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The LG Vista range of smartphones is designed to provide a powerful, but cost effective alternative to the more expensive flagship devices from both LG and other manufacturers. It was also one of the first devices to introduce large displays in standard smartphones. Not so big as to qualify as a phablet but, at the time of release, a few eyebrows were lifted at the display size. At the time, Samsung were at 5.1″, and Apple were still turning out 4.7″ displays on the iPhone 6. Both fell far short of the 5.7″ display on the Vista. But, as has been said many times, size isn’t everything. If you’re going to be big, you also need to be good. LG, in their marketing, claim the Vista to be “a sleek and smooth experience”, and offering a “comfortable one-handed grip”. Both are vital in any smartphone, but especially when you get to devices touching 6″ overall size and above. Does the LG G Vista live up to expectations, see what our experts say in our review.
Introducing the LG G Vista
With its 5.7″ 720p HD display, the G Vista is big enough to make people sit up and notice. Couple that with LG’s reputation for great smartphones with looks and performance as standard, and it’s difficult not to be impressed, at least on first look.
The full spec sheet details, while not quite the equivalent of the flagship devices are certainly more than competent enough to get the job done. LG, as always, have taken a less is more approach to the design. Inside, though, the company seem to have left nothing out. One or two components may be a generation down from the very best available, but with good reason. You can’t pack any smartphone with the best available and then not expect it to cost a lot of money.
Compromise, in many cases, is actually a good thing. Given that people own a smartphone device, on average, for almost two years before upgrading, price is clearly an issue. And that interval is rising. Back in 2013, we changed our phones every 20 months, now it’s every 23 months. The demands of apps is also slowing, meaning that your smartphone is likely to be perfectly capable of running smoothly for longer than was the case a few years ago.
That’s why a price of $164 for the LG G Vista is a fantastic deal.
Scores for the LG G Vista
The Vista achieved an overall score of 4.3/5. This is made up of the following category scores:
- Design (4.2/5)
- Build (4.4/5)
- Display (4.1/5)
- Cameras (4/5)
- Performance (4.5/5)
- Hardware (4.1/5)
- Software (4.2/5)
- Usability (4.5/5)
The G Vista excelled in a couple of areas, but was above average for all the categories.
|5.99 x 3.12 x 0.36 in|
1280 x 720 px
20 hours talk time / 27 days standby
|Micro SD Card Slot|
Yes – up to 64GB
Design and Build
LG promise that the Vista will be comfortable to hold and, actually, they’re right. Only the smallest hands will need to stretch to use the Vista while keeping the other hand free. The gently curved rear case is textured to aid grip, and does feel nice in the hand. The rear buttons are easily accessible, and are also textured differently to the case for easy location.
The overall size is just a fraction under 6″ high. This stops the Vista – just – from becoming a phablet. It is, like most smartphones, good looking without being exactly pretty/ LG have never dressed up their devices to win a beauty contest, they like to keep them simple. The finished effect is a decent level of sleekness to the whole package.
The weight is also pretty good for a device this big. At 5.89 oz, it weighs only slightly more than average. That average, of course, includes a lot of much smaller smartphones.
This is the point where everybody says “Ah, but it isn’t a Full HD display”. Well we’ve got news for you. Only in the last year has a Full HD display been the norm on smartphones. High end models have pushed it to Quad HD or even 4K, but the rest have made 720p HD displays the most common in the history of smartphones.
And, in all fairness to LG, the quality of the display is pretty good. The IPS display type does carry some benefits over the more common, and more expensive Super AMOLED displays. Although blacks aren’t ever quite true black on IPS, whites are whiter. The effect of this is that IPS displays perform much better in bright sunlight, and are generally sharper at close viewing distances.
In our testing, everything from movies to games ran very smoothly. No tearing or stutter was evident, even on very high resolution files.
If we were only looking at the rear camera of the LG G Vista, the score would certainly be higher. At 8 MP, the pixel count isn’t especially high, but that can be a good thing. Smartphone camera sensors are almost ridiculously small. Every pixel packed onto them then requires its own chunk of the available light to work properly. The more pixels, the less light available to each, and the worse the low light performance. By limiting the pixels, quality generally improves, and this is what LG seem to have done here. Images from the front camera are bright and sharp, with excellent color reproduction. One good reason for this is the laser focus system. Although more common now, LG were at the forefront of the technology. The result is fantastic sharpness and lightning fast focus lock.
The front camera is a little less capable, at 1.3 MP. This wasn’t an unusual pixel count when the Vista was released, but has long been superseded. However, it doesn’t tell the entire story. Although only 1.3 MP, the images from the front camera are perfectly acceptable for selfies and online use. You can use gestures to fire the selfie trigger as well, which is useful. It would have been nice to have more pixels to play with, but what are there actually do a decent job.
A quad core processor is plenty to drive the hardware the Vista has. Hi-res displays can be a real drain, but limiting the display on the Vista to 720p takes a lot of the stress away. It also means the two most expensive components needn’t always mean a high price.
At no time did we ever feel like there was any lag when opening or switching apps. The camera app is a little slow to open, but that’s not actually that unusual. 3rd party camera apps very often respond faster than stock apps, so it’s usually a limitation of the app, not the smartphone.
Generally speaking, we were struggling to see any discernible speed difference between the Vista and a Galaxy S8+.
Hardware and Software
We’ve already touched on most parts of the Vista hardware. We should reiterate that the quality of the individual components is good enough to do whatever you need a smartphone to do, despite not being cutting edge. The ultimate win on the hardware front is that minor compromises in the components means a hugely reduced cost.
One true highlight we’ve yet to mention is the astonishing battery performance. LG promise 15 hours of talktime, but testing shows it often easily goes past 20 hours with capacity to spare.
In terms of the software, The Vista runs Android 5.1, and does a great job of it. LG, like so many of their competitors do tend to pack out their devices wilt their own apps. Sadly, also like most of their competitors, most of those apps are useless, and just take up space. Fortunately, deleting them is easy, and should be one of your first jobs. Other than that, the way LG present Android is outstanding. Nearly all makers put their own skin on top of the stock Android installation, and LG are no different. LG, though, don’t tend to throw in too many unnecessary features.
But what LG have added, in the main, is very useful. Some highlights are running two apps in split screens, double tap to wake and an inbuilt Office-type app. Best of all, in our opinion, is a special “Guest Mode”. This lets you set up unique unlock patterns which, when used, will restrict access for that user. Now, you can let the kids play with your phone without finding out they’ve installed a ton of apps you don’t want, or been dialing Australia.
Any device which is larger than the average smartphone will have a big chunk of its usability decided by how easy it is to actually handle and use one handed. You should know that you will need to make some adjustments to get used to the extra size of the Vista. But, after a couple of hours, what felt like having to stretch a long way actually gets a lot easier.
Watching movies, as you might expect, is a great experience on the 5.7″ display. Gaming, especially those with fast moving screens is also so much easier due to the amount of detail available. The extra features LG provide, particularly split screening are also incredibly useful. They do take a little getting used to, and it’s easy to split the screen by accident. Once you get the hang of it, however, it’s such a time saver.
It’s unlikely that you will find better for less. LG are good at what they do, and the Vista shows every bit of that goodness.