2015 was a great year for LG Mobile thanks to the LG G4.
Easily the best phone ever made by the Korean company, the G4 set the bar for mobile photography and showed the world that LG is indeed capable of making impressive mobile devices.
As much hype as there was around the G4, there was even more hype around the V10 which unfortunately, received limited release.
Following after such a massive year, the G5 had much to live up to. In fact, for the first time, there was almost as much pre-release hype and speculation surrounding LGs next flagship, as there was a Samsung or Apple device.
Does the G5 live up to expectations?
With a metal unibody design and removable base, LG hoped that this modular type design would help them stand out in a world of smartphones that all, essentially, look the same.
While the modular aspect of the phone is exciting in concept, the rest of the phone follows a slightly less exciting design, which ditches the instantly recognisable squared edges of the G4 and replaces it with rounded edges reminiscent of those found on the G3.
The front of the G5 is dominated by the 5.3-inch IPS display, which has a slightly curved forehead.
With a 3.5mm headphone jack sitting at the top end of the device and a speaker grille and USB-type C port at the bottom.
Ditching the now famous rear-key, the G5 instead has a button-meets- fingerprint-scanner situated below the dual cameras on the back of the device.
LG’s latest camera innovation is to have not one, but two cameras on the rear of the device.
Situated on a noticeable camera hump, one lens is 16MP with the second lens a wide-angle 8MP shooter.
The 16MP lens is the same as the one found in 2015’s G4 with the same f/1.8 aperture and the company’s great manual mode.
The wide-angle lens addresses what LG perceives as the problem of not being able to capture a full image when in cramped or confined areas.
While it’s a great idea, the images come out less than impressive.
A lowlight image taken with the 16MP camera on the G5
A nighttime image taken using the 8MP wide angle lens on the G5
The G5 allows you to take 3 images (using the rear cameras and the selfie camera) and combine them into one collage
A wide angle picture of The London Eye
Thanks to the 8MP sensor, the images are not as good as those taken with the 16MP lens and they have a fisheye type effect, which is very noticeable with most pictures.
The 8MP front facing camera is great for those who love selfies, and yes, it comes with beauty mode.
Modular is a new buzzword that we’re hearing more and more of in the smartphone world.
The concept allows you to swap out pieces of your phone, thereby making it a phone that it truly yours.
For example, if your screen breaks, you could swap out the broken display with a fully working one, if you’re a music lover then you could swap out the speaker for a louder one etc.
The G5 aims to be an introductory modular phone, allowing you to slide out the bottom of the phone and slide in a camera grip or a DAC audio convertor. These are what LG calls “Friends”.
There are more Friends than just the 2 mentioned above; LG has also created a rolling bot, a 360 camera and its first VR headset, however not all of these will be available in South Africa.
While these are great ideas, when swapping out the bottom of the phone and swapping in a new Friend, the phone switches off. This means that you have to wait a few seconds before your phone boots up and you’re able to use your phone with the new module.
While this might not sound like a big deal, the practical implications are that you might miss that perfect image of your loved one or an amazing sunset when waiting to use the camera grip.
The other concern is whether or not LG will make its Friends compatible with future handsets and whether more manufacturers will create modules compatible with the company’s new modular ecosystem.
Overall, LG’s G5 is an ok phone.
The South Korean company came up with a great idea to differentiate itself from other handset manufacturers, however the G5 does not feel like a complete handset.
The G5 will certainly get you through an average day and there’s no doubt that it will take some great pictures, but it does not feel like a fully realised device. Following on from last year’s G4, which was our favourite Android handset of 2015, the G5 feels like more of a prototype than the final, market ready, version of a device.