LG G5



Update: Our LG G5 review now includes additional speed, battery life and camera tests in three separate comparison videos you'll want to watch below.
The LG G5 is a massive change of pace for the South Korean firm. It's done away with the cheap plastic and confusing leather finishes of the LG G4 in favor of a full metal body, while keeping fan-favorite features like a removable battery and microSD card.
That's a big deal, because Samsung disappointed a vocal minority when it ditched its swappable battery and expandable storage hallmarks for the Galaxy S6, although it realized the errors of its way as it reinstated microSD support in the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge a year later.
The LG G5 may not be as ornate as Samsung's glass-and-metal-fused phone, or Apple's aluminum iPhone 6S, but it's a step in the right direction after the questionably styled G4.

Not only does it include perks for power users, LG's changed the way we access the battery with a cartridge-like input so you don't have to remove the back cover.
This 'magic slot' is located in the bottom frame of the phone and doubles as an accessory port. Add-ons so far include a battery grip with physical camera controls and a Hi-Fi audio module.
LG G5 review
You don't really need either of these accessories to enjoy the camera or audio, though. LG G5 has a dual-camera setup on the back, with one lens that provides extra-wide photos.
The front is highlighted by an always-on, 5.3-inch display. It never goes to sleep, with the time, date and notification icons visible when the phone is off.
When it comes to price, you're looking at around US$650 (£500, AU$890) SIM-free for the LG G5, which puts it slightly below the Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6S - although they're all pretty much in the same ball park.
There are lots of parts to the LG G5 - but do they all add up to make a best phonescontender? Let's explore, as I put it through the in-depth review process.
Of the five phones it was pitted against only the iPhone 6S performed worse, with a drop to 22%. The Sony Xperia Z5 scored slightly better with 40% and the Huawei P9, Samsung Galaxy S7 and HTC 10 all performed better still.
A way around the battery drain problem is to invest in LG's Cam Plus module for the G5, which sports an integrated 1200mAh battery as well as a shutter key, zoom wheel, record button and hand grip.
At £79.99 (US$69.99, around AU$90) it's not exactly a cheap fix, and as I mentioned in an earlier section of this review it does add significant bulk to the handset making it a little tricky to use when you're not snapping pictures.
Having used the LG G5 for a number of days with the Cam Plus module attached I was easily able to get a full days use from the phone, and at a push I could eke out a day and a half.*LG always offers up something a bit different with its flagship smartphones. From curved displays and self-healing rears, to leather finishes and modular design, the South Korean firm likes to take a walk on the wild side.
And I like that. In a market where almost indistinguishable glass and metal slabs dominate, LG brings a point of intrigue and interest - although it doesn't always fully pay off.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge offer up the perfect package of features, design and performance - and while the LG G5 is very good, it just doesn't feel as complete.

We liked

The performance of the LG G5 is super slick. The Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM shine - making everything from emails to gaming quick and easy.
I'm also a fan of the QHD display, which at 5.3 inches is excellent for a Netflix binge or a gaming session - although it's not quite as good as Samsung's Super AMOLED offering.
The dual cameras on the rear on the G5 are also a great addition - with the 8MP wide angle lens a genuinely useful feature which is easy to use and capable of producing impressive shots. The 16MP snapper isn't all that bad either - and even on auto mode it can take the odd photographic gem.
Then there's the modular aspect of the G5 - an area I'm properly excited about, but one that currently feels very much under developed. The technology has to start somewhere, but the somewhat pricey Cam Plus and Hi-Fi Plus modules don't exactly exite.
The hope is that third party developers will produce some really awesome modules in the next year to further enhance the LG G5. For the moment though, you'll be taking a punt on whether this will happen if you opt for the G5 now.

We disliked

My main sticking point with the LG G5 is its battery life. Having used the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, the G5 just can't compete and that's a real shame.
It all too often found itself running low as I left work, and dying completely shortly after getting home - which means a top up part way through the day is a must for anyone who sees themselves as a moderate or heavy user.
The always-on display is a useful addition, and one-ups Samsung's offering by showing all notifications, but it's too dim. Although, with the G5's suspicious power drain when idle I fear raising the brightness of this with a firmware update will only hamper battery life further.
It's good to see LG finally embracing a full metal body for its flagship smartphone, but the thick layer of primer/paint mix does take the premium shine off the handset. It doesn't feel as accomplished as the Galaxy S7, HTC One M9 or iPhone 6S in the hand - and that's a real shame.

Verdict

The LG G5 is a bit of a funny one. It's giving us a glimpse of the future thanks to the modular setup, but its true potential is currently unrealized, and things could stay that way for a while as we wait for exciting, new modules to appear.
Where does that leave us then? There's still a well built handset with a premium design - although not as premium as its competitors - a huge amount of power and a smart dual camera setup on the rear.
It's not like there's a shortage of features then, but somehow the G5 doesn't quite feel complete. There's nothing inherently wrong, the battery could be better, but it's lacking that final layer of finesse to pull everything together into a tidy package.
If you're in the market for a new flagship Android phone then the Galaxy S7 still delivers the best all-round experience, but for those looking for something a little bit different the LG G5 offers a few party pieces to keep things interesting.

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