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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.

This small button on the side of the G5 releases the battery tray, so you can slide it out and swap in other modules. Credit: 
Florence Ion

Credit: Florence Ion

Here’s how it works: There’s a small button on the left-hand side of the G5 that releases the main tray, which you can then slide out to reveal the 2800mAh battery pack. If you want to swap it for another module with more functionality, simply remove the battery pack and then shove it into whatever module you have available to you.

You can take out the 2800mAh battery and plug it into the Cam Plus module, which adds an extra 1200mAh. Credit: 
Florence Ion

The G5 battery and its compatible trays. Credit: 
Florence Ion

At launch, there will be two modules to choose from: the Cam Plus, which tacks on four physical camera buttons and an extra 1200mAh battery pack, and the Hi-Fi Plus with Bang & Olufsen Play, which adds 32-bit high-definition audio playback capabilities to the G5. I didn’t test out the Hi-Fi Plus, but I did swap in the Cam Plus module. I liked the extra camera functionality, like the physical shutter button and the dedicated button for recording video. It’s easier to adjust the settings than simply touching the screen, and the extra grip afforded me greater control over the phone as I was framing photos. I also appreciate that LG is leveraging the camera capabilities it became known for with last year’s G4 and V10.

A pared down interface

I’ll admit that I spent entirely too much time figuring out how to use the modules on the G5, so I didn’t delve too much into LG’s new software interface. However, I did notice LG made one big change to its version of Android that I’m not happy about.

Notice anything missing? There’s no button for an application drawer. Credit: 
Florence Ion

LG admitted the G3 and G4’s interfaces were a tad too complex, so in an effort to simplify things, it completely removed the application drawer—one of my favorite features of Google’s stock Android interface. LG said it did this to help “minimize cognitive load” and eliminate any confusion you might have had about whether or not you actually deleted an app from the device, but I believe this will ultimately result in a ton of frustrated users when they realize how much this actually contributes to a messy Home screen. This is one of the major shortcomings of iOS’s interface and I’m bummed that LG adopted it. I would rather have the old Home screen with the cluttered application drawer, because at least then I have the choice to stow every app icon away on another screen. 


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