Sunday, February 21, 2016
MWC 2016: LG unveils the G5 and other 'friends'
As expected, and widely teased in the past couple of weeks, LG has today officially unveiled the latest in its high-end G series of smartphones, the LG G5. It's a drastic departure from previous LG flagships, with a metal-backed design, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor and the move to a more traditional volume key placement, eschewing the firm's traditional back-mounted buttons. What's more, the G5 introduces new modular attachments bringing more functionality to the device, with the lower portion of the phone being detachable.
First things first — the G5 packs a 5.3-inch display, down from the 5.5 inches of the G4, but at the same 2560x1440 resolution, and using the same IPS Quantum technology. For its latest smartphone, LG has adapted the dual display technology of the V10 into an "Always-On" display, allowing a portion of the screen to be lit-up to show the time and notification icons even when the device is asleep.
The plastic (and leather) chassis of the G4 has given way to a new metal-framed body, and there are plenty of other changes elsewhere in the hardware. LG's traditional back-mounted buttons have kind-of gone away, with only the rear-mounted power key (with built-in fingerprint scanner) remaining. (The volume keys have been relocated around to the right side.)
As for software, the G5 is powered by Android Marshmallow 6.0 with LG's usual "skin" laid overtop. One very noticeable thing missing from all previous Android phones, not just LG, is the Android app drawer. Without the app drawer to hit to get access to all your installed apps, you will get a more iPhone type experience with all of your apps being spread out across your home and other screens.
On the inside, it's powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor — the first such phone to be announced at MWC — along with a hefty 4 gigabytes of RAM and 32GB of storage, expandable via microSD up to 2 terabytes.
LG has also re-tooled its camera setup, with a 8-megapixel front-facer and a dual-camera setup around the back. There's a regular 16-megapixel camera, like the G4, along with an 8-megapixel wide-angle (135-degree) camera, backed up by LG's laser autofocus magic for focusing in the dark.
The G5 packs a removable 2,800mAh battery — a small reduction from the G4, though it's also powering a somewhat smaller display. An the battery now slots in through the bottom of the device, which clips away when a release button is pressed. Through this mechanism, you can swap out the bottom of the G5, adding in new replaceable modules to expand the phone's functionality. These include a camera grip with an additional 1,200mAh of battery capacity, and an audio attachment tuned and co-developed by Bang & Olufsen, outputting 32-bit sound for better sound from music and videos. If you use your phone for lots of movie watching and listening to music like myself, this will make a huge difference in those experiences. Unfortunately with the sound module, you will not get the 1,200mAh extra battery that you get from the camera grip module.
Along with these new modules, LG has also announced a line of "friends" for its latest phones, starting with the G5. These are accessories that can be easily paired with the phone, and managed through a preloaded app. Early "friends" for the G5 include the LG Roller Bot (yes a robot similar to BB-8), a small, remote-controlled, ball-shaped 'bot with built-in speakers, laser pointer, camera and mic. There's also the LG 360 CAM, a 360-degree remote-controlled camera, and LG 360 VR, a virtual reality headset with its own built-in display, which connects to the G5 over its USB-C port.