“A ‘modular’ approach to smartphones”
The LG G5 looks like one of the most interesting phones to come out so far in 2016. The company has a implemented a modular system for accessories which it hopes will set this phone apart from other flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and the HTC 10.
Priced at $650 for the SIM-free model, the G5 sits slightly below both the S7 Edge and the Apple iPhone 6S, even though broadly they are all in the same bracket. However, unlike its competition, the price of the G5 will vary greatly depending on the modules that you opt for. For example, the Cam Plus module which has an integrated 1200mAh battery along with a zoom wheel, record button, shutter key and hand grip retails at around $69.99, which is not exactly cheap.
LG has swapped out the plastic body of the G4 with a metal one on the G5. But, even though it looks sleek, the device is oddly hollow when you pick it up. The metal’s finish is peculiar and makes it feel “plasticky” and not “microdized” metal as advertised. Overall, the design is very clean with only the volume buttons and the SIM tray present on either side. Like the previous model, the lock switch is on the rear of the phone, below the camera sensors.
The modular system is the phone’s big feature. While it’s not quite as full-fledged as Google’s Project Ara, it is quite unique and helps the device stand out from amongst the crowd.
It is pretty simple to operate. There is an almost indistinguishable button on the side of the handset. Press it and the bottom part of the phone will pop out. Pull it out and the battery comes off as well. The bottom part of this unit is where you can attach the modules (or “Friends”). There are two modules available at launch, the aforementioned camera module and a DAC which add another headphone jack and 32-bit audio. None of these devices are enticing accessories and are also quite expensive. There is no way to know if the modules you buy will be compatible with any future handsets.
While the display’s in LG’s earlier flagship devices were by no means perfect, they have had their strengths and the company has managed to improve the display with each model as well. The company hasn’t adopted 4K yet and the G5 sports a quad-HD 2560×1440 IPS LCD panel. While the pixels remain the same, the screen is slightly smaller than earlier at 5.3 inches versus 5.5 inches in the G4.
The screen is very sharp and extremely bright (max. 900 nits). Colors are vibrant and viewing angles are great as well. Sold black levels mean that the contrast ratio is great. Like the Samsung Galaxy S7, the G5 has a special “always-on” mode which lets you see the time and important notifications even when the device is locked. Even though the implementation of the system is better, and more energy efficient than Samsung’s, it is not as customizable and more distracting because of the LCD panel.
A Snapdragon 820 SoC with an Adreno 530 GPU and 4GB RAM power the G5. There is only one storage option: 32GB.
As expected, the G5 performs extremely well when handling normal tasks like scrolling through menus, opening apps, etc. Even graphically intensive games like Hitman: Sniper work without any problems. The phone scores high in all the usual tests with 5231 in the multicore Geekbench 3 test. This is behind both the Galaxy S7 and the HTC 10.
Even though it supports MicroSD cards, the G5 doesn’t support adoptable storage. Adoptable storage is a new feature introduced in Android Marshmallow which allows the phone to treat SD cards like internal memory, meaning that there will be fewer performance issues.
Cameras have always been one of LG’s stronger suits, and this continues in the G5 as well. The primary is a 16MP shooter with laser autofocus and optical image stabilization. It produces natural colors and captures even intricate details really well. While the autofocus system struggles a bit in low light, the images produced are general good.
The rear also houses another 8MP wide angle lens which has a field-of-view of 135 degrees, helping you take pictures and videos which are almost GoPro-esque. It is excellent for taking landscape shots but, since it’s a smaller sensor, the results aren’t as sharp as the ones produced in the main cam.
4K videos taken with the phone look great. It’s crisp, detailed and smooth. However, taking long-ish videos does cause the device to heat up slightly.
Selfies can be taken with an 8MP front camera which has a wide angle lens, letting you cram more people into the frame. The quality is not as great as some of its competition, but gets the job done anyway.
On full charge, the G5 should last an entire day. It has a 2800mAh battery, which isn’t the biggest available. But, it does have excellent standby time. Leaving the phone on standby overnight only uses about 3% of the charge.
The device supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and you can fully charge the device in about an hour. However, the supplied USB-C charger only supports Quick Charge 2.0, which is a bummer.
- Beautiful display
- Wide-angle camera
- Fast-charging USB-C
- Modules are expensive and limited
- Build quality
The LG G5 is a solid phone with some excellent features. But, it is by no means a flawless device, not least of which is the ambiguity surrounding the modules and whether third-party manufacturers will bother making any that truly elevates the phone.