The LG K20 Plus was recently rolled out by MetroPCS. This appears to be an upgraded version of the original K10 released via Verizon, now sporting the latest Android Nougat OS & 32GB of onboard storage capacity. With a $100 price tag with all the discounts, it hangs somewhere around the same price as the LG Stylo 2 Plus. But hey, does it stack up to the LG Stylo 2 Plus in that case?
I’m not sure why MetroPCS priced these phones so closely together, considering the huge gap in their specifications. While the LG Stylo 2 Plus certainly does come with less on-board storage (16GB), this is not monetarily worth nearly as much as its larger, clearer screen and inclusion of NFC. I am guessing MetroPCS is basing their pricing around the age of the models themselves; however, this logic is so flawed in consideration of the fact the LG K20 was already an older phone to begin with, with some minor upgrades added to it, that I am pretty sure in the next three months we can expect to see some major price drops with the LG K20 Plus as MetroPCS will certainly catch on to their error in judgment, especially if these handsets don’t sell as well as I suspect. Which for you probably means if you can hang in there for at least 3 more months, you will have access to a much cheaper LG K20 Plus…. As well as a much cheaper LG Stylo 2 Plus, since the LG Stylo 3 has been released as well.
So what it appears like MetroPCS is doing here is setting up a system with two flagship phones, both by LG — the K series, a budget line with smaller handsets, and the Stylo series, more of a mid-range line with slightly larger handsets. While pricing does seem a little crazy and imbalanced right now, it will probably fall into a more sensible pattern by the end of this year.
My first piece of advice — don’t even attempt to downgrade from the ZTE ZMax Pro to the LG K20 Plus. It will be painful. At least make a halfway stop between the two with one of the Stylo handsets to help ease the curve of jumping from a 6-inch screen to a 5-inch one.
Now that is all out of the way, we can focus on the LG K20 Plus by itself.
Exterior Design & Battery
First and foremost, I must say this phone’s battery life is pretty impressive. Maybe it’s just because I’m used to handling handsets with much bigger screens (which juice out the battery a lot faster). However, even with my 40 something apps installed, this phone will go two days without a charge on standby, and 24 hours without a charge with regular usage. This is of course with my usual battery/performance enhancing app installed. I can’t ask for any more than that. It’s nice to go out with my phone and not worry about charging it for the rest of the day… Much more reminiscent of the early smart phone days.
The case has a textured, rubberized back to it, and a touch of elegance in the rose gold tinted trim around its edges. The phone feels slim and light in the hand, with the textured back adding a good grip.
The screen size feels lacking, however. I wanted a smaller screen, but this seems pushing the limit a bit on what’s just small and what’s actually usable. I find myself missing the Stylo’s screen, a few centimeters larger.
Camera & User Interface
The 13 megapixel and 5 megapixel cameras on the back and front of the phone take pretty decent photos, though I did find that low light conditions degraded its image stabilization and resulted in shots being a lot more likely to be blurry, and that the colors could be a little more vibrant by default. Of course, some of the best features about this phone’s cameras is LG’s selfie shot light and system of gesture based snapshots.
The UI experience is clean and snappy, as well as easy going on the battery. LG has added a theming app called Smart World which adds a nice feature that the default Nougat launcher wouldn’t have otherwise. As is typical of LG, there is minimal bloatware and a clean, focused design to the system that not only makes it easier to use for novices, but also is a refreshing break for those of us that are tired of choking on bloatware and endless menus nestled in menus in unexpected places (yes, I’m looking at you, Samsung).
Right now Nougat seems to be having issues with pairing up to Bluetooth headsets. I say Nougat because I had the identical issue appear on my previous handset when it was upgraded to Nougat. My headsets are a little outdated, though, so I’m going to try it out with a set that uses Bluetooth 4.1 to see if it’s a backwards compatibility issue.
One noteworthy feature I want to point out about the LG K20 Plus — two, actually — is the inclusion of a fingerprint bio metric sensor and LG’s “knock codes”. The fingerprint scanner can be utilized by two factor authentication apps to create better security for all your accounts, and LG’s knock codes take care of a little problem with Android’s “patterns” — your finger leaves a trail on your screen, revealing the password to someone with the right knowledge on how to make it show up. Knock codes not only resolve this issue, but in general can be made difficult for anyone to follow or steal in any way. Additionally, knock codes can be used to do things like turn the screen on (three taps on the glass) or open up apps.
Unfortunately there is no inclusion of NFC on this phone, and I do believe we are going to need to see more inclusion of this on lower end cell phones if it is ever going to be widespread adopted as a new payment standard. Stores just aren’t going to feel pressured to put NFC sensors at the register if most people are not sporting the technology, and most people are using lower end cell phones.
I was a little disappointed also to see this phone uses a plain Jane USB 2.0 charger instead of USB 3.0 or USB C. However, charging doesn’t take too long on it since it is a low powered phone.
The speakers and mic are of decent volume, though there’s nothing particularly advanced about their sound. The audio also is no frills, stock Android… so no, this is not an audiophile’s type of phone, other than the fact it comes with 32GB of ROM storage stocked so there’s plenty of space for mp3s. It is however packing a quad core processor under the hood and 2GB of RAM, so it definitely has light gaming potential.
Overall this phone is just a low cost, utilitarian, low profile Swiss army knife/sleeper style smart phone — the type of phone you don’t expect to come with much under the hood, but surprises you by proving to be a total workhorse. I give it a 6 out of a possible 10 — it’s too good to be just okay, but too okay to be fantastic.