- Smooth performer
- Camera strong in daylight
- Hardy design
- Decent screen
- Knock Code unresponsive
- Poor video recording
- Crap battery life
LG K8 Review: This £99 5-inch mobile offers decent value for money and works particularly well as a second handset for trips. Here’s our full LG K8 review.
You might know LG for its top-end flagship smartphones like the LG G5, but the Korean manufacturer has been pumping out plenty of cheaper handsets in 2016 too. The LG K8 (or ‘LG Kate as we affectionately call it) comes snapping at the heels of the super-budget LG K4, the funky but flawed dual-display LG X Screen and the utterly pointless LG Stylus 2, and this is easily our favourite phone of the bunch.
LG K8 Review: Design
For a £99 mobile, the K8 is actually quite easy on the eye. That curved edging is an attractive touch of detail, while the phone’s frame is also pleasingly skinny. The only design element we’re put off by is the cheap plastic rear, which looks and feels very budget indeed.
Still, it’s good to see LG’s rear-mounted power and volume buttons make a welcome return. These sit centrally, just beneath the camera lens, and their bumpy, textured surfaces are easy to find with your fingertips. LG noobs may need a period of adjustment, but we’re big fans.
You can also prise off that back panel, which gives you easy access to the removable battery plus the nano SIM and microSD card slots.
One handed use isn’t particularly easy, as the K8 sports some pretty chunky bezels on each edge. Still, it’s only reaching for the notification bar from the top of the screen that proves particularly frustrating and you can get around that by adding the handy notifications shortcut to the lower toolbar.
If you want a phone you can knock around, the K8 also feels reassuringly rugged. Check out our LG K8 unboxing video if you want an up-close look at the K8’s design.
LG K8 Review: Screen and media
These days there’s no excuse for a ropey phone display, especially as one of its main rivals, the Vodafone Smart Prime 7, boasts an eye-pleasing screen for just 75 quid.
Luckily the K8 doesn’t disappoint, offering up its own 5-inch 720p panel that’s more or less a match for Voda’s screen. Lean in close and you can see individual pixels, but at normal operating distance it’s sharp enough for enjoying photos and video. Colours aren’t muted or dull, while viewing angles are also pleasingly wide.
Audio is pumped out of a tiny speaker on the back of the K8, which is quite vulnerable to accidental smothering when you’re using the phone. Sound quality is rather pants and you’ll struggle to hear anything over standard background noise in public.
Don’t like streaming your music and other entertainment? Don’t worry, the meagre 8GB of storage can be expanded by slipping a microSD memory card inside the phone. And if you’re really in a pinch, there’s even a built-in FM radio so you can listen to a relaxing bit of Radio 2.
LG K8 Review: OS and features
While the LG K4 stuck with the older Android 5.1, the K8 upgrades to full Android 6.0 Marshmallow. This gives you bonus features like full control over app permissions, as well as old favourites like Google’s Smart Lock support.
LG has also added in some of its own features in the form of LG UX. Security has been beefed up with the addition of Knock Code, although we personally found that this was unresponsive and eventually gave up. Far better is the Capture+ notes tool, which can be used to scrawl messages during phone calls. And we like the revamped notifications bar, which adds customisable shortcuts.
LG K8 Review: Performance and battery life
The LG K8 runs off a basic Mediatek processor, backed by 1.5GB of RAM. And while this obviously offers limited performance, we were happy enough with the phone’s smooth everyday experience.
Android runs well, with only the occasional pause when loading an app to remind you that this is a budget blower. And you can even play fast-paced games like Real Racing without game-ruining stutters.
Battery life sadly isn’t too hot. The K8 will just about see you through the day with occasional message checks and the rest. But if you start to browse the web or smash out a document, you’ll lose roughly 20 percent of life per hour. That means the K8 is definitely best suited to casual users or as a secondary handset.
That dinky 2125mAh battery doesn’t cope too well with media streaming either. Just over four hours of YouTube fun was what we enjoyed on a full charge, which is well behind most other mobiles.
LG K8 Review: Cameras
You probably shouldn’t expect a quality snapper at this price point, but the K8’s 8-megapixel camera is fine for shooting the odd social pic.
To start, LG’s camera app is decent, with a simple point-and-tap mode for anyone who wants a straightforward experience. The auto-focus isn’t exactly fast but it does the job, and you can manually tap to focus too.Manual controls are limited however, so the K8 really is geared towards the average consumer.
Our pics on the whole came out well, with outdoor shots packing enough detail to look good on a big screen. The only problem is the K8’s low light performance, which results in blurry, grainy shots almost every time. The front-facing selfie camera is also very basic, offering very poor shots when the lights go down.
Video quality is also a bit pants. Our HD test footage was rather grainy, with manual focus fully required to keep your subject as sharp as possible. And of course there’s no image stabilisation, so any little movements are replicated in full on the finished video.
LG K8 Review: Verdict
The LG K8 is a solid all-round affordable mobile that gives the excellent Vodafone Smart Prime 7 a run for its money. If you’re after a no-frills everyday handset or a dependable second mobile for taking to festivals and the rest, we’d happily recommend it.
Of course, Vodafone customers will likely prefer the Smart Prime 7, which at just £75 offers even better value for your cash. If you’re on a different network, the K8 is a good alternative.