During its Play Begins event at Mobile World Congress 2016 today, LG unveiled the LG G5. This is the phone LG hopes will take on Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and Apple’s iPhone 7.
The G5 represents a massive shift in strategy for LG’s flagship smartphone. After the G2’s success, the South Korean company merely iterated with the G3 and the G4. The G5, meanwhile, is the successor to the G4 in name only.
Not only does the G5 finally switch to a metal body, but LG has chosen to go with a modular design, which it says allows you to transform your G5 into a “digital camera, hi-fi player, and more.” As we revealed earlier this week, the phone features an expansion slot you can use to swap in batteries and other modules.
LG revealed only two such modules today:
- CAM Plus: This camera can be attached through the battery slot to “deliver a comfortable grip and convenient control of a DSLR.” The LG CAM Plus offers auto focus, exposure lock, and provides physical buttons for power, shutter, record, and zoom. It also gives the G5 additional battery capacity of 1,200mAh.
- Hi-Fi Plus with B&O Play: This portable Hi-Fi audio player developed in collaboration with B&O Play supports 32-bit, 384KHz high-definition audio playback. It can be used as a module with the LG G5 or even as a separate Hi-Fi digital audio chip (DAC) that connects to any smartphone or PC.
The LG G5 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD), a removable 2,800 mAh battery, and Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It has a 5.3-inch, 2560 x 1440 resolution (QHD) display at 554ppi.
Furthermore, the G5 has an always-on display so you can check the time, battery status, and your notifications without waking the phone. LG says the display’s backlight only illuminates one small part of the overall display, which translates into the always-on section draining only 0.8 percent of the phone’s battery every hour.
As we reported in December, the LG G5 has two rear cameras: one 16MP standard 78-degree lens and an 8MP, 135-degree wide angle lens (which LG proudly claims is “the widest available in any smartphone”). LG expects the wide angle lens to help capture landscape, tall buildings, and larger groups. The front camera is 8MP.
Other specifications include a USB Type-C 2.0 port that is USB 3.0 compatible, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, and Wi-Fi 802.11 a, b, g, n, ac. The phone weighs 159g and measures 149.4 mm in height, 73.9 mm in width, and ranges between 7.7 and 8.6 mm in depth. It will be available in four colors: Silver, Titan, Gold, and Pink.
LG today also unveiled “companion devices” for the G5, called LG Friends. The company today detailed six of these accessories, but, as with the modules, you can expect more in the pipeline:
- 360 CAM: Connects to the LG G5 for shooting 360-degree content. It features two 13MP wide angle cameras, built-in 1,200mAh battery, 4GB of internal memory, a manual mode, 2K video, and 5.1 surround channel recording via three microphones. Images taken with the 360 CAM can be uploaded to Google Maps Street View and YouTube.
- 360 VR: This virtual reality headset can be connected exclusively to the G5. The foldable goggles are meant for watching VR content on the go, and LG claims the accessory is “one-third as heavy as competing smartphone VR goggles.” Presumably, Google Cardboard is excluded from this claim, though the 360 VR is compatible with Cardboard content and 360-degree images and videos captured with the LG 360 CAM.
- Rolling Bot: This is a ball camera. It rolls around, capturing images and videos with its embedded 8MP camera connectable via Wi-Fi. LG claims the Rolling Bot isn’t “just a toy” and “can be used as a security system for the home, pet care companion as well as a remote controller for compatible home appliances.”
- Tone Platinum: A Bluetooth headset with “superior” sound quality (Harman Kardon Platinum grade). LG has deemed it “the world’s first Bluetooth headset equipped with aptX HD codec,” which means lossless 24-bit audio.
- Smart Controller: Control drones, watch a drone’s video stream through the LG G5 in real time, and generally move other smart devices that LG has yet to reveal.
- H3 by B&O Play: High-end earphones that deliver 32-bit sound. Unlike the other accessories, this one is compatible with all LG smartphones.
If you have a category called “LG Friends” you need an app to manage them all, which LG naturally named Friends Manager. This app, which only works with the LG G5, automatically detects “nearby Friends” and connects to them in “three simple steps.”
While the focus today will undoubtedly be on the LG G5’s expansion slot, the real question will be how the phone stacks up to the competition on its own. If you only want to spend money on the phone itself, does it compete? We’ll let you know when we get our hands on a review unit.
Pricing for the LG G5 and its accessories was not revealed, nor was an exact release date. We do know, however, that the company is currently aiming for an early April launch.
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