LG has finally done it. After years of adding desirable features to its high-end handsets, it’s now paired its flagship phone smarts with a design that’s worthy of greatness. Enter the LG G5.
Don’t let its sleek metallic style fool you though, this isn’t just another iPhone 6S-echoing, Samsung Galaxy S7-copying device that’s been hewn from the hard stuff. This is the dawn of a new age in smartphone evolution. It’s something unique. Something special. And something that people who like smartphones and LEGO in equal measure are going to love. It’s modular, and, after first use, it’s got us excited. Seriously excited.
The G5 is easily LG’s best looking phone yet – but that’s not saying too much. Gone are the plastic-fantastic days of its predecessors. You can forget last year’s leather LG G4 fiasco too. This year, metal’s in charge, and it looks great. It’s not quite as sleek or slim as the iPhone 6S, but, like Derek Zoolander, it’s still really, really, ridiculously good looking.
It has one up on the iPhone too. Those ugly antenna lines have been banished. Without these, the G5 looks and feels clean and uncluttered. The rear-mounted volume controls that set LG apart in recent years are gone too – moved back to the side – while a new back-based fingerprint scanner hosts the power controls.
There’s another button though. And this one’s slightly special. Towards the bottom of the phone is a button that, when pressed, makes the base of the phone pop out. That’s not a design disaster or shoddy craftsmanship. The LG G5 features a modular design, meaning you can pull off one component and add another to perform different tasks. At launch there will be a battery-boosting camera grip and an audio-enhancing DAC, but this is just the start. Seriously, this thing is cool and full of future possibilities.
It’s essentially smartphone meets LEGO, and on first use we love it. There is a problem though. As the bottom pulls away – allowing for a removable battery, huzzah – there’s a distinct seam in the device. After a few days use, this is going to be clogged with dirt and pocket fluff. What better way to spoil a stunning phone that’s raided Apple’s paint cupboard to come in four iPhone-echoing colour schemes, black, silver, gold and pink?
Technically, the LG G5’s screen hasn’t changed much compared with its predecessor. Its 5.3-inch panel is smaller than the G4’s 5.5-inch effort, but it’s still a 2560 x 1440 pixel QHD offering.
Thanks to boosted brightness and a higher lamination though, the LG G5 has lifted the level significantly. This thing is gorgeous. Taking the G5 out in bright, direct sunlight, the screen remained as crisp and clear as when viewed in shaded corners. Text is sharp, images vibrant and detailed and video crisp and fluid.
It might not have the futuristic feel of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, but on first use it looks like it could just edge it on quality. It has its own slight curve too. The screen tapers down slightly at the top of the device. There’s no functional use to this, but it looks great, breaking up the otherwise potentially blocky design.
We’ll start with the good. The LG G5 has masses of power. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset and 4GB of RAM at its core will keep this thing chugging along without breaking a sweat no matter what you throw at it – from serious gaming sessions to a bit of casual image editing. Our early tests didn’t get the phone out of first gear.
There’s a decent battery in there too. The 2,800mAh offering will keep the G5 going all day. Due to the removable, modular design, no wireless charging skills have been squeezed in – boo – but Quick Charge abilities and a new USB Type-C connector have made the cut – woo.
Sadly, not everything’s this rosy. The G5’s good looks are about as deep as that bitch cheerleader in any American high school drama. Software has long been LG’s shortcoming and, after an early play, it feels like the company’s yet to right all the wrongs on this front. The new UX 5 skin, which sits on top of Android 6.0, is a little more polished than its predecessors, but the brash, colourful nature still gives it a slightly juvenile feel. It’s still a significant step behind Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay.
The LG G5 doesn’t have just one camera, oh no. There are two of the image-capturing units here. And no, we’re not just talking about the front-facing selfie snapper. Around back, the primary 16-megapixel camera is joined by a secondary, 8-megapixel unit. Why? Well, why not? That and it adds the ability to shoot seriously wide-angle shots.
Not just the faux fisheye snaps a shoddy filter will capture either. Truly wide-angle snaps. A wider field of view than we can take in with our eyes. 135-degrees to be precise. This means that friend you only kinda like and who often gets pushed to the periphery will start featuring in your photos more.
On first use, this works really well. Switching between the mass of camera modes is simple, focusing is lightning quick and results impressive with bright, vibrant colours. We’ve only had a quick play though, so further testing is required before final judgement can be passed on the G5’s shooter.
In recent years, the smartphone space has been plagued by carbon copy handsets. The excitement levels have dropped as innovation has waned. The LG G5 has us excited about smartphones again though. Its modular design is brilliantly implemented and poses so many exciting possibilities. This is a phone for the future, and one we can’t wait to spend more time with.