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Hands on with the LG G5: A modular phone with swappable parts

Florence Ion | Feb. 22, 2016
Forget the improved camera, aluminum body, and brand new processor. The G5's biggest selling point is that you can swap in extra hardware features as you please.

LG has long attempted to differentiate itself from the competition, but the company has sort of fallen short in years past. Last year’s G4 was a phenomenal phone, but it didn't stand out.

With the debut of its latest device at Mobile World Congress on Sunday, it’s clear that LG is trying an entirely different approach this year. Rather than lead its flagship reveal with a long list of specifications and the hardware it’s iterated on, LG is hoping you’ll look at the G5 and think of it as more than just its fifth-generation flagship. Instead, LG wants you to think of its new phone as a fun device. 

The rundown on the G5

The G5 boasts new always-on capabilities that LG says consumes less than a percent of battery an hour.  Credit: 
Florence Ion

Let’s get some of the basic specifications out of the way: The G5 runs on a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM. It has a removable 2800mAh battery pack and 32GB of internal storage, as well as an expansion slot. It sports dual rear-facing cameras, including a main 16MP camera and a secondary wide-angle 8MP camera; it also has an 8MP front-facing camera. LG also embedded a fingerprint scanner into the power button on the back, though it moved the previously rear-facing volume rockers to the left-hand side of the chassis. Sadly, the G5 does not have wireless charging, though it does support Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 3.0.

The power button on the back features an embedded fingerprint scanner. Credit: 
Florence Ion

The back side of the G5. The camera sensors don’t actually protrude as much as they seem to in photos. Credit: 
Florence Ion

Rather than adopt the same thick leather-and-plastic construction as last year’s G4, LG opted for a flat, unibody aluminum design that’s quite a looker. It’s not what I expected from LG, considering the masculine look and bulky feel of its predecessor, but I’m happy to report that the G5 is one of the lightest smartphones I’ve held in a while. It’s thinner, too, and a bit smaller than its predecessors due in part to its 5.3-inch Quad HD display.

A “fun” flagship

No, the G5 isn’t broken, but does feature a slide out battery. Credit: 
Florence Ion

Now, here’s where LG threw a wrench into the typically formulaic smartphone announcement: The G5 features swappable modules. The idea is that the ability to customize your phone will eventually help you “wake up your play instinct.” It didn’t exactly inspire me in that manner, but it’s nice to see something completely different from a company that typically plays it safe. Also, it’s fun swapping out modules, even if you have no idea why you’re compelled to do so.


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