LG X Cam Review: The good, the bad and the ugly

lg x cam

If you want a mid-tier device that prioritizes camera performance, this could be the device for you. Find out in our full LG X Cam review.

This seems to be the question that LG is trying to answer with their new X series of phones.   This new approach by LG is aimed at creating a series of phones each specializing in one particular aspect of smartphone technology.  The goal is not only about addressing the form factor (seeing as there is only so much you can put into a smartphone) but also to bring the cost down on premium parts.

So LG’s X series is constituted by mid-range smartphones that each have one premium feature. And I got to play around with the one with the camera or like LG calls it the “X Cam”. Basically a mid-range smartphone with premium camera features.  Which is pretty cool because high-quality pictures tend to cost more than a thousand word.

So the X cam aims at being more affordable whilst having standout camera features.

Read: LG adds the X Power, X Mach, X Style, and X Max to its X Series

What else does it offer?

 XCam2

Let’s get technical:

For the TechWizards For the average Joe/Josephine For my Grandfather
Display 5.2 inches (13,208cm)

1080 x 1920 pixels

424 ppi pixel density

IPS LCD screen,

16M colors

Good viewing angles  Good brightness levels adjusted for softer viewing

Vibrant color levels

It looks pretty

You can see all the pretty icons without needing a monocle

 

Camera Dual rear cameras:

13 MP with an aperture of f/2.0

5 MP 120-degree wide-angle lens,

Autofocus, LED flash

8 MP front-facing camera

The X Cam has both a 13- and 5-megapixel camera on the back positioned next to each other (Like on the G5). Used for shooting some pretty decent wide-angle shots.

Very useful in confined spaces like back of car photos or in crowded bars.

It has two cameras at the back.

 

Why?

 

Because two are better than one.

 

Memory 16GB of expandable storage Seeing that the phone is marketed primarily for its Camera, making use of the expandable storage via memory card would be advised for media storage. Lots of photos… no you don’t need to go buy extra film, just a MicroSd card…
Hardware Mediatek MT6753 chipset with a 1.14GHz Octa-core processor

2GB of RAM,

The phone runs very smoothly and switching between- or opening applications is fast

 

You tap with your fingers… something happens
Battery 2,500mAh battery With moderate use I found it difficult to get a full day’s use on a single charge.

The full HD display combined with regular camera use puts quite a drain on the battery.

Consider using a powerbank

It lasts about as long as a good night’s rest.
OS Android OS, v6.0 Marshmallow No bloat ware (Yay)

No longer has the ‘app drawer’

Some nifty widgets and camera feautures

It has marshmallow yes…. No no no don’t try to eat it…. arrrrgh
Size 5.81 x 2.90 x 0.27 inches (147.5 x 73.6 x 6.9 mm) The X cam is a larger phone even though it is just 6.9mm thick. It rests snugly in your hand without feeling awkward.  The buttons on the phone chassis are easy enough to reach, but harder to find as they don’t protrude much. Thinner and lighter than your morning newspaper
Weight 118 g The weight is scary – this phone is thin and weighs almost nothing. The phone feels hollow and over the course of the last two weeks I developed a persistent phobia of dropping the phone (Xcamophobia) You are probably going to lose it
Network GSM / HSPA / LTE If you are struggling to make a call, it’s your network, not your phone. It’s not the phones fault
Color Grey, White, Gold and Pink Gold.  I got to fiddle around with the Grey (or as LG optimistically like to call it, Titan Silver). Looks classy but feels less so. No I don’t know when it happened grandpa, but pink is now also an acceptable color for men.

XCam5

First Impressions

The Box:  LG has clearly taken a leaf out of the Apple tree and I was impressed with the simple Stylish design of the packaging.  Opening the box, I was also pleasantly impressed with my first glance of the LG X Cam phone. It looked premium. Inside the box was the X Cam (precharged for my use), a user guide, a Travel Adapter charger, a USB data cable and a 3.5mm headset (which unfortunately looks and feels very cheap).

Picking up the X Cam, the first surprise was the almost weightlessness of the X Cam phone.  There it lay nestled in my pudgy, sweaty hands hovering like a cloud.  The second, although less welcome, surprise was the feel of the metallic plastic alloy used for the X Cam build.  Whilst looking premium and metallic, it feels decidedly plastic.  Probably the same feeling your fiancé would get if she expected a diamond ring but instead found a certificate saying “Cubic zirconia”.

I have always been a fan of the LG overall phone design ever since the heyday of the LG Razor.  And as with the old Razor, with the X Cam design, LG doesn’t disappoint.  The X Cam has a very stylish look and a nice-feeling design with the rounded edges.  As already stated, with this phone the look is great, the feel is less so.

Switching on the phone, I was greeted by a warm and robust color display.  The screen is clear and sharp but soft enough so that it did not strain my eyes too much (and I have notoriously sensitive eyesight).  I was delighted by the numerous settings, easily accessible, with which to adjust the device’s brightness levels.

Another major plus for me was LG’s abstinence on bloatware.  Part of the fun of having a smartphone is getting to personalize it and doing a setup that reflects your own style.  Having to spend hours to remove all the unwanted apps (and discovering those annoyingly irremovable ones) is a serious drawback.  I find bloatware as annoying as the unwanted ads on my YouTube account.  When it comes to bloatware and branded content, less is definitely more.

X Cam

Basic benchmarks

Putting the phone through its paces, I found that swiping, typing, scrolling, opening and closing multiple apps was speedy and seamless.  I did not get the phone to break a sweat through routine practices though I did not test something more taxing like playing Modern Combat 5: Blackout.

The OS, Android Marshmallow 6.0, has a very pleasant interface interspaced with charming little animations, a solid integration between functionality and style, and a host of tweaks and upgrades under the new hood.  I must attest to the absolute pleasure of working with the Marshmallow OS under the simplistic LG skin.   Some of the nifty features of the OS that impressed me where the ‘Now on Tap’ (very cool search function) and ‘Doze’ (very good battery optimization).

The Camera:

Ok so right off the bat, there is a lot going for and against the camera.  The double-barrel rear mounted cameras are not for added depth of field but rather the 5MP camera is for very wide angle shots.  So the main 13MP sensor with a standard lens for everyday use, whilst the second 5MP sensor is for those ultra-wide angle shots you just couldn’t fit in with the normal lens. This is a great plus point for taking group photos and especially the landscape photos (though this does seem to sacrifice some quality on especially the edges of the wide angle shots).

Switching between the two cameras is easy and done by simply tapping the tree-like looking icon in the camera app.  As for image quality, it is average which is slightly disappointing for a phone pitched as a specialized camera phone.  Wide angle image quality has a noticeable drop in low-light settings.  The Auto Focus is slow, making it difficult to get detailed, sharp pictures.

The camera interface is easy to use but a little too simplistic.  The only options for pictures modes are Auto, Popout and Panorama.  ‘Popout’ is the X Cam’s camera filter and is about as entertaining as the ‘flappy Bird’ mobile game was – fun for a short while but gets repetitive very quickly.

For the tech savvy smartphone generation, the X Cam’s limited camera functionality is a tad disappointing.  On the plus side, the voice and facial recognition software is pretty good and it even recognizes certain hand commands. While essentially all of this ends doing the exact same thing (taking a picture), it is still loads of fun.  I got some very impressed reactions from friends by taking pictures with voice commands and hand gestures…that one kid might actually still believe that I am a Jedi.

XCam3

Video capture

Try to realize the truth Neo… there is no 4K.  There seems to be HD and FHD but I couldn’t figure out how to change resolutions (not even sure if it is possible).  Another important feature which I would have like is being able to duplicate the phone screen on another screen like a TV.  It is possible to share pictures and video but doesn’t seem to be able to do screen mirroring.

The Good

Nice display, decent camera(s) and the latest version of Android (which is a pleasure).

The Bad

Limited Camera functionality.  Battery drain when used as camera.

The Ugly

That plastic feel!

The Verdict

The LG X Cam has a premium camera and basically mid-range everything else.  All in all a lot of the qualities that make up a good midrange phone. 

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A few personal thoughts

Let me first proclaim my bias.

My favorite phone ever would be a mashup of my old BlackBerry Bold, Samsung D500; The Sony Ericson W800 and the Nokia 3310.

My last three phones where the Sony Z3 Xperia, IPhone 5S and the Samsung Note 3.

If you enjoyed any of those phones then chances are that my compliments and critique might well align with your own preferences and personal pet peeves.

Read: LG’s new X Screen and Stylus 2 hit South Africa

Have your say!

What are your thoughts on the LG X Cam? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

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