Come with us to explore LG Unveils the LG G5 and its Friends — What You Need to Know
Taking centre stage before the start of the Mobile World Congress 2016, LG has pulled out its gun for the first half of 2016, with the LG G5 and all of its friends as well.
Starting off with the LG G5: it’s all that one usually expects from a smartphone, and goes a step or three beyond the convention. When it comes to specs, the LG G5 is right there at the top with the some of the latest and the best available hardware that one could pack in a retail smartphone.
The LG G5 comes with a 5.3″ IPS LCD display with a Quad HD resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels, giving it a pixel density of 554 ppi. While the screen size may be a downgrade from the bigger 5.5″ LG G4, the resolution remains the same, giving us an improvement in pixel density over the last generation (not that the G4 was bad to begin with either). You also get Corning Gorilla Glass 4 for protection.
The G5 marks a departure from the design language that LG used to follow for flagships, forgoing the curves that LG built into their devices. Design wise, the LG G5 takes more after the LG made Nexus 5X than the LG G4. The LG G5 is flat with what LG calls a unibody build, which is a confusing terminology to use when the bottom chin can actually be removed. The phone chassis is made out of aluminum, with curves on the edges to avoid giving the phone a box-ish look. The rear volume buttons are now placed towards the side, while a fingerprint sensor power button rests on the back below the camera setup.
Below the display is a “chin”, which can be removed to give access to the battery as well as provide support for various “Friends” or modules, which we will note further on in the article. The G5’s display also sports an “Always On” feature, even though it is an LCD panel and not an AMOLED panel. The inspiration for this comes from the ticker display experimented in with the LG V10. LG claims that the always-on feature uses only 0.8% battery per hour by lighting roughly 1/3rd of the screen only, along with shutting the display off when the phone’s proximity sensors are covered, for example, in your pocket or when kept face down. Also to note is that no plastic bands are visible on the phone, so LG may have some tricks up its sleeves for radio connections.
LG did not spend too much time talking about the specs of the device during their presentation, but that does not diminish the absolute beastliness of it. As one would expect, the LG G5 comes with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 along with the Adreno 530 GPU and 4GB of RAM, but LG did not mention whether this is LPDDR4 or LPDDR3. For storage, the LG G5 will come with 32GB of internal storage, which can be further expanded up to 2TB thanks to the presence of a microSD card slot. The G5 does sport a smaller battery marked for 2800 mAh when compared to the LG G4’s 3000 mAh battery, which can be a slight disappointment for some. Despite the metallic “unibody” build, the LG G5 does allow easy removal of the battery via the chin, becoming one of the very few phones left currently that sport metal as primary build material and still allow users to easily replace the battery. The LG G5 also sports a USB Type C connector with USB 3.0, supporting Quick Charge 3.0 which LG claims can power the phone upto 80% in just 35 minutes, which is really impressive.
For the software, the LG G5 will run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with LG’s skin on top. LG has mentioned that it has slimmed down the software, hoping to present a cleaner experience instead of a heavy interface. One drastic change that has come off with this is the death of the app drawer as the LG G5’s default launcher will not have an app drawer. Of course, this is still Android, so you can very easily use a different launcher if the current one does not fit your need.
When it comes to cameras, the leaks and rumors have proven true as LG has adopted a dual-lens setup this time around. The primary rear camera bears a 16MP sensor, while the wide angle rear camera bears an 8MP sensor but gives you a 135-degree field of view. You also have optical image stabilization, laser assisted autofocus as well as dual tone flash. The front is also a 8MP sensor, but unlike the V10, there is no dual setup here so you have to make do with standard field of view selfies.
The main emphasis of LG’s presentation was not on the specifications of the G5; they sensed that the specs war was overrated and that there’ll always be a few contenders with very little differentiating factors amongst them. What LG did emphasize heavily on was the differentiating factor. Rather than have one up its sleeve, the LG G5 has one up its chin.
The chin on the LG G5 can be removed to give access to the battery. But it doesn’t end there. The chin can be replaced with other smart modules to extend the G5’s functionality in different specialized ways. LG placed great emphasis on the “Friends” aspect of the G5, which is a term to denote the hardware from various partners that have created accessories for the G5.
Starting off, there is the LG Cam Plus, which is a contoured grippad attachment in its simplest form. The Cam Plus makes it easier to hold your phone with one hand in landscape mode, and it bears an additional 1200 mAh battery to help you click pictures for some more time. There is a dedicated shutter button as well as a dedicated video button on the attachment, along with a slider to control digital zoom (though there are no quality differences between digitally zooming before taking a picture versus after a picture). There isn’t too much more camera-centric functionality that the Cam Plus adds, but it certainly is a refreshing take on actual usability of a phone.
LG also showed off an Audio module from Bang & Olufsen, called the LG HiFi Plus. The module features a 32-bit DAC and a dedicated 3.5mm headphone jack, which is separate from the 3.5mm headphone jack present on top of the LG G5. The audio module is geared towards audiophiles, promising to provide a superior audio experience in a portable form factor. You can also use this as an entity separate from the LG G5, with any smartphone or even a desktop, though it is not clear how this is accomplished.
LG also showed off other accessories, albeit these do not make use of the LG G5 directly like the other two modules do. There is the LG 360 Cam, which is a camera setup with 16MP sensors for capturing 360 degree photos. In collaboration with Google Street View, the LG 360 Cam will allow for high quality 360 degree imagery to be uploaded and then viewed by others (once approved by the Street View team).
There is also a LG 360 VR headset, which can be best described as a pair of shades with screens. They are promised to be lightweight at 118 grams, and have a form factor similar to modern day glasses and are foldable on its hinge. The VR headset connects to the LG G5 via a USB Type C cable, and as such, provides a greater comfort and convenience level as the phone is not left suspended in mid air, supported by your head.
Then there is the LG Rolling Bot, which is… a rolling robot. LG markets it as a home monitoring as well as a pet care system. The robot comes with a laser to distract/play with your pet, camera and speaker for home monitoring as well as an IR remote controller.
LG also showed off a smart controller built in collaboration with Parrot. The idea behind this is to make flying of drones easy, and allow for one handed operations. LG only had a working prototype on display for this, but we expect it to be available for sale in the near future as well.
LG also presented us with a cliffhanger of what appears to be a GoPro competitor.
With all things said and done, LG left us with one minor disappointment: it did not let us in on the concrete pricing as well as availability of the LG G5 and its accessories. As such, the accessories can have different releases from the phone. LG indicated a mid April release for the G5, but this could be limited to selected markets. Considering that LG may have spent quite a bunch on the R&D as well as designing of the modules, the LG G5 is not expected to fall in the affordable/mid tier flagship category, so expect suitable pricing.
The LG G5 is a killer when it comes to an overall package. Though it may garner divided views on its looks, one cannot oversee that it sports some brilliant specs as well as creative utilization of the chin and modules. The modules may very well end up being that one added feature that sets the LG G5 apart from the direct competitors. The pricing, however, will decide how the public reacts to it.
What are your thoughts on the LG G5? Are you impressed by the package that LG has put together? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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