LG — not so long ago those two letters didn’t stand for much. The Korean phone maker was a bit part player in the Android space, producing gimmicky, second-rate handsets like the LG Optimus 3D (no, I’ll never forget that phone). Life wasn’t good at this point. In fact, life was pretty damn grim for LG at this point in history.
But then something happened: Google chose LG to be its Nexus OEM and the company went away and built the now seminal Nexus 4. It then went on to build the Nexus 5 — and this handset was even better. After this LG got back into the swing of things with its own phones as well, but it wasn’t until the launch of the LG G3 that things really changed.
At this point, LG had shown that it had the chops, skills and vision to compete with Apple and Samsung. The G3 was a great handset, as was the LG G4. But this year’s LG G5 is something else entirely. It is the first handset of its kind. The first true modular smartphone. And this is a HUGE deal, for LG, for you and I, and for the rest of the mobile space.
The LG G5 is now available for pre-order in the UK. The handset will set you back £529 offline and is available in either rose pink of titan grey. The first shipments are confirmed to go out on April 8, so if you order a handset right now it’ll be with you in just under four weeks time. Interested? You should be — the G5 was one of the most impressive handsets we saw at MWC 2016. As it stands, there is no other phone on the market quite like it.
LG & Friends
The modular aspect of the LG G5 has been the biggest talking point of MWC 2016 so far, and rightly so too. Through this modular connection, which is accessed by pressing a small button on the side of the G5’s chassis, you can remove the battery, swap SD cards and attach “accessories” which interact with the phone, like LG’s 360 CAM.
But these attachables aren’t called accessories; no, LG calls them Friends — and this is arguably the worst bit about the whole thing. It just sounds so, well, naff when you call it THAT!
LG showed off a couple of its Friends at MWC 2016. One, a 32-bit DAC and amplifier unit, created in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen, called the LG Hi-Fi Plus is basically an audiophile’s wet dream incarnate, as it will process and upsample any application that produces sound, including YouTube and Spotify. The LG Hi-Fi Plus supports native DSD playback and will come with a pair of H3 B&O Play earphones.
The other was the LG Cam Plus, a photography accessory that adds in a bunch of hardware buttons and added grip to the G5 for improved imaging. The Cam Plus features a physical shutter button, a dedicated video recording key, an LED indicator and a jog dial for controlling zoom. With this on, you’ll be able to shoot excellent 4K video in a variety of settings. The only thing I’m not 100% sure about is whether you can attach the Cam Plus to a tripod or not…
On the upside, the Cam Plus has a built in battery that’ll add another 8 hours of life to the LG G5. Unlike the Hi-Fi Plus, the Cam Plus does take up quite a bit of room whereas the aforementioned Friend pretty much moulds into the handset’s design. I guess this is because the DAC will be used all the time, whereas the Cam Plus will only be used when shooting images and video in a more professional manner.
What’s most interesting about all this, though, is that LG has opened up the modular aspect of the G5 to third party developers. The company will likely build the feature into its other, high-end phones as well in the coming months. But for me it is the idea of lots of third party developers creating new hardware to stick on the end of the G5 that makes the technology really exciting.
Things like physical keyboards, game controllers, more advanced camera accessories and a whole lot more besides are now all possible. I can’t wait to get to grips with the G5 properly. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on LG’s modular phone.