LG revealed five of its upcoming smartphones in December before CES 2017 even began. But now that the show is about to kick off, we’ve managed to get some hands-on time with the budget devices at the massive annual technology show in Las Vegas.
Don’t expect these phones to be replacements for the LG G5 or V20. LG has four K Series phones, and a brand new Stylus smartphone, all of which are strong midrange devices suitable for all. The K Series, which launched in 2016, includes the K3, K4, K8, and K10. The 2017 variants slightly improve on the older models, adding features such as fingerprint sensors and larger megapixel sensors.
What’s neat is that they all run the latest version of Android — 7.0 Nougat. That’s hard to find in a budget phone these days. Prices haven’t been announced yet, and LG is expecting to launch the K Series in spring 2017.
The LG K10 is the top new K Series phone from LG. It has a 5.3-inch IPS screen with a 1,280 x 720 pixel resolution, and is powered by a MediaTek MT6570 octa-core processor with 2GB of RAM. The screen is covered in a curved 2.5D glass panel, the phone’s chassis is made from metal, and a fingerprint sensor is on the back — all great features separating the K10 from many other midrange phones currently available.
The device felt lightweight, but its brushed back wasn’t appealing as it was prone to show fingerprints (at least for the gray model). It did also seemed as though the device endured its fair share of scratches on the sides, which reiterates the fact that these are budget devices that aren’t made of the highest-quality materials.
Still, the software experience is more or less the same as what you will find in the LG G5 or the V20. The fact that the K Series will run Nougat out of the box is important as the Android version update is still slowly trickling to flagship devices from other manufacturers. We didn’t run into any hiccups in our brief time using the device. Apps opened quickly enough, and the experience felt smooth.
LG has taken a 13-megapixel camera, once fitted to its high-end G Series phones, and put it on the back of the K10, with a 120-degree selfie cam with five megapixels around the front. The 2,800mAh removable battery sounds small, but it doesn’t have to drive a massive, high-resolution screen. There are three colors available — black, titan, and gold — plus space for a MicroSD card to boost the 32GB of onboard storage.
The K10’s first destination is India, where the phone is available for 15,000 rupees ($220). Due to Indian government standards, the K10 comes equipped with a “Panic” button that directly connects to India’s SOS 112 emergency calling service. Phone owners will need to either press the power button three times or press the SOS option in the menu to get connected with the service.
The K8 is a little smaller than the K10. It has a 5-inch IPS screen with the same 1,280 x 720 pixel resolution, as well as a smaller 1.4GHz quad-core MediaTek processor with only 1.5GB of RAM. You only get 16GB of internal storage, and the battery has a 2,500mAh capacity. The cameras have higher megapixel counts than the current K8, with 13 megapixels on the rear and five megapixels on the front. LG has given K8 owners the choice of either silver, titan, dark blue, or gold color schemes.
The K8, like the K10, also felt lightweight, but it certainly does feel like a budget phone.
LG K4 and K3
These two are entry-level smartphones, and sadly, LG has installed Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow instead of 7.0 Nougat found on the K10 and K8. The K3 has a 4.5-inch, 854 x 480 pixel screen, a 5-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front camera, and a 2,100mAh removable battery. The processor is a 1.1GHz quad-core MediaTek chip with 1GB of RAM, and there’s 8GB of internal storage with a MicroSD card slot.
The K4, pictured above, is the best-looking device in the K Series. It improves on last year’s model slightly with a 5-inch screen, which retains the 854 x 480 pixel resolution, plus a pair of 5-megapixel cameras. It has the same 1.1GHz MediaTek chip that is powering the K4, and a single gigabyte of RAM. The battery has a 2,500mAh capacity, there’s 8GB of storage space, a MicroSD card slot, and like the K3, 4G LTE connectivity.
LG didn’t have the K3 available but it was clear the display was sub par on the K4 due to the use of such a low resolution on a 5-inch screen. It may look better on the K3 with its 4.5-inch display.
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We may know enough about the phones, but LG is keeping prices and release dates under wraps for now. Expect the K Series to launch in the spring, and since last year’s K10 cost around $180, we expect this year’s lineup to stay within that sub-$200 range.
Updated on 02-22-2017 by Williams Pelegrin: Added information regarding the K10’s launch in India.
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