LG tried to do a quick move this year. The LG G5 was presented at Mobile World Congress 2016 just one day before its rival Samsung. However, Samsung did a head start; they released Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge on March 11. LG fans, on the other hand, had to wait until the early April.
On the price aspect, LG puts $699 for the 32 GB version of the G5, just like the Galaxy S7. Customers who bought it early, or by April 16 were given a $70 CAM Plus module for free. Samsung also did a pre-order bundle for the S7 and S7 Edge, with the $99 Gear VR as a bonus.
Design and build quality
LG used polycarbonate as the main ingredients of its casing for years. Why? Because LG wants to make the battery remained changeable and that was the only way to do that. On late 2015, however, LG tried to use something new, with the V10, LG use metal for the casing. Including on the new G5, a full metal body is implemented.
There are many changes in the design of the G5. The power button is still on the back but the volume buttons now are on the left side. A fingerprint sensor also packed on the power button just like the previous LG V10. So, the power button is only needed for a restart, or to switch off the display because you can unlock the phone with the fingerprint scanner.
There is also double-camera optics on the backside of the phone plus an LED flash and laser autofocus system. The camera system and the fingerprint sensor create a hump on the phone because they are not recessed into the casing.
On the top side, there is a headphone port, noise canceling microphone and also an infrared transmitter. You will not find the infrared transmitter on Galaxy S7, S7 Edge and HTC 10, so this is a plus point for G5. If you want to operate a TV or Hi-Fi system with your phone, G5 must be on your buying list.
There are also some minor design weaknesses on the casing. First, there is a sharp edge between the frame and the battery release button, and there is a gap between the module and the smartphone because of the poor alignment. Fortunately, they are only found on early test product of G5, you will find any of those flaws on G5 products now.
LG decided to reduce the display size this time. The G5 display is only 5.3 inches. Talking about resolution and display, LG used the same resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, just like G4. The pixels density, however, is refined a little.
We have seen a feature that both existed on Samsung and LG and that is always-on display. But because of the panel configuration, LG needs to implement a trick. The pixels of an IPS panel are not illuminating individually so, the upper part of the display must be illuminated to make always-on works. Too bad, the always-on display is not visible in direct sunlight.
Modular expandability is the special feature here. The modules can be plugged in to the G5 via a socket inside the device. If you want to change modules, the unit must be removed from the phone. You must press the backup button to keep it save just in case the module is accidentally removed from the phone. There are two modules available for the LG G5, a B&O Hi-Fi, and the CAM Plus camera. This hi-fi module will improve the sound of the LG G5 headphones greatly.
LG G5 uses Android 6.0.1 as operating system combined with their UI again. What might surprise you is the absence of the App Drawer. So how do we see our apps? The drawer is on the LG Home Launcher 4.0, they integrated them. you can found the launcher in LG Smart World.
The LG user interface has become tidier and slimmer than before. LG also forced to drop multi-window view because Android N will natively support the feature.
After some changes mentioned before, there are no other major changes. Just like Sony, LG also introduced knock-on feature, it allows you to unlock your smartphones via a double-tap. The overall appearance is refined here.
Overall, the UI is tidier and more balanced. The loss of App Drawer is not a problem because you can still do the same task with the LG Home Launcher 4.0. This app can only be installed from LG’s Smart World app store. The existence of two app stores could be confusing sometimes.
Last year, LG could not use the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810, their best processor, because of its heating problem. However, LG’s decision with the G Flex 2 makes them the first to market this processor. The same processor was also seen in the G4.
But everything is changed on G5. Qualcomm has totally improved the Snapdragon. It means that the four cores of 820 are able to reach high performance level.
In our benchmarks test, the G5 with the Snapdragon 820 processor, Adreno 530 graphical processor, and 4 GB of RAM still cannot beat the supreme Galaxy S7. Our fastest smartphones is still the Samsung’s and latest device.
The reason behind the lost of G5 is the decent graphics processor of the Galaxy S7. The 12 core of Mali-T880 MP12 is a decisive point to bring the Galaxy S7 to victory.
The G5 has a total of three cameras. One front camera and two cameras placed on the back. With a wide of 135 degrees angle, images will be a little broader than the result of the usual smartphone camera.
LG G5 has two back cameras, the 16 MP and 8 MP and also a sensor, sadly, the wide-angle camera has a low resolution sensor. The front camera also has 8MP of resolution.
With the two cameras and some new modes in the app, you can make interesting collages. In pop out mode, you can make one image with the back cameras. The image part of the 16 MP camera is placed within the image of the wide-angle camera. The image can be optically remodeled further with filters.
Unfortunately, the wide-angle camera has little handling issues. You have to mind fingers again and again because they often appear on the camera. But you will get used to it in no time.
If you don’t want to use automatic mode and choose to adjust settings like ISO, exposure, white balance and shutter speed by yourself, the manual mode will satisfy you. There is also the feature to capture images in JPEG and RAM all at the same time.
The picture quality is also outstanding. First, the 16 MP main camera capture photos in G4 image quality. The 8 MP is quite good on the glimpse. But, after some steps of zoom in you will notice that the image sharpness is lacking.
Battery power is the G5 weak spot because many other 2016 devices use a bigger battery. Galaxy S7, HTC 10 and Huawei P9 use a 3000 mAh battery while the LG G5 left behind with only 2,800 mAh battery.
In AnTuTu Battery Tester, the LG G5 is as expected fall behind the Galaxy S7. With a standard usage of calls, browse webs via Wi-Fi and watching videos, the phone reached nearly 25 percent at the end of the day. This might have something to do with always-on. So after I disabled it, about 35 percent battery remained at the end of the day.
After all the low capacity of batter, let’s not forget that the LG G5 has a removable battery, something that the competitors do not have.
Whether or not the LG G5 is a beautiful device, it is your job to decide. One thing for sure, that LG G5 is a device that can compete with Samsung Galaxy S7 and probably with the HTC 10 as well. Although those two devices are often considered as the best phones, LG has its own weapon in the shape of a removable battery and add in modules.
Unfortunately, the modules also bring disadvantage. First, the modules actually are not so good. Second, buyers do not know if LG will still offer its Friends or not, they could simply end the production.