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Every so often, a carrier will decide to add a new name to an unlocked device. The LG Reflect is one such case — it’s a blow-for-blow clone of the more ubiquitous LG K51. However, the software experience offers a little something different. Find out what gives this version its shine in our LG Reflect review.
See also: The best budget phones you can buy
What you need to know about the LG Reflect
- LG Reflect (3GB, 32GB): ~$119 at select carriers ($199 launch price)
The Reflect launched at the lower end of LG’s smartphone range in June 2020, alongside its unlocked sibling, the LG K51. The main difference is the Reflect’s close relationship with the Tracfone family. It’s built to pair with all of the networks, and our version bears a Tracfone logo on the back panel below the cameras. The Reflect did not bring a spec boost in its wake, so you’re still looking at a single 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage configuration. You’ll get the same Titan Gray finish as the unlocked model as well.
Our LG Reflect was running on Android 10 with LG UX 9.0 for the duration of testing. Unfortunately, it does not appear to be part of LG’s Android 11 plans, which limits the Reflect’s future prospects. LG has also exited the smartphone market since the launch of the Reflect, all but eliminating support options.
Under the hood, LG chose MediaTek’s Helio P22 chipset to pull all of the strings. It’s paired with a large 6.5-inch HD+ display and a 4,000mAh battery to keep the lights on. The headphone jack, USB-C port, and mono-firing speaker are all packed in across the phone’s bottom edge.
Related: The best Tracfone smartphones
Tracfone’s plastic packaging comes bundled with a USB-C cable, a charging block, and all of the startup paperwork you could ask for. You’ll get a SIM ejector as well to help you get set up on your new network. Just remember that the packaging may vary based on your preferred TracFone brand.
LG’s Reflect is priced along the lines of the OnePlus Nord N200, Nokia 5.4, and Motorola Moto G Power (2021), though it doesn’t keep up on the spec sheet. If you’re determined to keep an LG phone in your pocket at this price point, you may want to look at the Stylo 6. It offers a larger display with a built-in stylus.
This may be an affordable phone on some of America’s most popular MVNOs, but its build quality feels far above its price. The Titan Gray finish gives the LG Reflect an air of quality, and the device feels solid from the moment you spring it from the box.
Budget-friendly phones sometimes tend to leave the camera array on the back burner, but the LG Reflect mostly finds a way to avoid this common pitfall. Its 13MP main camera works well in most lighting conditions and performs without complaint outdoors. However, the real hero here is LG’s AI Cam feature. It tracks countless data points while you compose your image to offer tips on improving your shot. For example, the image of two Penn State branded steins in the samples later in this review was taken in low light, yet it looks bright as day.
AI Cam is the saving grace of LG's 13MP main lens.
We always appreciate a headphone jack, and the bottom-firing speaker gets impressively loud, too, pairing well with the large 6.5-inch HD+ display that’s excellent for catching up on your favorite shows. If you’re trying to stay locked in, you can opt for headphones, but I had no problems sharing videos with family and friends during a weekend tailgate.
LG’s 4,000mAh battery also offers plenty of juice to keep the Reflect rolling all day long. I had no problems pushing past a day’s usage, even while hopping between apps and streaming music. The included block and cable got me back on my feet quickly enough too.
See also: The best phone charging accessories
What’s not so good?
While the LG Reflect carries over everything we liked from the LG K51, it doesn’t do much to fix any flaws. In fact, the Reflect comes with a slightly worse overall set of software onboard, with quite a few bloatware apps. Everything you see in the image above comes preinstalled, as does the Discover Bar. While the Discover Bar isn’t quite as storage-hungry as all of these apps, it does just about the same job as Google’s Discover feed and thus feels surplus to requirements.
The Reflect also turns out to be a fingerprint magnet — not unlike many of LG’s other budget devices. You’re bound to spend a lot of time wiping down the Titan Gray back panel unless you add a protective case. However, the phone is already pretty big, so you might not be itching to add much more bulk to your pocket.
The Discover Bar and extra apps put the Reflect behind the eight ball when it comes to speed and storage.
LG is a firm believer in the MediaTek Helio P22 chip. The Helio P22 is already three years old and is far from the newest member of MediaTek’s P-series. Although it often works well for one task at a time, the processor starts to show its age once you dip into multitasking — something not helped by the meager 3GB of RAM or the measly 32GB of storage. On the latter, LG’s version of Android takes up 14GB of the precious 32GB total storage, with preinstalled apps chewing away at another 2.4GB. By the time you’re all said and done, you’ll be reaching for a microSD card to expand your storage within a month or two of buying the Reflect.
See also: The best microSD cards you can buy
The Reflect might not be your phone of choice if you love to snap selfies. It carries a decent 13MP selfie camera in its central notch, but pictures tend to come out soft. This was an issue on the K51 as well — the camera just doesn’t grab background details in the way you would hope. The saving grace is that LG added its AI Cam technology on the selfie shooter, too.
LG Reflect camera samples
LG Reflect specs
1,560 x 720 (19.5:9)
MediaTek Helio P22
Rear triple camera:
13MP main (f/1.8)
5MP ultrawide (f/2.2)
Shipped with Android 9
Update to Android 10 available
6.57 x 3.07 x 0.33 inches
(166.96 x 77.92 x 8.47mm)
Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner
LG Reflect review: Should I buy it?
The LG Reflect is a good alternative to the K51 in a few situations. For example, it’s the only way to go if you’re on one of TracFone’s family of carriers. If you’re on another carrier like Boost Mobile or Metro by T-Mobile, the K51 presents a better path to take. Overall, the design is solid and the Reflect feels good to carry around. It offers a slightly different software experience with the unnecessary Discover Bar and a few bloatware apps, which limits your usable space out of the box.
A few other options that stick in the same price bracket include the OnePlus Nord N200 ($239), which comes with the added benefit of 5G data speeds. You could also try the Motorola Moto G series for size, including the Moto G Power ($249), Moto G Stylus ($299), and the Moto G Play ($169).