I switched from the $1,000 Galaxy Note 9 to the $250 LG Stylo 4 and now I question everything (2023)

Switching from a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 to an LG Stylo 4 is analogous to going from a Ferrari 812 Superfast to a Kia Optima. They’re both 2018 smartphones with styluses built in, and they both run the same version of Android (Oreo 8.1). But other than that, they couldn’t be more different.

Where the Note 9 has sex appeal and a high price tag, the Stylo 4 is basic and affordable—even cheap. The Stylo 4 has a quarter of the Note 9’s internal storage (32GB versus 128GB), is made of plastic instead of glass, and is powered by a far slower processor. And it doesn’t have wireless charging or a dual camera or a WQHD+ Infinity display.

I switched from the $1,000 Galaxy Note 9 to the $250 LG Stylo 4 and now I question everything (1) Michael Simon/IDG

But much like the difference between a Kia and a Ferrari, the Stylo 4 offers something the Galaxy Note 9 doesn’t: value. And as I used the $250 handset (the cheapest Android phone I’ve used in some time) as my primary device for a fortnight, I began to see just how thin the lines between premium, budget, and mid-range phones really are. I didn’t scale back my use (in fact I set up the Stylo 4 from my Note backup), and while I’ll admit the Note 9 ran circles around the Stylo 4 in nearly every speed test, when you break it down, the two phones really aren’t all that different.

So, do we really need to spend $900 or $1,000 to get the best Android phone? Or to put it a other way: Is the Galaxy Note 9 really 400 percent better than the Stylo 4?

Spoiled by speed

Ever since the first Android phone arrived, we’ve been conditioned to expect a significant speed boost every 12 months. However, while the progression is clear at the high end of the market, with the Snapdragon 821, 835, 845, etc., it’s a bit more muddled for low-end and mid-range phones.

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I switched from the $1,000 Galaxy Note 9 to the $250 LG Stylo 4 and now I question everything (2) Michael Simon/IDG

The Stylo is powered by a Snapdragon 450 processor from 2017, and its age certainly shows. Even when comparing it to the newer Snapdragon 636, which runs at the same 1.8GHz clock speed, the Snapdragon 450 is decidedly outdated, with a slow GPU and modem, and a less powerful image signal processor. So it’s obviously slower than the Snapdragon 845 inside the Note 9, and significantly so. The Snapdragon 636 would be slower too, but not quite as noticeably.

The biggest issue is with graphics performance. Normal Android Oreo animations that would normally take less than a half-second on the Note 9 often hang for a second or more on the Stylo 4. It’s something I was particularly attuned to since I had literally switched to the Stylo 4 from the Note 9. Nonetheless, after a week, it wasn’t quite as bothersome.

Apps that were initially slow to load became quicker after their initial launches, and even with just 2GB of RAM, switching became noticeably less syrupy after a day or two. I also began to anticipate when the system would hang, so my fingers didn’t jump to a new task and slow things down even more.

Auto-rotate was most affected by the Stylo 4’s low-end specs—so much so that I turned on orientation lock. But overall, the graphics were more of a nuisance than a hindrance. The slowness is compounded by LG’s UX skin, which adds unnecessary clutter and interface oddities throughout. I can’t help but wonder how much faster the Stylo 4 would feel if it ran Android One like the G7 One.That said, I have a new appreciation for the Note 9’s Adreno 630 GPU, which makes things buttery smooth despite the Samsung Experience UI.

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Everyday speed performance is also noticeable slower than it is on the Note 9, but again, I adjusted my expectations after just a few days. I’ve been using Snapdragon 845 phones for the better part of 2018, so I figured the Stylo 4 would be slow to the point of unusable. But it wasn’t. I missed the speed of the Note 9 for sure, but it didn’t feel like a $750 difference. Besides, most people buying a Stylo 4 will be coming from a similar class of phone, and the Stylo’s Snapdragon 450 is certainly faster than the Snapdragon 429 or 210 they’re likely switching from. The Stylo 4 might be slow, but it’s by no means unusable.

I switched from the $1,000 Galaxy Note 9 to the $250 LG Stylo 4 and now I question everything (3) Michael Simon/IDG

I was most impressed with the Stylo 4’s battery life. With a 3,300mAh capacity, I expected it to be so-so, especially coming from the Note 9’s impressive 4,000mAh battery, but I was pleasantly surprised. Rarely did I have to plug in the Stylo 4 before the end of a day, and even then, I generally had more than 10 percent remaining. Benchmarks weren’t so kind, showing around 7 hours, but this a case where real-world use is vastly superior.

Unapologetically plastic vs. breakable glass

As you’d expect, the Stylo 4 is made of plastic as opposed to the Note 9’s all-glass design, and while it definitely feels less substantial than Samsung’s thousand-dollar flagship, it has a nice build that feels far from cheap. The curved screen and plastic back rests more comfortably in my hand and pocket than the Note 9, and I wasn’t nearly as concerned about dropping it without a case.. At 160 x 77.7 x 8.1 mm, it’s a touch smaller than the Note 9’s 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8 mm frame, and the Stylo’s 6.2-inch screen is smaller than the Note 9’s 6.4-inch display as well.

I switched from the $1,000 Galaxy Note 9 to the $250 LG Stylo 4 and now I question everything (4) Michael Simon/IDG

The Stylo has a lower Full HD resolution screen compared to the Note 9’s WQHD display, but that’s still impressive for a budget phone. It’s as big as the Galaxy S9+, and while it’s not OLED and has only a 390ppi density, the display is vivid and plenty visible in direct sunlight with the brightness slider pinned to the right. You don’t get the display color options that you do on LG’s premium phones such as the G7, but there’s no denying that LG makes some of the best LCDs this side of the iPhone XR. Nothing about the display feels cheap or substandard.

Because the front of the Stylo 4 is mostly screen, the fingerprint sensor is on the rear. It’s fast and responsive, but it’s a bit on the small side and placed a little high for my tastes. I have the same problem with the Note 9, however, so maybe it’s my finger’s fault. And like the Note 9, the Stylo 4 still has a headphone jack.

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A surprisingly capable stylus

As its name suggests, the LG Stylo 4 has a stylus built into its frame just like the Note 9. A thin piece of metal with a plastic tip, it doesn’t have any of the S Pen’s character, but it works surprisingly similarly. You won’t get the remote-control Bluetooth features that Samsung added to the Note 9, but many of the classic functions are there: screen-off memos, screen capture, GIF capture, etc.

I switched from the $1,000 Galaxy Note 9 to the $250 LG Stylo 4 and now I question everything (5) Michael Simon/IDG

The Stylo 4 even has a similar animated menu when you pull out the stylus, though there’s no eject button like there is on the S Pen. To take the pen out, you need to hook your fingernail under the black tab and pull. Putting it back is an even bigger pain, as there’s only one way it properly fits, so I did a fair amount of spinning before I found the right angle. If they’re not paying attention, I could see someone jamming it into the slot and getting it stuck.

But overall, the stylus on the Stylo 4 works well. The Note 9 Penup artist community will scoff at the lack of precision control and pressure sensitivity, but as a note-taking and navigation tool, the Stylo’s stylus was perfectly fine, even fun to use.

A respectable shooter

You don’t need to see a bunch of sample images to know that the Stylo 4’s camera can’t hold a candle to the Note 9’s dual-aperture lens. While the megapixels are actually higher on the Stylo than on the Note 9’s main lens (13MP versus 12MP), there’s no comparing the two phones’ ability to take pictures.

I switched from the $1,000 Galaxy Note 9 to the $250 LG Stylo 4 and now I question everything (6) Michael Simon/IDG

That being said, the Stylo 4’s shooting abilities are markedly better than I thought a $250 camera’s would be. At a nighttime outdoor concert a good distance from the stage, I was able to capture photos that were good enough for sharing with friends and posting to Twitter. In side-by-side shots you can see the huge gap in image quality, but as an everyday shooter, the Stylo 4 isn’t half-bad.

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I switched from the $1,000 Galaxy Note 9 to the $250 LG Stylo 4 and now I question everything (7) Michael Simon/IDG

While the camera app isn’t as good as the one on LG’s premium phones, you do get some fun features. There’s portrait mode for the front camera, along with a fun hands-free gesture that lets you snap a pic by clenching and unclenching your fist. You also get Match Shot, which lets you take a photo with the front and rear camera simultaneously, and Grid Shot, which lets you assemble four photos into a collage. There’s also a dedicated food mode and Q Lens (LG’s versions of Google Lens), all of which make it feel like more than a budget camera.

Should I really consider buying an LG Stylo?

There are basically two types of Android users: Those who argue over specs and want the best phone year after year, and those who just want a phone that looks good, works well, and takes good pictures. People in the latter group often get lured into buying more phone than they need through carrier deals and seductive advertising, but more OEMs should be making and marketing phones like the Stylo 4.

I switched from the $1,000 Galaxy Note 9 to the $250 LG Stylo 4 and now I question everything (8) Michael Simon/IDG

It’s not nearly as fast nor as powerful as the thousand-dollar Note 9, but for a phone that Prime members can buy through Amazon for around $200, it certainly wasn’t $800 worse. Now, I know I’m probably not going to sway many people who are willing to spend $1,000 on a handset to buy an LG Stylo 4 over the Galaxy Note 9. And, quite frankly, I’m not trying to. The Note 9 is one of the fanciest Android phones you can buy and the LG Stylo 4 is one of the least, and that’s all some people will see.

However, if you’re tired of spending insane amounts of money on your phone and really want a phone with a stylus, your $250 will be well spent on the Stylo 4. And with all that extra money in your pocket, you can start saving for that new Ferrari.


Is LG Stylo 4 a good phone? ›

The LG Stylo 4 is an affordable, well-rounded phone and an excellent option if you want a device with a built-in stylus for productivity.

How old is a LG Stylo 4? ›

LG Stylo 4 mobile was launched in June 2018. The phone comes with a 6.20-inch touchscreen display offering a resolution of 1080x2160 pixels and an aspect ratio of 18:9. LG Stylo 4 is powered by a 1.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor.

Is the LG Stylo 4 a 3g or 4G phone? ›

This phone is designed to work on select GSM and CDMA networks and is 4G LTE capable.

How many years should an Android phone last? ›

Samsung – three to six years. Huawei – two to four years. Xiaomi – two to four years. Oppo – two to three years.

How many years does an LG phone last? ›

LG, on the other hand, says that they support their phones with updates as long as they “live”. The length of life for a phone, according to LG, is 1.5 to 2 years depending on the specific model's popularity.

How many years does Android battery last? ›

Typically, a modern phone battery's (lithium-ion) lifespan is 2 – 3 years, which is about 300 – 500 charge cycles as rated by manufacturers. After that, the battery capacity will drop by roughly 20%.

Is the Stylo 4 4G or 5G? ›

Yes, the LG Stylo 4 is a 4G handset that is rated 4G LTE CAT6 (301 Mbps).

Does LG Stylo 4 have SIM card? ›

The SIM & microSD tray is located on the lower left side of the device. To insert a SIM or microSD card, insert a SIM tool into the small hole to eject the SIM & microSD tray.

How much memory does the LG Stylo 4 have? ›

This device is available with 32GB of internal memory and the option to add a MicroSD card (sold separately) up to 2T.

Does the LG Stylo 4 have a memory card slot? ›

This revamp of the Stylo series introduces a premium metal design and a taller, sharper display. Also new are a USB-C port and more internal storage. Other features of this affordable, large-screen Android phone are similar, including a stylus, fingerprint reader, 13-megapixel camera, memory card slot, and FM radio.

How do I know if my phone is 3G 4G or 5G? ›

On Android smartphones, go to settings > Network settings > mobile network. It should give you a dropdown menu of mobile standards such as 2G, 3G or LTE (4G).

How do I know if my phone is 4G or 5G? ›

Open the Settings application on your phone, Tap on the Network and Internet, Then it will display Mobile Network and tap it to display a list of network technology under the “Preferred Network Type” option. → If it supports 5G, it will list as 2G/3G/4G/5G.

Is this phone a 3G 4G or 5G phone? ›

On the top of your phone screen you should be able to see if it says 3G 4G or 5G. If you don't see it there go into settings and search under the cellular tab, click on “Data options” and there will tell you what you use for voice & data.

Why is my LG phone so slow? ›

A slow Android phone may require a system update to get it back up to speed, although older phones may not be able to run the latest software properly. If deleting data and clearing your cache don't do the trick, your Android may have a battery or other hardware issue that requires professional assistance.

Can a cell phone last 10 years? ›

Yes, It's Possible. - The New York Times. Personal Tech|A Smartphone That Lasts a Decade? Yes, It's Possible.

How often should an android phone be turned off? ›

Experts recommend shutting down your phone at least once a week. After shutting it down, let it rest for a minute or two before starting it back up again. Not only will this help enhance your phone's performance, it is also incredibly beneficial for your battery.

When should I replace my cell phone? ›

Nonetheless, replacing your device every two years is still a good idea. Even if the phone functions well, the hardware and operating system are antiquated by the time the phone is two years old.

Will my LG phone still work in 2023? ›

A. Yes, your current LG phone will continue to work with your service provider.

Will LG phones still work in 2022? ›

The company officially stopped making phones in April, 2021. Despite that though, there are still many good phones the company released in 2020 and in 2021, that will continue to be supported for their remaining lifetime. This way, if you want to get an LG phone, you can still do that.

What phones will not work in 2022? ›

A lot of older cellphones, including the IPhone 5, IPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S4, as well as many of the flip phones, will become obsolete in 2022 as mobile providers make the switch to 5G networks.

Should you charge your phone every night? ›

Charging your phone overnight occasionally probably won't make a noticeable difference in the battery life for years to come, but if you do it every night consistently, you will probably notice your battery performance degrading over time.

What kills Android battery life? ›

Avoid situations where your phone can overheat, especially when your battery is fully charged. Your battery drains much faster when it's hot, even when not in use. This kind of drain can damage your battery. You don't need to teach your phone the battery's capacity by going from full charge to zero, or zero to full.

Is it okay to use phone while charging? ›

Yes, you can use your smartphone while charging. There is no danger in using your phone while it's charging. When you use your phone while charging, the battery is charging at a slower rate than normal to allow enough power for the ongoing usage.

Is LG Stylo 4 a dual SIM phone? ›

It has a dual tray that holds the SIM for your carrier (mine is Sprint) and an optional micro SD memory card.

How do I change the SIM card in my LG Stylo 4? ›

Turn the phone off, then remove the back cover and the battery (as demonstrated in the previous instructions). Locate the slot for the SIM card (the lower of the two slots above the upper-right corner of the battery compartment) and gently slide the SIM card out to remove it.

Is the LG Stylo worth it? ›

The Stylo 6 has a few good things going for it: an affordable price, built-in stylus, big screen, and great battery life. But factoring in its shortcomings, namely an underpowered processor, it's not a device I can easily recommend. Even around its $270 price, there are many other more capable options.

Can you still buy LG phones? ›

LG has shut down its smartphone division at the end of July 2021. That means we won't see any more new LG phones. However, there are still some solid recent handsets that are still available for sale, either unlocked or via carriers.

Is there a 5G Stylo phone? ›

moto g stylus 5G – 2021 android smartphone | motorola US - Motorola.

Is 5G faster than Wi-Fi? ›

5G testing Opensignal found 5G mmWave is fastest over all Wi-Fi and in both directions, though home/office Wi-Fi is faster than sub 6 GHz 5G in both directions. Even 4G LTE is faster than public Wi-Fi for downloads, while public and home/office Wi-Fi uploads are faster than those for LTE.

Can 4G phones run on 5G? ›

You must have a device that is compatible with 5G networks. Today, when 5G services are about to be implemented, most phone companies have already launched 5G-enabled smartphones in the market with modems and built-in hardware to support 5G technology. Will a 5G SIM work on a 4G-enabled smartphone? The answer is yes.

Which Android version is 5G? ›

Android 11 adds functionality to support 5G in your apps. This topic covers the functionality and gives you an overview of how adding 5G-specific functionality to your app can improve the user experience.

Can I take my SIM card out and use it in another phone? ›

SIM cards make it easier than ever to transfer your phone service from one phone to another. When you insert your SIM card into a different compatible or unlocked phone, you can instantly use your existing phone number and cellular service on your new phone.

Can an LG phone work without a SIM card? ›

Would I be able to use my phone without a SIM card? You can use it.. to access content in the phone's memory, but you cannot send/receive data or make/receive calls/texts.

What SD card is compatible with LG Stylo 4? ›

Samsung Evo 128GB MicroSD Memory Card High Speed Micro-SDXC Compatible With LG Stylo 4, V35 ThinQ, G Pad F2 (8.0) - Walmart.com.

Is 4GB a lot of memory for a phone? ›

The short answer is that you need at least 4GB. That's enough RAM for web browsing, social media, video streaming, and some popular mobile games. However, while that applies to most smartphone users, the amount of RAM you need depends on the apps you use, and many opt for smartphones with between 6GB-8GB RAM.

Is there a Stylo 5? ›

Similar to last year's LG Stylo 4, the Stylo 5 is a pretty large Android handset with a stylus pen and decent specs. The phone sports a 6.2-inch display with 1080 x 2160 pixels, runs Android 9 Pie and is powered by an octa-core processor.

When did LG Stylo 5 come out? ›

LG has released its new smartphone, LG Stylo 5 in June 2019.

Are they making a Stylo 7? ›

LG Stylo 7 Expected Price, Full Specs & Release Date (31st Dec 2022) at Gadgets Now.


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