LG G5 review: the phone to beat in 2016?

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The LG G5 promises to rejuvenate the smartphone market with its new approach to design, featuring a modular system of accessories to personalise your phone for your needs. In theory, this could be a game-changer, making it possible for you to create your perfect phone. However, is the LG G5 really the phone to beat in 2016?

The Design

The LG G5 looks completely different to its predecessor, the LG G4, as it has swapped the plastic casing for an all-metal body. However, the design is deceiving as the phone actually still feels pretty plastic – it turns out that there’s a lot of plastic lurking beneath the metal coating. This means it lacks the premium feel of the Samsung Galaxy S7 or iPhone 6S, for instance, but it’s still a smooth phone that feels far from cheap. The edge of the LG G5 is metallic, which rounds it off nicely and gives it a sturdy finish.

The LG G5 is available in four colours – silver, pink, gold and titan (grey, to you and I). They’re shiny, but not too offensive, so will appeal to a lot of people. It’s a sleek phone that doesn’t have too many buttons, with only a single volume button and SIM tray on the side. The lock switch can be found in the usual spot, just beneath the camera sensors, which may irritate people who like all their buttons in one place. The good news, though, is it’s now a fingerprint scanner and a good one at that.

The Specs

The LG G5 uses the latest Android software, Marshmallow 6.0.1, which has a host of awesome features you’ll have fun using. LG has decided to ditch the app drawer, though, which might not sit well with loyal Android fans. This can make your home screen pretty messy when you have a whole bunch of apps and nowhere to put them.

LG’s latest flagship phone uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, alongside 4GB RAM and 32GB of storage. Together, this gives you a super-fast phone that can handle multiple apps with little lag. It’s also a great phone for playing games because of this, as well as watching YouTube videos and streaming music. If 32GB of storage doesn’t seem like enough for you, expandable storage is an option with an SD card.

The Screen

LG has also got rid of the curved screen seen on the G4 in favour of a (nearly) flat screen, which is the norm in the smartphone market. The display itself is quad-HD, rather than 4K which looks set to be the next big thing, but it’s all it really needs. It’s not as bright as Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology, but it’s still a vibrant display that features always-on functionality. This means when the phone is asleep, most of the screen is kept dark bar vital information like time, date and notifications.

Ironically, the biggest change to the screen is that it is smaller than the LG G4 at 5.3-inches, opposed to 5.5-inches. LG thankfully hasn’t tried to cram more pixels into the smaller display, which keeps the colours sharp, and they’ve improved the brightness of the screen.

The Modules

So, what about these revolutionary modules we’ve been promised? LG has adorably dubbed them “Friends” and their aim is to take your phone to the next level. Currently, there’s only two plug-in modules available for the LG G5 – Cam Plus and Hi-Fi Plus. Like its name suggests, the LG Cam Plus converts your phone into an impressive camera with a rubber grip. It works well in landscape mode and allows you to capture shots without the fear of dropping your phone (which we’ve all done at one point). Keep it attached and it works as a power pack for your phone, ensuring it lasts a full day.

The LG Hi-Fi Plus is a portable audio converter that transforms the sound quality of your music. It also comes with its very own headphone jack, so you can enjoy the difference in your earphones too. This does mean, however, that your phone will have two audio inputs when the Hi-Fi Plus is connected – one at the top and one at the bottom – which is a little odd. Definitely aimed at the audiophiles out there, the Hi-Fi Plus won’t be appreciated by everyone, but it’s a nice touch from LG.

There’s also a virtual reality headset available, the LG 360 VR, but you don’t plug this into your phone. Therein lies the problem, as it only uses the G5 as a power source, whereas the likes of the Samsung Gear VR uses the phone as its screen. The LG 360 VR has a built-in display, meaning you only use your phone to control the headset. This means you never really get the full immersion of virtual reality and with a price tag of £200, this module may not be for everybody.

The Battery

Another game-changing element of the LG G5 (although, it’s more of a throwback) is the ability to physically remove the battery from the handset. Since fashion gave way to functionality in the smartphone market, the removable battery is quickly becoming a thing of the past. The LG G5 comes with a 2800mAh power pack, which is actually smaller than the G4 that offered 3000mAh. The smaller size shows, as you’ll need to give your phone a top up throughout the day if you use it frequently – that’s where the modules come in handy as extra power supplies.

The battery charges pretty quickly, though, as you should be able to get a full charge in about an hour. This is because it uses Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, but you’ll need to invest in a charger that can match that as the one provided is only a Quick Charge 2.0 one. It’ll also need to be a USB Type-C port, rather than the standard micro-USB port, as LG has made the switch with this handset. We’re likely to see this more in future, enabling us to have one cable for all our devices.

So, is the LG G5 the phone to beat in 2016?

The LG G5 definitely offers something a bit different in a market where we tend to see the same sort of traits from smartphone to smartphone. The modular system is a great concept, but its full potential has not quite been realised yet with only a few (pricey) accessories available. However, the LG G5 is a powerful phone with a speedy processor, sharp screen and sleek finish – if a little bit on the plastic side. The battery could also be better, but that won’t be a problem for everybody. Just lacking that wow factor, the LG G5 may not be the phone to beat in 2016, but it’s certainly an interesting handset if you’d like to try something new.

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