There are two types of phones out there. The high end flagship, and the low end budget device. While flagships are the obvious choice, there are many great low cost budget devices. With great options out there like the Moto G and similar options, you can get a great phone without spending your life’s savings. The one disadvantage of those phones however, most include smaller displays. While the Moto G packs a 4.5” inch display, others go down, some even around 3.5” inches. So what is your option if you want a cheap device with a big screen?
Over the past couple weeks I’ve been using the LG G Vista. This phone brings a big screen into a low price, on-contract at least. With a 5.7” inch display, there’s plenty of screen real estate to work with, and that’s the main attraction of this device. So let’s look over the G Vista in detail and see if it’s worth your money.
- 5.7” inch qHD Display – 960×540 – 193ppi
- Snapdragon 400 Processor – 1.2 GHz
- Adreno 305 GPU
- 1.5GB RAM
- 8GB Storage (microSD up to 64GB)
- 8MP Rear Camera
- 1.3MP Front Camera
- 3,200 mAh Battery
The LG G Vista is what you expect from a budget device, plastic. The design follows suit with LG’s latest design language with the same rear-mounted power and volume keys from the LG G3. This is a matter of preference. You will either like the buttons or you won’t. I’m personally a fan of rear-mounted buttons. The plastic back of the phone is removable which reveals the removable battery, SIM card slot, and expandable storage. That removable back though is definitely not a highlight of the phone. Like many other devices, it’s a glossy finish. While it doesn’t scratch as easily as I thought it would, it does gather fingerprints very easily and is not the most pleasant to hold.
Around the front is that large display surrounded by minimal bezels. Like LG’s other devices, those bezels are kept to a minimum to help keep the device manageable in the hand. I would say that I have mid-sized hands, and while I could easily hold the phone, one-handed use was out of the question for most cases. The front also houses Verizon’s traditional branding directly beneath the earpiece. To the left of that is the notification LED which, unless there was a problem with my unit, is only red. No matter the notification, I never saw any color aside from red from that LED. While that is a minor complaint, it is something I definitely noticed.
Along the left and right sides of the phone, nothing is found. At the bottom is the charging port and a microphone. On top is a secondary microphone, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the IR blaster. Overall the hardware on the G Vista is definitely not the worst I’ve seen, but could be improved by swapping the glossy back panel with a different texture. How is it to handle? It’s not that bad. I don’t have exceptionally big hands, but this phone was no issue for me to hold. I could easily handle it when scrolling and performing some tasks, but it’s probably safe to say that about 70% of the time you’re going to be using this phone with two hands.
The LG G Vista has one major thing going for it, the huge display. Unfortunately though, that display isn’t too great. While it does give you plenty of screen real estate, it doesn’t provide the resolution to back that up. I’ve seen conflicting reports on the displays resolution with some saying that it is a 720p panel, and others saying it is a qHD panel, or 960×540. Either way, the display quality on this device is not a highlight.
Of course the display is not bad. I use it with no real issues. Outdoor viewing is not impossible, but you almost certainly won’t be able to see this display in direct sunlight. One complaint in the brightness area is that auto brightness does not work very well. It does not always turn the brightness high enough for the situation and usually takes a while to act. Normally, you’re better off using the manual brightness setting. Images and video display fine, and you’re not going to notice too much issues with the detail. The average person isn’t going to notice any real issues with this display so if you’re considering buying this and you’re not like me, you’ll be perfectly fine with this display.
The LG G Vista is an LG device, so yes it has a skin, and a heavy one at that. Luckily though, this is LG’s latest skin which is also found on the LG G3. What does that mean? It’s a lot lighter than LG’s previous skins and performance is still pretty good on it. On top of Android 4.4.2 KitKat, LG’s software skin consists of many flat elements to their stock applications. It’s pretty pleasing to the eye and everything is laid out very nicely. Many of the features seen on the G3 make the trip over like dual-window, customizable home buttons, and more. One feature exclusive to the device however is called “Mini View”. This view takes the entire interface of the phone, home buttons and all, and shrinks it down to a customizable window that you can place anywhere on the screen. This is a great option for those who want a big phone, but sometimes still need better one-handed usability. Personally, it’s not something I used too much, but nonetheless it is pretty cool. LG’s skin is one I’ve come to really enjoy, but in the end, it could still be toned down just a little bit. There are a lot of pre-installed apps, and while many are Google’s, a lot more are from LG and Verizon. Out of the box, Verizon has 15 apps installed. Some of them are useful, like part of the Amazon suite, but most you probably won’t use.
Before we start this section, let’s remember that this is a budget device. It’s not meant to rival a flagship. Inside is a quad-core Snapdragon 400 backed up by 1.5GB of RAM. Performance is actually surprisingly good. While it’s easy to tell that things aren’t quite as snappy as they are on most current flagships, it’s not as bad as many other devices that could be considered in the same price class. LG does have a heavy skin, with lots of bloatware and features, but shockingly performance doesn’t take too big a hit. You will find lag while doing certain things, but overall I didn’t have any major complaints. Gaming performance was also good, and most games played well. I use Riptide GP 2 to test out a phone’s gaming performance, and on the higher settings, things didn’t look too good. But on the default settings, the game was very much playable with minimal lag and not too many dropped frames. Other games also play well and the large screen is actually pretty nice to play on thanks to all that extra real estate.
Network performance is as expected. Call quality sounds great on my end and callers said I sound great too. Speeds on Verizon’s network are as I usually expect in my area around 25 mbps download and 15mbps upload on LTE with a strong signal.
The LG G Vista has an 8MP camera on the back with a single LED flash and the same laser auto focus seen in the LG G3. The camera is decent at best. With good lighting outdoors you can get some good shots, but indoor or low-light performance is nothing special. Many pictures I took came out with lots of noise and were blurry. The camera will definitely be suitable for a post on Instagram or Facebook, but it’s definitely not something I would recommend for anyone who takes a lot of photos with their phone. Below I have some photos I took with this phone in a few different lighting situations as well as a short video clip. The camera is capable of recording 720p video as well as 1080p video.
A big selling point of this device is the battery. With a 3,200 mAh battery under the hood, this phone has a lot of power to work with. The fact that it’s powering a low resolution display only helps that. Battery life was easily enough to get me through a day, if not multiple days. I’ve been easily able to get about 2 and a half days out of this battery before plugging it in. That’s impressive no matter how you look at it. About 4 and a half hours of screen time is usually what I get over a day and a half. Obviously this will all vary depending on your usage. Gaming had a pretty noticeable impact on battery life but it was still tough no matter what to kill this phone in a day.
Speaker – The G Vista has a decent speaker. It is fairly clear and gets relatively loud. It didn’t blow me away quite like the G3, but it was better than I expected. Using the speaker for phone calls is also very nice.
- Storage – Storage space was a major concern for me. I don’t use a tremendous amount of space on my devices, but a mere 8GB is really pushing it. That’s emphasized by the fact that less than 4 are left for the user. Needless to say I filled the storage fairly quick and became very gracious of the included microSD card support. If you get this phone, you should definitely have an SD card on the top of your accessories wishlist.
Overall the G Vista is definitely not a bad device, but I would only recommend it to a select group of people. That group would be those who are on Verizon, and aren’t going anywhere else, who want a phone with the screen size of the Galaxy Note 3, but can’t quite afford the Galaxy Note 3. You can get the G Vista on Verizon for $49.99 on a two-year contract (currently free), for $19.99 on Verizon Edge, or for $399 off-contract.