While Samsung, Sony, and other major brands (see iPhone 7 rumors) are busy preparing waterproof smartphones, LG, on the other hand, had a different idea in mind when the time they were sketching the LG G5 back in their drawing board.
With the semi-modular design and non-traditional dual-camera setup, would it still matter that the LG G5 is not waterproof? Is it the product of years of research on what really consumers wanted in flagship smartphones nowadays? And could we finally say that this is the best Android to date? Let’s find out the answers in our in-depth LG G5 full review (Php 34k official price in the Philippines).
More reviews and comparisons of LG G5
- HTC One vs LG G5 Full Camera Comparison, Review
- Samsung Galaxy S7 vs Sony Xperia Z5 Full Comparison
- Xiaomi Mi 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Full Comparison
- LG V10 vs Nexus 6P vs Xperia Z5 Premium vs Galaxy Note 5
Design and build
The new design of the LG G5 is a big upgrade from the recent LG phones such as the LG V10 and its successor, the LG G4. What we have now are a slightly rounded profile and metallic build on top of the semi-modular design.
Up front is a curved glass on the top which is still part of the Gorilla Glass 4 that protects the LCD screen. There are no physical nor capacitive keys available, LG is known to rely on on-screen keys for years already. Instead, we have the modular part that holds the removable battery.
Rear buttons are now reduced to the power button as the volume rocker is now residing on the left portion. The positioning of the volume rocker is quite shallow but it is still very clicky as the power button itself. The fingerprint scanner is embedded on the power button don’t require you to hard press when scanning your finger. It works very fast and accurate like what Qualcomm have promised for an ultrasonic fingerprint scanning.
Both top and bottom have a microphone, the top one is paired with the IR blaster while the bottom one sits alongside with the loudspeaker and USB Type-C. The hybrid SIM card tray is located on the right side. It supports either a second 4G LTE nano SIM or microSD card, depending on your choice.
Despite molded in aluminum, the back doesn’t cold or solid as on the bare aluminum design we found on HTC 10 and Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Pro. However, the device still felt very solid and easy to hold because of the relative weight and rounded sides.
What makes the design stand out from the competition is the semi-modular feature. The bottom has accessed to the removable battery thru its lock on the left side. LG has a few list of modules at the moment including the LG Cam Plus that provides an extra battery, hand grip, shutter button, and zoom dial. The other module is the Hi-Fi Plus with Bang and Olufsen and 32-bith DAC amp.
The modules on LG G5 are not yet certain to support future LG phones as there are many restrictions including the dimensions. Nevertheless, LG has secured some place in the modular race and this is a good start for consumers despite missing an IP68 waterproof, dust resistance certification.
There are four color options available in the market; mainly the Gold, Titan Black, Silver, and Pink.
Display and viewing experience
At 5.3-inches, the Quad HD IPS LCD display of LG G5 backed by Gorilla Glass 4 has been slightly trimmed down compared to the 5.5-inch of LG G4 and the 5.7-inch of V10. Quality-wise, colors are saturated yet realistic with sharp and crisp details.
Viewing angles are great even in outdoors, though not as bright as we’ve seen on HTC 10. It’s still one of the best panels in flagship phone, thanks to the pumped up colors and retained Quad HD resolution.
The addition of always-on lock screen is a rare feature in LCD screens but LG managed to include it on the G5 without greatly deteriorating the battery life and knowing this is a feature debuted from AMOLED displays of Nokia several years ago.
LG G5 features triple camera setup; a non-traditional dual-lens on the back and a single selfie shooter up front. The rear shooters are consist of a 16MP f1.8 primary sensor with a standard view and an 8MP f2.4 with an ultra-wide view. It’s the same approach as on the LG V10, but this time, it’s on the back rather on the front. Both cameras work with the laser focus, shoot up to 4K video, and equipped with OIS (Optical Image Stabilization).
The 8MP ultra-wide camera is well-integrated with the camera app. By zooming out, the camera automatically switches from the 16MP sensor and standard view to 8MP with an ultra-wide view. The quality on the secondary sensor is not as crisp and sharp as the main, but it’s fun to use with several add-on effects and great for landscape or groufie shooting.
Normal view with 16MP vs ultra-wide 8MP
Using the 16MP f1.8 main camera, images have superior detail preservation and more accurate color reproduction, thanks to larger aperture and higher megapixel count. The quality is comparable in what we’ve seen in LG V10. The automatic HDR works in most scenarios without degrading the amount of detail. White balance is really good too with a natural color rendering most of the time.
HDR, daylight, low light shooting
The only issues we encountered were the aberration or ghosting, which is more apparent when pixel peeping and increased noise level in low light shooting.
Selfie portrait photos we took are bright and have a good amount of contrast. Turning on the skin smoothening and toning loses some of the natural colors. But you can always use the toggle menu to reduce or increase the beautification level.
Selfie portraits in daylight and night
Shooting in 4K at 30fps, the video quality we recorded has an on par amount of details and color reproduction as on the still image. The OIS helps to reduce the movement, though there is a bit of hunting while focusing. SloMo feature is present here and it’s really fun.
Perhaps the improvement we’ve seen in the camera department is not on the main sensor but in the addition of the ultra-wide 8MP shooter. Although we didn’t expect it from LG, it’s still a useful feature we would always look for on the upcoming LG phones.
Software and UI
Running on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, LG is seen to have reduced and refined the Optimus 5.0 UX here. Everything here is familiar if you’re coming from an older LG. There’re tabular settings and horizontal scroll drop down menu . Also, you will get launcher-less UI out of the box, but this can easily be fixed by installing a minor software update.
By comparison, the Optimus UI is far from being clean and materialistic as on stock Android Marshmallow. However, it does the work job done and kept all the flexible functions of Android OS.
Performance and benchmarks
LG skipped the Snapdragon 810 in its previous flagship phones, but this time around, it opted for the best chip on the market, which is the quad-core Snapdragon 820 chipset. This chip is composed of four highly-clocked Kryo processors rather than the eight Cortex in SD810 while the RAM is 4GB and the internal is an expandable 32GB memory.
LG G5 is now on the top chart of Antutu benchmark together with Xiaomi Mi5 and Galaxy S7, which are also powered by the same quad-core CPU.
In terms of actual speed test, we felt the experience is smoother on the LG G5 than on SD 810-powered devices. Opening apps have drastically improved as well as heavy multitasking. I didn’t experience stuttering and slow down at all.
Battery life and charging time
Powering the internal hardware of the device is a removable 2800 mAh battery, down from the 3000 mAh of LG G4. Despite the reduced capacity, battery life should have been better in LG G5 because of the more efficient Snapdragon 820 chipset and smaller display. However, we still felt that the battery was the weakest department of the device primarily due to the Always-on screen that consumes about 0.8% per hour.
This is not an issue if you put your phone in your pocket all the time. But it’s a bummer if you’re the type of person who places your phone with the screen up on the table to easily check the notifications most of the time.
Battery life endurance test with video playback, browsing, Screen-on time, PC Mark interpolation
The addition of USB Type-C provides quicker charging time using the Quick Charge 3.0 of Qualcomm. But you need to buy the adapter that supports it. Charging time with the 1.8A adapter that comes with the retail package resulted in 1 hour 20 minutes, which is fast enough for the size of the battery.
The loudspeaker on the bottom is impressively loud with strong bass and vocal output. The vocal sound was a little tinny in some audio playbacks but undeniably the overall speaker quality is clear, crisp, and rock solid.
Additionally, Bang and Olufsen Play is available on the Hi-Fi Plus module aside from the 32-bit DAC amp. The module works as a standalone amp without plugging it on the LG G5.
Pricing and Verdict
LG Philippines has already launched the LG G5 locally for Php 34,990 official price. This is cheaper than the original price of LG V10 and it costs as much as the Galaxy S7. As for the Hi-Fi Plus and Cam Plus modules, there are no official prices for those yet, but we are expecting at around Php 2,000 – 3,000 SRP on each accessory once available in the Philippines.
With the big OEMs jumping into a waterproof wagon, LG has stayed focused in refining and creating more selling points in their products. Some of these points are maybe part of the experiment for the company to gauge on what things really matter to the consumers and its fans. Although the lack of rugged feature is forgivable at the moment, LG should really put it on their next flagship in order to stay in the competition.
We think LG is on the right path with LG G5 especially with the modular and unique dual-camera setup. The device felt more hits than misses. It’s the LG flagship we’ve waited to arrive for so long. And now it’s here, we can finally consider it as one of the best Android options in the market right now.
What’s on the box: Unboxing
- 1.8A power adapter
- Headphones (not high-res)
- SIM ejector tool key
- USB Type-C cable
- Semi-modular design
- Metal build
- Dual-camera setup is effective and fun
- Removable battery
- Dual nano SIM + microSD hybrid slot
- Really smooth experience
- Powerful speaker
- Battery life is still a miss
- Some UI areas felt dated, lackluster
- Limited module options
- Always On display is not yet ready for primetime (blame LCD)
LG G5 Full Specs, Official Price PH, Release Date
- Display: 5.3-inch 1440p Quad HD IPS LCD, 554 ppi
- Design: Gorilla Glass 4, modular
- Size: 7.7 mm thick, 159 g weight
- Chip: Snapdragon 820 quad-core
- CPU: Dual-core 1.8GHz + Dual-core 1.6Ghz processor
- GPU: Adreno 530 graphics
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 32GB, microSD card up to 200GB
- Camera: 16MP f/1.8 + 8MP f/2.4 ultra wide angle (130 deg), OIS, 4K video, LED flash, laser focus, color spectrum
- Selfie: 8MP f/2.0, 1080p video
- Connectivity: dual-SIM nano 4G LTE (hybrid), WiFi ac, Bluetooth 4.1, IR Blaster
- Port: USB Type-C reversible
- Audio: 32-bit DAC + Bang and Olufsen Play via module
- Security: Fingeprint scanner
- Battery: 2800 mAh sealed + Quick Charging 3.0
- OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Optimus UI 5.0
- Colors: Titan Black, White, Gold, Pink
- Release date: April 2016 in the Philippines
- Price: P34,990 / $760 USD 32GB model online PH price