Why I settled on LG’s Stylo 2 Plus as my Galaxy Note 7 replacement

As a Galaxy Note user who finds a stylus invaluable, I’ve been short of alternatives to Samsung’s productivity-oriented phablet since the Note 7 was recalled. Going back to an earlier generation of Galaxy Note wasn’t appealing because the Note 5 lacks expandable storage and even a used Note 4 retails at around $450 CAD on eBay.

Thankfully, a contributor to MobileSyrup‘s forums put me on to LG’s Stylo 2 Plus, which seems to have been overlooked in press coverage as an option for Note 7 owners looking to replace their defunct device with something similar. That’s a surprising oversight because the Stylo 2 Plus is a lot like the Note 7, albeit at a price that suggests its specs don’t match up to those of Samsung’s failed flagship.

Sure enough, the Stylo 2 Plus is not a premium phone. Yet, no-one should expect it to be. At around $300 in Canada, it costs a third of the price of the Note 7 if bought outright. Since it was only released this summer and still has some decent specs, however, it’s not to be ignored. In the month that I’ve been using a Stylo 2 Plus after returning my Note 7, it has done enough to satisfy my note-taking habitat and be an impressive mid-range phablet to boot.

It has a stylus

lgstylo2plus-5

This feature isn’t as elegantly implemented as Samsung’s S-Pen because the stylus itself feels more fragile and LG’s palm rejection technology isn’t perfect. Still, the stylus sits in a slot in the top of the phone so it is unlikely to fall out.

Also, LG’s QuickMemo+ software works well enough and its Pen Pop feature is a good match for the screen overlay the S-Pen produced on the Note 7. The Stylo 2 Plus, like the Note 7, also offers Screen-Off Memo note-taking, which allows you to write notes on a black screen without unlocking the phone.

It has a removable battery

The Stylo 2 Plus isn’t waterproof but I’ve dropped a phone in water before so I’m extra careful. Having a removable battery means its plastic back feels cheap but it’s reassuring to know that my phone won’t run out of juice at a crucial time if I have a spare battery to hand.

Although LG doesn’t advertise fast charging, the included battery does collect a charge surprisingly quickly when using a fast charging mains adapter. Moreover, the battery’s part number matches those sold for LG’s V10 handset so spares are readily available on eBay.

The Stylo 2 Plus doesn’t come with wireless charging but I was told by LG Customer Support in an online chat that this feature can be added using a wireless charging sticker. I ordered one designed for the V10 on Amazon but it hadn’t arrived in time for this review. I’ll add an update here when I’ve tested it.

The phone does, however only come equipped with 16GB of internal storage, which is below the latest premium smartphone standards and way below the Note 7’s 64GB. Still, it does have a microSD card slot and LG’s specs say this can accept cards with a capacity of up to 2TB, just like the Note 7.

The screen is big, but…

lgstylo2plus-4

At 5.7-inches, the display on the Stylo 2 Plus is the same size as the Note 7’s. Less impressive on paper is its full HD resolution, which is a step down from the 1440 x 2560 pixel display of the Note 7. It’s also IPS LCD rather than Super AMOLED and has Gorilla Glass 3 rather than Gorilla Glass 5 scratch resistance.

My view on screen resolution is that the pixel counts on the newest premium phones aren’t worth the drain on the battery. It’s debatable whether you notice a difference even on a phablet because the tiny details that can be rendered at higher resolutions are too small to see on a 6-inch screen. Even though the Stylo 2 Plus only has a full HD resolution, the graphics in Freeblade and Asphalt 8 looked bright and sharp so 1080p is good enough for me.

None of the major carriers in British Columbia offer the LG Stylo 2 Plus so I bought it unlocked on Amazon.ca. All I had to do was insert my Telus SIM card and enter the correct APN settings to get it working on Telus voice and data networks, including 4G LTE.

It does multitasking

lgstylo2plus-1

LG’s proprietary QSLIDE feature, which allows you to run windowed apps on top of full-screen apps, is poorly implemented. The QSLIDE apps that LG has included can be accessed easily from the customizable navigation buttons along the bottom of the screen but they only include stock apps such as E-mail, Calendar, Calculator and Messaging.

What’s more, you can’t add apps to the QSLIDE feature to make them run in windowed mode. The feature doesn’t appear to have caught on with developers, either, so third-party QSLIDE apps are practically non-existent in the app store. What does work well is Dual Window mode, which allows you to run two apps on screen side-by-side in portrait or landscape orientation.

LG’s Quick Cover is a wraparound case like Samsung’s S-View except that it shows notifications such as the time, date and battery level in a narrow window that runs from the top to the bottom.

As with many things LG, the implementation could be more polished — the notifications don’t stay on screen long enough to read and you can only reactivate them by opening the case, which defeats the point. Having said that, this case does add class to the Stylo 2’s uninspired appearance and lets you answer calls and control music playback when it’s closed.

Buttons are on the back

lgstylo2plus-2

Okay, this is not so great. Having the power and volume rocker on the back of the phone takes some getting used to because you have to feel for where they are. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve turned off the screen when trying to adjust the volume.

It’s relatively cheap

At only $305 CAD plus tax on Amazon, the Stylo 2 Plus cost me less than I received with my Note 7 refund and left no outstanding device balance to pay off. Admittedly, what I’ve got for this is an inferior front camera that has a slow response time and poor low light performance; an average processor in the octa-core 1.4 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 and only 2GB of RAM (the last two of these might explain why the Stylo 2 Plus hangs at times and seems to be slow at opening some apps).

These are flaws I can live with, though.

Ultimately, the LG Stylo 2 Plus is a compromise I wouldn’t accept if the Galaxy Note 7 was still in circulation. Having said that, it has proven to be good enough for everyday use and even mobile gaming that places high demands on graphics performance. In fact, considering the price tag, it’s terrific value. Instead of getting a $100 bill credit by switching over to a Galaxy S7 Edge that doesn’t have a stylus, I can still write on my screen and I’ve got $700 CAD left to spend on something else.

Comments

  • Techguru86

    Yet it was never explained how is the software ? Does the Stylo have too much bloatware, will it ever see future updates ?

    • At least it’s running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and I think there’s a 50/50 chance that it gets Nougat (but not until 2017)

    • Mo Dabbas

      I think there is almost a 0 chance it getting any updates.

    • ShadowFalls

      Many thought similar of its predecessor, but it got Marshmallow.

    • David Berry

      Cheap & better than tge 1st 2or3 stylus phones lg have tried. At leatst its 1080 p which for an artist means a lot. Its the one true way that you can use the 2k resolution & actually have it nake a huge difference. Those tiny pixels add up to way more detail with tge right app like infinite.clover. layer paint hd or mangadraw.or arrtrage sketchbook pro or the others that have good setups for digi artists. If only lg would bump this up a little & get some wacom or penabled pressure sensitivity & decent palm rejection. At least its thinner than the 1st and not a smaller dumb rubber pointer stylus. Its a bit of a step 4ward over the other models. Id almost say that a galaxy tab a10 with s pen & a gear s3 frontier would be my choice to replace a note 7. That or the trusty note 5 or even 3or 4. No doubt the note 3 would run circles around this even with the 64bit v 32 of the old 800 series. Even a used note 10 2014 with a gear s3 if you carry a bag. You get the big screen the 805 &3gig ram with 2k uhd big screen. Youd still get a bit of change from your 700 but would have a much more compotent set up with ip 68 on the gear & that great 2k screen. Top battery life too. Its odd that a note 10 2014 costs less than a note 3or some note2s even on ebay. Its just a note 4 in a 10inch display with huge battery. If you carry the tab in your bag with you its safe and you take calls through gear connection.then youve got almost all the features of note 7 in a big litte package .awesome for students or artists.

    • XY

      Tldr

    • dirtyKIMCHI

      This was an editorial, not a review.

      Though MS doesn’t normally review many mid-range devices that have been on the market for months, it could be a precursor to an actual review.

      That being said, Videotron & WIND sell this device (guess Mike is in an area that doesn’t have WIND coverage in BC).

    • Mike Simpson

      You are right, I am just outside the Wind coverage area in BC. Too bad that, considering they have much better BYOD plans than Telus.

    • Abo M

      I dont get it you checked Wind, but not Fido… is Fido not more of a major carrier than Wind? Fido Carries the LG Stylo 2 Plus in Ontario, im sure they carry it B.C aswell.

    • Mike Simpson

      I’ll concede that they are carrying it in BC now. Either it didn’t show up when I was looking a few weeks back or I missed it. Thanks for pointing that out.

    • gmerrick

      The device I got from eastlink was very light on bloatware. The only thing was Facebook and evernote preinstalled by LG.

  • Matt

    Your welcome for the tip I gave you about the LG Stylo 2 plus. It is an option instead of the NOTE 7

    • Mike Simpson

      Thank you very much, Matt, and my apologies for not citing you directly in the article.

  • George

    What’s wrong with Note 7?
    I got 3 and I love them.

    • Rev0lver

      Most people care more about not being on fire than you obviously.

    • George

      Fire? What Fire?

    • Rev0lver

      You have 3 Note 7s (for some reason). A fire’s gonna happen at some point.

    • philnolan3d

      Same as any other phone

    • Rev0lver

      Every other phone had multiple recalls? News to me.

    • T Carter

      All Note 7s in Australia (including the replacement devices) received an update that prevents them being charged more than 60%.
      60% battery on the Note 7 makes it risky unusable for me.

      I’m not sure about other countries.

  • philnolan3d

    A “Note user who finds the stylus invaluable” doesn’t make any sense. I’m a Note user but if I wanted a stylus I could get any phone with a plastic stick. I got a Note because I wanted a digitizer pen.

    • Travis Pinky Mcdowell

      id love to know how you can expand the on device storage.

    • philnolan3d

      You cant.

    • Jon Shopping

      I would also care to have you explain how the Note 5 has expandable storage? External solutions are really not, well, solutions to that problem.

    • philnolan3d

      Flash drive

    • Aztecgod106

      No it doesn’t…It doesn’t have Micro SD slot. Nor does it come with 256 GB of Storage.

    • monsterduc1000

      WOW! I can’t believe “tech” people on this site don’t know that you can get Mobile Wireless Drives that aren’t all that expensive, fit easily in your pocket… or some companies even have cases built to add it to your phone! :O

      In other words, every phone can use these for expandable storage… They use either wifi or bluetooth to link up.

      Look it up people. Knowledge is POWER!

  • Mo Dabbas

    I think people like the note for more than the big screen and stylus. It’s the entire package of the phone. Not only the hardware, but the software that make use of that hardware.
    This comparison is really off. It’s almost like comparing an iPhone with one of those iPhone knockoffs just because they both have a 4.7″ screen and a round home button.

  • JD

    Ugh why would anyone settle on this from a Note 7? The least you could do is settle to a Note 5 or an S7e. Or hell a Note 4 is better than this

  • L Morrison

    $249.99 prepaid at MTS

  • bmax

    So funny .this phone is garbage .lol you cant put this phone in the sme arena as a note

  • adam

    S7 and S7 Edge with a powered Adonit Snap Bluetooth pen is still a better interm option then the LG Stylo

    • Aztecgod106

      I was thinking the same…and it’s around 50 bucks for the Dash 2.

    • adam

      That Grea!! Why regress at all? Move forward with a great unit as Adonit… Some features are not there however the Pen Issue works great plus no weird apps required as in the Stylo

  • Robert Heng Woo Lim

    Well done Mike,

    GOOD for you,not forgetting your great savings there.

    Mike,try this app from PLAYSTORE,……it’s called SWAPP,……it allows you to open any app from your apps drawer,ON TOP OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING !!!

  • gmerrick

    I’ve owened a Stylo 2 Plus for over a month now. Biggest disadvantage is 16GB of ram. LG has decided to disable adoptable storage preventing using sd cards as a badly needed extension of the slim pickings of the onboard memory. The other nitpick is that it does have an on board FM radio tuner which LG has also decided to disable; otherwise it would be possible to listen to local FM OTA station.

    • Mike Simpson

      Do I understand you correctly that you can’t use an SD card with yours? I have a 128GB card in mine and it works without a problem.

    • gmerrick

      The micro sd card works, to hold photos, music, ebooks etc. But you cannot store applications on it as that feature no longer exists in Android 6 and LG has disabled adoptable storage

  • adam

    I have a 200GB in my S7 Edge plus an Adonit powered Bluetooth Stylus and not an issue… Less the extra.features that ONLY a Note has

  • Sohail

    On November 19, I bought an LG Stylo 2 Plus on Kijiji, brand new for $250, not as a replacement for a Note 7, but for my broken Nexus 6, knowing this phone is not top of the line and with standard expectations, it does exceed the value for price paid, and perfomes well so far for regular user.

    Thanks Mike, well timed article for me :), please do share any tips and updates, I am interested.