Introduction

Phones can talk to you and even talk back to you. Every now and then, they might even say something funny. Your _phone_ knows where you are and what you're doing. Your _phone_ is always watching. Now, look at your phone. It'll look back.

Meet the LG AKA. A funny phone with a personality. Big anime eyes smiling, squinting, blinking right at you. Different expressions depending on what time it is, on your actions or on what's incoming. Who thought the glance screen would be taken so literally?

The LG AKA wasn't the phone to remember at the last CES, but sure was hard to forget. A cute phone - never thought we'd ever say that about a five-incher - most likely for kids and teens, or the fans of phone charms and bunny-eared cases. And mascots.

LG AKA

There are four of them in the AKA lineup, a name and a color for each character. Eggy is yellow, Wooky is white, YoYo is pink and Soul is Blue.

The phone itself has midrange specs at bests with some features borrowed from the LG G series. The AKA runs Android 4.4 KitKat on a Snapdragon 400 chipset and packs a 5" 720p screen. There's an 8MP camera, 16GB of inbuilt storage with a microSD card slot, LTE connectivity and a 2,610mAh battery. The camera has laser-assisted auto-focus and the volume rocker and power button are placed at the back.

Key features

  • Different interface (personalities) for the different color options, mascots included in the box
  • 5.0" 16M-color 720p IPS capacitive touchscreen
  • Android OS v4.4.2 KitKat with Optimus UI and AKA notifications
  • Snapdragon 400 chipset with a quad-core 1.2GHz Cortex A7 processor and Adreno 305 GPU
  • 1.5GB of RAM
  • 8MP rear camera, laser-assisted auto-focus, LED flash
  • 1080p video recording @ 30fps
  • 2.1MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
  • LTE Cat. 4; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n; GPS/GLONASS receiver; Bluetooth v4.0; NFC; FM Radio
  • 16 GB of built-in storage; microSD card slot up to 32GB
  • microUSB 2.0 port with USB host and MHL 2.0
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
  • 2,610 mAh battery (2,540mAh for model H788N, which we are reviewing)

Main disadvantages

  • Rather pricey (before carrier subsidies)
  • No Android Lollipop at launch
  • Dated chipset

The Snapdragon 400 is soon to be retired but that didn't seem to bother LG. The chipset is still capable of handling the essentials, including an LTE radio, so the lack of 64-bit support can be forgiven. After all, if one's buying an AKA we bet they're are not getting it for the performance and specs.


LG Aka: meet Eggy, Wooky, Soul and YoYo

The LG AKA comes in different colors and personality - which is to say the interface changes to match the case. Not an entirely new concept but certainly taken a couple of steps further. We got to review YoYo, the pink and chubby one. It's our reviewer vs. LG AKA right after the break - let's see who blinks first.

LG AKA retail box

Just like the LG AKA itself, the bundle is rather unusual. The mandatory accessories are of course supplied, a 1.2A A/C adapter and a microUSB cable, along with a cheapish looking headset.

But half of the box is occupied by your AKA mascot, YoYo in our case. It's rather solid and heavy, with a pleasant rubbery feel to it. The mascots can be used in a dedicated selfie cam shooting mode, but more on that later.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA retail box

Finally, the box cover is a nice folding page, which introduces you to the four different AKA creatures.

LG AKA 360-degree view

LG AKA stands at 138.7 x 71.9 x 10mm and weighs 135g, which is about average for a 5" smartphone. Its mask adds an extra 1 to 3mm of thickness without putting on much weight. It also keeps the screen protected from scratches, so you won't need to get a case for that purpose.

Design and build quality

The LG AKA has the spirit and feel of the G series, scaled to its budget of course. The handset has clean and simple design with the trademark rear-placed power and volume keys. There is even the laser-assisted autofocus for the camera too. If it wasn't for the proprietary front covers, the AKA would have looked like the LG G2 mini with its matte textured battery cover.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA

The AKA's mask is made of glossy plastic, which is quite prone to fingerprints. LG did a great job shaping it though and it feels natural on top of the AKA. It snaps on firmly, and smoothly slides up and down to reveal whatever those smiling/asking/mysterious/drowsy eyes are looking at.

LG is selling all the proprietary cases separately (rear cover + mask), so when you've had enough of your Aka's original personality, you can easily change it just by snapping a new case on. There's a point system associated with buying new accessories for your Aka, which is an interesting (if a bit questionable) monetization strategy from LG.

The LG AKA is a nice phone with simple and efficient design. The mask is easy to use, and the comfortable rear control deck certainly helps the handling at this screen size. We've always been keen on the idea of the rear keys and this time the screen mask has made them even more relevant.

LG AKA
LG AKA

Handling the LG AKA

The overall handling of the AKA, despite the glossy mask, is very good. The phone is of solid build, the rear cover provides excellent grip thanks to the matte finish and texture. If you don't mind cleaning fingerprints off the mask every now and then, there is a good chance you'll like the AKA too.

Controls

Above the 5.0" IPS display, there is the earpiece and the 2.1MP secondary camera, capable of 1080p video recording. A hidden status LED and a couple of sensors are also around.

There are no hardware controls below the AKA's screen.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA front

The left and right sides of the LG AKA are completely bereft of controls as well. There is a lanyard eyelet in the top right corner - which will most likely be used for attaching charms.

LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA left and right sides

The top of the LG G2 features the secondary mic and the 3.5mm audio jack. The bottom has the microUSB port between two grilles: one for the primary mic and another one for the speaker.

LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA top and bottom sides

AKA's back is where things are quite familiar for the signature LG combo of volume controls each side of a Power/Lock key. The 8MP camera lens is placed left of the buttons, the LED flash and the focus assist are on the right.

When the screen is locked a long press on the Volume Up key launches the Quick Memo tool, while a long press on the Volume Down control fires up the camera. You can use that key as a shutter button too.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA back

Popping the battery cover open grants access to the removable 2610 mAh battery. Unfortunately, the microSD card and SIM slots aren't hot-swappable as the battery gets in the way.

LG AKA

The battery, microSD and SIM card slots.

Display

The LG AKA is built around a 5.0" display. It's an IPS LCD unit of reasonable quality. The resolution is good for the class at 720p resulting into a very comfortable 294ppi.

LG AKA

Blacks are deep at both ends of our test, 50% and 100% brightness. Speaking of, it's a sufficiently bright screen and its contrast ratio is impressive.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
LG Aka 0.2 160 816 0.61 553 901
ZTE Blade S6 0.26 248 986 0.46 457 946
Lenovo S90 Sisley 119 344
Nokia Lumia 830 0.21 223 1087 0.49 533 1078
LG G2 mini 0.12 91 752 0.52 398 748
LG G2 0.1 149 1522 0.45 667 1495
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4 201 404
Motorola Moto G (2014) 0.24 253 1039 0.43 413 968
Motorola Moto G 4G 0.42 387 916 0.7 651 929
Samsung Galaxy A5 191 398
Sony Xperia T3 - - - 0.82 790 963
HTC Desire 616 dual sim 0.35 306 880 0.5 487 976
BlackBerry Z30 152 301
Acer Liquid Jade S 0.21 195 918 0.28 255 921


Sunlight legibility is quite good, though not the best. The screen performs decently under direct sunlight but it would've done better had it been a little less reflective.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Oppo R5
    3.678
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Motorola Nexus 6
    3.543
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • LG G Flex2
    3.465
  • YotaPhone 2
    3.453
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
    3.406
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Lenovo S90 Sisley
    2.892
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2.815
  • Gionee Elife S5.1
    2.812
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Meizu MX4 Pro
    2.765
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • vivo Xshot
    2.465
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC Desire 820
    2.372
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • HTC One M9
    2.334
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Oppo N3
    2.181
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML
    2.149
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    2.12
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    1.952
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1.935
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • ZTE Blade S6
    1.927
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Acer Liquid Jade S
    1.734
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1.507
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Sony Xperia E4
    1.467
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Battery life

The LG Aka has a relatively beefy 2,610mAh battery. Some local versions, such as the Hong Kong version we are reviewing (H788N), have a slightly smaller, 2540mAh battery. Despite that supposed handicap, our LG AKA scored an excellent overall rating of 73 hours in our test, which means you can count on three full days if you do an hour each of calling, web browsing and video playback daily.

The AKA did great at 3G calls, web browsing and video playback, but failed to impress when it comes to standby. It managed about 200 hours - an only average score.

LG AKA

Our proprietary score also includes a standby battery draw test, which is not featured in our battery test scorecard but is calculated in the total endurance rating.

While our endurance rating is not necessarily the battery endurance you are likely to get with your own usage on your own mobile network, it's mainly a good way of comparing battery life across the phones we review.

Our battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you want to learn more about it.

Connectivity

The LG AKA comes with quad-band 2G/GPRS/EDGE support, quad-band 3G with HSDPA and HSUPA, as well as quad-band LTE support with band 1(2100), 3(1800), 7(2600), 20(800) support.

The AKA has Wi-Fi with Direct functionality but it doesn't support the 5GHz band, so you'd have to rely on the more common but more congested 2.4GHz band. Bluetooth 4.0 is also on board with A2DP support.

The microUSB 2.0 port does not support USB on-the-go.

You can also stream your display via the Wireless Display feature (Miracast).

GPS support is available, but not the GLONASS variety.

There's also FM Radio and NFC but no IR port and no way to get wired TV Out functionality either.

KitKat gets a pair of eyes

The LG AKA runs on LG's own, deeply-customized launcher on top of Android 4.4.2 KitKat. The company has enabled allowed for deep UI customization, including themes, icon sets, and various effects. There are also some exclusive AKA apps you can't find anywhere else. Here's a quick hands-on video to showcase what the LG AKA can do.

The LG AKA may only be a mid-range phone, but it comes with a bag of features its bigger siblings are so proud of. But before we continue with the Android trivialities, let's check out AKA's exclusive content.

We bet you are curious to know more about those eyes. Depending on the model you choose - the front mask and the eyes will be different. The pink YoYo model comes with rather cute eyes, while for example Wooky (the white one) is very short tempered and will throw you judging stares most of the time.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

AKA YoYo lovely personality

Tapping on the screen (when the mask is on) wakes up the eyes. If you have missed notifications they'll start looking below hinting you should get the mask off and see what's going on.

Sliding the mask about half the way down or less, you'll see YoYo's hands holding a board with a summary of your notifications. In case there are no missed events the YoYo model is dressed with hearts, diamonds or ice-cream under the mask.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

Interacting with YoYo results in different eyes

The eyes get dizzy when you shake the phone, for instance. Or you can also play hide and seek by covering AKA's eyes shortly causing it to blink its eyes in funny ways.

The Eye color changes from red to green to indicate different emotions, while the background changes while charging as indication for the battery state.

LG AKA

Reading the current temperature from the LG weather app, the AKA will also change according to your locations temperature reading. AKA's face would stay normal in-between 1 to 29℃, but sweat will flow down over 30C and the screen gets frosty when the temperature falls below 0C.

The area above the front mask can also show other controls beside the eyes. It can be used for answering calls, controlling the music player, or snoozing your alarm.

LG AKA

User interface

Sliding off the mask beyond half way down brings you to a familiar LG interface, merely skinned with a cartoonish theme. If it isn't your cup of tea, you can easily switch to the original and more mature LG skin. There is one exclusive widget called Come in displaying animations of your mascot (YoYo in our case), which also doubles as a shortcut to the AKA app.

By the way, if you are to use the AKA without the mask, or want an additional layer of security - you can always opt for the Knock Code, Pattern Unlock of PIN/Password protection for the lockscreen.

The homescreen is the usual Android affair - you change wallpapers, change swipe effects, use widgets, create shortcuts. All the apps are stored into a comfy app drawer, which supports custom arrangement and has option to uninstall apps thus sparing you tinkering with the Settings menu.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

The homescreen • app drawer

As with the most of the LG phones, the AKA offers customizable Android keys (the front touch controls). You can rearrange the Menu, Home and Task Switcher keys, but you can also drag two additional buttons for Quick Memo, Q-Slide or Notifications up to the original three. You can also set a black or white background for the keys and control the opacity. There is even an option to hide the navigation bar in specific apps.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

Customizing the navigation buttons

The Notification area hasn't changed much since we saw it in LG G2 mini and LG G2 - it's the standard Android KitKat one with additional features added by LG. It's not as pretty as on Lollipop, but it does serves its purpose well. The Task switcher is also the same with flat interface having all of your recently used apps at a glance.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

Notification area • Task Switcher

The Q-Slide shortcuts in the notification area launch pop-up widget-like versions of the video player, web browser, phone, messages, calendar, email, memo, voice recorder, file manager and calculator. In case you don't need some of those shortcuts, you can remove them via the edit key at the end of the shortcut row.

LG AKA

Q-Slide in action • the available Q-Slide apps

There are a few gestures courtesy of LG's launcher worth mentioning. Smart Screen uses the front cam to detect whether you're looking at the screen. This means you can browse the phone for hours on end without it auto-locking itself. We can confirm that the feature works very well.

Smart Video on the other hand will pause a currently playing video when you look away. That's another thing copied over from TouchWiz.

LG Quiet Mode is also enabled. It works in a similar way to the Do Not Disturb feature on iOS and the Blocking Mode at Samsung's Galaxies. It gives you extra control over incoming call alerts.

If turned on, Quiet mode will mute incoming calls and you can set the time of day when it gets activated every day. Just like DnD on iOS, Quiet mode has an exception list where you can add some contacts that won't be affected by its restrictions.

Guest mode will come in handy if you are handing your phone to a child or you just want to keep your stuff personal from friends, who might like to use your phone for a quick call or anything.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

Quiet Mode • Guest mode

Quick Memo is integrated in the phone's OS, allowing you to capture screenshots of anything (including the lockscreen!) and scribble notes over them like you would on the G3 and G Flex2, to name a few. You can save the result as an image or add it to the Notebook app.

Another useful feature is the Clip Tray. Upon a tap and hold on links, images, music and video files, phone numbers or just chinks of text, you can copy them to the Clip Tray to paste later in messages, emails, the browser, etc. The Clip Tray items are displayed at the bottom of the screen (you must have at least 2 items in the tray).

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

Quick Memo • Clip Tray in action

Performance

LG AKA is powered by the dated Snapdragon 400 chipset, which packs a quad-core Cortex-A7 processor running at 1.2GHz, Adreno 305 GPU and 1.5GB of RAM. Over the past year we've tested a plethora of Snapdragon 400-based smartphones and the chip proved the bare minimum for a 720p device. Hopefully the extra RAM will give the AKA an edge.

LG AKA

LG AKA does OK on the multi-core GeekBench 3 test - it's on par with other Snapdragon 400 devices, but the Cortex-A7 is slightly behind its A53 successor, found in the Snapdragon 410.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 820
    2586
  • HTC One mini 2
    1526
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1460
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1460
  • Sony Xperia T3
    1373
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    1175
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    1171
  • LG AKA
    1153
  • LG G2 mini
    1123
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1106

The compound AnTuTu 5 stacks the LG AKA next to similar devices as the Moto G and One mini 2, but it also puts it very close to the 64-bit Xiaomi Redmi 2.

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 820
    27070
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    21581
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    20616
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    19016
  • LG AKA
    18795
  • HTC One mini 2
    18641
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    18245

Unfortunately, the LG AKA does slightly poor than its siblings on the BaseMark OS II test, where the web browsing score is hurting it the most.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 820
    725
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    555
  • Sony Xperia T3
    535
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    526
  • HTC One mini 2
    517
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    509
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    495
  • LG AKA
    473
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    452

The BaseMark OS II Cortex-A7 scores for the single and multi-core performance are about right for the processor's class.

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 820
    1812
  • Sony Xperia T3
    1465
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1414
  • HTC One mini 2
    1304
  • LG AKA
    1232
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1217
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    1192
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1131
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    1123

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 820
    8453
  • Sony Xperia T3
    5759
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    5313
  • HTC One mini 2
    5182
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    5012
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    5001
  • LG AKA
    4977
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    4887
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    4880

The Adreno 305 graphics accelerator wouldn't be our choice for a 720p display, but it is capable of handling the OS perfectly, and some non-demanding games are well playable as well. The Adreno 305 turned out on par with the newer Adreno 306 within the Snapdragons 410 chip, but much weaker than the mid-range Adreno 405 (Snapdragon 615).

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 820
    15
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    6
  • LG AKA
    5.9
  • Sony Xperia T3
    5.9
  • LG G2 mini
    5.8
  • HTC One mini 2
    5.8
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    5.8
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    5.8
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    5.3
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    5.2

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 820
    26
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    15.5
  • LG G2 mini
    14.9
  • Sony Xperia T3
    11.2
  • LG AKA
    11
  • HTC One mini 2
    11
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    10.8
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    10.8
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    9.6
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    9.6

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 820
    5.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1.8
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.8
  • Sony Xperia T3
    1.8
  • LG AKA
    1.7
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.7
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.7
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    1.7

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 820
    12
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    6.9
  • Sony Xperia T3
    4.2
  • LG AKA
    4.1
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    4.1
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    4
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.9
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    3.9
  • HTC One mini 2
    3.8

The BaseMark X outs a rather uninspiring result though.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 820
    4859
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    3142
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1897
  • HTC One mini 2
    1650
  • LG AKA
    1414

Kraken 1.1 by Mozilla reflects the JavaScript capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy A5 while Rightware's BrowserMark 2.1 offers an evaluation of its HTML 5 abilities. In Kraken 1.1 the LG AKA does OK - on par with its competitors.

BrowserMark returned and even better overall score, besting all but the Galaxy A5.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    13083
  • HTC Desire 820
    13568
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    13694
  • Sony Xperia T3
    13738
  • LG AKA
    14627
  • HTC One mini 2
    15684
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    15988
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    16118
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    16129

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    1171
  • LG AKA
    1142
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    1085
  • HTC Desire 820
    991
  • Sony Xperia T3
    978
  • HTC One mini 2
    945
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    911
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    883
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    549

It's clear that the LG AKA is no speed demon, especially with such a dated chipset. All the benchmarks show a middling to lower end performance in raw CPU/GPU, but do a very good job on the JavaScript/HMTL 5 tasks. Sure the AKA isn't fit to handle the graphic-intensive games but it is perfectly adequate for day to day tasks of any kind and that's what matters the most. The UI is fluid and we saw no lagging unless we decided to heavily use QSlide small apps.

Telephony and messaging

The phonebook in Android 4.4 KitKat is a standard affair. It's quite straightforward and easy to navigate, with a dedicated tab for your favorite contacts for quick access. There's plenty of contact information you can assign to each contact and it still remains neatly organized.

The dialer is part of the phonebook and supports smart dialing.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

The phonebook • the dialer

The LG AKA has high in-call volume and there are also native video calls available right in the phone app. Smart Dial also works like a charm and searches both names and numbers.

The LG AKA scored a Good mark on our loudspeaker tests, meaning you'll hardly miss any calls and notifications. The loudspeaker sound quality isn't very good though, but it will do for occasional videos and songs.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
LG G2 65.7 62.2 66.2 Below Average
LG G2 mini 65.2 67.7 64.6 Below Average
HTC One (M8) 65.8 64.7 75.7 Average
Nokia Lumia 830 65.3 66.3 78 Good
LG AKA 66.8 64.6 78.7 Good
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4 70.6 66.2 77.3 Good
Xiaomi Redmi 2 70.8 70.9 77.4 Very Good
OnePlus One 74.8 73.5 80.2 Excellent
Motorola Moto G 4G 77.1 76 83.3 Excellent


LG Keyboard handles the text input - it supports various languages, it has a top numeric row and you can configure the keys height and the bottom row shortcuts.

Additional input methods include Google's voice input and handwriting support for multiple (downloadable) languages.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

Configuring the LG Keyboard

Multimedia

The Gallery on the LG AKA is quite similar to what you get on most Android devices, including a resizable list of thumbnails. Rather than having an in-house editing suite like Samsung droids, for instance, the LG AKA relies on Google Photos to handle image editing. It features a variety of neat filter effects and the standard options like crop, rotate, and color balance, but doesn't let you write or stamp on an image.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

The image gallery • Editing options

There is no default Video app - all video files pile up in the Gallery's Video tab. Besides being able to choose between three crop modes for how the video fits the screen, you can also adjust the playback speed anywhere between 0.5-1.5x.

LG AKA
LG AKA

The video player supports subtitles

The codec support is good, but not great - the default player supports MP4, H264 (MKV) and XviD, but lacks DivX and WMV. Strangely, the MOV containers aren't supported either, while the lack of AC3 audio means the MKV compatibility is pointless. On a positive note even non-Latin subtitles are supported.

You can play a video in a pop-up, visible while you interact with other apps, thanks to the Q-Slide option.

LG AKA's Music app is jam-packed with features and supports a wide variety of file formats, including .FLAC, and .WAV among others. It also supports cloud accounts as Dropbox and Box. LG has enabled equalizer presets (including a custom one with 7 bands) and even has the ability to adjust the pitch and speed of a given track during playback.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

Music player app • music options and equalizer

Very good audio output

The LG AKA performed very well in the active external amplifier part of our traditional audio quality test, posting great scores all over the field. Its volume levels were below average, putting a minus next to that A mark.

There's some degradation when you plug in a pair of headphones, but it is limited to a moderate bump in stereo crosstalk, leaving the overall clarity great. Loudness fails to impress once again though, suggesting you better stick to less demanding headsets.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
LG AKA +0.02, -0.31 -93.0 93.2 0.0037 0.012 -98.3
LG AKA (headphones attached) +0.01, -0.07 -92.0 92.1 0.0096 0.026 -61.3
LG G2 mini +0.12, -0.03 -93.5 93.3 0.0023 0.015 -92.7
LG G2 mini (headphones attached) +0.09, -0.01 -93.1 92.9 0.012 0.042 -61.7
LG G2 +0.03, -0.28 -91.9 91.9 0.0097 0.011 -91.3
LG G2 (headphones attached) +0.07, -0.03 -91.5 91.8 0.037 0.041 -54.3
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini +0.06, -0.05 -93.5 92.7 0.0090 0.056 -86.2
Samsung Galaxy S4 mini (headphones attached) +0.08, -0.04 -93.2 91.8 0.029 0.089 -53.3

LG AKA frequency response

LG AKA frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

Web browser and other apps

The LG AKA comes with its own version of the stock Android browser, as well as Google's Chrome browser.

The stock browser packs the usual features: Incognito tabs, Bookmarks, Find in page and Desktop view. There is no Flash support. Pages can be saved locally to read offline, but videos cannot. Reader view is available, too.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

The stock web browser

QMemo+ features a plethora of features, including the ability to add location and weather info to your notes, draw and add text to nearly any type of screenshot or picture, as well as share and save your notes via a wide range of media.

LG AKA
LG AKA

QMemo+

The usual organizing tools are present as well - there is a Calendar, a Calculator, Tasks, Voice Recorder and Weather apps. A proper File Manager app is pre-installed too.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

Calendar • Tasks • Calculator • File Manager

There is no full blown office package, but you can open office files, including PDFs, thanks to the ThinkViewer app. If you need an edit option, you'll have to find another solution from the Play Store.

LG AKA
LG AKA

ThinkViewer

Great 8MP camera

The main camera on the LG AKA has an 8MP sensor that captures photos with a maximum resolution of 3264 x 2448 and 1080p videos at 30fps. Sadly, there's no option for 1080p videos @ 60fps, neither 720p @ 120fps as the Snapdragon 400 just can't handle it. The 2.1MP front-facing camera shoots 720p videos.

The camera benefits from the laser-assisted autofocus, which should help with focusing in low light.

LG AKA

LG AKA has the same camera interface as the LG G3. It is intentionally stripped down to house a bare minimum of on-screen controls. It's not as extreme as what Google did with the Nexus camera interface, but it is somewhat uncharacteristic from a maker that typically throws in camera features by the boatload. Still, all the shooting modes are easily organized in their own section. You can touch the screen to focus on a specific element, and can even set it to automatically shoot once it does so.

LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA camera UI

The LG AKA has an excellent 8MP camera. The amount of resolved detail is on a high level and we are happy to see excellent corner to corner sharpness. There are no issues with excessive noise or noise reduction.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA camera samples

The AKA HDR mode produces some eye-pleasing results. You can see in the following examples that it's able to achieve a more balanced exposure across the scene without going overboard.

LG AKA
LG AKA

HDR mode: before and after

The LG AKA is also capable of 360-degree panorama shots, and while those take some time to shoot, they came with no problems with the stitching. The quality is excellent - there is more than enough detail, the exposure is great as is the contrast, while the color reproduction is just superb. The portrait pano mode outs about 16,000 x 3,200 pixels sample, which is about a 50MP picture - amazing, indeed.

LG AKA

LG AKA

LG AKA panoramic samples taken in portrait and landscape modes

If you scan your AKA mascot with the camera you can use the AKA VR mode to take some pictures with your favorite alien. If you own more than one toy, you can add those to your library as well. Their virtual avatars are very cute, react on touch and can be rotated, zoomed in or out. Unfortunately, this exclusive camera mode saves 1MP photos (1280 x 720px - or the screen resolution).

LG AKA

A sample with the YoYo alien

The LG AKA is up for comparison with other capable 8MP cameras. It did well against the competition, and we like the amount of detail it can capture.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

LG AKA in our Photo compare tool

Video recording

The LG AKA records 1080p videos at 30fps. There's also a 720p shooting mode, but it too is at 30fps.

The user interface remains unchanged from the still image mode. You can shoot photos while filming, but they are at most 1080p in resolution.

The video bitrate of 17.6Mbps with mono sound recording with a bitrate of 156 Kbps and 48 kHz audio sampling rate.

The LG AKA managed to do a great job here, too. There's a decent amount of fine detail, while the colors and white balance are excellent.

Check out the 1080p video sample below.

You can also download a short sample taken straight out of the LG AKA by clicking here (0:09s @ 20MB).

LG AKA resolves enough detail and the colors are lively, but the white balance is mostly off under artificial light. If you are taking videos under normal daylight conditions you'll be fine, but inside they may look greenish as in our Good Light scene in the comparison tool.

The Low light performance is rather disappointing - the auto-focus fails occasionally, the noise is too high and the detail is poor.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

LG AKA in our Video compare tool

Final words

One thing that usually fails midrange phones is lack of personality. No worries there for the LG AKA, except perhaps that it may have too much of it. You know - too cheerful, too interactive, too pink and too yellow for certain settings, dresscodes, job descriptions and, ultimately, age.

Kids and teens seem like the most obvious target audience unless we're missing something. Maybe young adults who refuse to grow up? People who like cute things? Those who once had a Tamagotchi and give virtual pet apps five stars. People who think all Samsung phones look the same. People who put iPhones in weird cases with faces.

How about people who would gladly buy their kid a feature phone but there just aren't any of those left. The LG AKA is a feature phone of sorts - as in having a single defining feature that no one else offers. It isn't cheap for what it is if you can't get the AKA on a carrier deal. That being said up front, the LG AKA does what it does pretty well, never mind the gimmickry.

LG AKA

The mask and custom personalities are what makes a rather ordinary piece of technology quite unusual and fun. Your very own definition of fun on a smartphone is certainly different from the next guy's, and LG has probably accounted for that fact.

At the very least, you get to choose from four different characters. No matter which one you get, a pair of eyes will always look back at you - and you can change the personality hassle-free by simply snapping a new case on. The LG AKA will look and behave differently - custom notifications and personalization taken to a whole new level.

LG AKA key test findings:

  • The LG AKA offers a full-fledged native version of a virtual pet / custom notification app
  • Build quality is very good, the front mask is glossy and prone to smudges
  • The display quality is perfectly OK with rather high contrast ratio, but the reflective screen glass means mediocre sunlight legibility.
  • The battery life is excellent - with a 72-hour endurance rating it's a great performer
  • The Android 4.4 KitKat and LG launcher are becoming dated, but they still provide smooth user experience and plenty of features, some useful
  • There are elaborate distinct interfaces for the four characters - you can change them by changing the front panel. That's as far as notifications go though, the rest of the interface is standard Optimus UI with a playful theme
  • We rated the speaker loudness as Good, the ringing tones are subjectively quite loud
  • The performance (speed, multitasking) is reasonable for the class, but not for the price
  • The audio quality is very good, though a bit on the quiet side
  • Camera takes very good photos and OK 1080p videos, laser-assisted autofocus is really fast regardless of the available light conditions
  • The video player lacks DivX, WMV video and AC3 audio codec support, but supports subtitles

Sure, the LG AKA isn't the best smartphone you can get, especially at this price, but you can't get anything quite like it either. Beyond the mask and blinking eyes though, it's pretty much an LG G2 mini with the added laser-assisted auto-focus of the flagship.

The performance is reasonably smooth despite the dated chipset and, overall, the smartphone experience isn't secondary to the entertainment.

To put things in perspective, the LG AKA offers a Motorola Moto G or a Xiaomi Redmi 2 level of equipment for the price of an LG G2 or a Samsung Galaxy S4.

LG G2
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
Motorola Moto G 4G
Xiaomi Redmi 2

LG G2 • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4 • Motorola Moto G 4G • Xiaomi Redmi 2

That will hardly make any difference to the intended target audience though - and LG knows it. It's really simple - if you like the LG AKA, you go get it. There's nothing quite like it. The LG AKA is unusual enough to get anyone's attention. An easy one to like - honestly. More difficult to get around to owning one. But what do we know about phones that blink and wink. Leave them to the kids. Anyone up for a limited edition with the Eye of Sauron or Darth Vader on it?

LG AKA retail box

Just like the LG AKA itself, the bundle is rather unusual. The mandatory accessories are of course supplied, a 1.2A A/C adapter and a microUSB cable, along with a cheapish looking headset.

But half of the box is occupied by your AKA mascot, YoYo in our case. It's rather solid and heavy, with a pleasant rubbery feel to it. The mascots can be used in a dedicated selfie cam shooting mode, but more on that later.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA retail box

Finally, the box cover is a nice folding page, which introduces you to the four different AKA creatures.

LG AKA 360-degree view

LG AKA stands at 138.7 x 71.9 x 10mm and weighs 135g, which is about average for a 5" smartphone. Its mask adds an extra 1 to 3mm of thickness without putting on much weight. It also keeps the screen protected from scratches, so you won't need to get a case for that purpose.

Design and build quality

The LG AKA has the spirit and feel of the G series, scaled to its budget of course. The handset has clean and simple design with the trademark rear-placed power and volume keys. There is even the laser-assisted autofocus for the camera too. If it wasn't for the proprietary front covers, the AKA would have looked like the LG G2 mini with its matte textured battery cover.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA

The AKA's mask is made of glossy plastic, which is quite prone to fingerprints. LG did a great job shaping it though and it feels natural on top of the AKA. It snaps on firmly, and smoothly slides up and down to reveal whatever those smiling/asking/mysterious/drowsy eyes are looking at.

LG is selling all the proprietary cases separately (rear cover + mask), so when you've had enough of your Aka's original personality, you can easily change it just by snapping a new case on. There's a point system associated with buying new accessories for your Aka, which is an interesting (if a bit questionable) monetization strategy from LG.

The LG AKA is a nice phone with simple and efficient design. The mask is easy to use, and the comfortable rear control deck certainly helps the handling at this screen size. We've always been keen on the idea of the rear keys and this time the screen mask has made them even more relevant.

LG AKA
LG AKA

Handling the LG AKA

The overall handling of the AKA, despite the glossy mask, is very good. The phone is of solid build, the rear cover provides excellent grip thanks to the matte finish and texture. If you don't mind cleaning fingerprints off the mask every now and then, there is a good chance you'll like the AKA too.

Controls

Above the 5.0" IPS display, there is the earpiece and the 2.1MP secondary camera, capable of 1080p video recording. A hidden status LED and a couple of sensors are also around.

There are no hardware controls below the AKA's screen.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA front

The left and right sides of the LG AKA are completely bereft of controls as well. There is a lanyard eyelet in the top right corner - which will most likely be used for attaching charms.

LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA left and right sides

The top of the LG G2 features the secondary mic and the 3.5mm audio jack. The bottom has the microUSB port between two grilles: one for the primary mic and another one for the speaker.

LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA top and bottom sides

AKA's back is where things are quite familiar for the signature LG combo of volume controls each side of a Power/Lock key. The 8MP camera lens is placed left of the buttons, the LED flash and the focus assist are on the right.

When the screen is locked a long press on the Volume Up key launches the Quick Memo tool, while a long press on the Volume Down control fires up the camera. You can use that key as a shutter button too.

LG AKA
LG AKA
LG AKA

LG AKA back

Popping the battery cover open grants access to the removable 2610 mAh battery. Unfortunately, the microSD card and SIM slots aren't hot-swappable as the battery gets in the way.

LG AKA

The battery, microSD and SIM card slots.

post from sitemap