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LG G5 review – interesting, but unrefined

LG is offering something interesting with its new G5 flagship smartphone.

Its stand-out feature is its modular design, which has received a lot of attention in coverage and reviews of the device.

This is understandable considering how unusual it is, and how dramatically it affected the design of the device, but overshadows the other elements which make up a great smartphone.

Good hardware at a decent price

Specifications LG G5
Dimensions 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7~8.6mm
Weight 159g
Operating system Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Display 5.3″ IPS QHD (1,440 × 2,560)
Rear camera 16MP (8MP wide)
Front camera 8MP
Storage, internal 32GB
Storage, expandable microSD
RAM 4GB
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (2x 2.15GHz Kryo + 2x 1.6GHz Kryo)
Battery 2,800mAh (removable)
Cellular data LTE, HSPA+

As the table above shows, the LG G5 has a solid set of hardware on its spec sheet.

It’s not quite as impressive as the Samsung Galaxy S7, but at a recommended retail price of R11,999, the LG G5 is a grand or so cheaper than its nemesis.

Contracts for the LG G5 also run slightly cheaper than its Samsung rival.

Software

LG G5 UX

A significant change to the LG G5 that has been completely overshadowed by the modular design is the software user experience.

LG has revamped the look of its standard icons, the notification tray, and the settings menu.

It also followed in the footsteps of other Android OEMs that take a leaf from Apple’s book, and did away with the “All apps” menu.

All apps are now on the device’s home screen, where they may be organised into folders.

This didn’t significantly change the way I use my device, but some Android fans may not like the change.

Cameras

One of the big strengths of the LG G5 is its dual-camera, dual-lens system which offers a wide 135-degree lens and a narrow 78-degree lens.

Though the camera has not yet been rated by DxOmark, my tests with the LG G5’s unit yielded good results.

Several international reviews state that the G5’s camera, and not its modular design, is its best feature.

LG G5 camera test - standard angle HDR
LG G5 camera test – standard angle HDR
LG G5 camera test - wide angle HDR
LG G5 camera test – wide angle HDR

Modular design

While the cameras on the G5 are impressive, the real head-turning feature of LG’s new flagship is its ability to transform by attaching modules onto its battery.

A bold feature, and one of its greatest weaknesses.

Having to shut down your phone to attach a new module isn’t ideal, and many of the LG G5’s “friends” are not great.

While the idea behind the LG CAM Plus is good – an attachment that turns your phone into a dual-lens compact camera with an additional 1,200mAh battery – it wasn’t great to use.

It felt like I was trying to control the smartphone’s shooter with the physical buttons of a disposable camera.

The bottom cap on our review model also did not sit flush with the rest of the case. The right edge was neat, but a slight gap was visible between the bottom-left edge and the cap.

This contributed to the exterior design of the G5 feeling unrefined.

A thin metal wire that runs along the edge of the device – that is rough to the touch – was felt while gripping the device, which also did not help the G5’s cause.

It does offer a better grip, but sacrifices aesthetics and a bit of comfort in the process.

LG G5 cap not flush with case
LG G5 cap not flush with case
LG G5 battery ejected
LG G5 battery ejected

Not perfect, but does it have to be?

The LG G5 doesn’t appeal to me, but if you always wanted a near-solid-body smartphone with a slide-out battery, then it might be for you.

Misgivings about the modular design aside, LG has done something really interesting with the LG G5. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be.

Maybe the next iteration of this design will let you switch modules without ejecting the battery.

Maybe LG writes the whole concept off as a failure. Which is also all right, because at least they tried something new.

The Basics

Battery life. Good – lasts more than a day under normal usage. Fast charge. Removable battery.

Display. Good – high resolution, responsive, good visibility in sunlight.

Storage. 32GB single partition internal. MicroSD support.

Network. LTE (Cell C, MTN, and Vodacom), 3G, and 2G networks in SA supported.

Cameras. Excellent cameras.

The Verdict: LG G5
Likes Dislikes
  • Interesting design
  • Software Home, Recents, and Back buttons
  • Dual camera, wide and standard lens
  • Reversible USB Type-C connector
  • Removable battery
  • Facebook and Evernote shovelware
  • Unrefined design
  • The All Apps menu is gone

LG G5 contract and LG CAM Plus prices in South Africa

LG G5 hands-on – dragged down by poor friends

LG G5 – the transforming modular smartphone

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