The LG G5 is a much anticipated launch, as a lot of people have been looking for competitors for devices like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – because quite frankly the S7 Edge in particular has been running around the field with its head held high and with no body to challenge it.
So, does the LG G5 have what it takes?
It certainly has the specs to match all the 2016 flagship devices, but what it certainly does not have and is oomph.
Yet again, LG has failed to put out a device that looks like a million bucks. Also, in attempt to differentiate the G5 from the rest, LG has included a fancy new ‘modular’ system of accessories that supposedly expand the G5’s functionality.
It is a good thing, but what is not good is the fact that LG seems to have bet a lot (not everything mind you, but a lot), on this particular novelty. Or so people believe.
Let’s get this review going the right way, and find out what’s what.
To start off this segment I must bring to your notice, the fact that LG was the first manufacturer in world, to bring to the market a Quad HD display with it’s LG G3 – back in 2014!
This was not a flash in the pan. In fact LG has always done a very good job with its displays. They have not been perfect but have always used new tech and utilised it well. LG makes some really innovative moves in the displays space – be it TVs or smartphones, and is not at all circumspect in experimenting.
Consequently: The LG G5 has the best display in the market today!
While not a whole lot has changed here from it’s outgoing flagship but still there is something about the display that makes it extremely sharp. LG has opted for an IPS LCD panel instead of favoring the AMOLED, and that results in brilliant viewing angles. Not only that, the screen is surprisingly vibrant for an IPS LCD panel and very bright.
It is difficult to fathom exactly what LG has done differently on the G5, to make this display so good. One of the reasons behind this may be that the screen is slightly smaller at 5.3 inches as compared to the 5.5 inches of the G4.
What this means is that the same amount of pixels are now packed in a smaller area which makes the display a lot more true-to-life and softer than the Galaxy S7’s display.
The blacks are not as deep as that on the other AMOLED panels but it still is pretty ink and relatively good for an IPS LCD panel.
Just like Samsung, LG also uses the ‘Always On’ display mode. The customizability is not much improved here, but what has improved is the amount of battery that the device sips for this – it is about 3% less than the S7’s appetite through the day. Also, this feature shows you many more notifications from apps like Whatsapp and Gmail, than Samsung’s implementation does (currently).
All in all, the G5 excels in the display arena and it sure does give every other display in any other device a run for its money. Including the much loved iPhones – any day of the week, in fact.
Now I know I wasn’t kind to the G5 in the intro section a couple of screens back, regarding it’s “unexciting” design. And while it may be (largely) true – the LG G5 is a trifle boring, and doesn’t really be striking in it’s appearance, yet the fact is, the LG G5 does represent a massive change in LG’s design ethos (I’ll complete this statement at the end of this section).
The first major tweak that the LG G5 gets in terms of design is a metal body as opposed to the plastic one of the G4. The phone looks sleek and curvy in any image that you might have seen of the phone.
Picking up the phone however, changes your perspective in a sense that you get a reality check. The phone really does not feel as good in the hands (as it looks sitting on the desk) and I would even go ahead and say that it feels ‘hollow’.
The metal body too feels less like metal and more like plastic. This is something that I have never experienced. A phone having a metal body that feels like plastic is simply dichotomous! All the more, holding a device in your hands that feels hollow and that too a device that has had people anticipating it and looking forward to, is a let down.
Moving on, apart from this, the design does have a few good things that need mentioning. While the phone does not feel very sturdy or solid, yet it is quite compact. The rounded corners, slightly curved sides and fairly compact size make it good to hold and give it a precise feel.
The phone has a single volume clicker on one side, and the SIM tray on the other. The number of keys being kept at the minimum possible has always pleased me.
The lock switch however is at an unorthodox position – it is placed at the back just below the camera sensors. The volume key has a push that is a little shallow but it still is very usable.
Now, we all know what is the next feature that I am going to talk about – it just has to be the fingerprint scanner doesn’t it?
Well it’s clearly become a must-have for all flagship devices passing through the gates in 2016. The fingerprint scanner on the G5 is incubated into the lock button which makes this phone one of the few that have the fingerprint scanner placed at the back.
Again, this is a very subjective issue. but i personally feel that the fingerprint scanner placed at the front is much more sensible. Another issue, more to do with the hardware-software partnership is that the fingerprint scanner is fairly sensitive which sometimes leads to it going off randomly in your pocket.
Now. the feature that LG has priced this phone upon – The ‘Modular System’.
Let me first explain what it does and then come back and help you determine how big this feature actually is.
So, what happens essentially is that along the sides you get an indistinguishable button, almost a part of the main body. Press this button ever so slightly with your thumbnail and outcomes the bottom chin and with it the battery. Once the battery is out you can attach it to the other modules of which there are two 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 Digital-to-analog converter (DAC) powered by some Bang & Olufsen tech. The DAC gives you 32-bit audio and an extra headphone jack.
As good and useful these two add ons may prove to be, I do not think that they will sell themselves in a sense that (these in my opinion) are not as huge a draw as LG has made them to be.
This inevitably leads me to say that LG have taken up the wrong gamble in order to make themselves different. This would not have been a such a bad thing if in the process of doing so, LG would not have compromised on the way the phone looks and feels, or put an INR 52,000 tag on it.
So, the LG G5 is definitely a change in the LG’s approach and philosophy in device design, however it seems like the harbinger of change – the journey’s begun, but this isn’t yet the final milestone of change… I believe the next few devices from LG will be a greater distillate and evidence LG’s travails.
Quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor, 4 GB RAM, an Adreno 530 GPU and a single storage option – 32 GB storage (expandable via microSD). This is pretty much what the LG G5 offers you for processor related specs. At par with all the flagships of 2016, the LG G5 looks to promise very good performance.
All the internals here are very familiar this year, as almost all the flagships ended up using the same stencil to design the internal spec sheet.
The result of all these powerful internals is an incredibly fast phone, but that’s at par with the market. Again, as with the Galaxy S7 edge, browsing, scrolling through menus, opening up apps, (doing all those things you do all-day) are tasks that hardly challenge the capabilities of the phone. The same goes for any modern day games. Everything seems quite smooth, hassle free and lag-less.
As of now there are no heating issues, but this is something to watch out for in the near future as all the phones featuring the Snapdragon 820 are relatively new and the the background of the 810 and its heating issues does give us reason enough to be cautious.
Be warned, the LG G5 doesn’t feature Adoptable storage, which is disappointing. Adoptable storage is a useful feature Google debuted on Android Marshmallow. It lets phones treat SD cards like internal memory – meaning you shouldn’t suffer the usual performance issues associated with external microSD cards if you shell out for a decent card. But that’s meaningless for the G5 since it doesn’t have that feature built in.
The performance of the LG G5 is as expected out of a 2016 flagship phone, nothing more, nothing less.
The LG G5 comes with the latest Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and with it come all the tweaks and perks that Google added at the end of last year. But…. the spoiler here is that the LG G5’s interface is significantly skinned-over.
Apart from the Nexus line and Motorola’s devices, every other manufacturer’s devices come with some sort of skin or bloatware on it. Well, while it is not intended as bloatware but it inevitably becomes so. As with the G5, LG’s own UX 5.0 is nowhere near as sleek as vanilla Android. It doesn’t even match Samsung’s TouchWiz for overall style.
Though being fair to LG, it’s still much slimmer and less in your face than it was previously; but that’s not a great barometer of progress.
The big news here for LG users is that LG has decided to completely ditch the app drawer on the G5. I know, there is a divided poll on whether Android is better off without the app drawer or not. I personally like it. Any given day, if I choose an Android phone over an iOS or a Windows phone it primarily because of the options I get with it. And the app drawer is one option that I would certainly want to have.
And I believe, so will a lot of LG users; so ditching it may not have been a wise choice by LG.
LG has always seem to know smartphone cameras. The best cameras that we laid our hands throughout 2015, were those on the LG G4 and the V10.
LG seems sent to continue this quest in 2016 as well, and has come up with an exciting new feature.
The back of the LG G5 houses a dual camera set up – with the primary camera being a 16 megapixel unit along with a secondary 8 megapixel sensor. Now this is something that is completely new to us and it sure is pretty exciting!
The main 16 megapixel camera is simply excellent, and the 8 megapixel secondary unit is great for landscape snaps. The Laser auto-focus system works bang on and the colors are extremely impressive. The pictures are as packed with details as you will ever see. Switching between each sensor is easy and quick and the camera app itself is fully featured, without being overbearing.
So, this basically lets you capture GoPro-esque footage with a 135-degree field of view, which happens to be more than the human eye can actually see. Most phones tend to have a 75-degree view, so this will let you cram way, way, way more into each photo.
Night shots are not as good though – and this is pretty much a trend in today’s smartphones barring the Galaxy S7 Edge. The Laser auto-focus doesn’t work as quickly or accurately in low light, consequently there are just about enough details to be used on social networks, but thats about all.
The 8 megapixel front facing camera is very good though, and gets you some very cool selfies.
While LG seems to be backing up the new modular design in the G5, but, in my view what LG should be backing up is this camera feature!
First up, what helps here really is the amazing display this device has – it simply is a wonderful experience watching HD videos on this phone.
Similarly, playing games is thoroughly pleasing and of course the powerful performance kit that this device packs does help its cause.
The speakers on this device are fairly good and loud. They don’t distort significantly and can keep up with the graphics processor.
So, you can expect fairly decent sound while watching stuff on the LG G5’s stunning display.
I’d expect you’d be entertained through and through.