LG thinks it's come up with a sneaky way of boosting its smartphone sales: by doing something interesting. Somebody warn the others! The South Korean giant launched the LG G5 today, and it's the most intriguing-sounding smartphone we've come across in a long time.
The 5.3-inch handset is clad in metal, and represents a significant step up for the company in terms of design. It both looks and feels superior to its predecessors, the G4 and G3. Unlike those, the G5 is comfortable to hold, and is easy to operate with one hand. Also, metal > plastic. LG done well.
The 2,560 x 1,440 IPS display is a cracker. With a pixel density of 554ppi, it's as sharp as you like. It's always-on too, which means you don't need to touch it to view the time.
On the left-hand edge is the volume rocker, the microSD card slot lies on the right-hand side, the headphone jack is at the top, and the speakers are at the bottom, next to the USB Type-C slot. All sensible, nothing new. There's a fingerprint scanner around the back, though we'd prefer this to sit on the front, as it wouldn't require you to lift your phone off your desk every time you wanted to unlock it.
Whats truly interesting, however, is the 'Magic Slot'. Though the G5 makes use of a unibody design, you can slide out the bottom section of the phone. This removes the 2,800mAh battery, and allows you to plug in a number of accessories, including the LG Cam Plus and the LG Hi-Fi Plus. I've not seen anything like this before. Not on an actual working phone, anyway.
Thanks to LG Friends, you can also hook a rolling robot, a drone and a VR headset to the phone, though this is done via an app, rather than that clever hardware slot. The robot, in particular, is brilliant. It's like an incredibly modern version of a remote control car. It's a lot of fun to play with.
Around the back, just above the fingerprint scanner, is the main camera setup. It uses a pair of sensors, one of which is a 16-megapixel number, the other an 8-megapixel affair. The two combine to provide a 135-degree field of view, which allows you to capture more goodness in your pictures. A solitary 8-megapixel snapper sits on the front.
As tends to be the case at launch events, conditions were far from ideal in the testing area, but I'm impressed by the speed of focus the G5 offers. Test snaps also reflected positively on the dual-camera setup, though we can't give it a wholehearted pat on the backside before we use it properly.
On the software front, we have Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, with a couple of LG's own tweaks. The most controversial of these is undoubtedly the decision to remove the app drawer. Huawei's already been hit with criticism for making the same move through EMUI, and we imagine most users will be disappointed with LG's decision too.
The G5 is available in four colours: gold, pink, silver and Titan grey. The latter is simple and moody and my favourite.
The G5 is essentially the phone we were all hoping to meet, but never really expecting to. Well played, LG. We weren't quite expecting that.