LG G5 in-depth review - G-force

With the lukewarm response to the G4, LG decided to go really left-field and the result is the modular G5. It might not win big for its looks, but it is the first phone to be sold with a host of accessory 'friends'. Have LG finally gotten the formula right?

 LG G5 Review - G-force

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,4/5/2016 4:21:10 PM


out of 10



out of 5

Look and feel


out of 5

Ease of use


out of 5



out of 5

Battery life


Modular design | accessories available | fantastic camera | always-on display


Build quality iffy | accessories pricey | modular concept needs to be fleshed out

-By Sunetra Chakravarti

After the lukewarm response to the G4 from consumers, LG have gone back to the drawing board and come up with something that, until now has just been a fanciful phone concept: a modular phone where you can swap out components to add and replace as you please.

But as we know, the first iteration of every experiment can be a bit hit/miss. So, does the LG G5 hit the ball out of the park? Read on to find out more...

How premium does the LG G5 look?

Not very, is the answer. If you have seen the YouTube video where a blogger peeled off the blink-and-you-miss-it metal foil over the resoundingly plastic body of the G5, you will know what I mean. Phones are being bought and sold based on their premium looks and the G5 still has a metal wrap that's thinner than the foil you wrap your sandwiches in... 

LG have done away with their signature curved back phones and my solidly grey review sample has a flat back with the dual cameras at the top forming a gradual bump. The home button is sited under it and is now clickable so you can use it to wake up the phone and it also doubles as a fingerprint sensor, which I found quite handy.

The edges are rounded and so the phone is very comfortable to hold and use. At 122g, it is surprisingly light for its robust size but that is probably down to the extensive use of plastic rather than metal on the build. The silver edge between the side of the phone and the back peeled off after a week in my handbag which doesnt say much about the build quality. For what you get, the G5 is almost as wide as the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ without adding any stand out features that warrant the width.

The volume toggle is on the left and at the bottom on the left again is the magic button, the likes of which you won't find on any other handset... 

How does the modular battery on the LG G5 work?

On the left side of the LG G5, you will find a button which sits flush with the side which makes it difficult to spot and use. A sharp push and the bottom of the phone pops out alongside the 2800mAH battery.

 Two things happen when you take the battery out- it is not hot-swappable like batteries on laptops which conserve power when they are replaced or swapped so your phone will switch off and secondly, you realise quite how thin the metal coating on the plastic body of the phone really is.

 You are able to change the brightly coloured battery with a fully charged one should you happen to have one handy or swap in either the camera module which adds considerable bulk to the handset but also comes with a 1100mAH battery of its own or swap in the B&O audio accessory that automatically upscales all music you listen to to 24-bit high-res. It is slightly tricky to snap the battery off the bit it sits on, but you just need to pull it in the other direction without an angle very decisively. 

 Will I be able to use the LG G5 for gaming? Is it a powerful phone?

A 4GB RAM onboard is complemented with the best of Qualcomm's processors right now: the Snapdragon 820.  The phone is an absolute workhorse and has been able to handle everything I put it through very well. With a maximum of 2.2GHz, the 820 has given consistantly good results across a variety of devices and the pairing with the 4GB RAM, in lay mans terms, means that not only is the bean great quality, but there is plenty of coffee too!

Benchmarking wise, it scored 131461 just behind the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge which was almost at the top of the charts with 134599. On GeekBench3, single-core, it scored 2366 and the result for multi-core was 5405. Although the Samsung Galaxy S7 scores better in multi-core tests, the G5 aced it in the single-core stakes.

What is RAM & phones with the most powerful RAMs

The camera on the G4 was great, does the G5 camera work wonders too?

The LG G4 won the Best Camera Phone award at the Mobile Choice Consumer Awards because it was the best camera on a phone last year, putting the ability to tweak all details on the camera under its Pro setting into the hands of the consumer, including the ability to take photos in RAW format.

Fast-forward to this year, all major smartphone manufacturers have caught up and almost all flagships now include incredible amount of controls for the user. The camera on the G5 stands out for a couple of reasons. The primary camera sandwiches two into one- the dual cameras come with optical image stabilisation so say bye bye to hazy stuttery shots. The first camera is a wide angle 135-degree 8-MP snapper and the other is a 16-MP one, making this one of the best cameras available in the market today.

However, the real party trick of the camera is the wide-angle lens. Perfect for capturing sweeping vistas when you don't want the hassle of panorama mode (which the G5 packs, anyway) and group pictures, the difference in images captured on the regular lens and this one is quite staggering. Also important to remember is that the LG V10 also packed the wide angle lens.

The camera on the G5 has the usual filters but a really good feature is the pull down sharing options you get when you are in the phone app, making social sharing and emailing super easy.

Both indoor and outdoor shots in HDR mode were good with detail and great with colour reproduction.

Video recording can be either in HD, FHD or UHD modes and you are also able to use the wide angle lens for it. Zooming in and out while recording video is not stuttery and pause and play is seamless.

What's the display on the LG G5 like?

The 5.3-inch screen has a very high pixel density and a 2560 X 1440 Quantum IPS display. Exactly like the Galaxy S7, it has an always-on feature which shows you the time as well as text, calls and social media notifications. Using just .8% battery every hour, it is one of the best power conserving featues I have seen on a phone for a long time. A sharp rap on the screen wakes it up to show you the screen in all its glorious colours, however, as you can see from the image, the display isn't the sharpest in bright sunshine.

As was with the G4, which again packed a Quantum IPS display, HD streaming is great and I would highly recommend the phone for media consumption.

Battery-wise, how does it stack up?

The removable 2800mAH battery is incredibly good and is charged using USB-C type fast charger which means no more fumbling for the right side of the cable as well as blisteringly fast charging. 

When I streamed HD video over wifi from Youtube and with 100 percent brightness, the phone lost just 5 percent of battery over a period of 20 minutes which is again a great marker for how well the battery will fare over extended periods of data streaming.

In just 15 minutes of charging, the battery percentage went up from 7% to 40% and upto 100% in under an hour. Not only is this a great bonus but a critically important feature for all smaprtphones that cost as much as flagships do these days.

And its friends?

The LG G5 was sold on the premise of how well it interacted with its 'friends' and how these could be used to make the G5 the only device you needed to have to not just take the best photos but also listen to high-res audio as well as take in VR videos.

I will not be able to tell you about these because I havent reviewed them yet. Truth of the matter is that they are not available in the market right now with each accessory coming in over the course of the year. 

The two that are most interesting are: Cam Plus and the Audio add-on because they take advantage of the modular nature of the phone and can be attached to the handset to give the pre-existing camera and audio capabilities more heft.

Should I buy the LG G5?

If you are one of those people who love the zaniest, whackiest piece of tech and call yourself an 'early adopter', then the G5 is for you. The modular design doesnt do enough and even though the phone is sold on the premise of its 'friends', the availability of just two modules is baffling.

Add to that the fact that you need to restart the phone every time you add a module makes it quite a task.

If you are after a flagship device, spend a little extra and get the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge or the Google Nexus 6P which is still some of my favourite phones. If however, you want a phone with a swappable battery and a modular 'party trick' style then the G5 is the answer. However, the iffy build quality might put you off, as it did me.

LG G5 specifications

Price: £499

Operating System: Android™ 6.01 Marshmallow

Dimensions: 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7 mm

Weight: 159g

Resolution: 2560 x 1440, 554PPI

Display: 5.3-inch, QHD display

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (Quad 2.1 GHz); 4GB RAM

Camera: 1st - 16MP Normal / 2nd - 8MP 135˚ Wide angle; 8-MP front-facing camera.

Memory: 32 GB internal storage; 
Expandable storage upto 200GB via MicroSD slot

Battery: 2800 mAh (removable) 

Fingerprint sensor: Yes

Misc: NFC, USB 2.0(3.0 Compatible) Type C; 4.2 BLE; Wi-Fi(802.11 a/b/g/n/ac)