LG G5: should you upgrade?


The LG G5 is finally announced and wow – is it something else! From a departure from the G line design language, to the evolution of features we first saw in the LG V10, the new flagship is definitely something to talk about! And there is probably a hot question boiling in the head of every LG G4 owner who is reading this right now – “OK, should I consider upgrading?”. Well, let's talk about that!

Design


Gone is the slight curve, gone is the leather and plastic, the LG G5 takes on a much more mainstream shape and build materials. Its a soft rectangle with rounded-off edges and a flat back. Well, almost flat, as the camera module bulges out and the power button / fingerprint scanner, which is placed right underneath the snapper, also sticks out a bit. We can definitely see how the G5's behind may put some users off, especially if you are no fan of the camera bulge and consider the G4's flush camera to be one of the phone's better design assets.

In terms of size, the G5 is slighly narrower and noticeably thinner than the G4. The former is mainly thanks to the fact that the new flagship sports a 5.3-inch display, whereas its predecessor had a 5.5-inch one. The G5 has a slightly worse screen-to-body ratio, measuring at around 70.4% – 2% less than the one on the G4. As a result, the 0.2-inch decrease in screen size doesn't result in a very noticeable footprint shrinkage.


Additionally, the G5 offers the choice of interchangeable modules. The phone's bottom bezel can be taken off and replaced with one of two (at least for now) alternate parts. One is the CAM Plus module, which offers mechanical controls for the camera and adds a hefty bulk to the device for the purpose of making one-hand grip easier (sort of like a conventional camera) and housing an extra 1,200 mAh battery. The second one is a Bang & Olufsen DAC for presumably better audio reproduction, which should make audiophiles happy.

To summarize – in terms of design, there's definitely viable reasons for both staying with the G4 or upgrading to the G5. The former flagship has that signature LG curve, doesn't have a camera bump that one may either learn to live with or never get used to, and has the choice of interchanging back covers between plastic and leather and switching colors among these as well. The G5 has a more mainstream choice of build materials and shape, and we mean that in the good way. The modular design has potential (emphasizing on the word potential here) for more cool phone add-ons.



Display


As we touched upon earlier, the G5 has a slightly smaller, 5.3-inch display, while the G4 had the phablet-sized 5.5-inch screen. Still, both displays rock a super-crisp 1440 x 2560 (QHD) resolution and both are made with the Quantum IPS tech, which LG touts as being super-vivid, with punchy colors, a high contrast ratio and brightness. If we want to geek out for a second here, we can check out our benchmarks of the LG G4, which showed a 454 nit maximum brightness (does good under sunlight), and saturated colors, albeit them being a bit inaccurate.

The LG G5 does employ a new technology, first seen on the LG V10, which allows for an always on display. Basically, even when the phone is on standby, its screen glows with a faint light, showing you the clock and any awaiting notifications at a glance. G4 owners still do get notified for pending notifications by a multi-color LED, so there's a subtle difference in both devices here.

Aside from the always-on variation, in the display department, the main difference between the two smartphones is the slightly smaller screen on the G5, but we find a 0.2-inch decrease in diagonal to be negligible. There is also the fact that the LG G5 has a 70.4% screen-to-body ratio, whereas on the LG G4 the metric is around 72.4%. Again, not a huge difference, but those who love the LG signature thin side bezels should take note.

Processor and memory


The LG G5 truly shines in this category with its octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and 4 GB of RAM. The SD820 is the go-to “flagship SoC” for many manufacturers, at least for the first half of 2016. It was developed and produced with the help of Samsung, who was kind enough to lend its 14 nm FinFET process. In less-geek terms – Samsung's Exynos 7420 processor, which powered the Galaxy S6, was built in a similar way and was a definite winner in 2015, so there's a lot of promise in the Snapdragon 820.

The G4 on the other hand wasn't even equipped with a top-line processor last year. Since the Snapdragon 810 was plagued by overheating and throttling issues early on, LG chose to go with a hexa-core Snapdragon 808 instead, paired with 3 GB of RAM. Not a bad combo per se, but definitely underpowered when compared to this year's flagship.

Battery


The LG G5 comes with a thinner profile, but at the cost of a lower battery capacity. The new juicebox packs just 2,800 mAh – that's 200 mAh less than the cell in the LG G4. This may not seem like much, but taking into account the fact that the processor in the G5 is more powerful than the one in the G4, it raises some concerns. Sammy's 14 nm process of building SoCs is said to provide for less energy consumption, but software optimization of the LG UI will also play a huge part in battery life.

Either way, both batteries are user-replaceable, and the G5 does have the benefit of expanding its battery to 4,000 mAh when the CAM Plus module is attached. As long as you don't mind the bulky look, that's a viable option for power users.

Camera


LG evolved the concept of the dual camera, which we first saw on the V10, placing the duo of sensors on the back of the smartphone, instead of having them on the selfie side. No, it's not an HTC-like dual camera, where both sensors work together to get better depth-of-field information. LG's concept lets the user choose between two different snappers – one is a standard shooter with a 16 MP resolution; the other one has an extra-wide, 135-degree angle (15 degrees wider than a human eye's FOV, according to LG), but shoots with a resolution of 8 MP. Basically, the latter sensor should be helpful for landscape or building shots, or when you are trying to get a lot of people in a single frame. In all honesty, it sounds like a pretty niche selling point, but if it's right up your alley – the G5 is worth considering upgrading to.

On paper, the 16 MP main camera and the 8 MP selfie snapper look like they are the same ones that were on the LG G4, and since no further details were provided by LG – we will have to assume that they are before we can get to do some elaborate comparisons.


Fingerprint scanner


LG first introduced a fingerprint scanner to its top shelf devices with the V10. Technically, it's a phablet-class, more niche device, so it can be said that the LG G5 is the first LG flagship to have a fingerprint scanner. It's integrated with the power button on the back of the device. LG G4 owners will remain stuck in the PIN code / Knock Code/ pattern / password era unless they upgrade.

LG Friends and Modules


We touched upon the modular design of the LG G5 in the design section. The phone's bottom part can be switched out for another, which houses an experience-enhancing device, widening the customizability options in that regard. At the moment, there are two modules available — the CAM Plus and the B&O DAC — but there is some potential here. We are curious what else LG and its partners can come up with.

The company also wants to introduce a fresh, playful feel back into the smartphone scene with its “Friends” devices. Manufactured by LG partners to work exclusively with the LG G5, these currently consist of a light and portable VR headset, the Rolling Bot, complete with a mounted IP camera for both play and home surveillance, and the 360 CAM, for shooting VR-ready pictures and video.



Verdict


We could definitely see users going both ways on this. On one end, the G4 has a very distinct look, with the signature curve and interchangeable back covers. The camera bulge on the back of the G5 could also make LG fans postpone their upgrade until next year. A slightly larger battery, a slightly larger display, and presumably an identical main camera are also in favor of the LG G4.

The LG G5 will appeal to fans of the metal build, and its modular design holds enough potential to get tech-heads hyped for the future (let's hope more and useful modules do arrive). The Friends devices are also a pretty cool selling point — we are especially eager to play around with the Rolling Bot.

But toys aside, is the LG G5 worth upgrading to? Well, there's a more powerful processor, fingerprint scanner, and metal body to entice you. The device feels like an evolution of LG's flagships, not a simple expansion. So it's definitely worth a consideration, as long as you don't feel like you'd be losing sleep over that bulging camera module.

Related phones

G4
  • Display 5.5" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, Hexa-core, 1800 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh(18.5h talk time)
G5
  • Display 5.3" 1440 x 2560 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2800 mAh(25h talk time)

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34 Comments

1. johanbiff

Posts: 415; Member since: Mar 31, 2015

guess im going for the S7 edge. LG UI still a mess from what iv seen and no specific camera upgrade(actually looks worse than the G4 on the comparison pics) and too small battery, still a LCD display...was really hoping for more

18. xxCearxx

Posts: 26; Member since: Apr 11, 2014

about the battery, buy another one, plug and play! but if you like gimmik over functionality... go ahead!

22. Kumar123 unregistered

The reception of G5 is really good among the tech world. It certainly does have some really useful features. Although I didn't like the design much I can see why the reactions are so positive. I wish LG well.

31. sgodsell

Posts: 7042; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Johanbiff clearly hasn't looked at the specs of each device thoroughly. The G4 was a great device. However the SD 808 could only use DDR3 ram at a clock speed of 933 mhz. The G5 has a SD 820 which uses the newer and more power efficient DDR4 ram, which is not only fast at a clock speed of 1600 mhz, but it is also consumes 40% less power. As far as the display is concerned. LG's new display is 900 nits, which is super bright. In fact I don't know of any other display right now that is even close to 900.

27. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

S7 familyyy

30. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3948; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

LG's LCD displays are really good and the quantum tech rivals amoled, you could even say its better.

3. myawan

Posts: 7; Member since: Apr 19, 2013

why LG needed to experiment with their flagship device????? reducing battery capacity when they already had a below average performance with a bigger battery last year. And why so much emphasis on lime color everywhere???? 0.8% drop per hour for secondary display chip is too much. It means if you use your device for 24 hours, about 20% battery will be eaten by always on display which equals to 560mAh so you are only left with 2240mAh for usage! Pathetic!

15. chenski

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Well Samsung also reduced battery for s6...

16. johanbiff

Posts: 415; Member since: Mar 31, 2015

the always on dislay can actually help get your battery down since you don`t need to wake the phone up to see the clock for ex.

19. xxCearxx

Posts: 26; Member since: Apr 11, 2014

turn off always on feature....

5. KillTheKardashians

Posts: 93; Member since: Feb 19, 2016

i missed a pokemon detector module

10. B-power

Posts: 258; Member since: Feb 22, 2014

that would be really handy.

6. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

phablet size, no thanks

7. justrt

Posts: 446; Member since: Jul 10, 2014

I hate it when companies downgrade battery. Why? I think losing SD card, or something is OK, but why battery?!

11. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Pretty sure this will have much better battery life than G4 or V10 cause of SD820. Starting from G3 and till V10 they have been using underpowered socs so I believe thats the biggest reason for bad battery.

13. myawan

Posts: 7; Member since: Apr 19, 2013

and what about always on display that sips 0.8% of your battery every hours??????

21. gtrc11

Posts: 32; Member since: Feb 05, 2015

You can disable it .

35. Roshnishama

Posts: 36; Member since: Aug 10, 2015

Yes! I think it so!

8. joeytaylor

Posts: 957; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

I think the G4 is a better looking phone....the G5 looks like an unfinished prototype

12. realjjj

Posts: 375; Member since: Jan 28, 2014

The module part is just empty marketing,they do nothing with it besides swapping the battery. Useless modules that could be better done in a less intrusive way. This phone is shameful , bulky,, ugly, underpecced ,small battery and ridiculously priced. They do have interesting accessories but they they miss the coolest train here, wifi ad.

24. jellmoo

Posts: 2546; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

I have two questions for you: 1) How is it underspecced? 2) Why are you saying it's ridiculously priced when we don't even know the price yet?

14. uchihakurtz

Posts: 427; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

Man, this phone looks butt eff ugly. The modules are something cool but why didn't it include the Hifi Audio internally in the first place also camera for grip and zooming only? Rather gimmicky. Not to mention you have to turn off the phone to change modules. A perfect place would sliding it sideways on the camera. Imagine when you're using your phone only for casual pictures you can just slide down a normal thin camera module. When you wanna go pro mode, slap in the optical zoom able laser triple flash whatever hocus pocus awesome camera module. Wireless charger module, boom speaker modules, etc.. fits better at the back than at the bottom.

33. Furbal unregistered

Seriously, the modules need to be hot swappable

17. LittleGaGaKiller

Posts: 290; Member since: Jan 19, 2015

I can't wait to get it in black (dual sim version) + 128gb micro SD + Bang & olfsen Accessory!

20. kefalin

Posts: 292; Member since: Feb 08, 2015

LG G5 back is looking terrible. Size is bigger although it has smaller display (actually G2 is 10mm smaller when it comes to height). Only plus i see is wide lens camera and modular battery+accessories and SD 820,new UI is bad also (at least we have NOVA,right?). Im LG fan,but i guess i will have to skip this one and keep much better looking G Flex 2.

23. aryanfr1

Posts: 125; Member since: Jan 24, 2013

The only thing that will still hold me back is the on screen keys. I thought lg would make capacitive buttons and there will a distinction between screen and keys. Overall I am impressed by lg new idea and it's remarkable, surprised me and sure so many people.

25. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2124; Member since: May 29, 2014

I see haters gonna hate. Must be a lot of Sammy and Apple fanboys here. Crying about something they never had any intention on buying. Ridiculous. Definitely like the looks of this. Been rocking with LG since the G2 and Nexus 4 and will continue to do so. Trading in my V10 for the G5. LG continues to bring new and fresh designs and ideas to the market while some continue on with the same tired design.

26. TyrionLannister unregistered

Come on guys, no phone offers enough upgrades for direct predecessors. G5 is meant for G3 users and it justifies the upgrade for them.

28. carlemillward unregistered

I think LG should get applause for making a modular phone, but other than that the specs are great but design is a step back and UI too. No Appdrawer, hello NOVA launcher.

29. Moose

Posts: 418; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

I loved the LG G3 except for the modest battery life, doesn't look like LG cares much about that customer preference. I like the innovation in their new phone and the 5.3 inch display might be a nice size. A lot of creative ideas in their 'friends' add-ons so I'm sure there will be users who are attracted to this phone, but I will only buy something with at least 1.5 days of battery life, preferably two full days.

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