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LG Premier Pro Plus review: Finding value for under $100
LG Premier Pro Plus
Retail price: $89.99$89.99 at Amazon
What we like
What we don't like
The under $100 Android smartphone segment is a tough place to be, no matter who you are. It’s all about finding the right balance of features and sacrifices to get the best overall experience. The LG Premier Pro Plus does its best to walk that fine line. Find out how it fares in our LG Premier Pro Plus review.
See also: The best budget phones you can buy
What you need to know about the LG Premier Pro Plus
- LG Premier Pro Plus (2GB/32GB): $89.99 (prices vary based on carrier)
The Premier Pro Plus is an entry-level smartphone from LG. Released in early 2020, it serves as a direct successor to the LG Premier Pro, and it’s a solid improvement across the board. The RAM and storage are limited at 2GB and 32GB, respectively, but you can add a microSD card for extra space. LG offers just one colorway with a shiny silver mirror-like finish. The Premier Pro Plus runs Android 9.0 Pie out of the box, but can be updated to Android 10. There’s no word on platform upgrades beyond that, but considering the price and LG’s departure from the smartphone industry, you shouldn’t buy this phone expecting long-term support.
Under the hood, you’ll find MediaTek’s Helio P22 leading the charge — the same chipset powering LG’s larger K51 and Reflect. As mentioned before, the phone offers limited storage, and the battery falls on the small side at 3,500mAh. LG’s 6.1-inch FullVision notched display caps off the overall presentation, and the HD Plus resolution is plenty sharp given the low price point.
Related: The best Straight Talk phones
The Premier Pro Plus comes bundled with a USB-C cable and charging block in the box. You also get a SIM ejector tool and carrier-dependent paperwork to help you get up and running.
LG’s Premier Pro Plus falls into the same price range as the Motorola Moto E and the Samsung Galaxy A12 at around $100.
Like its K51 sibling, the Premier Pro Plus feels great in hand. The smooth, rounded edges fit comfortably in your palm, and it’s easy to feel out all of the side-mounted buttons. You shouldn’t have too much trouble reaching across the entire 6.1-inch display, as the side bezels are nice and slim, too.
The overall design of the LG Premier Pro Plus is reminiscent of a more expensive device, which makes the near-$100 price all the better. It carries over the same storage and processor as LG’s other mid-range devices, but they have more chance to shine, given the smaller footprint. While MediaTek’s Helio P22 doesn’t always perform as you’d expect on the larger K51 which carries the same chipset, it’s a fitting engine for light use — calls, texts, basic browsing — on a much cheaper phone like the Premier Pro Plus.
LG's design department punched well above its weight class in creating the Premier Pro Plus.
You’ll also find the rear cameras on the LG Premier Pro Plus good enough for most situations. The main 13MP shooter is one of LG’s standard offerings for budget-friendly phones, and it works well given good lighting. The AI Cam feature can also be helpful in a few situations as it offers tips to improve your snaps. AI Cam relies on thousands of data points to analyze your scene, then makes suggestions on framing or switching to the ultra-wide camera. It’s nowhere near a leading camera phone, but for the price, the primary camera is perfectly adequate.
What’s not so good?
The Premier Pro Plus looks sleek with its shiny mirrored finish, at least until you pick it up. You’ll start seeing fingerprints almost immediately (see above), and it’s tough to keep the glossy plastic back panel clean for very long. I wiped the phone carefully before snapping pictures for this review, but you can see how long that lasted in the shot above. A matte finish with the same shape and style would have given the Premier Pro Plus a serious boost.
Related: The best Tracfone smartphones to get
LG’s Android skin, LG UX, feels a little dated and our Tracfone variant arrived with more than a little bit of bloatware. Some of the onboard Tracfone apps also redirected to their Google counterparts, which is bizarre. I can excuse an app or two when it comes to bloat on a sub-$100 phone, but there’s so much more once you get the phone set up. You’re looking at TikTok, Wish, Chime, Rummy Stars, Spades Royale, and not one but two versions of solitaire.
Another key part of the LG UX experience is the Discover Bar. It’s somewhat similar to Google Discover, though it pops up as a bar on the side of your lock screen and again as a part of the notification shade. The problem is that this again looks dated, and there’s no good way to remove the Discover Bar from your notification shade.
The Premier Pro Plus falls victim to a bit too much bloatware, including not one but two versions of Solitaire.
The Premier Pro Plus also struggles when it comes to multitasking. Although the Helio P22 works well enough with light tasks, I found that it really started to lag if I was downloading updates for apps or hopping between a few apps too quickly. Some of this lag under medium load may come down to the paltry 2GB of RAM as well — it’s simply not enough juice for some of today’s larger apps.
It’s also tough to justify just 32GB of base storage given how little of it you can actually use. I didn’t download any additional apps during my testing, yet I found myself with just 14GB of usable storage. The system itself demands 14GB of your total, with the bloatware mentioned above consuming another 3.3GB.
Finally, although the main camera is decent and the AI Cam is helpful, the ultra-wide camera is quite poor. The details are often soft, which is best exemplified in the comparison slider below. The Premier Pro Plus also seemed to struggle at identifying edges for portraits, such as a few locks of my hair and the pattern on my shoulder below.
LG Premier Pro Plus camera samples
LG Premier Pro Plus specs
|LG Premier Pro Plus|
1,560 x 720 (19.5:9)
|Processor||MediaTek Helio P22|
|Cameras||Rear dual camera:|
|Software||Shipped with Android 9|
Update to Android 10 available
|Dimensions||6.15 x 2.92 x 0.34 inches|
(156.21 x 74.17 x 8.36mm)
|Security||Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner|
LG Premier Pro Plus review: Should I buy it?
The LG Premier Pro Plus is a solid entry-level smartphone. It makes a few cuts to stay right around $100, but LG made no sacrifices on the overall style. You might mistake the overall look and feel for a more expensive device, which makes it a good choice for someone picking up their first smartphone. It’s not a great pick for power users, but the Helio P22 chipset should keep up with light tasks. The software also isn’t the cleanest around and LG’s decision to leave the smartphone industry means software support will soon be non-existent. If you care about security updates (you should!) then look elsewhere.
The Premier Pro Plus makes a few cuts to stay under $100, but LG made no sacrifices on the overall style.
As far as alternatives go, it’s tough to top the Samsung Galaxy A12 ($179) or the Motorola Moto E ($149) if you have a strict budget. The Moto E is closest in size, age, and specs, while the Galaxy A12 offers a more powerful chip and a much larger battery. If you want one of LG’s own alternatives, you’ll have to raise your budget for the K51 ($199) or the stylus-toting Stylo 6 ($249) — though these both suffer from the same software uncertainty.