Through the years, LG had always set a high bar for itself, but the compromises it had to make for one reason or another kept it a distance short of actual, undisputed greatness. Still, LG tried hard. The LG G3 made Quad-HD resolution screens happen when 1080p displays weren't even perfected yet. The LG G4 introduced a fresh, organic design that stood out amidst the uniform metal and glass competition. It also had a great camera with plenty of potential to tap into if one spared the time and effort to dig into its plethora of manual settings.
With the LG G5, it feels like LG has finally unleashed the killer flagship smartphone we always knew it was capable of pulling off. With a radically redesigned body full of mainstream appeal, an uncompromising spec sheet, and an innovative ecosystem of accessories, the LG G5 has a lot going for it. Few things can showcase that than comparing it directly with its warmly regarded predecessor.
A metal exoskeleton obliterates what was formerly plastic and leather.
Redesigned from the ground up, the LG G5 is made of metal and glass, while the LG G4's bodily materials are plastic and leather. The G4 is arched and has its power and volume keys placed on the back panel, while the G5 is flatter and opts for a more conventional approach to controls – the volume keys are on the left, while the power button is on the back, and has a fingerprint scanner built into it.
That's not all there's to it, though! While the LG G4 comes with a removable back panel, which gives access to the SIM slot, microSD card, and battery, the LG G5 dials things up a notch with its innovative ‘modular' design. The G5's bottom bezel detaches from the body, letting you mount a microSD card and swap the empty battery for a fresh one, much like loading a magazine into a handgun. It also makes it possible to attach modules to the smartphone, such as a camera grip with photography controls and a Hi-Fi player produced together with Bang & Olufsen.
Objectively, the LG G5 is more sturdy and modern, and is also easier to handle with one hand. The LG G4 has a totally different aesthetic, and is also wider, thus becoming a bit more of a handful.
The LG G5 steps up its color reproduction and always-on game over the LG G4.
It's hardly surprising that the LG G5's display has the same Quad-HD resolution as the LG G4, and uses the same Quantum LCD technology. However, the G4 has a 5.5-inch viewer, while the G5 downsizes that to 5.3 inches by diagonal. Both screens are sharp and highly detailed, but there’s something apparently different about the G5's. While the LG G4's does looks especially vivid with its larger than life color gamut, the G5's actually looks more like an AMOLED screen with its over-saturated colors, wide viewing angles, and near perfect blacks.
The G5's homescreen looks unchanged with those square-shaped icons and bubbly icons, but LG decided to eradicate the app drawer in favor of an iOS-esque approach.
The LG G4's premium but not quite hardware is easily surpassed by the LG G5's technological might.
LG has always made sure its flagship smartphones proudly feature cutting-edge technology. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the LG G5 is powered by Qualcomm's latest and greatest chip, the Snapdragon 820 SoC, which boasts four custom 64-bit CPU cores, an Adreno 530 GPU, and 4GB of fast, power-efficient LPDDR4 RAM. Not surprisingly, apps open instantly, the interface feels tight, and there’s no major sluggishness to complain of. Blazing speeds aside, the SD 820 is there so the G5 can handle augmented and virtual reality applications. Indeed, among the LG G5's family of accessories is a VR headset that connects to the smartphone via its new USB Type-C port.
Powered by Qualcomm's premium-but-not-quite Snapdragon 808 chip with 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM, the LG G4 is easily surpassed by its successor's hardware might. That's not to say the smartphone is underpowered, as the interface generally handles quick enough, but complex 3D games tend to stutter or revert to lower graphics settings. Still, the LG G4 responds well to all sorts of basic tasks, such as navigating the screen, opening apps, taking photos, and all that stuff you expect it to do 90% of the time.
Like its predecessor, the LG G5 features expandable storage via the microSD card slot that it continues to offer. Both have a generous 32GB of built-in memory, but the G5's storage format is UFS, which is much quicker than the G4's plain old eMMC 5.0 storage. Not that you can tell any significant difference in terms of speed, but you will notice apps, games, and video encoding happen faster on the G5.
The LG G5 is the first smartphone to offer a dual camera setup since the HTC One M8.
The LG G5 is the first smartphone to offer a dual camera setup since the HTC One M8. Unlike HTC, LG didn't install a second cam for fancy bokeh effects, but rather took the V10's dual front cameras engineered for wide group shots, and transplanted them on the LG G5's back. Thus, there's a 16MP camera paired with an 8MP wide angle cam, paired with a dual-LED flash. Taking a photo with the two cameras results in wide, almost panoramic-like scenes. As for the front-facing camera here, it’s a single 8MP one.
The LG G4 only has a single 16MP cam to make do with, but it still managed to prove itself as a capable camera phone. It's equipped with laser autofocus, color spectrum sensor and LED flash. With these components in action, the G4 is capable of taking some detailed, pleasantly natural-looking shots. The camera app features manual controls, letting knowledgeable photographers make the most of the LG G4's camera setup. The smartphone can also store images in RAW format for freehand processing. There's s a 5MP front camera on it, too.
Both smartphones can record videos in resolutions up to 4K, and both don't have manual video controls.
It is evident that the LG G5 isn't merely an upgrade over the LG G4, but a fresh start for the entire G series. The LG G5 has an original design that doesn’t look like anything else before it, which deserves commendation. The spec sheet is no compromise, and the modular design and related accessories are innovative and endearing.
That aside, LG has went a bit astray in simplifying the user experience. The user interface has been ‘dumbed down’ in our opinion, with the elimination of the dual window feature feeling like a thorn on our side. However, the LG G5's strong points definitely make it an attractive upgrade proposition over the LG G3 and the LG G4.
Although LG hasn’t confirmed the G5's pricing yet, nor its availability, we can speculate the smartphone will be sold at $600 up to $700. We expect LG will work its tactic for undercutting the competition by $50 to $100 dollars, making the G5 an alluring, nicely priced offering.