Internal sound quality
The LG G5 uses Qualcomm’s WSA8815 Audio Codec, through the use of the SoC (system on chip) Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, which enables it to playback 24-bit audio files. Unfortunately, we found the G5’s internal audio quality to be mediocre at best, with its soundstage particularly disappointing for a flagship phone.
The LG G5 also needed a lot of power to be able to drive low impedance earphones and headphones. We performed our tests at 85-90 percent volume, where in comparison the Samsung Galaxy S6 which managed to output the same volume at only 55-60 percent.
We found the placement of its audio jack slightly odd, with it being placed on right-hand side of the phone, whilst being at the very edge of the phone’s casing.
We also tested the LG G5 through an amplifier, which tests the interference and internal audio capabilities of the internal audio chipset whilst having its signal boosted. These tests would apply if you are plugging-in your phone to your car, which acts as an amplifier.
Through our tests, we found the LG G5 to be a huge step-up over the LG G3 (we didn't test the audio capabilities of the LG G4), which suffered a lot of internal interference problems. The G5 on the other hand only had a small static pop sound when unlocked past the lockscreen. We should also note that this small static pop was also audible without an amplifier connected to its 3.5mm jack.
Moving on to the sound quality, we felt the overall sound signature was good, but due to its closed soundstage, found it to negatively affect the sound presentation on the G5.
The lows (bass) are slightly cut-off in the sub-bass regions, where we would have liked to hear a little more extension in the low-end frequencies. The mid-bass is a little soft on impact and isn’t controlled, which makes the mid-bass sound a little tamed. On the plus side, we found the mid-bass to have the right quantity of bass, where it didn’t over-power the mids.
Speaking of mids, we found them to be accurately reproduced and really provided the highlight of the G5’s sound quality. We were impressed by its forward-sounding mids and the way they were presented.
The highs on the other hand didn’t extend that well, but did have a nice sparkle to them, adding life to music.
As mentioned above, we found the soundstage to be the G5’s greatest weakness, where it was closed-sounding and lacked room to breathe. The instrument separation could have also been a little improved. However, we did find it to have good width, depth and positioning.
Most of the G5's specifications were predictable but the dual-camera setup is not something we'd have put money on. But unlike other phones with two cameras, the G5 is completely different. One is 16Mp with a regular field of view while the second 8Mp shooter has a wide-angle 135 degree lens so you can fit more into the photo - much like an action camera. At the front things remain at a decent 8Mp with the ability to record 1080p video - just like the G4. The rear pair have optical image stabilisation (OIS) and laser auto focus, also like the G4.
Once again LG provides a compelling experience on the photography front with a decent camera app which launches quickly and offers plenty of modes and features to get creative with.
It’s quick and easy to switch between the two cameras and you can even combine them with the Popout mode which allows you to add or even stack effects such as lens blur and vignette. Multi-view can combine two, or all three cameras for something quite unique and there’s a Manual mode if you want to get stuck in with controls such as ISO, shutter speed and white balance.
Photos from the wide-angle camera are hardly brimming with detail (this is as much a factor of the lens as the sensor) but exhibit good contrast and colour. You won’t want to zoom in and crop photos but they’re perfectly good for sharing online as they are, and wide-angle is the whole point, after all. The 16Mp main camera is an excellent all rounder providing great results in natural light and low light indoors. Overall, the G5 is up there with the best smartphone cameras around and the narrow-and-wide setup is unique. You can see how it compares to the Galaxy S7, Huawei P9, iPhone 6S, HTC 10 and other phones in our best phone camera roundup.
For some reason, the G5 reverses photos when you take a selfie - presumably because it thinks you want to see yourself as you do in the mirror. In any case, selfies are a little washed out and soft at the edges:
Both rear cameras can shoot video, and both have stabilisation and support recording at 4K. The only box left unchecked is 1080p at 60fps, which is frustrating if that's your preferred mode.
Here's a 4K clip from the main camera:
And another from the wide-angle camera.
As you would expect, the LG G5 comes pre-loaded with Android 6.0 Marshmallow which is the latest version of the mobile OS and also LG's own UX 5.0 UI.
There's not a great deal to say about it with most things generally how they were before. However, LG has committed an Android crime which normally only Chinese manufacturers do. The firm has removed the app menu/tray so all your app icons now sit on the homescreen panels like iOS. Why, LG? Why? You can get it back by switching to the EasyHome layout but we don’t want to have to do that so we suggest getting the Google Now launcher if you share our desire for the app menu.
Update May 2016: LG is bringing back the app draw via an OTA (over the air) software update due to 'popular demand'. However, rather than overwriting the current interface, it will be available as 'Home & app drawer' in the G5's home settings. The firmware also brings a burst mode to Cam Plus owners.
LG has gone with a light coloured interface with a mint green accent colour throughout with lots of Material Design. It would be nice to be able to customise this, though. What you can do is get different themes from the LG SmartWorld store. Features which we’ve become accustomed to over the years are still around such as being able to double tap to switch the display on and off.
Smart Bulletin, which debuted on the G4, is still part of the UX but it’s switched off by default so you’ll need to head into the settings if you want it active. We’d suggest trying it out if you haven’t used it before.
While recent apps is the stock Android card style, other elements of the users interface are LG’s own way of doing things. For example, the settings menu is split into four tabs. We like the drop down notification bar, which can be customised so you can make sure the things you need the most often are front, and centre.
It’s also handy to be able to personalise things which you can’t on other devices such as the navigation buttons. LG lets you, change the colour, rearrange them but also add other buttons such as one to open and close the notification bar down so you don’t have to stretch for it every time.
LG has kept things light on pre-installed apps with just the usual Google selection, some LG apps such as QuickRemote and QuickMemo+, plus the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Evernote. Inside the Management are some handy apps which helps you keep on top of things like battery, memory and storage.
There’s no ability to display two apps at once which is a shame. Instead LG offers Qslide which means certain apps, such as calendar and calculator, can be used in a floating style with a transparency slider.
LG G5: Specs
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- 5.3in Quad HD IPS (1440x2560)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB storage
- Micro-SD card slot (up to 200GB)
- Dual-rear cameras 16/8Mp with OIS and laser auto focus
- 8Mp front camera
- 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Fingerprint scanner
- Cat 9 4G LTE
- USB Type-C
- 2800mAh removable battery
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