LG Leon and Joy first impressions: Lollipop and LTE on a budget

“Hands on with LG’s upcoming budget babies”

LG Joy_11

LG was on a roll at MWC this year, showcasing not only the G Flex 2 (first impressions) and its mid-range Magna and Spirit, but also unveiling its new budget duo, the Leon and Joy. Like the Magna and Spirit (first impressions), the Leon and Joy also run Android Lollipop, and come with some of LG’s proprietary UX features such as Glance View and Gesture Shot. Additionally, the smartphones will be available in both 3G and 4G variants. Apart these distinguishing features though, the remaining specs of the two devices are watered down to suit their budget pricing.

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The LG Leon is the more advanced of the two. It features a 4.5-inch display with a resolution of 480 x 854 pixels, equating to a pixel density of 220ppi. The display is bright enough but isn’t as sharp as we would have liked. Encased in a plastic shell, the Leon features a brushed metal finish on the rear that ups its style quotient. LG has even decided to incorporate the physical and volume buttons on the rear, although they aren’t as well designed as those on its higher-end devices. On the front of the device is where you’ll find the VGA front camera, earpiece and sensors above the screen. The bezel below the screen is solely occupied by an LG logo, since the Android keys appear as software overlays on the display. A plastic band right at the bottom in the same hue as the back panel completes the setup in the front. Apart from the power and volume keys on the rear, you’ll also find the primary 5MP camera and flash, as well as the loudspeaker.

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The rear shell can be pried open to reveal the 1,900mAh removable battery, micro-SIM and microSD card slots. The micro-USB port is located on the bottom edge, while the top is home to the 3.5mm headphone jack. Powering the Leon is a 1.2GHz (or 1.3GHz depending on the region) quad-core Snapdragon processor mated to 1GB of RAM. There’s 8GB of internal storage available, and it’s expandable up to 32GB via microSD. 

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The LG Joy in comparison, is more of an entry-level offering. It gets a smaller 4-inch display with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. The screen is pretty basic, with visible pixelation. The back panel is textured to improve the grip, but this does nothing to score brownie points in the design department. The LG Joy has the unfortunate distinction of being the only device in LG’s new lineup to skip on the rear-placed power and volume keys. On the LG Joy, the power button is located on the right spine, while the volume rocker is on the left. The 3.5mm audio jack is placed on the top edge, and the microUSB port is at the bottom. The Joy is also the only new LG device to feature the Android navigation keys on the fascia. While three keys are the norm for Android phones nowadays – return, home and multitasking – the Joy features the outdated menu button too, which seems irrelevant considering this is now integrated in Android’s UI. Like the Leon, the Joy also features a narrow plastic strip at the bottom. The LG branding though has moved to the top, accompanying the sensors and earpiece. While the demo unit we used was missing a front camera, LG’s press release does mention a VGA snapper.

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Moving over to the rear, you’ll find the 5MP fixed-focus primary snapper on top, but no LED flash. The loudspeaker is located at the bottom. The back panel is removable, and inside you’ll find the 1,900mAh user replaceable battery, micro-SIM and microSD card slot. The LG Joy unit is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, mated to 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. In select markets, a slightly upgraded variant of the device will be available, sporting a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon chipset, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. It’s also worth pointing out that only the latter will come with Android Lollipop, with the former sticking to KitKat for now. Both variants will support up to 32GB of storage expansion via microSD. 

Although the specs of the two devices haven’t blown us away, the addition of Android Lollipop and LTE are definitely noteworthy features in the budget category. LG hasn’t yet announced pricing and availability of the two new smartphones, but we expect them to go on sale in India soon.