|+ Knock Code||- Low resolution screen|
|+ Rear keys||- Only 8GB of built in storage|
|+ Very affordable||- Mediocre camera|
"The LG Leon packs in high-end features while neglecting some of the basics. It feels like a confused handset, but it’s solid and it stands out".
Yet it has more in common with its big budget brethren than just looks, as it also borrows some of their features. So is the LG Leon a phone that punches above its weight or does it forget about the basics?
The LG Leon is clad in plastic, but a brushed-aluminium effect leaves it looking a little more premium. That effect is lost as soon as you hold the phone and get the unmistakeable feel of plastic, but the curved back means it sits comfortably in your hand.
So while it doesn’t feel high-end it does feel good. The curve comes at a cost though, as it makes the phone a chunky 10.9mm thick.
The other aspect of the LG Leon’s design that’s worth highlighting is its rear keys. These are a feature found on many other LG phones, including high-end ones like the LG G4, but as no other manufacturers offer them they also help it stand out.
The idea is that they’re ideally placed so that you don’t have to adjust your grip on the phone to hit them. That’s largely true, though the LG Leon is compact enough that you probably wouldn’t have to anyway. Still, it’s nice to see them on a budget handset, as they really help the LG Leon stand out from the crowd.
The LG Leon’s screen isn’t terribly impressive. It has a compact 4.5-inch IPS LCD display, which is great for anyone who’s sick of big phones, but at 854 x 480 it’s not very sharp. In fact, it has a pixel density of just 218 pixels per inch, despite the small size.
That’s not awful, but it is low enough that the screen isn’t pin sharp and you won’t have to put it next to a sharper screen to notice that.
Unfortunately, the screen’s problems extend beyond its resolution, as it’s also a bit dark and dull, so it’s really not something you’ll want to use outside on a sunny day and even inside the colours are disappointingly washed out. Still, for a sub-£100 phone it’s just about acceptable.
The LG Leon has fairly standard specs for an entry-level handset. You get a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, which is powerful enough to comfortably run Android. That means you can happily zip around home screens and apps for the most part, though they’re slower to launch than on higher end phones.
You’ll only really encounter problems if you try and run high-end games on it, but then no-one should be expecting to do that on a smartphone this cheap.
The 5MP snapper on the LG Leon doesn’t particularly impress. That’s a fairly low megapixel count even for a phone this cheap, though it’s just about competitive with the likes of the Moto E 2nd gen.
Photos taken with it are about what you’d probably expect. They lack detail, but colours are handled well, as they generally come out fairly naturally. There’s no punch to them, especially not when viewed on the Leon’s screen, but they look accurate.
The 0.3MP front-facing snapper is similarly disappointing, but it will handle selfie duties in a pinch. One thing that is worth highlighting is that you can control the camera with gestures and voice commands, so you don’t have to hold it when taking pictures.
This is especially handy for setting up group shots which you can then be a part of. Though if you’re putting that much work into a photo you probably don’t really want to take it on the LG Leon anyway.
The LG Leon runs Android Lollipop. That’s one generation behind and as a budget phone there’s no guarantee that it will be updated to Android Marshmallow, though as it’s fairly recent there’s a chance at least.
Beyond the features discussed above it’s also worth highlighting Knock Code, which is another feature borrowed from higher end LG phones. It allows you to use a series of taps to unlock the phone instead of a PIN or password. This is handy as you can tap the pattern from any angle and there’s nothing visible on your screen, so it’s easy to do it discreetly.
The LG Leon has a 1,900 mAh battery. That’s pretty small but as this is a small phone it gives it reasonable, though unexceptional, battery life. In short it will last you a day of moderate use, which will be enough for the average user, as long as you’re happy to plug it in every night. Power users should look elsewhere though.
There’s just 8GB of built in storage, but there is at least a microSD card slot, so you can expand that by up to 32GB more.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC, which are a decent selection of options for a budget handset.
The LG Leon includes some impressive features, such as Knock Code, rear keys and gesture controls and it combines them with a pleasing build, reasonable specs and a very low price.
But while it might sound like a winner its camera lets the side down and its screen is a real disappointment, so it’s far from being a great all-rounder, even for the money. If the relatively unique features on offer appeal to you then the LG Leon is a strong buy, but you can find a better screen for similar money elsewhere.
Dimensions (mm): 129.9 x 64.9 x 10.9
Weight (g): 140
Battery capacity (mAh): 1900
Colours: Titan, Gold
Screen size (inches): 4.5
Resolution: 480x854 pixels
Pixels per inch (PPI): 218
Processor: 1.2GHz quad-core
Processor make: Snapdragon 410
Internal storage: 8GB
Expandable storage up to (GB): 32GB
Camera: 5-megapixel and 0.3-megapixel
Operating System: Android 5.0.1
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