LG promised something out of the ordinary for the G-line lovers this year, and the LG G5 certainly delivers. The company’s flagship Android smartphone for 2016 not only ditches the little-loved plastic of its predecessor, but introduces a new range of “Friends of G5” accessories that can expand its functionality, in some cases physically modifying it depending on whether you want more polished photography, better audio, or even more accurate control of your drone.
It’s an undeniably sleeker phone than the G4 (that we never got our hands on), not to mention a better-feeling one in the hand. Rather than plastic, LG has opted for metal for the 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7 mm, 159 gram body, cooking up its own “Microdizing” process which effectively paints the shell to cover the necessary plastic antenna patches on the rear. On the front, a sheet of slightly curved toughened glass covers a 5.3-inch Quad HD Quantum IPS LCD touchscreen, with an always-on portion showing time and notifications.
That’s fairly easy to do on an AMOLED panel, where you can selectively power up a section of the screen, but traditionally far too wasteful of power to do on an LCD. LG, though, borrowed from the process of local dimming on its TVs, and now can partially light up a chunk of the G5’s panel. It automatically adjusts brightness, but only consumes what LG says is around 0.8-percent of the total battery capacity per hour: less, so the argument goes, than you’d waste turning the display on and off multiple times through the day just to check the time and for missed notifications.
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[quote_left] LG refuses to give up on removable storage or user-swappable batteries[/quote_left]
Inside, there’s Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor, paired with 4GB of LPDDR memory and 32GB of storage. LG refuses to give up on removable storage or user-swappable batteries – increasingly a rarity in the smartphone space – and the G5 offers both, with the ability to slot in up to a 200GB microSD card. On the bottom edge there’s a USB-C port, while on the back there’s a circular power/lock button with an integrated fingerprint sensor. Rather than flank it with the volume keys, LG has moved those to the edge of the phone.
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Twin cameras are on the rear, a 16-megapixel sensor with a 70-degree lens, and an 8-megapixel camera with a wide-angle 135-degree lens. The revamped camera app automatically switches between them as you zoom in and out, or you can do more creative shots by combining the images from both. An 8-megapixel camera on the front handles selfies.
What makes the G5 particularly interesting is its modularity. Press a button on the bottom left edge of the phone and you can snap off the lower panel, which draws out complete with the 2,800 mAh battery. In its place, you can slot a variety of different pieces – LG calls them “Friends of G5” and gives them, for reasons unclear, a cat-wearing-sunglasses logo – bringing alternative functionality. These add-ons will be made available later in the next month.
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Now, while it’s not as wide-ranging in its interchangeability as, say, Google’s Project Ara, the G5 does have the advantage of actually being market-ready.
As devices go, though, the G5 has a lot to recommend it off the bat. There are a couple of points which are likely to be mildly controversial – there’s no wireless charging, for instance, and LG’s UX 5.0 has done away with the app drawer – but for the most part fans of the company’s phones are likely to appreciate the better-quality feel and swifter components.
The G5 is offered in four finishes – titan gray, silver, gold, and pink – with pricing for it, and the “friends” accessories that it can be paired with, to be released later in June. You can purchase the LG G5 for R11 799 at major retailers.
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