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First look: The LG G5, Samsung Galaxy 7 and HP Elite x3 premiere at the Mobile World Congress

Dan Rosenbaum | Feb. 23, 2016
Three flagship Android smartphones with three very different views of the world.

The G5 also halts the trend toward larger flagship phones. It's a comparatively small 5.3 in. diagonal, and its quad-density IPS display looked perfectly fine under controlled conditions. It runs Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), but with some changes that are sure to be controversial.

There is no app launcher, for instance: All apps appear on a home screen that gains pages as you accumulate them, just like (for the sake of argument) in Apple's iPhone. In a choice that won't anger as many people, the Settings screen is tabbed, making it easier to find the function you want, rather than scrolling through an endless list. (Although if you like scrolling through endless lists, you can see it that way, too.)

The build is solid aluminum, with a thin bead of metal running around the back -- presumably, the antenna. Power is controlled by the fingerprint reader on the back; pressing the reader depresses it slightly and turns the phone on and off. I found it to be quite natural and effective.

LG has done some work with the camera, too. Rather than one lens on the back, there are two: a 16-megapixel camera with a 75-degree range and a wide-angle 8-megapixel camera. The claim is that the G5 can take wider pictures than any other phone.

Another feature LG makes a big deal of is an "always-on" screen. It's not as eerie as it may sound: Turn the phone off or remove the battery and the screen does, in fact, turn off. But when the phone is sleeping, it's always displaying the time and a notification you can set. LG says it pulls just 0.8% of the phone's power per hour, and what the hey -- you can always replace the battery, right?

Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge

As ever, Samsung's unveiling of its latest Galaxy line was long on glitz, including VR demos for each of the 4,000 or so attendees, and a surprise appearance by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. For all of that, the new Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge were the focus of the evening and worth the attention.

galaxy s7 edge and s7 
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and S7. Credit: Samsung

The S7's screen is 5.1 in. diagonal and the S7 Edge's is 5.7 in.; both with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. As with last year's Galaxy S6 Edge, the S7 Edge's screen is rounded along both long edges; new for this year is that more screen space is given to the rounding. The camera bump on the back is smaller, but Samsung says the phone is faster to focus and is better in low light conditions because of an f/1.7 camera lens aperture and larger dual pixels. I didn't have a chance to test that.

 

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