Having made solid in-road in the smartphone market for 2015 with the LG G4 and the V10, LG looks to continue their growth this year with their flagship LG G5. Failing to market the phone appropriately resulted in much less demand for the LG G4 last year but with the LG G5, the company has taken a more innovative approach compared to other flagship manufacturers, that may come off as a gamble.
The design language of the LG G5 is a significant departure from its predecessor. The volume buttons previously found at the rear of the smartphone now find their place on the side reverting back to a very conventional layout, however they are anything but built well. The power button though still remains at the rear of the smartphone, doubling as a fingerprint scanner this time around which is very fast. Also gone is the edgy and chunky look of the LG G4 in favor of a much more polished and smooth look. The LG G5 favors the use of a metal body in place of a largely plastic and leather LG G4 body. However the coat of paint LG has applied over the G5’s body makes it lack the metallic touch other metallic smartphones have and the paint is easily scratched off at times, making the device feel less premium than it should be considered.
On the specification race, LG is on par with other manufacturers. The LG G5 uses a Qualcomm Snadragon 820 CPU alongside 4GB of RAM and an Adreno 530 GPU. Slightly on the larger side, the 5.3″ Quad-HD (554 pixels per inch) LCD display produces one of the best white tones however falls behind in not delivering as much black tones compared to an AMOLED display, which most people may still prefer over the G5’s screen due to its “punchy” colors. The screen is able to dim to extremely low levels of brightness which may be great when using it in the dark however it is almost unusable in outdoor conditions at that brightness.
As expected though, the performance of the G5 is great for the hardware it packs. Tasks like browsing the web, playing games, listening to music and consuming media cause no hiccups in the otherwise very minimal and subdued user interface from LG. Running on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the LG G5 includes very little in their stock user interface and customization options in terms of themes are unappealing. The very horrible menu inclusion and the lack of an application menu drawer takes away a lot from the user experience, even though the latter has been added to the device with a software update over the air. Even so, there remains no reason for using LG’s stock user interface and one would be much better off with a third party launcher like Nova as it delivers a much more stock Android like experience.
However, where LG really stands out with the G5 is with its modular design. Being the first of its kind, the device doesn’t allow the user to change parts like the camera or RAM on the smartphone but allows for small changes with a removable chin as seen below.
The chin not only allows for the replacement of the 2800mAh battery but also supports additional accessories such as a high fidelity audio speaker with built in DAC support and a module that allows for external hardware camera controls. In addition to these, there are other optional accessories available alongside the smartphone such as 360 degree camera and various mini robots that may be paired with the device via bluetooth. However, these accessories may not be for all especially because of their additional price tag, but also because there may be little to no added benefit from any of these additions effectively making these gimmicks alongside the smartphone. Not to mention, this modular slot also inhibits battery capacity and performance to a level much lower than the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and presents further build quality issues in the form of misalignment near the chin seen in some units.
And certainly being a 2016 flagship, no smartphone is complete without its camera arsenal. The 16MP primary shooter delivers stellar performance producing some sharp images with a quick shutter speed. An additional option here is the ability to capture super wide angle shots that are quite appealing even though they sacrifice on the megapixel count a little bit. Some of the pictures produced with the camera can be seen below for your judgement in quality:
The camera certainly goes neck and neck with likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the iPhone 6S and although manual options for photography enhance the experience, the lack of native support for manual videography like the LG V10 may discourage some potential buyers.
As an overall package, the LG G5 may manage to raise a few eyebrows in the market for potential buyers but certain lapses in the hardware and software department may not allow the phone to gain the popularity LG expected it to receive. Their innovative ideas were brushed off as meager gimmicks and added little to no value to their device which has fallen out of the spotlight quickly due to the negative opinion it has garnered despite packing quality specifications. One could say, LG’s valiant effort has gone in vain but their innovation in the future may make them taste success sooner rather than later.