The three main Android flagships for this year, have come from the three main companies; Samsung, HTC, and LG. Today we are giving our full review on the LG G5 for AT&T. This is the most strange or rather uniquely designed flagship of the year, as LG has opted for a modular design. And while on paper the specifications and features looked promising, real life results varied. The launch was a bit screwed up as well, with large delays and the friends(accessories for the G5) not being available at launch. Let’s dive into my full thoughts on the LG G5 for AT&T.
Starting with the design, it is sleek, but doesn’t feel as solid as the S7 or HTC 10. LG says that the device has a metal build, but it doesn’t necessarily feel this way out of the box. I got more of an impression of it being a plastic build or metal coated in something similar to that of plastic. I am testing out the silver variant of it, which has shiny chamfered edges going around the sides on the back. AT&T is also carrying the device in Gold, Pink, and Titan. They went a route similar to Apple, when it comes to the color options for the device.
LG is still going full throttle when it comes to putting the power button on the back of the device, and while it comes to natural to some, it will still be uncomfortable for others. I am happy to report that they have moved the volume rocker to a normal position on the left hand side of the device. One up side to the power button on the back, is that it mimics the design of the Nexus 6P by putting a fingerprint reader on it. Unfortunately, it does not have the haptic feedback feature, like on the 6P or on the front button of the HTC 10. The back is also home to both a AT&T and G5 logo. You will also notice a line going across the device near the bottom, and this is the modular feature.
By pushing the button on the bottom left hand side, you will be able to pull out the battery portion of the phone. Two things to note; the first being that it is really fun to show it too people and second that it doesn’t really serve a purpose. A main reason for this not serving a purpose, is that at launch the “friend” accessories, like the Camera+ and B&O Hi-Fi module were not yet launched. Even then, it adds more bulk as you have to bring the modules with you and they are pricey. I also found that while you have a removable battery and can bring an extra with you, the battery life is not the best as the other flagships. Another important item to note is that removing the battery from the bottom piece of the device is quite difficult.
On the front of the device you will find an LG logo, an ear piece and a front facing camera. Having the bottom piece brings back memories of the old Android phones with chins. As it does add a good amount of extra space at the bottom of the device, but it still comes in smaller than the V10. LG opted for a USB-c port which is on the bottom of the device along with a speaker and a microphone. The top is home to headphone jack and another microphone.
Aside from the modular features on the LG G5, the cameras are the other big deal. Unlike HTC and Samsung which opted for a single lens back camera, LG has opted to put not one but two cameras on the back. You get both a 16 megapixel and an 8 megapixel lens, the latter of which has a larger 135-degree field of view. This is in fact larger than the human eye and it work well when put into practice. Essentially, the G5 can capture a much larger and wider image. So, while you normally may not be able to fit everything into a picture without physically moving farther away from it, this is solved. As with the simple tap of a button, you switch to the wider frame of view and can capture more in one image.
This is probably the coolest and most, successfully implemented, innovative feature of the device. Dual cameras not only give you a sharp image, but they can provide a much wider one. The front of the device features an 8 megapixel camera that gets the job done for Snapchat.
LG has opted for a 5.3-inch Quad HD 3D Arc Display and it did pretty well. While it is not as vibrant, in terms of color production, as the S7 or S7 Edge, it does seem to be on par with the HTC 10. Although the latter of the two does a better job producing more realistic images. A unique design element is a slight ridge around the device, this starts from where you can pop the bottom off to the top. And while it acts as a boundary line, it does take some time to get used too.
For battery life, the 2800mAh battery is comparable to that of the S7, S7 Edge, and HTC 10. Although it does fall short in terms of lasting for more than one day on a charge. I got around a full day of normal use, but with heavier a day filled with gaming and lots of streaming, I got around 10 and a half hours. Luckily, for LG G5 owners you can bring an extra battery with you and swap it out on the go.
Similar to the HTC 10 and S7, the G5 is powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor. And it performs just as well as it did on the HTC 10, S7, and S7 Edge. The culprit for slowing down the user experience is the software itself. As we learned with the HTC 10, by creating a streamlined user interface with performance boosts, you can get a much faster experience. LG still has a pretty heavy user interface put on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. While it is not the slowest experience in the world, it does not compare to that of the HTC 10, but is on par with Samsung’s latest and greatest.
On AT&T, the LG G5 performed really well from a network standpoint. The device runs on their 4G LTE network, which is nationwide, and it worked pretty well. At times streaming a large film could require some extra buffering, but for daily tasks and light streaming the AT&T network was able to handle the task.
LG tried to go very big this year and they are around half way there. While Samsung went for refinement, HTC managed to bring great new features and rework a similar design, and LG is somewhere else. They tried to do a full re-invention and to truly innovate, and they are around halfway there. The key reason for this would have to be the modular design features, they are great, but they have not been executed perfectly. For instance, not opening up the modular capabilities to third-party accessories is a big mistake and will hopefully be corrected in future iterations. On the other handy, for power users being able to swap out a battery on the go can come in handy.
The LG G5 is a solid phone and if you want one that has a removable battery, I would say go for it. But if you are looking for a device that is from the future with a crazy modular feature, the G5 is not that. It has a great camera, a powerful processor, and a bunch of other stuff. But it does not add up to the greatest phone on the market, I would still look towards the HTC 10 for that. However, the future is bright for LG and since they did a big design change this year, maybe they will refine it come 2017.
We would like to thank AT&T for providing us with a copy of the AT&T LG G5.