LG G5 full review

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Alongside the Galaxy S7, the LG G5 is one of the biggest phones (not literally) to launch in 2016 – and we're not just talking in the Android world. It's one of the heavyweights and LG will be looking to set the market alight with the G5's alternative and innovative modular design.

It's a tough world out there for smartphone makers and LG has taken the bold decision to shake things up with the G5. Far from being a new version of the LG G4, the phone is different in a lot of ways. We've been lucky enough to spend some time with the G5 at LG's launch event in Barcelona so here are our initial thoughts. You can find all the important details in our piece: LG G5 release date, price, specs and features.

Jump to: Design and Build | LG Friends | Screen | Processor and benchmarks | Storage and fingerprint scanner | Battery life | Audio | Cameras | Software and apps

LG G5 review: price

Prices are starting to appear now, and it seems we were bang on with our prediction. For example, you can pre-order the 32GB model in Titan grey for £499 from Mobilefun.

However, that initial price had been bumped up to £529 which is in-line with Amazon but the retail giant has already dropped it to £499. Also see: Best MiFi 2016.

This makes the LG G5 one of the cheapest flagship phones on the market with the Galaxy S7 priced at £569. Also see: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs LG G5.

LG G5 review: Design and build

It's great to see LG doing something different with the design of the G5 – it's easy to follow a formula but the firm has effectively ripped up the blueprints for its flagship phone and gone back to the drawing board. Brand recognition is important but over the course of years, devices can become a bit boring and too similar if the same design is simply tweaked each time.

Also see: LG G5 in pictures

Dimensions and the loss of the RearKey

It seems the battle to make the thinnest and lightest phone on the market may have ended. The big names seem more bothered about features than simply the race to nothing and we’re all for it. The LG G5 is an average 7.7mm in thickness and 159g in weight. 

The phone fits well in the hand but the small groove, which runs around the edge, is a little sharp which makes things uncomfortable which is a shame. The phone has a much more pleasing shape compared to its predecessor. The front looks more stylish and we like the way the glass curves away at the top. The G5 is available in Titan Grey, Silver, Gold and Pink.

LG G5 colours

Due to the large camera module on the back, which does stick out a little but not as much as we feared, LG has had to say goodbye to the RearKey. The volume buttons are now on the side as is traditional, while the power button remains on the back as is combined into the fingerprint scanner.

A uni-body metal build?

Since announcing the phone there's been some controversy about the metal build of the G5. In this teardown video on YouTube, JerryRigEverything takes to the back with a blade to show what looks like a layer of plastic with an aluminium layer underneath. That's not the kind of metal uni-body which we were all expecting.

LG has commented on the video directly with Ken Hong, senior director of global communications at LG stating: "What you're seeing there is primer, not a plastic cover. As you know, primer is used to get paint to bond to aluminum, which is what we used for the G5's body."

LG G5 design and build

He goes onto explain that LG has used an aluminium alloy LM201b (patent pending) in order to integrate the antenna bands so you can't feel them and keep weight down. The process means tiny particles of metal are infused in the coating and bonded to the aluminium.

The bottom line is that the back of the G5 is essentially metallic paint rather than solid metal and while we can understand what LG is trying to do here – a "smooth, seamless metal finish that's durable and lightweight" – but it results in a different feeling to the touch. The phone doesn't instinctively feel metal like, say, the HTC One M9. 

More worrying than the texture is how durable this makes the device. Of course metal can scratch but this paint method is more likely to show up marks, dinks and potentially gouged.

The frame around the edge is solid metal and feels great, however, the shiny pin stripe around the edge stops twice on the top of the phone which is odd and looks unfinished. It's also slightly sharp which seems unnecessary and the overall look would be improved if it simply wasn't there.

See also: LG G4 vs LG G5.

LG G5 accessory slot

LG G5 review: What is LG Friends?

It's not waterproof but it is modular

Fans of Samsung are delighted to see waterproofing back on the Galaxy S7 and while LG hasn't gone down this route, it's done something more unique.

The modular design of the LG G5 isn't like Project Ara or the Fairphone 2, you can't replace or upgrade individual parts. Instead the chin of the phone is removable which, for starters, gives access to the battery (something which isn't a feature of the S7). It also means you can add modules should you want to buy them separately.

These modules are called 'LG Friends' and the main one is a clip on battery pack which adds some photography controls called the Cam Plus which is the cheapest at £69. Audiophiles fans will be tempted by the Hi-Fi Plus from B&O which is a DAC (digital to analogue converter) – it costs a bit more at £149.

LG Cam Plus

Not all the LG Friends plug directly into the slot at the bottom, though. There's the 360 Cam for, er, 360 degree photos and videos and the 360 VR headset, too. These are the more expensive accessories at £199 each and it's worth noting that you can get equivalents for the Galaxy S7.

Note: Sadly we’ve been unable to test any of the modules properly yet but hope to soon. Since these are quite important, we’ll update the review once we do. There’s certainly potential but the future of the G5 and its modules (LG or third party) is unclear so it makes it difficult to come to a conclusion on this element. Hopefully developers get on-board and make some interesting accessories.

LG Friends pricing from Clove Technology.

You can also check out our individual Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review and Samsung Galaxy S7 review.