The LG G3 Stylus may do well in developing markets, if the price is right

A flagship phone with a fancy stylus and top-notch specs? Nah, you’re thinking of the other major Korean smartphone maker. LG’s taking a different approach with its way-too-aptly-named G3 Stylus, which is more "stylus" than "G3." While the screen is the same size at 5.5-inches and the camera is 13MP, that’s essentially where the commonalities end between this budget-minded phone and its high-end brother. Indeed, the stylus-packing Stylus smartphone is designed to target users in developing markets who want a handset in one hand and a stick in the other, but can’t spend a boatload of cash for the privilege. The recently announced device is now being exhibited at IFA in Berlin, so enjoy a gallery of photos and a few more thoughts.

If you aren’t looking closely enough, you might mistake the G3 Stylus for the G3. That’s a positive note for the new phone: Clearly, if you’re going to name a device in the same vein as your number-one flagship, it’d better at least look the part. That said, it’s noticeably thicker (10.2mm vs 8.9mm) and heavier (163g vs 149g), comes with an obvious notch in the top left corner for the built-in stylus, lacks the G3’s laser focus and runs on a 1.3GHz quad-core processor (versus a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 on the G3). It also lacks LTE, so this device is obviously geared toward developing markets.

The display is dramatically worse, with the Stylus boasting a 5.5-inch qHD panel. And while I’m not a dedicated disciple of Quad HD resolution — it’s great, but 1080p still takes care of my needs — a 960×540 display is absolutely dreadful on a 5.5-inch screen, and it’s even worse when I hold the two devices side-by-side.

The inspiration for the phone’s name is the passive stylus, which is a skinny stick around two inches in length. It’s hard to get much bigger without taking up too much space in the built-in holster, but smaller styli are definitely more difficult to use comfortably and naturally. Since it’s a passive stylus, the setup doesn’t come with pressure sensitivity so you won’t be able to vary the heaviness of whatever you’re drawing. But it does the trick in a pinch.

Admittedly, a large phone with lower specs and a stylus can be a great fit for many people on a strict budget, so I don’t want to simply look at the Stylus through G3-colored glasses. After all, this is designed for emerging markets. And as long as it’s competitively priced, the inclusion of a stylus could easily be a powerful differentiator amongst its competition. LG still hasn’t announced how much the phone will cost, but we know it’s going to Brazil this month, followed by Africa, Middle East and some countries in Asia.

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