|Style & Handling|
|+ Rear keys||- Disappointing screen|
|+ Costs under £60||- Only 8GB of built in storage|
|+ Nice design||- below average camera|
Verdict: The LG Leon has too many weak points to wholeheartedly recommend, but with its innovative rear keys and solid battery it’s still worth considering.
The LG Leon is the latest handset to join the march of the low end phones, coming in at around £100 SIM free or from around £60 on pay as you go.
Those are some low prices, but it’s not alone in being cheap and that’s not enough for it to stand out. So what else does it have? Well, for a start there are some innovative and higher end features like rear keys and NFC.
NFC is rarely seen on cheaper phones and you don’t get rear keys on anything without an LG badge, but is that enough to make the LG Leon a winner?
First impressions of the LG Leon are likely to be mixed, as it’s a fairly plain but not at all ugly phone. It has a metallic finish on the back, leaving a brushed-aluminium look, which isn’t entirely convincing but is pretty.
But it also just looks a bit like a slab of grey and at 10.9mm thick it’s far from slim. That chunkiness allows it to curve at the back though, making it comfortable to hold.
The LG Leon isn’t a great looking phone then but it’s above average for the price and comfortable in the hand too.
The screen is more disappointing, as it’s a 4.5-inch 480 x 854 IPS LCD display with a pixel density of 218 pixels per inch. Not only is that fairly low resolution but the screen also looks a little dark and washed out, with none of the brightness or vibrancy we like to see.
This also makes it harder to use in bright light, for example when outside. Of course we don’t expect a great screen at this price, but rivals fare better. For example, the similarly low end Motorola Moto E 2nd gen has a brighter, higher resolution display.
The LG Leon has the same amount of power as any number of low end handsets, opting for the popular 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 chip and 1GB of RAM. That’s a 64-bit processor and it’s enough for fairly smooth performance, especially if you’re not doing anything too taxing.
Its performance is also helped by the responsiveness of the screen, which has fewer layers than many phones, making it slick and speedy under the finger.
There’s a 5MP snapper on the back of the LG Leon and a 0.3MP one on the front. If you’re counting megapixels you’ll notice that’s not very many and it leads to grainy shots on the main camera, especially if you plan to view them on anything bigger than the Leon’s screen.
Colours at least come out nicely though and when using the selfie snapper you can take advantage of gesture and voice controls for hands free operation, which is a nice feature rarely seen on affordable phones.
The LG Leon runs Android 5.0.1 Lollipop, overlaid with LG’s own UI. Android Lollipop is no longer the newest version of Android, but it’s not far off and even most flagships are still running it, so that’s a point in the Leon’s favour.
One big feature of the phone is its rear keys, which are designed to be easier to reach than side-mounted buttons. We tend to agree with that, but not everyone does, so if you’ve not experienced them before it’s worth trying before you buy if possible.
The LG Leon’s 1900 mAh battery might not sound massive and indeed it’s not, but it is big enough to keep it going all day with fairly heavy use, making for above average life overall.
Memory comes in at just 8GB sadly, but there is a microSD card slot so you push that up by another 32GB. You’ll want to do that, as 8GB goes nowhere.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC. Of those 4G and NFC are worth highlighting as they’re not always found on entry level smartphones and 4G in particular is incredibly useful to have, as it allows for far faster mobile data.
The LG Leon is an odd little phone, in that it has some higher end and more innovative features taken from the LG G4, like NFC, 4G, rear keys and gesture and voice controls, yet gets some of the basics wrong, with a washed out screen and a below par camera.
With a nice design, reasonable battery life and a competitive amount of power it doesn’t totally fail and combined with the likes of rear keys and 4G it has selling points that some rivals lack, but the screen and camera are pretty key, so we can’t be as enthused about the Leon as we’d like to be.
It’s a phone of two halves then and while one half is a bit of a failure the other makes it one of the more exciting handsets you can get for under £100.