The biggest request from smartphone owners is for better battery life. Manufacturers have been tackling this issue for many years, looking for ways to optimise, reducing drain from various apps and features and making big changes to things like the hardware to make it more efficient.
But the harsh reality is that better battery life comes from bigger batteries. This creates something of a conflict for a manufacturer: create a phone that looks sexy, or create a phone that will last through the weekend on a single charge.
For LG, for example, the LG G6 is the phone that attracts all the headlines. It has a new, large, 5.7-inch display, it reduces the bezels and it hits a range of spec points to make it appealing to customers wanting the latest device. But the LG X Power 2 is the phone you'll want if battery is really more important.
LG X Power 2 preview: Hardware and display
- 4500mAh battery
- Octo-core chipset, 2GB RAM
- 16GB storage + microSD
- 5.5-inch, 1280 x 720 pixels, 267ppi
Announced prior to Mobile World Congress, the X Power 2 is typical of devices that are often put on the back shelf. The headline is the 4500mAh battery compared to the 3300mAh of the new LG G6. That's a big difference, but sitting in LG's so called "mass tier" range, i.e., not flagship, the X Power 2 only really gets one headline spec point.
Where the LG G6 will give you the best of a whole range of things, the X Power 2 is all about that battery and the fast charging technology that comes with it. LG says it will fully charge in about 2 hours, the advantage being that even a small blast on a charger will give you plenty of play time.
This is something we've not had the chance to check on the brief time we spent with the phone at Mobile World Congress, but a quick dive into the battery settings reported that it had 145 hours of estimated time remaining. We're hoping for great things, but the use of Micro-USB feels a little dated when USB Type-C is growing in popularity.
Some of the battery's success will come from the lower power chipset and display - it's a MediaTek octo-core chipset and the 720p display. That's a little low in resolution at the 5.5-inch size and the result is that the display doesn't pop like high spec phones do; but that also brings greater battery savings by picking these components.
There's only 2GB of RAM, but the message coming from manufacturers is that you don't need so much RAM if you're not pushing a high resolution display.
Ultimately, judging the phone's performance will come down to day-to-day usability. The 720p display might not give you the richest graphics, but it may well be all you need for streaming that Netflix movie. It's also likely to be perfectly fine when it comes to the daily grind of crunching emails, using Google Maps and those essential core tasks.
LG X Power 2 preview: Software and user experience
- Android Nougat
- LG tweaks and changes
Much of the performance will come down to how well the software has been implemented and the X Power 2 looks like a standard LG mid-range device. LG changes a lot around the Android environment and, second to Samsung and Huawei, probably changes more than many do these days.
That gives this phone a visual identity that’s more removed from Android than you'll get on Nokia, Moto or even HTC handsets. It is running on Android Nougat, however, which means you're getting the latest from Google, sitting under those LG changes.
We didn't have the time to dive too deep into the phones software features, although we can see that LG has included a full suite of apps to help with things like managing the battery, naturally.
LG X Power 2 preview: Cameras
- 13-megapixel rear camera
- 5-megapixel front camera with LED softlight
Some of the software tweaks also run into the camera, with an ultra-wide front camera with LED flash, positioned to give you immersive selfies. It's a 5-megapixel camera, but we've not had the chance to test it to any great degree.
We've also not had the chance to test the rear 13-megapixel camera. This is rather more typical, with a 13-megapixel sensor, lacking the dual camera setup that the LG G6 offers. LG claims that it's a zero lag camera, so it should be nice and fast in snapping your pictures.
The LG X Power 2 isn't the prettiest phone available. Sitting in this "mass tier" of devices, it hasn't been designed to turn heads, it's been designed to outlast everything else. Given the size of the battery and the relatively low level of spec elsewhere, we suspect that it will sail through a day with few problems.
This phone is 8.4mm thick and that doesn't sound huge; we're sort of left wondering why we're not seeing more phones at this size with this sort of battery capacity. We accept that large phones that are too fat can be difficult to manage, but if you then slap on a battery cover to help you get through the day, you come back to the same position.
The LG X Power 2 will be coming to the UK, although there's been no confirmation of the price, or exact date.