In today’s review, you will see LG’s 2016 model G5 – a nice, sleek model with great screen, lots of memory and a lovely wide-angle camera. There are certain drawbacks, like the ugly software and the build quality but overall, this is a good modular smartphone option currently selling at around $350.
·5.3-inch IPS QHD screen
·Snapdragon 820 processor & 4GB RAM
·32GB onboard storage and microSD slot
·USB Type-C v3.0 port
·16-megapixel rear camera & 8-megapixel front camera
·Additional 8-megapixel wide-angle rear camera
·LG UX 5.0 on Android Marshmallow
Design and features
The G5’s design is very clean, with only a single volume clicker and SIM-tray present on either side. The volume control has a very shallow push, but it’s usable. The lock switch is located just below the camera sensors. The standby switch also houses a fingerprint scanner – something that is now considered necessary for any 2016 smartphone. The fingerprint reader is fast and accurate and you don’t even have to press down to unlock the phone, instead you can glide your finger across and it’ll bypass the lockscreen completely.
The LG G5’s modular system is its stand-out feature. Along the side of the handset sits an almost indistinguishable button – when you press it in, the bottom chin of the phone will pop out so you can pull it off and remove the battery. Once removed, you can attach it to other modules, or “Friends” as LG calls them. At launch, there are two modules available. The camera grip adds a touch more battery, a separate shutter button for both photos and video, and a jog dial for zoom. The second module is a DAC powered by some B&O tech. The DAC gives you 32-bit audio and an extra headphone jack. Unfortunately, both models are on the expensive side.
Display-wise, the one on the LG G5 is the best yet – even though on the surface it appears that not a whole lot has changed. LG hasn’t made the switch to a 4K display; it remains quad-HD. The display on the G5 remains a IPS LCD panel too, rather than the AMOLED panels favoured by Samsung and Google. The display however is smaller than before – 5.3-inches as opposed to 5.5-inches. But the number of pixels remain the same; they’re simply crammed into a smaller surface area. The display is incredibly sharp, far more true-to-life and softer than the Galaxy S7 display
LG has also improved the brightness of the screen – at its highest, it’s at 900 nits, but there will be few instances in which it will need to be set so high. Around 50% is right, or you can opt for auto-brightness. The G5 display’s black level – an area in which many IPS displays struggle – is solid. While not as deep as those on the Samsung Galaxy S7, blacks on the LG G5 are suitably inky and deep, and mean the display has a great contrast ratio.
Software and performance
The software on the LG G5 is a little hit and a miss. It includes the latest version of Android – that’s 6.0.1 – with all the fantastic tweaks and additions that Google added towards the end of last year. However, like the majority of Android phones, it’s been heavily skinned.
The biggest deal-breaker is that LG has completely removed the app drawer, which is exactly what Huawei has done. The other problem here is the serious amount of bloatware loaded onto the phone.
The processor – Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 is backed up by 4GB RAM, an Adreno 530 GPU and a single storage option – 32GB. Browsing, scrolling through menus, opening up apps, and all the other things you do all-day, everyday on your phone are mostly smooth and lag-free. Most of the time, though, the G5 performs brilliantly.
The main 16-megapixel, 16:9 camera is far more by-the-book, but it’s excellent nonetheless. Colors are natural, the laser-auto focus system is spot on, and each shot is packed with details. Intricate detailing in walls, licks of paint on a picture and wool strands from a carpet are all picked out perfectly.
The secondary camera is an 8-megapixel sensor, so the results aren’t quite as sharp as the main camera, but the pictures it produces are genuinely different and, well, cool. It’s great for landscape shots, although we’d avoid using it for close-ups.
4K/UHD video looks great, as you’d expect. It’s smooth and crisp, although shooting for long periods does cause the device to warm up ever so slightly.
The battery life on the LG G5 is good. Not phablet good, but it manages to easily last the day with about 10% remaining during heavy use. The 2,800mAh battery isn’t the biggest on the market; it’s beaten by the Galaxy S7 and the HTC 10, which both boast 3,000mAh units. It is removable, however, so you could throw a spare into your bag to double your running time. Additionally, standby time is fantastic – leaving the phone unplugged overnight only drops the battery of around 3%.
The LG G5 is a really good phone, but in a year of really great phones it can’t quite match the impressive standard set the by the HTC 10 and Samsung Galaxy S7. Overall, the G5 feels a little cheap compared to other flagship handsets and LG’s software remains on the “less attractive side”.