While most of the focus in the Android smartphone world goes to the high-end offerings from the various OEMs, these companies, like LG, continue to bolster and diversify their budget-friendly portfolio as well. With their latest addition in this category, LG brings to a low-cost device some of the unique aesthetic elements of its high-end brethren. Is that enough for this smartphone to stand up strong against the fierce competition? We find out, in this LG Escape 2 review!
The aesthetics of the LG Escape 2 are a big part of its appeal, with the device featuring a subtle curve to the display. LG is rightfully making a big deal of the phone’s curve, which is a very respectable component of the device’s already satisfying visuals. While the Escape 2 is on the thicker side, at 9.9 mm, it is surprisingly light, weighing just 119 grams. The smaller footprint of the device makes for a comfortable one handed handling experience, and LG’s signature rear button layout is ideally placed to be with easy reach of the index finger, and offers solid tactile feedback.
The plastic back cover comes with a brushed metal finish similar to what is seen with the LG G3, but doesn’t entirely match the premium feel that was available with the previous generation LG flagship. The parting lines seen around the headphone jack and microUSB port, found at the top and bottom respectively, are a further reminder of the device’s low price tag. The back cover is removable, allowing for access to the SIM slots, microSD card slot, and replaceable battery. It’s important to note though that the back cover does pick up scratches quite easily, with this particular review unit having several imperfections after just a few days of regular use. All said and done, the LG Escape 2 does not feel too cheap or of a poor construction, but some care is necessary to keep things in a good condition.
The LG Escape 2 comes with a 4.7-inch IPS LCD display, with a 720p resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 312 ppi. While it is the generation of Full HD and Quad HD, a 720p resolution is more than serviceable even today, especially given the relatively smaller display size. Sharpness isn’t much of a concern, viewing angles are fantastic, and the brightness is good enough to allow for comfortable outdoor visibility. Overall, this is a very solid display, which is sometimes difficult to find with devices at this price point. On the downside, the display glass proves to be a fingerprint magnet, it is going to be quite an annoying struggle to keep it clean.
Under the hood the LG Escape 2 packs the 64-bit quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor clocked at 1.2 GHz, backed by the Adreno 306 GPU and 1 GB of RAM. This processing package powers quite a lot of entry-level and mid-range smartphones, and has proven itself to be quite capable, which is also the case here. While there are no obvious signs of stutter or lag, the general performance, understandably, just feels slower. The device handles gaming quite well, but there will be the occasional dropped frame and slow load times when it comes to the more resource-hungry games.
The bigger problem in terms of performance is with the availability of just 1 GB of RAM, which is barely enough to allow for any type of comfortable multi-tasking nowadays. Just opening a webpage could cause the launcher to be removed from memory, causing a delay when trying to get back to the homescreen. You might even be out of luck if you are someone who likes to listen to music and do other things on the phone at the same time, as the music will stop as soon as the phone runs out of memory. Something like 1.5 GB of RAM isn’t a drastic improvement, but at the least it would have likely prevented the last two situations from occurring very often.
The LG Escape 2 comes with 8 GB of on-board storage, which is certainly disappointing when you consider the fact that only 2.8 GB is available to the user. Expandable storage via microSD card is available though, with it possible to expand the memory by up to 32 GB. The device also packs a standard suite of connectivity options, and of note is the fact that NFC support is also available, which is rarely found with other similar low-cost smartphones.
The Escape 2 is available from AT&T in the US, allowing users to enjoy high-speed internet access at 4G LTE speeds on that network. The rear speaker of the device does get plenty loud, but also sounds heavily distorted. The curved design helps make the speaker less prone to further distortion when set on a flat surface, but the audio quality itself isn’t particularly good to begin with.
Taking off the back cover gives users access to the removable 2,100 mAh battery. The battery capacity is rather small, but even with the low-resolution display and battery friendly processing package, the battery life reflects that. With the screen brightness set to 75% and with Wi-Fi enabled, the device lasted around 12 hours, with just 3 hours of screen-on time. That might not be enough for some users, but luckily, you do always the option of carrying around a spare.
The LG Escape 2 comes with an 8 MP rear camera with a LED flash, and a 1 MP front-facing unit. Overall, the rear shooter allowed for some decent looking shots, and while the color reproduction was fairly accurate, the images did seem to lack in detail and sharpness. It does sometimes also take a few attempts to get an object in focus, which can become quite frustrating. The camera application is minimalistic, and doesn’t offer a whole lot in terms of manual control, but is very easy to use. There is also a quick launch feature, with a press and hold of the volume down key when in the landscape orientation required to launch the camera app.
On the software side of things , the LG Escape 2 runs Android 5.0.2 Lollipop out of the box, an OTA update is immediately available when you first start up the device, taking it to Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. In either case, LG’s custom user interface is to be found on top.
As is the case with any LG smartphone, the software experience isn’t lacking in features, and making their way over to the Escape 2 are a number of useful ones, such as Knock Code, the pull down to view time gesture, flip to silence gesture, holding the volume buttons to quickly launch the customizable quick toggles, a clear all apps button, navigation bar settings, and more. The default LG keyboard and lock screen are also pretty good, so you might not end up needing to replace them.
There were a few annoying aspects of the software experience as well, including the inability to customize the lock screen apps, or make any changes to the timing of the “night brightness” feature. The big negative here though is the amount of bloatware that comes pre-installed with the device, with around 25 additional applications available, with many of them coming from AT&T. The worst part is that these can only be disabled and not uninstalled, which is one of the reasons not a lot of user available on-board storage is present.
8 MP rear camera with LED flash
1 MP front-facing camera
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
GPS + A-GPS
Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
133.4 x 66 x 9.9 mm
Pricing and final thoughts
The LG Escape 2 is available from AT&T for $179 off-contract, or for $0.99 with a 2-year contractual commitment. A few installment plans are also available, starting at $6 per month, for a duration of 30 months. Only the silver iteration of the device is currently available.
So there you have it for this closer look at the LG Escape 2! While at first glance, the Escape 2 might look like a really good deal, and that price point is certainly impressive, there are a few let downs. Performance, audio quality of the rear speaker, and battery life could have all been better, and for a lot of users, these negatives will far outweigh the positives with regards to design, the solid display, and good software experience. Having a curved design at this price point is great though, as long as you are okay with the sacrifices that have to be made.