When LG recently ripped the wrappers off its 2016 flagship phone, the G5, jaws dropped. This is no ordinary Android smartphone, but a handset that manages to innovate in almost every area, pushing into new territory when it comes to its camera, its design and its modular flexibility.
Want to find out exactly how the G5 has become 2016’s hottest smartphone property? The lesser-known details that elevate it above its contemporaries? Let us count the ways...
1: You can upgrade it yourself
The G5 is the first modular smartphone from a major manufacturer, with the bottom sliding out and allowing hardware add-ons to be installed. These add-ons can be as straightforward as a replacement battery or a microSD card (up to a whopping 2TB), but some are far more interesting. Like the Cam Plus, for instance – it’s a plug-in grip that adds comfy-to-use physical camera controls (a shutter button and zoom dial) as well as 1200mAh of extra battery power, taking the phone’s total to a massive 4000mAh.
For music lovers there’s the HiFi Plus DAC, designed in conjunction with Danish audio mavens Bang & Olufsen, that adds the ability to play incredibly high-quality 32-bit DSD music files. Your ears will thank you, as will your mate: adding the B&O module gives you an extra headphone socket. And because the modular capabilities come courtesy of high-speed USB connectivity, there’s vast scope for more to follow in future.
2: It’s LG’s first all-metal smartphone
LG has dabbled in premium materials before – who can forget the real leather back of the G4? – but the G5 is the company’s first smartphone to offer an all-metal unibody. With the majority of the phone milled from a single piece of aluminium, it’s stronger and sturdier than its predecessors while maintaining a skinny 7.7mm profile. The screen has toughened up to boot, with scratch- and shatter-resistant Gorilla Glass 4 replacing the G4’s less hardy Gorilla Glass 3 display.
3: It’s seriously specced for speed…
With Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 820 CPU running at a blistering 2.1GHz and a whopping 4GB of efficient LPDDR4 RAM, the G5 is in the very top tier of smartphones when it comes to technical specs. Make no mistake – this is a fast, fast phone that’ll make mincemeat of any app or game you can throw at it. And there’s supercharged connectivity too, thanks to a USB 3.0 Type-C connector, Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX HD (more on that below), a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and 4G LTE.
4: …And for sound
Whether you get the HiFi Plus module or not, the G5 has some serious audio chops. Not only does this phone play back 24-bit hi-res music out of the box, it’s one of the first to support aptX HD, Qualcomm’s codec that allows such music to be transmitted via Bluetooth. So you can listen to uncompressed studio-quality tunes without a tangle of cable spaghetti.
5: The screen’s a bright spark…
Like last year’s G4, the G5 comes with an IPS LCD screen offering a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. With the screen being 5.3in corner-to-corner, that’s a pixel density of 554 pixels-per-inch, making the G5’s display one of the sharpest on the market. And it’s dazzlingly bright too, a 60 percent increase in output making it easy to see even in direct sunlight.
6: …That’s always telling you the time
Because the display uses Quantum IPS technology rather than AMOLED, it’s able to be always-on without risk of screen burn-in. So even when the G5’s in sleep mode, the screen is showing you useful info in the form of the time, date and important notifications. And this function’s not a power hog either, with smart backlighting technology illuminating only a small area of the screen, thus gobbling up less than one percent of the G5’s battery life per hour.
7: Two cameras for the price of one
Like its predecessor the G4, the G5 sports a 16MP rear camera with laser-assisted autofocus. Quick to lock onto subjects and offering a standard 75-degree field-of-view, it’s the camera you’ll almost certainly be using the most. But this time it’s brought a buddy along, in the form of a brand new 8MP wide-angle camera.
Located right beside the 16MP snapper, this secondary camera’s 135-degree field-of-view is actually wider than the human eye’s, meaning you can cram so much more into a shot. It’s ideal for group portraits, landscapes and any other situation where’s you want to capture more of the world around you. And because the cameras are separate, you can take both a standard and wide-angle photo at the same time.
8: Security at your fingertips
The G5’s rear-mounted power button delivers another first for an LG phone: a fingerprint scanner. Located on the rear side of the phone for easier access when it’s in your hand, the button’s new sensor means nobody will be able to access your precious data but you.
9: It’s bringing its Friends to the party
The Cam Plus and HiFi Plus are among a group of accessories LG calls “Friends”. Easy to connect and set up from the G5’s dedicated Friends Manager app, these also include the compact, lightweight LG 360 VR virtual reality headset and the LG Cam 360, an action camera that deploys two 13MP wide-angle cameras to take photos and videos of everything around it. Given the super-high bandwidth requirements of 360 videos - whether you're streaming from the web, or uploading your new creations to it.
The G5's final (and most bonkers) Friend is Rolling Bot, a smartphone-controlled robotic ball that will stream what it sees straight to your phone, packs a laser pointer to amuse your pets and has an infra-red blaster to control your TV wherever you are in the world. It'll be worth having 4G network just so you can see the havoc you're wreaking back home.