LG G5 review: “friends” add-ons enhance an already amazing flagship


LG G5 and friends
LG G5 and friends

“Play More with LG G5”. This is LG’s tagline for their latest flagship device and from the looks of it, you might be playing more with it. Yesterday, LG held an event in Shangri-La Hotel at the Fort, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig to unveil their latest flagship device that will go toe to toe with the Big Boys in the high end smartphone segment. That smartphone is none other than the LG G5, and it’s not going to battle alone, cause it’s got friends.

The Hardware

The first thing that I noticed as I hold the device is how it looks and feel and a lot of firsts when it comes to hardware choices. LG has done total redesign for its flagship. Gone are the plastic and faux leather build that houses the device for so many years .For the very first time in their G series of flagship devices, they implemented a Metal Unibody design, which made the device feel really premium.

The LG G5 stays faithful to its predecessors by sticking to on-screen buttons to maximize screen real estate
The LG G5 stays faithful to its predecessors by sticking to on-screen buttons to maximize screen real estate

It has rounded corners at the edges of the device and as well as rounded sides, which makes handling the device slightly slippery to hold, but not by much. Looking at the front of the device is a 5.3 inch IPS quantum display with 2560×1440 screen size resolution and as well as an 8 MP front facing camera . Like most of their recent handsets, they still use software navigation buttons, unlike a certain other Korean company.

On the bottom on the device, you will find a microphone, speakers and as well as an USB Type-C Connector for those who aren’t aware, this is the new standard that manufacturers are starting to employ on their devices. Basically, you can now insert the cable on any side, much like the lightning cable of the iPhone, and as well as faster charging and data transfer speeds.

Looking at the back of the device, gone is their signature volume rockers and are repositioned again at the sides of the device, along with the sim tray and a micro sd card slot. The power button meanwhile still remains, but this time for the very first time as well, now has a fingerprint scanner built in. I’ve tested it and it works just as fast compared to other flagship devices.

The signature volume rocker is no longer located at the back. Instead, it has been moved to the side - a standard for most smartphones
The signature volume rocker is no longer located at the back. Instead, it has been moved to the side – a standard for most smartphones

For me personally, positioning the power button and the fingerprint scanner at the back feels more ergonomic since my index finger always rests at that exact location, which makes unlocking the device faster compared to the other devices which has their fingerprint scanners placed at the front. One thing to notice as well is a dual camera setup; A 16 MP camera for regular shots, while the other one is an 8 MP shooter for wide angle shots. Lastly, at the top is another microphone for noise cancellation, and as well as the headphone jack.

Usually, for full metal unibody devices like these, there are bound to have some compromises, namely the removable battery and micro sd for some. I’m happy to announce that LG retains not just the microsd card slot which I mentioned earlier, and a removable battery as well. This is good news for those who want to bring extra batteries instead of waiting their phone to charge. Instead of removing the back cover of the device, they designed the device to have the bottom part be slide from the bottom to reveal that 2800 mah battery. Actually, that bottom part is more than just a way to access the battery, but more on that later. Overall, design-wise, I think they did a pretty good job of differentiating themselves against the competition. The back even looks like the robot “Eve” from the movie Wall-E.

LG G5 technical specifications

Operating System Android 6.0.1
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Display 5.3-inch IPS quad-HD quantum display(2560×1440, 554 dpi)
Storage 32GB UFS Rom, expandable with micro sd card storage
RAM 4GB LPDDR3
Camera 16MP main camera, 8MP wide-angle camera(135 degrees)
Battery 2800 mAh removable
Dimensions 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7
Weight 159 grams
Connectivity LTE/3G/2G
Wifi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
USB Type C, NFC Bluetooth 4.2

The Display

Looking at the display is a 5.3 inch IPS quad-HD quantum lcd display (what a mouthful) with a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels. Quality wise, I’d say it is right up their with Apple and Samsung with those really vibrant color reproduction and good contrast. It’s blacks aren’t as deep as the ones you find on Samsung’s flagships however, but it’s still dark enough for me. I have their previous flagship device which is the LG G3, and I have to say the difference is day and night when it comes to the display. A new feature that LG implemented concerning the display is the “Always On Display”. Basically, the device keeps the 30% of it’s screen turned on, and whenever you try to pick up your device either from your jeans or from the table, it will automatically show you the time, and notifications if you have. According to the staff, this feature only drains 0.8% of your battery per hour so basically you can save more battery in the long run if the only reason you turn on the display of your device most of the time is to check the time and/or notifications.

The Camera

The wide-angle lens lets you take breathtaking landscape pictures on your LG G5
The wide-angle lens lets you take breathtaking landscape pictures on your LG G5

As previously mentioned, the G5 sports a dual camera setup, a normal 16MP one, and the other, an 8 MP wide angle shooter. According to some research, the 16MP shooter is the same camera that was in the previous flagship, the LG G4 which by the way, was one of the best camera shooters that time.

Though it wasn’t upgraded this year, it still takes awesome pictures that can rival the latest handsets from Apple and Samsung, though I wasn’t able to test it outside the event.

The wide angle lens however, is the one that I was really amazed with. It has a 135 degree field of view, so that means you can take awesome landscape shots with it. I even took a picture both from the normal lens and from the wide angle lens so you can compare the differences between the two.

The Audio

The speaker was loud enough considering the event place is large and noisy. Though as for the clarity itself, I can’t say for certain because it is loud.

Performance and Battery

The device has a 2800 mah battery inside, and at this point I can’t really say about it’s battery life. As for the performance, the LG G5 has the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset inside it and the performance is really great. I tried opening and closing apps really fast and I didn’t see the device stutter at all. I wasn’t able to test it’s gaming performance though since there are no games installed on the device, as well as the limited time I got in testing it but I think this is a pretty safe buy for those power users out there.

What are ‘Friends’?

LG Friends like the 350 Camera extend the features and functions of the G5, turning it into a true superphone to match your needs.
LG Friends like the 350 Camera extend the features and functions of the G5, turning it into a true superphone to match your needs.

At the beginning of my post, I mentioned that the G5 has “friends”. Well these “friends” are what LG calls to the add-ons or accessories that will ship alongside the G5. What makes the LG G5 special compared to the other smartphones that was released in the market is that the LG G5 is the very first modular smartphone ever. The reason that LG made the bottom part removable is because you can replace it with a “friend” or module that will enhance a certain part of the device, though the other friends can be operated separately and can be connected on the device via bluetooth, local wifi, via mobile data. Here are some of the friends that the LG G5 will be shipping with.

LG CAM Plus

This is a camera module whose aim is to provide traditional camera controls to your smartphone. With the module installed, it gives the G5 a camera shutter button, and as well as a camera zoom rocker on the side.On top of those features is an additional 1200 mah battery inside the module as well, which extends the battery life of your device. From my experience of using it, not only it lets me take better photos due to that camera shutter, it also lets me hold the phone by one hand due to that extra grip.

LG Hi-Fi Plus with B&O Play

This has to be my favorite friend of all. The Hi-Fi plus is a portable 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC. It also supports 32-bit 384KHz high-definition audio playback. Without going to specifics of audio tech, basically it turns any song in the G5 to sound way better, louder and crisper. I tried testing the audio capability of the G5 both with and without the DAC and I must say you can definitely hear the difference.

LG 360 CAM

Take amazing VR photos and panoramic shots using the 360 degree camera!
Take amazing VR photos and panoramic shots using the LG 360 camera!

From the name itself, this is a 360-degree angled camera that can take 360 videos and is connected to the G5 wirelessly via bluetooth. It supports up to 2K video and 5.1 surround channel which can provide a quality video watching experience. It also has it’s own storage so you don’t need to worry about the storage on your phone running out.

LG 360 VR

Playing around with the LG VR headset
Playing around with the LG VR headset

This is LG’s answer to the booming VR industry right now. Basically it’s a standalone VR headset with it’s own lcd screen built-in. It’s connected to the G5 via the USB type C connector ad the bottom of the device, and it can be used to view any VR content from the phone on to the VR headset. The 360 VR headset can also play all of the 360 videos that you’ve captured using the 360 cam as well.

LG Rolling Bot

The LG rolling bot is a rolling robot, reminiscent of BB8 from Star Wars. It can be connected to the G6 either through bluetooth, local wifi, and or internet connection and basically it’s used as a home monitoring system, emergency infrared remote for home appliances like TVs or Aircon and can even take photos and videos using it’s built in 8 megapixel camera.

You can control the rolling bot using from your smartphone!
You can control the rolling bot using from your smartphone!

All of these friends can be managed using the LG Friends Manager app for easy management. I was also told by a LG representative that besides the module friends, everything can be used by any Android Device, so long as it has at least Android OS version 6.0 Marshmallow.

Conclusion

Overall, I really had a great time at the LG event. LG really stepped up their game and finally delivered a smartphone that is beautiful, innovative, and functional, things that I don’t see as much in the smartphone industry. It’s modularity really gives the G5 an edge compared to other flagship smartphones as it can even enhance the already good hardware of the device even further. The LG G5 is now available in the Philippines in 4 different colors, gray, titan, gold and pink with an SRP of Php 34,990.00.


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