LG G5 Review: Ambitious But Unrefined

Introducing the LG G5

Now, more than ever, manufacturers are exploring alternative ways to differentiate smartphones. One savior to the oversaturated smartphone market, that is rife with products with similar specifications, may come in the form of modularity. The promise of a modular phone, is an ability to adapt to a user’s needs in the moment. Purchasing a smartphone is traditionally a long-term investment. What might perfectly address day-to-day use, however, could come up short under specific use cases.

We already took a close look at the Moto Z family and see promise in Moto Mods, but modular smartphones are not easy. The long promised modular smartphone program from Google, dubbed Project Ara, which helped spark the concept, was itself just shut down.

lg g5 front view

LG put a lot on the line when they released the LG G5. The G5 purports to be a modular smartphone unlike any before it. The G5 doesn’t sacrifice features in the name of modularity either. LG still packs in a MicroSD card slot, fingerprint reader, and removable battery.

The secret behind the G5’s design lies in its “Magic Slot.” The Magic slot houses the phone’s 2800 mAh battery. While the battery clips to the chin of the phone, it only makes electrical contact at the top. A separate connection supports USB access just to the right of the battery. The battery can be snapped off the chin and attached to a different module, referred to as an LG Friend, to enable or enhance the phone’s functionality on demand.

lg g5 battery popout

The LG G5 also sports a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 clocked at 2.15 GHz, 4 GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard storage standard, 16 MP standard and 8 MP wide-angle rear cameras, a 5MP front facing camera, 5.3” QHD 2560 x 1440 LCD display, and USB-C charge port.

Specifications & Features
Model Name LG G5
Display 5.3 inch Always-On LED Display (1440 X 2560 Resolution, 554 ppi pixel density)
Processor Snapdragon 820, 64bit Quad-Core Processor (2x 2.15 GHz Kryo + 2x 1.6 GHz Kryo)
149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7mm, 159g
SIM Nano SIM, Dual SIM/SD Card Slot
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 4
GPU Adreno 530
OS Android v6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
Storage 32 GB
Micro SD up to 2 TB
Camera 16 MP f/1.8 rear primary camera; 8 MP f/2.4 135-degree rear wide-angle camera, OIS (3-axis), dual-tone LED flash
8 MP f/2.0 front facing camera with face/smile detection
Networking GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE support
v4.2 LE Bluetooth, NFC, USB Type-C, Infrared port, FM radio, 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, GPS, GLONASS
Sensors Accelerometer, Barometer, Fingerprint, Gyro, Compass, Proximity, Color Spectrum
Battery 2800 mAh Removable Battery
Colors Silver, Titan, Gold, Pink

LG Magic Slot
Price  ~ $499 Unlocked - Also on all major carriers with subsidies and contracts

LG G5 Look & Feel
Sleek Metal Body

The LG G5 visually has more in common with the LG G3 than its immediate predecessor, the LG G4. The G5 shuns the G4’s stitched leather and faux hammered back options for a return to a sleek metal-alloy body. Sure, it’s a bit austere, but the design works.

The front of the LG G5 is almost entirely covered in a single pane of “3D Arc Glass” which features a very slight curve at the top, beginning right around the front facing speaker. The display itself is bright and ventures into being a touch oversaturated. Whites are very neutral and ever so slightly on the cool side. Off-angle viewing does result in warmer colors, but it isn’t enough to really raise any complaint. The only real defect here is a lack of true blacks thanks to the LCD panel which, unlike AMOLED, does not turn off black pixels. This is most apparent in dark rooms with the always-on display enabled as the entire screen still gives off a slight glow.

lg g5 always on display

A front facing camera sits wide left of the speaker grill and a status LED glows just to the right. The chin of the phone does not share the glass covering and is instead wholly detachable to allow for the removal of the onboard battery, which we will return to later.

lg g5 headset and ir closeup
The G5 features a 3.5mm headphone jack and IR blaster up top alongside a microphone, while the bottom contains a USB Type-C charge port, speaker grill, and another microphone.

lg g5 usb c closeup
The back side of the G5 remains home to the power button - now upgraded with a fingerprint sensor - but the volume rocker has moved back out to the left side of the phone. This decision clears up a lot of the confusion and awkwardness surrounding the rear-facing volume rocker LG has used since the G2.

lg g5 rear angle

Above the home button turned fingerprint reader, we find not one, but two, camera lenses within a very slight bump. The left lens is home to a fairly standard 16MP shooter with 78-degree field of view, while the right lens sits atop an 8MP sensor, and has a 135-degree field of view wide angle lens. A laser-autofocus and dual flash cluster sits between them.

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