The LG G5 is a very different type of smartphone. LG has remodelled its flagship smartphone to make it the most flexible on the market, incorporating not only upgradeable storage but a slide-out battery and a system of add-on modules that expand the phone’s capabilities to better reflect the owner’s needs.
LG G5 Basics:
Before we talk about the modules, here’s what you need to know:
The G5 is a slim, light phone, at only 7.7mm deep and weighing 159g. It has a 5.3 in display, so a decent size but keeping the phone easily portable. The G5 has a sleek metal body which is flat across the back and has smoothly contoured edges, giving the handset a high quality feel.
LG has repositioned the volume buttons on the edge of the phone and positioned the fingerprint reader in the centre of the back, where it also doubles as the phone’s power button. Reports suggest the fingerprint reader is excellent, fast and accurate, and enables you to unlock the phone simply by passing your finger over the reader, no downward pressure is required. There is a single speaker next to the charger slot at the bottom of the phone.
The 2,800mAh battery isn’t the biggest on the market but it has a module which can extend the battery life by as much as 3 hours. It is also Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0-enabled, which Qualcomm claims is 4 times faster than conventional charging. The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and there’s 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.
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LG G5 Modules:
So this is where the real innovation is! LG has come up with the concept of ‘Friends’, ways you can enhance your phone depending on what’s important to you. The G5 has a small button on the left edge which releases the foot of the phone below the screen and is attached to the battery. New ‘Friends’ are added by snapping the battery away from the foot, plugging them into it and slotting the new assembly back into the phone body.
Two Friends are available at launch. The first is the CAM Plus, a camera extension, which adds a larger, ergonomic grip and DSLR-style controls to the phone and an extra 1,200mAh battery.
The second is an audio module, the B&O DAC. Yes, that’s B&O as in the high end audio brand Bang and Olufsen. The DAC gives you 32-bit audio and an extra headphone jack.
The modules unquestionably improve the phone’s functionality but they are not cheap. The B&O DAC costs £150, you’d need your audio transformed to justify that, while the camera grip is £79.
LG is encouraging third parties to make their own Friends and hope there will be more to choose from. However, to make this worthwhile, the G5 has to sell in enough numbers to make creating a Friend a commercial proposition. Compatibility with future LG handsets also has to be considered. Will these Friends fit the LG G6 due next year? If they don’t, LG will have made a number of people unhappy.
Is this the future of smartphones?
LG has really thought differently about how you can improve your phone to suit your needs and could well encourage other manufacturers to do the same. At the moment, the range of Friends is limited and the benefits perhaps don’t justify the costs but the range will probably grow and the price come down. But don’t forget, even if you never change a module, the G5 is still a very impressive smartphone!