I’ve become an LG fan since 2014 when I first bought a Nexus 5. Since then, I’ve used both an LG G4 and LG V10 as my primary phones. Amongst an army of Android phone makers, I enjoy LG’s commitment to camera excellence, removable battery and removable storage. Also, from a design perspective, LG phones stand out and look as good as they perform (to this reviewer’s eyes, at least).
After a string of delivering great experiences on Android phones, can they deliver yet again with the LG G5? Let’s dig in.
Introduction and first impressions
LG unveiled the G5 at Mobile World Congress back in February and aimed to deliver a top-end phone that could be accessorized through add-on modules called “Friends”. These modules included a camera grip to enhance mobile photography, a sound module to create a high-fidelity audio experience and more. LG’s Friends attach to the phone at the bottom, which is also the way you swap out the battery.
I was loaned the gold LG G5 from AT&T, and at first sight, this phone is handsome. It’s 5.3″ screen fits into a housing that’s 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7mm and weight only 159 grams. The battery is 2,800 mAh and is removable.
From a design perspective, the LG G5 is classy and unassuming. It’s not fancy and doesn’t try too hard. It’s very well put together, has a balanced weight and feels perfect in the hand. Where the Samsung S7 visually tries to scream premium, the LG G5 accomplishes this task with a handsome design that you’ll love.
Continuing with LG’s design trend, the fingerprint and power button are on the back of the phone. Unlocking the phone is an easy and natural movement. However, unlike the V10 and G4, the G5’s volume buttons have been moved to the side of the device, much like other phones on the market.
The G5 ships with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage, that’s expandable to 2 TB via microSD cards. The battery and microSD card attach from the bottom – and this is how you attach the Friends modules as well.
Sadly, I can’t comment on any Friends modules because none were available for my trial of the phone, so my review will focus solely on the base phone experience itself.
Performance and usage
The LG G5 comes with the Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM and comes stock with Android 6.0.1. Out of the box, this phone absolutely screams with no lag or hesitation whatsoever. Even when I try to push the phone while running intensive apps such as Snapchat and games, the G5 never batted an eye, slowed down or acted sluggishly.
For the geeks out here, let’s look at the specs of the LG G5.
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow with UX 5.0
- 5.3″ Quad HD IPS screen (1440×2560, 554ppi)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, quad-core
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB storage
- Micro-SD card slot (up to 200GB)
- Dual-rear cameras (16Mp 78 degree and 8Mp 135 degrees) with OIS and laser auto focus
- 8Mp front camera
- 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, NFC, Infrared, fingerprint scanner
- Cat 9 4G LTE
- USB Type-C
- 2800mAh removable battery
These Snapdragon 820-powered phones are like a Mack truck and offer performance above and beyond what most smartphone users need. With the last generation of phones from 2015, the challenge was these over-powered phones drained their batteries too quickly, not lasting an entire day.
I used the LG G5 for a few weeks and was blown away with its quickness. The battery lasted all day and then some, which is a huge win for such a equipped phone. Compared to my V10, the G5 is powerful and the battery just goes and goes.
Phone display quality
The QHD display on the LG G5 is stunning. Everything from text to web pages to videos and looks fantastic. The LG G5 uses an always on display panel – meaning even when the phone is locked and off, you can see notifications and the time on the screen. This is a very cool feature that goes a long way for usability.
In these summer months, readability in sunlight is a huge factor. If you can’t see your phone outside, why have it out of your pocket? 🙂 The good news is – the LG G5 is very readable outside. The phone is more than ready for use outside even on the brightest of days.
In building the LG G5, LG decided to bring a smaller battery to market in 2016. In the G5, we have a 2800mAh battery instead of a 3000mAh model. I’m guessing this was a design choice because of the modularity pf the phone and confidence that the Snapdragon 820 would deliver efficiencies so that customers wouldn’t notice a difference.
Luckily, as in the G4 and V10, the G5 has a removable battery and supports Quick Charge. So, even if you do have a day where heavy usage drains your battery, you can either swap out for another battery or hit the Quick Charge-enabled charger that uses USB-C cable to get a top-up, even if you only have 15 minutes to charge it.
If you’re looking for a charge that’ll last a full day, meaning say, 8am to 9pm, you’ll be satisfied with the LG G5. If you have a heavy day where you’re shooting a lot of video or photos, you’ll wanna re-juice mid-day. I’d recommend hitting Amazon and getting some additional USB-C cables though as there’s only one included in the box.
Imaging and cameras
One distinctive trait of the LG G5 is the dual cameras on the back. Looking at the rear of the phone, you see two sensors, one 16MP sensor with a 75º field of view next to an 8MP sensor with a massive 175º field of view lens. The wide-angle lens is perfect for when you want to capture a shot that has a lot of horizontal range, such as a group photo of friends or landscape shot. The narrower lens is for capturing more up-close shots and switching between the two is as easy hitting a button in the camera app.
Like the LG G4 and V10, the LG G5 has laser auto-focus and industry-leading optical image stabilization. I found night and low-lit shots to be clearer and less grainy than those shot with an iPhone 6s.
Should you buy the LG G5? Yes – I think it’s a major contender amongst the top-tier Android phones on the market today. It’s easy to hold in the hand, performs like an absolute champ, excels in imaging and has a battery that can easily last throughout the day. I like that with the G5, LG takes steps to differ themselves from the crowded with the modular design and support for external storage and batteries.
The AT&T LG G5 is currently on a buy one, give one pricing model that makes it extremely affordable. Also, being on AT&T, you can’t count on their speedy and reliable LTE network to deliver sizzling data speeds all over the country.