There’s no doubt about it: LG just blew MWC away with the G5 and its upgrade-friendly new look.
It had been rumoured for months, and although the leakers didn’t get the name right (it’s not a Magic Slot after all) the G5’s most unique feature is already shaping up to be a bit of a blinder.
If you haven’t already absorbed every scrap of info from our G5 hands-on review, pressing a button on the side of the G5 releases the bottom. A swift yank and it detaches, battery and all, for you to slap in all manner of different modules.
All upgrade modules use the G5's standard battery; it slips out with the phone's bottom piece and unclips with a bit of force. You then slot it into the new accessory and connect it back up. It's all pretty seamless, and means you'll only be adding extra girth to the phone when you need to.
That opens up a whole world of possibilities, and we've tried the first two to make it out of the gate.
Naturally LG is behind the Cam Plus, an external battery pack that also adds physical controls for the G5's twin rear cameras. It bumps the G5 up to 4000mAh, which is good for around a 15% longer lifespan away from the mains when you're taking pictures and shooting video.
The chunky hand grip gives you something to grab onto when you're holding the phone one-handed, helping you keep the sensors steady when you're trying to snap that perfect shot. It's not so big that you can't still slip the phone into a pocket when you're done though.
A physical camera on/off switch takes you straight to the camera app, and you have two shutter buttons; one just for video and another that focuses when you press it down half-way. There's even a dial for zooming in and out, although you're stuck with digital zoom. Considering the G5 has some serious camera credentials, this could be an upgrade worth investing in for shutterbugs.
A tripod mount would have been nice, but it's sadly missing.
It won't just be LG making modules, either. The second accessory on show at MWC was a collaboration with speaker specialists Bang & Olufsen. It's a high-end portable DAC that bypasses the G5's existing circuits, letting you listen to 32bit Hi-res audio files or uncompressed DSDs - in other words, the best of the best when it comes to digital listening.
The black finish doesn't exactly match the rest of the phone, even if you opt for the Titan black model, but it doesn't add any extra girth and only puts a few mm more on the length, so you'll barely notice it in your pocket. A dedicated headphone jack ensures you're getting the best sound, rather than routing the audio back through the phone to the G5's standard 3.5mm port.
We didn't get the chance to try it out at MWC (LG's default jingle, the only pre-loaded track, definitely doesn't count) but if LG and B&O have done their homework it could be a real challenger to high-end audio players from the likes of Astell & Kern.
So far, we’ve only seen a handful of possibilities, but seeing as the upgrade module tech is based on the USB 3.0 protocol and LG is happy to share APIs with developers and manufacturers, these could just be the start of what’s to come.
LG won’t say what each plug-in will cost yet, or when they will launch, but expect the first few to turn up roughly around the same time as the G5 itself in April.
The G5 was shaping up to be a bit of a beast already, and this is the icing on the cake - we can’t wait to see what other upgrades are on the horizon.