Hands-On With The Modular LG G5

It’s nice. That’s about the G5 in a nutshell. With rounded edges and premium build, the handset feels great in your hand. The camera works well and dual lenses allow for different shooting options not found on other smartphones.

And LG stuck with its roots and included a removable battery and microSD card slot in the G5 but did so in a novel fashion. Props to that.

It took LG several version of the G series to make a top-tier handset. The G3 was acceptable and the G4 was nice. The G5 improves on the G4 in most ways but still, it doesn’t feel like a must-buy phone over the previous model.

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  • 5.3-inch screen Quad HD IPS display (2560 x 1440 / 554ppi)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Processor
  • microSD Card Slot
  • Always-on Display
  • Camera: Rear: Standard 16MP, Wide 8MP / Front: 8MP
  • 135 degree wide-angle lens
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 2,800mAh

The G5 sports an expansion port on the bottom of the device. The entire bottom of the phone snaps off, allowing the owner to change batteries or swap in one of LG’s expansion packs. It’s novel, though, perhaps, just a gimmick depending on how LG prices the accessories.

LG is initially producing two expansion packs but isn’t revealing how much they will cost. At launch G5 owners can buy a camera pack called the LG Cam Plus that adds an additional battery and physical controls for the G5’s camera like a dial for zooming and a shutter button. This pack combines with the phone’s standard battery, providing 4,000 mAh of power.

The second pack is an improved speaker and headphone amp designed in part by Denmark’s B&O. This pack adds an additional headphone jack to the phone. When used, it serves up improved audio to the connected headphones by way of a 32bit DAC. The phone itself employs a 24-bit DAC.

These packs will add additional features to the phone but using them requires the owner to reboot the phone since the battery is automatically pulled when removing the bottom piece. It feels like a critical flaw.

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Gone is the leather back found on the G4. The G5 has an all-metal body that’s molded in a pleasing fashion. It’s very comfortable to hold. There isn’t a sharp line on the device, but it’s still slender and not overly bulbous. I’m a fan.

The backside of the G5 houses dual cameras. One has a standard 78-degree lens while the other rocks a 135-inch lens, which LG says is the widest available on any smartphone. This gives the user a couple different options. Using the standard lens will result in normal photographs, tight and focused mainly on one object. The other lens allows for super-wide shots. Think GoPro. When used in the right situation, this wide-angle option could save the day.

The cameras extrude from the back, but not in a erroneous fashion. It’s less noticeable than other LG G-series phones.

Like previous G-series phones, the power button is located on the backside of the device under the camera lens. Love it or hate, that’s LG’s calling card and it certainly makes the phone stand apart.

LG is shipping a modified version of Android with the G5. Most notably, it lacks an app launcher, making the OS feel more similar to Xioami’s MIUI or even iOS. All the apps will be located on home pages and not housed inside of an app launcher. When pressed about this decision, LG simply says this is what the company decided to do after lots of research and customers will get used to it.

A Qualcomm 820 Snapdragon SoC powers the device and it feels nice and crisp — though I played with a brand new device so it will of course be snappy.

LG has yet to announce the price of the G5 or the accessory packs. The phone is nice and will likely be priced competitively. It comes down to the accessory packs, really. If priced well, these add-ons could tilt the board in the G5. The phone is as good as anything from Samsung or Motorola or Xiaomi.