LG K51 review: More polish than punch

LG may be done with the smartphone industry, but it’s still a familiar face with affordable wireless carriers in the US and around the world. The LG K51 – and its identical twin, the LG Reflect – is one of the most popular models with a number of wireless carriers, especially MVNOs. It has lots of good specs on paper and a price under $ 200 that seems hard to beat. Find out in our LG K51 review how all parts fit together.

See also: The Best Budget Phones You Can Buy

What you need to know about the LG K51

An image of the LG K51 opened from the top of the home screen

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

  • LG K51 (3GB, 32GB): $ 149 / € 139 / £ 120 ($ 199 introductory price)

The LG K51, which launched in May 2020, is at the lower end of LG’s remaining smartphone range. It comes in just one configuration and one color: Titan Gray. You don’t have an excessive amount of RAM or storage to work with – only 3GB and 32GB respectively – but you can always add a microSD card to the storage. The LG K51 we tested came straight out of the box with Android 10 and the LG UX 9.0 Skin. It hasn’t received an Android 11 update yet and we don’t have a schedule for a possible update in our Android 11 roadmap.

Along with the limited RAM and base storage, you’ll find MediaTek’s octa-core Helio P22 processor running the show. It’s backed by a 4,000 mAh battery and a 6.5-inch HD Plus display to top it off. LG has a headphone jack on the bottom edge of the phone, a USB-C 2.0 port and a mono speaker.

Related: The Best LG Phones You Can Buy

The scope of delivery includes a charging block and a USB-C cable as well as a SIM ejector, and our version came with a start guide from Metro by T-Mobile. Of course, the paperwork can vary depending on the cellular provider.

The LG K51 is priced close to the OnePlus Nord N200, Motorola Moto G Power (2021), and Nokia 5.4, although all three offer stricter specs. Those who tend towards an LG device in this price range should also take a look at the LG Stylo 6 with its larger display and integrated input pen.

What is good?

The back of the LG K51 on a table

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The quality of workmanship of the LG K51 is evident when you unpack it. This is a budget friendly phone that just feels solid. Although the case is made of plastic, it doesn’t feel cheap or thin. While we praise the hardware, LG’s headphone jack deserves praise, as does the downward facing speaker. There’s only a single speaker, but you can give the volume a boost to enjoy your favorite songs.

It’s also nice to have a large 6.5-inch display that goes with this speaker. You get plenty of space to catch up on your favorite Netflix series or play light games.

The LG K51 is available from numerous mobile phone providers with their own apps. While we can’t talk about the pre-installed bloat on all of them, the Metro by T-Mobile version keeps the extras to a minimum. You can find a standard set of account management apps and the like, but Metro mostly lets you do your own thing.

The look and feel of the K51 go way beyond its affordable price.

The 4,000 mAh battery offers plenty of juice to keep you moving all day. I’ve managed to bridge a day of moderate use well, whether it’s surfing social media, streaming music, or emailing. The supplied block and cable will get you up to speed quickly enough.

Anytime you look at a budget phone, you are sure to have camera concerns. LG managed to allay some of those concerns with a good 13MP main lens for the price. In most lighting situations, the shooter works fine, and LG’s AI Cam takes everything a step further. It uses thousands of data points to analyze your subject and suggest ways to improve your shot. For example, AI Cam can recommend that you switch to the ultra-wide camera so that you can only include a few friends or family in your shot.

What’s not so good?

The LG K51 ports exposed on a table.

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The 6.5-inch IPS-LCD of the K51 turns out to be a double-edged sword. It’s big enough, but while colors are good overall, we’ve seen other phones in this price range strive for sharper resolution, including some from LG’s own lineup.

Like many other affordable phones we tested, the LG K51 is a fingerprint magnet. The full-length titanium gray back panel looks nice, but unless you invest in an enclosure, you’ll definitely spend some of your time wiping it clean.

The Helio P22 processor comes off a bit short in combination with only 3 GB of RAM.

Unfortunately, there are times when the K51’s Helio P22 processor isn’t quite up to the task. It works for easy usage but falls behind when you switch between apps or try too many games. This could be an example of the chip showing its age as it hit the market back in 2018. MediaTek has expanded the Helio P range since the launch of the P22, so there are certainly other options that LG could have chosen.

See also: The Best Boost Cell Phones You Can Get

Some of the processing problems can stem from the limited 3GB of RAM as it can quickly become overloaded with too many running tasks. LG’s 32 GB basic memory is also insufficient, as you can only use a fraction of it. Our version of the LG K51 required a whopping 13 GB of the 32 GB for Android itself and almost 2 GB for other preinstalled apps. When all is said and done, the K51 only gives you around 17GB of usable space unless you resort to a microSD card.

You might also want to look elsewhere if you want to snap tons of selfies. The K51’s front camera is usable, but the images tend to be a bit soft. Check out the grasses in my selfie examples below – they tend to sacrifice details almost instantly. On the other hand, you get the same AI Cam features for the front camera as it does for the rear options.

LG K51 camera examples

LG K51 specifications

LG K51
advertisement6.5 in
1,560 x 720 (19.5: 9)
processorMediaTek Helio P22
storage32 GB
CamerasTriple rear camera:
13MP main light (f / 1.8)
5MP ultra wide angle (f / 2.2)
2MP depth


IP ratingNone
softwareSupplied with Android 9
Update to Android 10 available
Dimensions6.57 x 3.07 x 0.33 in
(166.96 x 77.92 x 8.47 mm)
7.17 ounces (203.4 g)
ColoursTitanium gray
safetyFingerprint scanner attached to the back

LG K51 review: should I buy it?

The LG K51 cameras and the fingerprint reader

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

If you’re looking for an entry-level smartphone that goes way beyond its price, the LG K51 might be for you. It’s big and powerful, and the display and speaker are great for streaming videos and music. Even better, the 4,000 mAh battery lasts longer than all day, and the headphone jack means you can keep your favorite songs to yourself. However, this isn’t a processor powerhouse, and you should look elsewhere if you have gaming or heavy usage on your mind. There are also question marks when it comes to support, because LG has decided to withdraw from the smartphone business. If you are (should be!) Concerned with software and security updates, then there are more reliable alternatives out there.

The LG K51 is big and powerful, but it’s not the fastest or best-supported budget phone you can get.

The LG K51 is priced close to the OnePlus Nord N200 ($ 239), although OnePlus has by far the better spec sheet, not to mention the N200 offers 5G on T-Mobile’s network. You might also want to take a look at Motorola’s Moto G series, specifically the Moto G Power ($ 249). A final competitor is the Nokia 5.4 ($ 249) with four times the storage, a faster processor, and better cameras on both sides.

A picture of the LG K51 in hand, open to Metro apps

LG K51

The LG K51 looks great and is solid in the hand. MediaTek’s Helio P22 chip keeps the lights on with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.

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