LG G5 Review
Announced last February in Barcelona during the Mobile World Congress, the LG G5 made headlines by being the world’s first modular smartphone. Aside from its flagship specs like the 5.3-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum Display, Snapdragon 820 CPU, 4GB RAM, and 16MP camera, it can accommodate modules such as the Cam Plus for photography, and Hi-Fi Plus powered by Bang & Olufsen for your tunes.
Design and Construction
If you compare it to its predecessor, the G4, LG took a different approach when it comes to the G5’s aesthetics. While the G4 exudes a more professional appeal with its edgy design and curved leather back, the G5 received a more youthful treatment – it’s rounder and curvy, like a smartphone with baby fats, but still feels premium thanks to its metal unibody and Gorilla Glass 4 that slightly curves at the top.
Looking at the obvious specs, on the front we have the 5.3-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum Display which equates to a pixel density of 554ppi. Above it are the earpiece, a few sensors, notifications light and 8MP front camera. Down below is the removable modular piece with LG logo.
Up top there’s the microphone and IR blaster with remote control functionality, while down at the bottom are the USB Type-C port, microphone, and loudspeaker.
On the left are the volume rocker with plastic build, while further down is the small button which ejects the modular piece. On the right is the Hybrid Dual-SIM tray for the SIM card and microSD slot.
Flip the G5 on its back and it will reveal two cameras – a 16MP main shooter and an 8MP wide-angle. Placed between the two are the LED flash and a couple of sensors. Found below it is the fingerprint scanner which also doubles as the power/lock button.
On hand, the G5 feels solid and doesn’t rattle even with its removable modular part. The feel though is a bit confusing as it is smooth all througout but is immediately ruined by that thin edgy groove around the device near the back. LG probably placed it there for grip.
As for the dimensions, it’s relatively thin at 7.7mm with reasonable heft at 159g.
This section tackles the modular features of the LG G5, an innovation that the Korean company has been really proud of. The concept is not new since it has been previously proposed in Google’s Project Ara.
What separates the G5 from the competition is it modular features. By removing the bottom piece (which then powers off the device as it removes the battery), you may now attach the Cam Plus and Hi-Fi Plus modules. Do note that the modules don’t have their own battery so you will need to transfer the battery pack and attach it to the modules before connecting to the G5.
The Cam Plus, as the name suggests, makes the G5 more photography-friendly by giving your hand more body to grip. It features a leather-like finish for its front exterior whie the rest is metallic. It also has a dedicated two-stage shutter button, video record button, zoom scroll, and a spring switch for quick camera app launch. It also has its own loudspeaker, USB Type-C port, and microphone so you can still use its full connectivity features.
As for the Hi-Fi Plus, it is powered by Bang & Olufsen Play Sound with a 32-bit DA converter and Amp. In other words, it produces great audio quality. Like the Cam Plus, it has a USB Type-C port, loudspeaker, and microphone, but LG added a 3.5mm audio jack so you can use your favorite high-end headphones.
Display and Multimedia
Display-wise, the G5’s 5.3-inch display with Quad HD resolution and IPS Quantum Display won’t disappoint. It’s pixel-packed at 554ppi, has vibrant colors, and really good viewing angles. Even under direct sunlight it still remains legible.
Sound-wise, the G5’s default loudspeaker is already good on its own with crisp trebles and noticeable base. It’s very loud but we noticed that it sometimes crackle when the volume is cranked up to maximum. But if you demand more from the G5 when it comes to audio, you may plug in the Hi-Fi Plus mentioned earlier.
OS, Apps and UI
Running the software department is Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. Like other Android UIs, the G5’s is straight-forward and doesn’t have an app drawer. All the apps installed are automatically placed in the home screen pages.
Navigation buttons are all on-screen (called Home Touch buttons) which can also be adjusted and rearranged inside Settings. You can add up to five Home Touch buttons and change its color.
Other features include the following:
* Smart settings – allows you to set profiles or apps to automatically launch when you leave your home, plug an accessory, or connect a Bluetooth device.
* Change fonts and text size.
* Smart Bulletin – adds an additional Home screen that shows customized info (e.g. Health, Calendar, Music, etc.)
As for the apps, there’s LG Health, LG Friends Manager, 360 VR manager, vr Channel, LG Smart World, and LG Remote. All in all you’re eft with 22.12GB of usable storage out of the 32GB. You can further expand it via microSD for up to 2TB at the sacrifice of your second SIM.
The G5 uses a dual rear camera but unlike many other before it, they actually operate independently of each other. One is a standard 16-megapixel camera while the other has an 8-megapixel sensor with a dramatic 135-degree field of view. When shooting photos, you can switch between the camera thru the camera app (an icon shown at the top center of the display shows a single tree and group of trees to signify the wide-angle lens).
The dual-LED, dual-tone flash is flanked in the middle of the two lenses along with the laser autofocus. When you attached the LG Camera Plus, the module provides additional functions like physical buttons and manual controls of the camera.
Of the two, the 8MP wide-angle camera gave more interesting results due to the very wide field of view that’s not normally seen in any other smartphone camera.
You can check out the sample photos below:
More samples below:
See below sample video clips as well:
Overall, the G5 has an impressive, and very handy, dual-cameras. You can use the 16MP shooter if you want a high-resolution image then just switch to the 8MP wide-angle to capture more of the scenery.
Performance and Benchmarks
If you’re looking for performance, the G5 won’t disappoint and can certainly dish it out with other flagships in the market thanks to its Snapdragon 820 processor, Adreno 530 GPU, and 4GB RAM. We didn’t spot any software glitches, random reboots or crashes. It gets warm though when shooting videos and playing games but not enough to cause discomfort. Check out the benchmark scores below:
* AnTuTu – 118,292
* Quadrant Standard – 43,075
* Vellamo – 3,546 (Multicore), 3,469 (Metal), 4,475 (Chrome)
* 3D Mark – 1,542
Connectivity and Call Quality
As a flagship device, the G5 is packed with connectivity features – WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, dual-SIM (hybrid), and LTE Cat.12. Call quality and mobile data are good as long as you’re in an area with healthy coverage.
At 2,800mAh, the G5 doesn’t seem impressive given that most high-end devices go for at least 3,000mAh. Light to moderate usage which involves constant WiFi connectivity, taking photos, browsing social media, and light calls and texts, the G5 can last a whole work day (8 to 9 hours).
When it comes to PC Mark, it was rated at 8 hours and 31 minutes while our video loop test (1080p video, Airplane mode, 50% brightness and volume with headset) clocked at 13 hours and 19 minutes. Overall, it’s still not bad.
In an age where every other smartphone looks and performs almost the same, it’s very hard to distinguish one flagship from the next. LG’s approach with the G5 is quite interesting and a first of many. The modular design offers a slew of possibilities and while the current available modules are the LG Cam Plus and the HiFi Plus, LG is opening this to 3rd-party developers and manufacturer to expand the functionality and features of the G5.
If and when that happens, the modular proposition of the LG G5 will become much more enticing and we do hope they will be revealed in the next few months. Perhaps, the only drawback for such a strategy is that it will make the total cost of ownership of the LG G5 more expensive when paired with the desired module.
In the end, the G5 is a testament that there is more room to innovate in the smartphone aside from build materials, camera quality and hardware performance. This could pave the way for other brands to follow suit but for the meantime, LG is taking the lead.
The LG G5 is officially launched in the Philippines today with a suggested retail price of Php34,990 which comes with the LG Camera Plus module.
LG G5 (H860N) specs:
5.3-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum Display @ 2560×1440, 554ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 4
Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Processor
Adreno 530 GPU
4GB LPDDR4 RAM
32GB UFS ROM
microSD up to 2 Terabytes
4G/LTE Cat. 12 up to 600Mbps
16MP rear camera, f1.8
8MP wide angle rear camera, f2.4
8MP front-facing camera
2,800mAh Li-Ion battery (removable)
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
LG Optimus UX 5.0 UI
Silver, Titan, Gold, Pink
149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7mm (dimensions)
What we liked about it:
* Impressive performance
* Great display quality
* Interesting camera setup
* Modular design
What we did not like:
* Un-inspiring design
* Low battery capacity compared to other flagships
* Additional modules are expensive