new mid-range

LG’s affordable phones get back-mounted buttons, but no G4 in sight

Ahead of Mobile World Congress, where Samsung, HTC, and other handset makers are planning to unveil their high-end devices for 2015, LG has bolstered its lineup with four new devices — but the anticipated successor to last year’s high-end LG G3 isn’t one of them.

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At a glance, the four new devices — named Magma, Spirit, Leon and Joy — look a lot like last year’s LG G3. They use the same slightly curved “design language,” including LG’s rear-mounted volume and sleep buttons. But these phones aren’t going to compete in the high end with the Galaxy S6 or the HTC One M9. They’re affordably priced devices, but all four phones will ship with Android 5.0.

Here are the specs: All four phones are remarkably similar; the main difference is screen size. The Magna comes with a 5-inch 720p display, the LG Spirit is packing a 4.7-inch 720p screen, the LG Leon has a 4.5-inch 854×480 panel, and the low-end LG Joy has a 4-inch 800 x 480 screen. None of the cameras are world-beaters, either, with the LG Magna coming with a 8-megapixel rear shooter, down to the LG Joy with a 5-MP camera.

They’re all powered by unspecified 1.2GHz or 1.3GHz quad-core processors, and all four come with LTE support and 1GB of RAM. There are alternate versions that lack LTE, along with other downgraded specs, and sport a plastic rear shell instead of a metallic build. The LG Joy looks like it comes with soft buttons, instead of Android’s on-screen buttons, and its sleep button is on the side of the handset, not its rear shell.

Unfortunately, these phones don’t look like LG’s Aka line, a line of colorful mid-range phones with personalities and names. They will, however, have LG software features like Gesture Shot, which can take a selfie triggered by your hand, and Glance View, which debuted on recent premium LG phones and takes advantage of OLED displays to show notifications when part of the screen is off.

This announcement could indicate that the LG G4 may be a few months away — but in the meantime, LG’s latest high-end device, the LG G Flex 2, is launching in the United States soon. Price for the new devices hasn’t been announced, but they’re expected to roll out to “select markets” this week.

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