Published on August 3rd, 2016 | by Varuna Singh0
LG G5 – Rethinking what a phone can do
I’ve had the LG G5 for about 3 months now- using it as my daily driver every day since its launch in the UAE in April. It is LG’s flagship phone and is already in the market. You can pick one up now for as low as AED1,700 online. It retailed for AED 2499 .
— TechView.me (@TechViewME) April 13, 2016
This is a bold release by LG. It incorporates a lot of the buzz about it being modular and having two cameras at the back. That’s what’s really new about the LG G5. Sure it has a fingerprint reader at the back and the curved screen in the LG G4 and leather back is now replaced by a plain and metallic finish. Its still a plastic phone and what a durable phone it is.
Now that I made that comparison, LG did experiment with the curved screen and the leather back in the G4. I really liked the back and the comfortable fit of the G4. However the G5 dismisses all of that and has a fingerprint reader at the back and volume buttons on the side of the G5. While Samsung redesigned their flagship with the Galaxy S6 and polished it with the S7, LG redesigned with the G4 and did another redesign with the current G5.
LG’s is begging for a differentiation with its models. Instead of perfecting one design language LG seems to be experimenting a lot with the phones hardware.
The G5 is what LG calls Modular. So you basically can remove the bottom of the device, easily take the battery out with that module and add it to other modules and attach it back to the G5. The good news is that it works really well with confidence. The not so good news is that it kind of a gimmick. I mean sure I’d swap in the camera grip for the extra battery or an audio amp by B&O.
The problem is that the phone always switches off (cause you take the battery off) and the process is a little bit too cumbersome. I predict that LG will make it easier if they continue to support their modular features. They are even encouraging developers to make new modules but they have to approve them first- something that’s quite a discussion in the LG forums.
Its modular if you consider two parts as modular. They are more like docks and accessories that you can attach and I’ve yet to see any major use for that idea. The camera adds more battery but also adds an annoying bump on your phone and the zoom controls are really sensitive and makes the photo/video taking process a painful experience. I’ve complained about it more than promote it. The B&O amp is a something I’d imagine only a few would consider buying. The real treasure of the G5 is the non-attachable modules: VR headset and the LG 360 cam that adds some pretty new amazing capability to the device. I’ll talk about that a bit later.
The camera in the LG G5 changed the way I look at a smartphone – and I really mean that. The G5 has two cameras – a normal camera that takes really good pictures and a wide angle camera that’s just brilliant. The amount of information I can capture with the wide angle lens is breathtaking. The G5 has replaced my GoPro. I mean it makes sense, why carry another wide angle camera with me when the G5 takes really good wide angle photos. Its almost as wide as the eye can see and having that on me in my pocket whenever and wherever I go is genius.
Software wise the G5 can switch between these two cameras really well. If I zoom out of the default normal view camera view the G5 automagically switches to the wide angle and I can zoom in further to get a wider view. It all works well. The only down side is that there is a slight noticeable shutter when switching that’s evident mostly while taking videos. That’s not terribly bad. The switch also takes a re focus for the other camera to catch up. I hope LG addresses this in the future.
The camera starts quicker than the G4 and takes pictures and focuses a lot better. The quality of the main camera is breathtaking when viewed on the phone and that’s mainly because the G5 has a really nice screen. Colors pop out and its IPS Quantum Display technology works well without over saturating colors like the Samsung S7. When compared on a neutral PC screen against the iPhone, the G5 comes on par with it.
We’ve hit a good par on camera quality with the iPhone today and while there isn’t so much of a difference in quality, the G5 has an added benefit of the secondary wide angle camera.
Pictures taken by the LG G5:
(Wide angle shot @Barsha Pond Park)
(Wide angle shot @Barsha Pond Park)
(Wide angle shot @XVA Gallery Dubai)
(Close up shot in the dark at Dubai creek)
(Manual Mode shot of the moon)
I’ve really admired LG’s display technology be it on TVs or phones. The G5 has a gorgeous screen with colors bright and vivid. Its a 5.3″ QHD (2560 x 1440) IPS Quantum Display Screen. So what’s wrong with it? Well after continuous use it rarely ghosts things on the screen. That fades away fairly quickly however but the fact that I see this is not encouraging.
The adaptive brightness is also kind of annoying. Sometimes its too bright and sometimes its too low. Often I have to manually adjust this. I have no complains of the screen in the regions bright sun and like the S7 its good. It does get brighter at a rated up to 850 nits of brightness. It also has an always on mode of display where you can check notification type and time at ease. You can even double tap the screen to wake it up.
All in all, a great display from LG. Their TV technologies glow on the G5 in your hand. But it does have its issues.
Since the LG G5 has that whole modular thing at the bottom, the battery is removable but its only 2600 mAh. Most flagships have about 13% more capacity at 3000 mAh. The G5 also has a power hungry screen. That makes the phone last for just about a day.
I really wish the phone lasted longer. The G5 has QUALCOMM’s quick charge that’s really fast. You can charge a great amount of battery in just a few minutes. If I wake up with 8% of battery: by the time I freshen up to leave the house the phone would have charged over 60%. That’s really impressive and quick charge has changed the way I charge my phone. With a 2A charger you can charge between your meals, in the car and the battery remains at a healthy level.
Its all downhill when you don’t use a quick charge. Charging the G5 on a normal 1 A charger or your computer is slower than anything. Forget using the phone and keeping it charged to a slower charger. Your usage of the phone is actually more than the phone charges. Its really annoying and there have been times where I had to keep the G5 in flight mode to charge it decently. Speaking of charging there’s another novelty: Usb Type C
Yeah I get it its forward thinking, but the lack of usb type c cables around me is saddening. I have two. One by my bed and one in the car. Which means I need to take one cable always on me because these cables aren’t really out lying around in peoples basement and offices. That’s a little annoying on a personal level, but I suspect it’s a symptom of any new technology. I’m just glad the headphone jack is still on the phone (cough* apple).
LG’s also experimented with the software. The default view in the G5 is kind of a throwback to simpler design. There is no app drawer by default but you can dig around the settings and get the old look back. The LG “assistant panel” at the very left of the screen is turned off by default. LG must have done some sort of analysis but I did like those two additions and you can always get back to whatever view you like. Its not stock Android but it does the job and it work nicely.
LG’s skin over Android doesn’t slow it down and if you’re used to LG’s layout in its user interface and menu’s you’ll like the familiar interface of the G5. If you’re not new to it, it doesn’t take much time to get used to it. But if you’re a fan of stock Android, you will be missing out on that.
I could really talk about how fast the Snapdragon 820 is and how everything is butter smooth, but we already know that. Smartphones have reached a kind of plateau with performance. Everything works great and fast. I’d rather like better battery life and camera and the LG G5 hits the nail in one of those.
App loads are fast and a lot of slowdowns are mostly due to bad apps written on Android (ahem*Snapchat!). Its probably the fastest phone I’ve held and the G5’s user interface doesn’t come in between. I really like their settings interface and the ability to search for a feature is a time saver.
Its on the back and its also acts as a power / standby button. Its nicely placed but its kind of annoying by design. The only useful finger you really would use is your first index finger. By design it doesn’t make sense to use any other fingers as it becomes as hard as playing a complicated chord on a guitar.
The fingerprint scanner kind of confused me as its also a button. Sometimes when I try to lock the phone by pressing the button, it locks and unlocks me by scanning my fingerprint. It’s quite annoying but it does the job most of the time. Actual scanning of fingerprints works most of the time but can heavily be improved, LG.
Despite the points and rant above I really think LG’s doing a better job at rethinking what a phone could be. Yes that’s Samsungs tag line for its S7 smartphone but Its really LG that’s stepped a step further and made me realize how cool a smartphone can be. I can take wide angle pictures, experience VR and take VR 360 shots with the LG 360 cam. I hope to find a useful use of its modular feature in the near future.
The biggest selling point of the G5 isn’t its consumption but creation. For the first time a phone has encouraged me to take wide angled pictures, interact with and make 360 content and think about the next step in modular design. It takes guts for LG to differentiate and most of the problems can be addressed through software. For that reason, the G5 is definitely is rethinking what a phone can be but it’s really not a perfected polished experience. I hope the next one fixes all of that.