Over the past few years, midrange phones have come into their own. Gone are the mediocre build quality and disappointing displays; instead, you can easily find something with a gorgeous screen and top-notch construction for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, the LG K92 5G ($400) is the wrong kind of blast from the past. This 5G smartphone can’t match its obvious competitors, the Google Pixel 4a 5G ($499) and TCL 10 5G UW ($400). It’s a carrier-locked phone, like the TCL 10 5G, but only works on AT&T’s painfully slow low-band 5G network. It also suffers from poky performance, short battery life, and lackluster build quality that make it hard to recommend.
Big Display, Flimsy Build
At 6.6 by 3.0 by 0.3 inches (HWD) and 7.1 ounces, the K92 5G is a big phone that will fight for room in your pocket. The front of the phone is dominated by a 6.7-inch LCD with pronounced bezels all the way around.
Display resolution clocks in at 2,400 by 1,080 with a 393ppi pixel density. The display is bright and crisp; colors skew slightly warm. Viewing angles are decent, but you’ll definitely lose some clarity if you’re not looking at the display head on. The biggest issue, however, is the very noticeable shadow beneath the camera cutout. Head on, you’ll only notice a slight shadow, but if you look at the phone at any other angle, it becomes very pronounced.
The back of the K92 5G is constructed of a glossy purple plastic. It looks sharp at first but picks up fingerprints and scratches very easily. Though other midrange phones like the Pixel 4a use plastic backplates, they still feel substantial. The K92 5G, on the other, hand, feels a little flimsy. If you tap its back, you’ll be greeted with a hollow thud.
There’s a thick horizontal stripe for the camera module and flash on the back of the phone. Everything, with the exception of the primary lens, sits flush against the phone and looks very sleek.
The speaker grille, USB-C charging port, and headphone jack sit on the bottom of the bottom of the phone. The top is home to a SIM/microSD slot. On the left you’ll find the Google Assistant and volume buttons. The buttons are thin and fairly flush with the phone, and if you have small hands they can be difficult to reach.
There’s a power button on the right side of the phone that also houses the fingerprint sensor. It’s accurate but a little slow. When you tap your finger to unlock, the screen goes dark for about a second, leaving you to wonder whether your fingerprint registered at all.
Though plastic backplates tend to withstand drops and dings better than their glass counterparts, it feels like there’s very little additional support behind the K92 5G’s backplate. When we’ve noticed this in the past, most often on entry-level phones, we’ve found them to be much more prone to cracks.
There’s also no IP rating on the phone, meaning any accidental immersion in water is likely going to mean its demise. And then there’s the issue of the display. LG doesn’t state that the K92 5G uses any sort of strengthened glass for its display, and we reached out to the company and did not receive a reply. After some digging, it appears the display is made of traditional sodium glass, which will not weather drops well at all. If you’re planning to make the K92 5G your next daily-use phone, you’ll definitely want to pick up a sturdy case.
Half the 5G Goodness
When it comes to connectivity, the K92 5G is a bit of a strange bird. It’s a carrier exclusive for AT&T and Cricket Wireless that is optimized for that network, and it is a 5G phone, but it will never work on AT&T’s ultra-fast mmWave network because it only has a sub-6GHz modem. That said, AT&T has played down the importance of its mmWave network, to the point of never releasing a map of the areas it covers.
Overall connectivity is poor, but that’s due more to AT&T’s network and software requirements than to the K92 5G’s hardware. We tested the phone on AT&T’s 5G network in Memphis and recorded average speeds of 28.4Mbps down and 3.81Mbps up. On a less congested network in Arkansas, average speeds increased to 45.2Mbps down and 4.67Mbps up. I suspect LTE network speeds would be much better, but AT&T disables the option to turn off 5G connectivity on its phones, so there’s no way for us to verify it or for a user to take advantage of it.
We found call quality to be adequate during our test calls. Maximum earpiece volume clocks in at 88dB, which is loud enough to use in just about any scenario. We noticed some static at higher volumes during half of our test calls. Noise cancellation, however, worked perfectly on every call.
Audio quality is disappointing. Though the K92 5G boasts stereo speakers, the top and bottom speakers are unbalanced; in our tests, the bottom speaker maxed out at 101dB compared with just 81dB for the top speaker. In general, audio is forward and harsh, creating significant congestion. Fortunately, there’s a headphone jack on board for wired audio.
The K92 5G supports dual-band Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth 5.1. NFC is also onboard for mobile payments and boarding passes.
With the exception of the recently released OnePlus Nord N10 5G, the LG K92 is the only 5G smartphone in the US that uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 690 processor. It’s a step down from the 700-series processors that have become common on midrange 5G phones such as the Google Pixel 4a, the Revvl 5G UW, and the TCL 10 5G UW. There’s 6GB of RAM as well as 128GB of storage, of which just 95GB is available when you open the box. You can add storage with a microSD card.
In theory, the K92’s Snapdragon 690 chipset should be powerful enough to hold its own for the average user, but we found it limped along in our tests. Apps took a little longer than expected to open, screen transitions lagged, and, on more than one occasion, the phone briefly froze up when we opened apps.
Gaming is a miss as well. We tested the K92 5G with Alto’s Odyssey and Asphalt 8: Airborne for nearly two hours and noticed long load times and intermittent skipped frames. The phone froze entirely at one point while playing Asphalt 8, forcing us to reboot it.
Benchmark tests yielded interesting results. On Geekbench 5, a suite of tests that measures raw computing power, the K92 5G earned 602 single-core (SC) and 1,734 multi-core (MC) scores. That’s on par with the OnePlus Nord N10 (578 SC/1,846MC) and even the more powerful TCL 10 5G UW (618 SC/1,911MC).
Of course, Geekbench results only tells part of the story. On PCMark 2.0 and Basemark Web, benchmark suites that use real-world applications, the K92 5G lagged behind on tasks like video editing and web browsing. Add in a GFXBench Car Chase Offscreen score of 14fps versus the average score of 21fps we’ve seen on Snapdragon 765 chipsets, it starts to look like the phone’s underwhelming GPU may be at least partially to blame for some of the lag we experienced.
A 4,000mAh battery powers the K92 5G. Despite the phone’s energy-efficient processor, its battery is anemic for a phone with a 6.7-inch display. In our battery drain test, which streams HD video over Wi-Fi at full brightness, the K92 5G eked out just 8 hours and 7 minutes before shutting down. What’s more, we found that the battery depleted quickly even when it wasn’t being used; during our week of testing, the battery drained an average of 17 percent overnight.
If you do find yourself veering into the red by the end of the day, the K92 5G supports fast charging with Quick Charge 4.0. That means you can easily gain a few hours of battery life in about five minutes, or add 80% charge to your depleted battery in about an hour. Wireless charging, however, is not an option.
Cameras That (Mostly) Shine in Good Light
On the back of the K92 5G, you’ll find a quad camera stack with a 64MP primary lens with an f/1.8 aperture, a 5MP ultra-wide sense with an f/2.2 aperture, and 2MP depth and macro sensors. A 16MP selfie camera with an f/2.0 aperture sits on the front of the phone.
Let’s start with the 64MP primary lens. In good light, it does a surprisingly solid job. Our test shots were crisp with excellent background detail and depth of field. In low light, there was some loss of fine detail, and we noticed overly aggressive noise cancellation in a few test shots, but overall, the K92 5G does well for a midrange phone.
The 5MP ultra-wide lens did a pretty decent job in good light. There was no complex distortion like we often see on midrange wide-angle lenses. However, there was a noticeable loss of fine detail in most of our shots. Low-light photos, on the other hand, featured noticeable edge noise. There were some unexplained halos in a few shots that may have been caused by natural phenomena.
The K92 5G’s macro lens, like most we’ve tested, fails to stand out. Nearly all our test shots appeared flat and had significant detail loss in the foreground.
The 16MP front-facing camera does an excellent job in good light. All of our test photos were crisp with excellent depth of field. In low light, however, the selfie cam struggles. Our test shots looked flat and noise started to creep in around the edges.
LG offers several different Portrait mode options on the K92 5G. Thanks to the 5MP depth sensor, all work well on the rear camera. For our test shots, we used the Blur setting. All of our test shots had a natural-looking bokeh with accurate subject mapping.
Portraits with the selfie cam are a bit more hit or miss. We found issues with subject mapping around shoulders and hats in nearly every shot. In photos where the subject and background were the same color, we noticed areas where the bokeh effect simply didn’t work.
Android 10 With Dozens of Unwelcome Extras
The K92 5G ships features Android 10 with LG’s custom UI. Over the past few years, LG’s skin has become more user-friendly, but it’s still a pretty heavy-handed take on Android. Icons have a unique look, the Settings menu is organized a little differently, and even the Search bar is not the same as you’ll find on stock Android. It’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but if you’re not used to LG devices, it takes a while to get your bearings.
Unfortunately, the K92 is filled with nearly two dozen bloatware applications, including shopping apps, games, and AT&T and LG’s branded apps. It’s excessive and completely inexcusable for an unsubsidized phone to ship with nearly 15GB of apps you didn’t request.
It’s not clear whether the K92 5G will get an upgrade to Android 11. If it does, expect to see it in the distant future, since it will need to be pushed through the carrier. We’ve reached out to LG inquire about future software upgrades but have yet to hear back.
Simply Not a Contender
The LG K92 5G sounds like a solid smartphone on paper, but we found it to be a weak competitor when compared to the Google Pixel 4a and TCL 10 5G UW. Given the quality concerns, poor battery life, and underwhelming performance—not to mention its mediocre display—it’s hard for us to find any outstanding features that makes the K92 5G worth consideration. AT&T customers looking for a 5G phone will find the Pixel 4a 5G a far superior option.