I have spent the last month using the new LG G5, both in Australia and during two overseas trips.
I am currently in Asia and what I find is that it takes several weeks of use, to really get to know whether a device is going to stack up to the robust demands that one expects today from devices that are getting thinner, lighter and are packed with a lot more capability than ever before.
The LG G5 has some seriously good stand out features, but like a lot of smartphones out there the good features are not necessarily wrapped around enhancing capabilities.
A clear example is that the G5 has the best camera we have ever seen in a smartphone, it delivers brilliant wide shots that are crystal clear and the device comes in an extremly good aluminium casing as opposed to the plastic casings LG has used in the past.
It also has a removable battery which over time could come in handy, however I am yet to own a smartphone where I needed to replace a battery. I initially got between 12 and 13 hour’s battery life before I get the mandatory 15% warning.
This has now slumped to less than 11 hours despite no additional apps being added during the past week in Asia where I am actually making or getting less calls than when I am at home.
With the G5, LG have developed a system that makes the standard 2,800 milliamp-hour battery removable by sliding it out from the bottom of the device.
By pressing a button on the side of the phone, you pull the bottom metal housing of the phone down.
This device also has has is some of the best management software for making calls, managing contacts and messaging that we have seen on a device this year. You can easily create folders and the button on the back, as opposed to the side makes it extremly easy to switch or toggle on this device.
On the downside the device is powered via the use of a USB C cable which is a serious pain in the backside, as I for one loved the common charging adopted for all smartphones following the 2009 decision by the European Union to standardise cables and connectors for smartphones.
In a nutshell this means that one has to always remember to take the LG Charger and C Cable with you.
In the past I have travelled with the same set up that allows me to charge both my tablet, and smartphone using the same cables. In my car I have simply plugged in my phone into an existing cable that I use for both my tablet, in-car camera and smartphone.
Now I have to remember to take the USB C cable with me or buy a whole set of additional C Cables for use on multiple chargers that I have at home, in my car and office.
Another problem is that the G5 has NFC, but when I tried to use the device linked to a Westpac account, the G5 failed to activate on several different tap and go machines.
But let’s cut to the chase.
“Would I want to own this device and use it every day. “Yes”.
For the simple reason that it is well designed easy to use and delivers the features that most people want.
Research shows that only 30% of the capabilities that an advanced smartphone like the G5 have built in as standard are actually used by consumers.
While this device does not have curved edges or can be buried under water for 30 minutes, it’s an unassuming device, that has a great aluminium body that feels really good in the hand due in part to the on off button being on the back where one’s hand can easily find it.
But as 5.3-inch screens go there’s plenty of good in the G5’s IPS LCD display that delivers 2560 x 1440 pixels (554ppi) right across the display screen.
By moving to this type of display LG who are one of the world’s best display screen makers having made most Apple display screens for nearly a decade, LG avoids screen burn.
When the display screen is powered down some apps will display as white squares, but many third party ones show on the always-on display, which is great.
LG has said that the display has been redesigned to accommodate this always-on feature, only drawing 0.8 per cent of the battery over an hour.
I found this feature very useful as it means I can see the time how many messages or emails I have without having to suck more juice out of the battery by logging into the device.
LG’s implementation is also subtle, yet valuable. When the device is sitting idle on your desk, a small clock is present on the screen. Just below it is the date, along with app icons for any pending notifications. LG’s approach ahead of the samsung Galaxy S7 which was one of the first phones with this technology.
What LG Has done is something that I suspect is the future for smartphones, modular design.
LG’s modularity is a unique, multi-purpose approach that will soon become standard in Google developed smartphones as well as those from Lenovo, and Motorola.
Not only can users swap batteries, but the modular design enables other types of hardware to interface with the phone in the same manner.
An LG Cam Plus slides into the bottom of the phone, adding a camera grip, physical camera controls, and extends battery life.
LG is offering two accessories: a camera grip that adds manual controls and expands the battery life, and a Bang & Olufsen branded DAC (the Hi-Fi Plus) for audiophiles.
This impressive sound system that is wrapped around a Hi-Fi Plus DAC system designed with Bang & Olufsen and supporting 32-bit 384kHz high resolution audio and DSD playback.
It can be used as a module with the G5 or as a standalone DAC. The G5 also supports aptX HD and Dolby Digital Plus audio.
As well as the DAC, the G5 comes with B&O H3 earphones and there’s a new LG Tone Platinum (HBS-1100) Bluetooth headset, built in partnership with Harman-Kardon. I played with these devices while overseas.
The headset is the first to support aptX HD, compatible with 24-bit wireless audio. For those who opt to not purchase an extra battery, the G5 is equipped with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology. Translation: Using the included charger, you can charge the G5’s battery to 50% in just 30 minutes.
Where this smartphone really stands out thou, is in the camera department.
On the back of the G5 you’ll find two camera lenses. One lens serves as the default camera, capturing 16 megapixel photos. The second lens adds an 8-megapixel, 135-degree wide-angle camera.
Switching between the different lenses is done by tapping an on-screen button or zooming out on a photo.
Despite offering a lower megapixel count, I found myself capturing most photos on the G5 using the wide-angle lens, this did not affect the quality of the images.
As you will see below with the images shot from my hotel balcony.
Observe the standard image, then the wide angle image and then the quality of the pulled up to over 10X zoom.
The G5’s main camera has been cleverly designed with the inbuilt hardware coupled with LG’s camera management software delivering a smartphone capability that is significantly better than what any other manufacturer has been able to deliver so far this year and this includes Sony who makes the sensors for most smartphone cameras.
In addition to the Snapdragon 820 processor powering the G5, the internals include four gigabytes of memory and 32 gigabytes of storage. Support for expandable storage up to two terabytes is made possible through a microSD card slot which I have found extremly useful as I have recently started to shoot fly 360 degree images on a 4K UHD camera which I am now storing for playback on an SD card inside the G5.
Performance is also not an issue with the G5.
During the past month I have thrown a lot at this device and it has had no problems with load times, transfers, or the overall speed of the device when gaming, watching video’s or transferring data.
With the first device sent to me the security fingerprint sensor failed. After initially logging in and creating a fingerprint ID I was asked to create a knock code. Both the knock code and the fingerprint system failed to let me into the device resulting in LG sending me a new G5 that has worked perfectly.
The circular fingerprint sensor that doubles as a lock button is found on the back of the phone, just below the camera.
You can pick up the phone, place your finger on the scanner and a split second later the device is supposed to unlock.
The first question you have to ask yourself is what do you want out of a smartphone, if making calls, managing contacts and emails and getting easy access to social networks and apps is what you want the G5 delivers. It also has the best camera in a smartphone and the way in which LG has designed their apps for contact and messaging is excellent and so is the performance and the battery life.
Even in the hand this device stacks up and I really like the button on the back making the device highly practical.
The sound system is excellent yet I am mystified why LG who make their own excellent sound system is allowing Bang + Olufsen who are struggling to survive in the Hi Fi market to piggy back off their brand.
Could I use this device 7 day a week, 52 weeks of the year the answer is Yes? because LG when they do make a product deliver excellent quality. What let’s LG smartphone sales down in the past is their poor PR and a lack of investment in brand marketing which is why not enough people are investing in LG smartphones.
I hate the move to US C cables, and I have a big problem with the way in which LG has gone about their modular design. It’s early days, gimmicky and has a long way to go. I suspect that at this stage it’s more about pulling through accessory sales. Having said that the removable battery is a plus.
I would also like to get an NFC system that actually works with mainstream banks. My Westpac NFC connection worked instantly when connected to the Samsung S7.
The LG G5 is selling for $890 which is significantly cheaper than the $1,100 Samsung Galaxy S 7 Edge.