LG G5 Review: Looks Can Be Deceiving

LG G5

Are you looking for a phone that’s powerful, takes advantage of some of the latest mobile technologies, has a removable battery and expandable storage? Look no further than the LG G5.

In The BoxSpecs
LG G5, 32GBAndroid 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)4GB RAM / microSD Card Slot
Fast Charger & Cable5.88 x 2.91 x 0.30 in5.3″, IPS LCD 1440 x 2560 (~554 ppi)
Sim Removal Tool5.61 oz8MP Front Camera
Guides/ManualsQualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 82016MP & 8MP Back Camera

Humble Beginnings


The LG G5 may seem like a trendy flagship phone at first glance with its rounded edges, curved display, metal body and insanely quick fingerprint scanner. However, it shies away from being as flashy as most flagships.

The G5 looks humble and unassuming. It’s not exactly sleek or bulky. Not too big or too small. It’s arguably just the right size. The metal body feels surprisingly light, making some question if the G5 is really made of metal.

The SIM/microSD card slot and volume rocker blend almost seamlessly into the sides of the G5. An audio jack and IR port dot the top. A USB Type-C charging port and a very loud speaker line the bottom. The front holds an 8MP camera and 5.3” Quad-HD display that’s comfortable to maneuver around with one hand. Just below the fingerprint sensor on the back are dual cameras, LED flash and laser auto focus. Despite these components being slightly raised on the back, the G5 manages to lay flat and even on tabletops and desks.

 

Fast, Responsive, Not Very Attractive


The UI skin on the LG G5 feels very basic. My brother, Mello, thinks it’s idiot proof and caters to the G5’s simplistic aesthetics. It’s not flashy, sleek or futuristic like stock Android. The notifications shade’s toggles are big, bold and customizable. An app drawer isn’t enabled by default, but LG was nice enough to include an option to bring it back. Otherwise, you’ll find over 20 apps by LG, Verizon, Amazon and others pre-loaded on the G5.

The G5 may be unassuming, but it packs a solid punch. With 4GBs of RAM and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor, the G5 kicks ass. It’s speedy, responsive and handles heavy multi-tasking and gaming like a champ. It also runs very hot when pushed too hard or for too long.

The 5.3” Quad-HD display isn’t top of the line, but 1080p videos are satisfyingly crispy and pictures are sharp. Colors pop, but don’t appear heavily saturated. The display becomes fluorescent bright at 100%, but anything below 50% feels too dim. In direct sunlight, it’s very easy to see the screen even at low brightness levels. The G5’s Always On display shows the time and notification icons when your screen is off without sacrificing much battery.

The G5 has a few special features, but there are three I find most useful. Quick Remote was useful for working an old Zenith TV at my brothers’ place. I had fun watching them get up to change the channel, then changing it for them with the G5. QuickMemo+ is a notetaking app with a nice range of features for capturing ideas and conversations. Lastly, the G5’s navigation buttons are customizable! You can rearrange the current layout or add up to 2 additional buttons including one for the notification shade.

All in all, the G5 gets the job done with no fuss and a little android marshmallow goodness!

Top Notch Cameras


LG G5 Dual Cameras
LG G5 Dual Cameras

The G5’s camera app offers three shooting modes: simple (snap and review photos), auto and manual. Each mode gives you more or less control over snapping the perfect picture. Auto mode houses a few more modes including multi-view and snap. Multi-view combines images from all three cameras into one shot. Snap is a neat way of doing short stop-motion, time-lapse or slo-mo videos. Normally requiring separate apps, it’s nice to see these features baked into the camera. Most importantly, each mode lays all of its features at your fingertips and adjustment sliders popup accordingly.

The dual cameras aren’t as flashy as they sound. One is a standard 16MP shooter and the other is an 8MP wide angle lens. The latter is convenient for taking wider shots without relocating. Both cameras focus on subjects almost instantly. Photos won’t surpass the quality of the Nexus 6P’s camera, but the G5’s camera definitely stands out among the top mobile shooters.

Images from the back cameras look sharp, detailed and colors look bright and natural. Wide angle images have a fishbowl like effect to them, which is kind of cool. The most noticeable flaw in most images is weird blur that appears along the edges of elements near the edge of the shot.

The front camera is your average front camera, but you can definitely get some instagrammable selfies out of it. It even has a beautify setting to make your skin look comically smooth.

*Bonus: The G5 shoots in RAW (DNG) as well as JPG!

Double Your Battery Life


LG G5 battery
LG G5 removeable battery

After 7 hours and 35 minutes of idle time the LG G5 only lost 3% battery life thanks to Marshmallow Doze. A little over 5 hours of moderate usage (tethering, taking pics, reading, Instagram and Twitter) dropped the battery life to 49%.

As a power user, this was pretty pleasing to see and the Quick Charge 3.0 technology in the G5 makes getting back up to 100% possible in a little over an hour.

If you don’t have time for a “quick charge” then you can swap the battery out for a new one. Swapping batteries and booting the G5 back up takes less than 5 minutes. The process is simple. Pressing a tiny button on the side of the G5 ejects the bottom of the phone. Slide the bottom off and you’ll find a slim 2800mAh battery attached to it. Here, I struggled to detach the battery from the bottom. When I finally succeeded, I thought I broke it.

You can also add on a few “LG Friends”, or attachments to the bottom of the phone like the LG Cam Plus. Because of this, LG promotes the G5 as a “modular” phone. Compared to Project Ara – which really is modular – the G5 simply adds an interesting way of attaching and detaching accessories.

Expansive Storage


The LG G5 only comes with 32GB internal storage, of which only 22GB is usable out the box. The microSD card slot can add up to 200GB of storage. However, the G5 doesn’t support Android Marshmallow’s new adoptable storage feature, which treats microSD cards as part of your phone’s internal storage.

*BONUS: If you need to free up some space on the G5, a smart cleaning feature is located in the Settings apps.

Decent Calls, Great Speeds


I can hear everyone loud and clear on the LG G5. However, sometimes callers described me as sounding muffled. I didn’t have to raise my voice, but I did have to repeat myself a few times to be heard. Overall, the G5 is a phone that actually works like a phone.

On Verizon’s network, the G5 topped out at 89Mbps down and 21Mbps up in Atlanta, GA. I definitely have no complaints with these speeds!

Should You Buy It?


The LG G5 is comfortable being unassuming in your hands, because it packs a lot of punch when you need it to like a secret weapon. The dual cameras and “modular” attachments are nice, but unnecessary. Aside from the LG skin, there isn’t much I haven’t enjoyed about using the G5. If I were a current LG owner, I’d upgrade.

For everyone else, I’d wait until a nice $150 discount or price drop occurs before considering the G5 over the Nexus 6P or Samsung Galaxy S7. It’s just as capable as the others, but the G5’s design feels and looks cheap enough to lower its $600-$650 price tag closer to $500.

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