For years, we all pointed at LG’s flagship phones and talked about their innovative designs. Most famous—and polarizing—was LG’s decision to place the power button and volume rocker on the back of the phone, directly beneath your index finger. With the just-announced G5, LG has given us something else to talk about. The power button is still on the back, though the volume buttons have been moved to the side to make room for a fingerprint scanner. But that’s not the big news.
This new LG phone has a modular design. The G5’s bottom “chin” pops off, letting you swap in components such as a camera grip/battery and a Bang & Olufsen-branded audio module. The phone’s swappable, quick-charging 2,800mAh battery attaches to the chin, and you slide the whole thing out like a chimp harvesting termites with a twig. You can pop the battery off of the chin, add it to another module, and pop it back in the phone.
Two Eyes On You
This is LG’s new top-of-the-line phone, so the company has built a doozy of a camera. In fact, the G5’s main camera is actually two cameras: An 8-megapixel wide-angle shooter with a 135-degree field of view, and a 16-megapixel portrait-friendly camera with a 78-degree field of view. Each lens has its own optimized sensor. The camera uses a combination of digital and optical zoom, providing a smooth transition from lens to lens as you zoom into an object—not as seamless as a pure optical zoom lens, but still a distinctive feature for a phone. In case you want to record 4K video, the G5 does that, too.
That optional “Cam Plus” camera grip doesn’t add another lens. Instead, it’s a raised grip that includes an extra 1200mAh battery, a physical shutter button, and a zoom dial designed to make operating the G5’s shooter even easier.
There’s also a VR headset accessory, the LG 360, which is quite a bit different than the rest of the face-computer pack. For one thing, you don’t use the phone as a drop-in display for the headset; it’s purely there for the processing muscle while tethered to the goggles via USB-C. That makes the headset surprisingly small and light, and it has its own displays. LG says the display has a pixel density of 639ppi, and the headset will work with other Android phones.
The LG G5 will ship with Android Marshmallow, and it has 32GB of storage on board in addition to a microSD slot that can accomodate up to 2TB of extra storage. It’s built around Qualcomm’s fresh new Snapdragon 820 system on a chip, backed with an ample 4GB of RAM. Compared to previous G-series phones, which were made out of metallic-looking plastic, the new G5 has a legitimate aluminum-alloy body. The screen is actually smaller than previous models, with a 5.3-inch Quad HD IPS display (2,560×1,440 resolution, 554 ppi); LG says the smaller screen and new side-mounted volume controls were implemented due to “user feedback.”
The phone can still be used as a standard remote control due to its built-in IR blaster, and there’s that weird always-on “second screen” thing that the company introduced with the LG V10. It lets you peep notifications and the time without turning on the whole dang display.
Pricing, release date, and carrier information for the LG G5 is still unknown. Though if you got a G3 or a G4 from a particular carrier, chances are you’ll be able to get this one through the same channel.