This afternoon at MWC 2016 (or around midnight, for you Australians), LG has finally taken the wraps off its much anticipated 2016 flagship smartphone, simply the LG G5. There’s a lot to be excited about, some of which has already been leaked, and some of which LG has already confirmed themselves. Before we jump into the details of what’s new, let’s confirm some killer specs right now:
- All new modular construction
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 / Adreno 530 GPU
- 5.3″ Quad HD IPS Quantum Display (2560 x 1440 @ 554ppi)
- 4GB LPDDR4 RAM with 32GB storage, expandable up to 2 TB with MicroSD
- 16MP rear camera with secondary 8MP wide angle camera
- 8MP front facing camera
- Rear-mounted fingerprint sensor for unlock
- 2,800mAh removable/replaceable battery
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7-8.6mm (varying for camera bulge)
- 159 g weight
- LTE / 3G connectivity
- USB-C Type 2.0 (compatible with 3.0) connector
- Comes in Silver, Titan (Black), Gold and Pink
I have to say that from what I’ve read of the rumours, the LG G5 is bang on, if not slightly better, than what’s been predicted. USB-C is a neat inclusion, given LG’s earlier involvement with 2015’s Nexus program, and while the 2,800 mAh battery is a little underdone, that it’s replaceable and so easily swappable makes it less of a concern.
Key improvements and new features
While LG got a lot of things right with 2015’s G4, the G5 takes this a step or ten further, making some key improvements and introducing a handful of new features as well.
Always-on displays are something that have some users shaking in their boots, thinking that an always on display is going to mean an always almost flat battery. Well, LG have done a bit of work in this space, and what we first saw on the LG V10 has been taken a step further here. The always-on, second display has been enlarged to cover the whole screen, showing time, date, and battery status continuously, even when the screen is completely powered off.
While some other manufacturers are trying similar things, LG claims to achieve only 0.8% battery consumption per hour to operate, by using the same unique lighting technology found in modern LCD televisions.
Of course it’s not just neat display tech; LG’s G5 features Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 820 system-on-chip paired with a tonne (well, 4GB) of RAM to really whip the llamas ass. It’s more power efficient than the somewhat troubled Snapdragon 810, featuring 64-bit performance, Adreno 530 GPU and lower-power Hexagon DSP for sensor processing. There’s also Qualcomm’s new Spectra 14-bit dual image signal processors designed to improve the quality of photos and to save further power.
Compared to the Snapdragon 810, the 820 chipset delivers up to double the speed and power efficiency; the Adreno 530 GPU offers 40% faster performance over the previous model, and 40% more power efficiency as well. The G5, powered by this chipset, can achieve 4K capture and playback and supports optimised VR performance as well with life-like colouring and rendering.
Other new features include the LG G5’s high resolution audio capabilities, supporting 24-bit audio over Bluetooth, and the inclusion of Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, to charge up to four times faster than standard charging. Location based apps also get a boost with support for Low Power Location Estimation, designed to save almost 50% power consumption for location-based apps.
Perhaps the biggest headline feature is the modular nature of LG G5, which has been leaked rather accurately in the weeks leading up to today’s launch. LG Australia’s Gino Casha, GM for Mobile Communications, told us earlier today:
“The LG G5 ecosystem is the result of many LG experts asking themselves if it was still possible to innovate and be unique in the smartphone space. I think that once consumers spend a little time with LG’s G5, the answer will be a resounding YES [Ed: something that Ausdroid agrees with].”
The modular nature of the LG G5 allows it to feature a number of companion devices and replaceable modules, on top of LG’s already established replaceable batteries, which continue this year. The two modules announced at today’s conference have been leaked already, and they include the LG CAM Plus and LG Hi-Fi Plus.
LG’s CAM Plus is a versatile camera module which can be attached to the G5 through the battery slot, delivering the comfortable grip we’ve come to expect from higher quality DSLR-type cameras. Featuring physical buttons for power, shutter, record, zoom, an LED display and a comfortable handheld grip, the CAM Plus is a must-have accessory for amateur and professional photographers alike.
On top of this, when attached to the LG G5, the CAM Plus adds up to 1,200 mAh power to the phone/camera combination, allowing longer shooting times and thus more fun.
The Hi-Fi Plus module is the result of a successful partnership with Bang and Olufsen. It is a high-quality, portable DAC audio player, designed to increase the audio quality of the LG G5 to that found only in high-fidelity dedicated audio devices.
With a sharp design, the Hi-Fi Plus supports 32-bit 384KHz high-definition audio playback, and better yet, while it is designed to work with the LG G5, it will work as a separate DAC connecting to other smartphones or PCs as well.
LG introduces its Friends
Ecosystem is a major buzzword this year; we’ve heard Samsung speaking highly of its ecosystem last year, and again we’ve heard murmurs this year too. LG isn’t missing the boat here, and is pushing its ecosystem credentials too, and quite strongly. Dubbed LG and Friends, LG’s range of companion devices for the LG G5 are both fun and powerful, and are likely to provide something for any kind of user.
LG’s 360 CAM is a 360º camera equipped with two 13MP wide-angle cameras, a 1,200mAh battery and 4GB of internal storage. It connects to the LG G5 to allow users to easily create 360º video content for sharing on Facebook or YouTube (or elsewhere), with advanced microphone configuration to create not just immersive video, but an immersive audio track as well.
To go with this, or to use separately, LG’s 360 VR is a VR goggle with a difference; we’ve become so used to Google’s Cardboard-style devices, which are necessarily kind of heavy because there’s a phone needing to be in there too. The 360 VR does away with this — it doesn’t need a smartphone inside to make it work, and it folds down to make it easily portable. Simply connect it to the LG G5, and you can use any LG 360 CAM content, or indeed anything designed for Google Cardboard. It’s Cardboard, done differently (and maybe even better).
For those who just want a bit of fun, LG’s Rolling Bot is both fun and can be serious too; rolling around like a ball, controlled by the LG G5, you can explore your house or other surrounds from a balls-eye perspective, with on-board 8MP camera, controlling compatible home appliances from the unit whether you’re at home or the other side of the world.
There’s the LG TONE Platinum, a Bluetooth headset graded Premium by audio experts Harmon Kardon. Featuring a balanced armature design, you’re in for exceptionally sharp and clean sound, with 24-bit audio available thanks to advanced Bluetooth codecs.
There are a couple of other players in this ecosystem too, including a new Smart Controller that allows users to control drones and other smart devices through the LG G5, and high-quality wired headphones from Bang and Olufsen that will work with the G5, and other LG phones as well.
All of this is controlled by a new LG app called Friends Manager which comes pre-installed on the LG G5.
We’ve been talking with LG and have confirmed on their LG skin, which runs atop Android 6.0, the LG G5 does indeed not have an App Drawer. We’re going to be getting screenshots and more at our hands-on, so stay tuned.
When can I get one, and for how much?
This is the $64,000 question, and being an international press conference and announcement, LG have only told us that local pricing and availability is yet to be confirmed for Australia.
We’ll be speaking to LG further in coming days and the next couple of weeks to shore up further detail, and we’ll come back to you with more as soon as we can.