It is that time of the year when LG normally unleashes its flagship on the Indian market and to counter the offerings from Cupertino and its Android based rivals. This year, bearing the burden of expectation is the predictably named G5, which is thrown into the ring against the likes of the iPhone 6s/6s Plus, Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, HTC 10, Xiaomi Mi 5 and the waiting-in-the-wings OnePlus 3.
And well, if one were to gauge the device purely in terms of design, it is not exactly a head turner. Don’t get us wrong – the LG G5 is not an ugly device, but when compared to the oomph factor served up by the likes of the S7 Edge and the Mi 5 (and even the predictable iPhone 6s), it just looks relatively plain. Yes, it does have the metal body and glass front combination that seems to be the rage among flagships these days, but its ‘chin’ below the display has a distinctly plasticky look to it, and which detracts from the otherwise jet black front on the device which also curves gently backwards near the top and the base. There are no buttons, touch or otherwise on the front of the device, just the LG logo.
The back is silver and of a slightly metallic hue and is smooth in texture, but showed a slight penchant to picking up stains. On the top is a dual camera with dual flash and laser autofocus unit on an ever so gently raised platform, with the fingerprint scanner (which also doubles as the home/power/display on and off button) on the back. The SIM card tray (dual SIM slots, one which can be swapped for a microSD card) is rather unusually positioned on the lower right side of the device, while the volume rocker is on the top left side. Bang on top of the phone is a 3.5 mm audio jack flanked by an IR blaster and on the base is a USB type C port with a rather plain looking speaker grille – a far cry from the machine-drilled audio deliverers on other devices.
Yes, we are coming to the ‘modular’ part of the G5, the one that is making the news. On the lower left side of the phone is a button, pressing which ejects the ‘chin’ of the device, along with the battery. It is this part that LG has been promoting as the modular element of the device – you can attach other parts to the phone in its place (the battery is not permanently attached to it, relax) such as a camera grip, better speakers and so on. It might hold the promise of increased functionality, but in its current form, we must confess that the modular unit looks a bit of a misfit – it does not even seem to fit in as cleanly into the phone as we would have expected in a device of this stature.
And actually those last four words – “device of this stature” – that weigh down the G5. Yes, it is relatively compact at 149.4 mm in the length and can hold its own in the slimness stakes with its 7.7 mm thickness. And its 73.9 mm width means that it can fit into most hands without too much of strife. At 159 grammes, it is reasonably lightweight too. No, it is not as compact as the Samsung Galaxy S7, the rival it is most likely to go up against, but then its 5.3-inch is larger than the 5.1-inch one on the S7. That said, there is no denying that when it comes to appearance, the G5 is not a head turner – it is easily the most plain flagship we have seen from LG for a while, a far cry from the uber compact G2 or the leather backed G4.
But lurking below that boring Clark-Kentish exterior is some Superman-level hardware. The 5.3-inch display is a quad HD one, giving it a pixel density of 554 ppi, and the device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor (considered the most powerful around) backed up by 4 GB RAM and 32 GB storage. The dual cameras on the rear pack in a megapixel count of 16.0 (f/1.8) and 8.0 (f/2.4), and promise to deliver detail like never before, and the camera in front is a 8.0-megapixel one (f/2.0). Round that off with Android 6.0 and every connectivity option you would want (4G, Infrared, NFC, Bluetooth, GPS) and the G5 does enough to take its place in this year’s pantheon of super phones, although some might quibble about the 2800 mAh being a bit on the smaller side as per today’s massive battery standards.
Whether it does enough to justify its Rs 52,990 price tag is something that we will discover in the days to come as we put it through its paces. As of now, we must admit that its appearance is not its strongest suite. But then, they said that about Clark Kent too, remember?