The LG G5 has launched in South Africa and is available right now. We were lucky enough to have hands on time with the device ahead of the official launch. We used this time to put the device through its paces for this review.
Unlike a lot of other smartphone manufacturers (we are looking at you Apple and Samsung) LG has totally revised its latest flagship rather than just refining the previous generation. The new G5 looks very different to its predecessor the G4 and for the most part that is a good thing.
The G5 discards the plastic shell of the G4 in favour of a fancy metal jacket. Unlike other metal phones LG used an advanced process to treat the metal to give it a softer feel. This means that the phone feels cool to the touch but still has a comfortable texture and zero fingerprints. The phone itself is very thin and light. You can easily forget it’s in your pocket and if this is a big feature for you then the LG G5 delivers. You will notice the longer bezel at the base of the phone – this is part of the modular design that you can swap out and replace. It does affect the overall aesthetic but most people who I asked failed to notice it at first glance and were surprised to see how it slides out.
Turn the phone over and you will immediately notice the two cameras at the top. LG has included both a standard and a wide-angle lens in the G5 making the camera slightly more pronounced.
Just below the cameras you will find the screen lock and built-in fingerprint scanner. The volume buttons have shifted from this location (where they were on the G4) to a more standard placement on the side of the device. We are happy with this change as we never quite got used to the G4’s volume buttons. The fingerprint scanner is great and even surpasses other devices by allowing you to unlock the phone purely by placing your finger on it – no need to push the button.
While the design has changed a lot, holding the device in your hand does remind me of the G4. I think it’s due to the thinness of the device and the way your index finger gravitates to the lock button on the back.
The LG G5 has the latest technology under the hood and matches up to the best on the market with the Snapdragon 820 processor and 4 GB of RAM making the phone very quick and responsive. The G5 has 32 GB of on-board storage with the option of adding up to 200 GB more through the microSD slot. The G5 has pretty much everything you would expect from a flagship smartphone from LTE to the 5.3-inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel screen.
The screen is particularly impressive and continues LG’s strong run with displays. Coming in at 554ppi it is ever so slightly sharper than the G4, but not noticeably so. LG has continued to stick with the IPS LCD screen which is not quite as bright as the Samsung AMOLED screens but still a really strong offering. The only thing I was not a fan of is the lack of visibility when using polarised sunglasses. Normally only restricted to issues when in landscape mode, with the G5 the display seems to work the other way round making checking your phone in the sun tough if you wear polarised glasses.
For me the biggest talking point has to be the battery. LG has opted to decrease the capacity from 3000mAh in the G4 to 2800mAh with the G5. I found the G4 battery capacity a major problem especially 6 months in as it struggled to last a day with normal usage. The G5 has the option to swap out batteries with their modular design but that requires buying and carrying an additional battery. In our hands on testing the battery has held up well, but if it’s anything like the G4 it will be a concern if you are a heavy smartphone user.
The G5 comes with Android Marshmallow and a very paired down LG implementation. I’m not a fan of the way that they removed the app drawer however, giving the G5 an iOS-like feel with all your apps out on your homescreen at all times. However, if you install a Launcher you can switch back to a normal app drawer very easily. Overall the phone is less bloated than many of its competitors in this department and provides a very fast and seamless Android experience.
LG has always placed a big emphasis on its smartphone cameras and the G5 is no exception. This year LG has squeezed in 3 cameras; a front facing 8-megapixel camera as well as two back mounted cameras at 16 and 8-megapixels a piece. The big difference is the lenses on these cameras with the 16-megapixel camera being a standard lens and the 8-megapixel one being a wide-angle lens. I’m a big fan of this, having a built-in wide-angle lens is super useful. From capturing a room at home to squeezing in a skyscraper while traveling, the wide-angle lens is very handy. You can easily switch between lenses at the touch of a button on screen.
The camera performs really well and we were very impressed with the quality of the images we managed to shoot. The G5 includes all the manual camera settings that made the G4 such a photographic success and pretty much has all the bases covered here. Add in the modular camera grip which not only provides actual camera controls on the device but also adds another 1200mAh battery to further extend shooting time.
The LG G5 is a strong contender in the flagship smartphone market. I’m not completely sold on the modular design but the overall phone design and excellent camera offering make it a phone really worth considering.