments

  • Hopefully this is just a testing ground for how to maintain a battery this size while improving processes and software optimization. It’s unfortunate that this was actually released though. Should have been kept in house and use in conjunction with their improving hardware until both were at a satisfactory level.

  • Eric King

    My brother picked up one of these and returned it a few days later. Several apps would crash after a few seconds or just not open, the power button was often unresponsive, and glitches abounded to the point where the phone had to be factory reset about three times. Yikes.

    • Rose

      Yep, definitely not ideal. Experienced the power button issue once or twice, but sounds like my handset was a little less glitch-filled– though still a poor overall experience. It’s too bad, because I was in love with the battery life.

  • bachlee

    the build quality (from the pics) and the specs are really BAD. cant imagine LG can release such a crappy phone and mark it at $250. looks like a $99 phone at London Drugs and Visions.

  • piaz

    Thanks for the review, Rose. Just looked at one yesterday, at Telus. Was thinking of picking one up for my wife as a replacement for her aging Galaxy S4. But you’ve convinced me to keep looking. Too bad…the battery would have been great and the off-contract price of $240 is attractive. Hopefully the Moto G4 Play is released soon and manages to do a better job with a comparable price.

  • nailedvision

    Was thinking of picking this up at Wind for my son for his twelfth birthday, but now not too sure. Anyone out there able to suggest a better phone carried by Wind that isn’t going to break the bank?

    • Lirodon

      The Nexus 5X , LG G4, and Galaxy S5 Neo are the same price on Wind at the moment with a “25/mo WINDtab Boost” (I’m unfamiliar with Wind’s plans tbh)

    • Sherif Tarek

      honestly i have this phone (from wind) and i don’t regret it… i dont feel like suffering from all what’s written here…except maybe for the selfie camera…but it still is ok
      i dont see where all of that is coming from
      working well so far to me

    • Cleaner

      My husband and I recently replaced both of our iPhones with this phone! We bought them outright from Telus for $240 each! We love them! I haven’t found anything I can’t do! Works great and is very reliable! Compared to my iPhones, this phone is huge! My iPhone, if left unplugged overnight, would be next to dead by morning. My LG XPower phone was not plugged in for days to see how the battery held up. After 3 1/2 days it was down to 73%! I love this!

    • Ron Charleville

      My wife and I recently bought two of these at Cricket for $30 each (discounted from $150 for porting cell numbers from Verizon and Straight Talk) and we are very happy with them! LG X Power.

  • Omar

    LG really needs to streamline their handset offerings… they release half a dozen phones a year and continue losing money. Releasing phones with one excellent spec and the rest low-range just doesn’t make sense to me.

  • gommer strike

    In other words this phone is a piece of junk.

    This does the Android ecosystem no favors at all. I understand bringing out a low-cost handset but please, make something that’s at least decent. This phone is on the level of the bottom-of-the-barrel Chinese unbranded phones.

  • blzd

    I wanted to say I appreciate when you compare heat numbers of the handset, but it’s worth mentioning which temperature you’re referencing. I’m assuming you’re referencing battery temperature based on the numbers you’re seeing and that being the most commonly displayed temperature with most Android apps.

  • Carl LeBlanc

    I’ve had mine for about a week now, but I haven’t experienced any crashed apps so far. I’ve only made a couple of calls but the sound quality seemed ok. No button issues as some others have stated. My brother even said it sounded better than my old Nexus 5. Did Rose possibly get a pre-production model? Did I just get lucky?

    • Anthony Beer

      I agree my friend and I have it through virgin and no issues at all even running pokemon go “not a battery drain”????

    • Robbie

      How do you like it compared to your Nexus 5? That’s my current phone, but I’m thinking of trying of upgrading to the LG X Power. Reviews seem to be mixed.

    • View From The Top

      This is an entry-level device, Nexus 5 was a premium smartphone 2-yrs ago and is still significantly better than this one. To upgrade from the Nexus 5 you should either wait a few more weeks for Google’s Sailfish and Marlin or if you want LG, maybe the upcoming V20.

      None of them will be zero dollars, but should be a million times better than this. If price is really an overriding factor, try and see if you can get the brand-new Moto G Play if it’s available in Canada. It should cost under US$150 factory-unlocked.

    • fuelvolts

      I’m on Cricket Wireless and have a Nexus 5. I’m waiting for the new Pixel (Nexus) phones, but am in need of a temporary phone until October (or later). I picket the LG X Power up from Cricket’s website as it’s only $50 (!!!!) after $50 MIR from LG. For $50, if this thing only does GPS and music, it’ll be worth it just to run with. I’m not expecting much from this phone at all, especially from all the reviews, but for $50, it’s worth a shot, for sure.

    • Ron Charleville

      My wife and I love ours. Just purchased at Cricket for $30 each for porting our old cell contracts over, otherwise would have been $150. Sale just started two days ago, and should last only a couple of weeks. Haven’t had the button issues or noticed unusual warmth even when charging, but then we aren’t using cpu-intensive applications/games. Volume and clarity have been fine during voice calls, haven’t used the cameras much yet.

  • Brandon James Starcevic

    Awe that’s sad to hear.

  • OMFCody

    Would love to see this battery in the V20

  • The interface seems to be a derivative of Huawei’s EMUI

  • Alan Tanaka

    If you worry about people judging you for your phone choices you got issues.

  • Paul Siller

    My experience. No issues with heating. User interface is a bit “dumbed – down” for my liking but that is just someone’s idea of customization. Excellent battery life for navigating/GPS.

    The smaller ram seems to make occasionally make things a bit slow to open unless i “clear” the open applications ( seems I had to do this with Android 3), and for some reason Artificial reality while playing Pokemon go doesn’t work well ( it seems to be the accelerometer)

    So..
    I have had no heating issues with my phone ( your experience may vary)
    reasonable cost for a phone with great battery life ( I prefer to buy my phone outright)
    so not so great for games using AR
    great for heavy use of GPS and high accuracy location services

    did i mention… great battery life?

  • EatSh!t

    I bought this phone, my previous phone was down to lasting me about four hours on a full charge. I got a great deal on it, $100 bucks, with a $50 gift card rebate. I had seen a review online about two or three days before it was officially released on Cricket so I went over the day it came out and picked one up mainly looking for something that would allow me to cut the ties to battery charger all day, was literally going from charger to portable battery pack to charger. For the record, I like the way it looks, I am a man, and I am less concerned with my friends opinion of my phone than the vapid reviewer. It looks very black, functional, square, thin, and flat. Feels like something Sony would have made back in their heyday. Its very light. If you are snob, then it’s not an iPhone or Samsung so it’s obviously not for you. I have big hands and its just on the verge of being too big for me to use with one hand, anyone with small hands will end up using two hands. The only thing I really agree with here is the camera sucks. Sucks. At the same time I remember just like six years ago how bad tech was, and the fact that I have a decent camera with me at all times now is pretty awesome, but I would have paid fifty more for a decent camera. I use my phone heavily for all of the normal social media, a couple of games, and pretty much non stop youtube all day playing music or the howard stern show through headphones. Performance is more than adequate. Screen is nice and sharp to my eye, even in direct sunlight, and with the great battery, I can keep it on full brightness all day. I also own an S6 and have trouble telling the difference performance wise. I will admit the S6 feels nicer in my hand, although its hard to quantify, just feels sturdy compared the LG. I pay $70 bucks flat for an unlimited plan and use this for all of my daily entertainment needs. Good, cheap, and for the record, I only charge for six hours a night, and it lasts me for 18 hours of steady use, plus it fast charges. Hard to find a fault besides the camera. Recommended at the price I paid ($50), but at $250 it’s not a great deal.

  • Patrick Lloyd

    I have the phone, it is a little choppy but compared to my previous phone, a Samsung Galaxy Core LTE, it is a straight upgrade in nearly every way with the only exception being call quality. But hey, you can only expect so much from mid-range phones.

    • Cellphone Guy

      call quality is important isn’t is a phone first and foremost ?

  • Pingback: LG X Power2 unveiled with 4,500mAh battery and 5.5-inch display | Daily Update()