The LG G5 arrived yesterday, along with a 60-day prepaid T-Mobile SIM so I can continue my Microsoft March madness test with my primary SIM still in the Lumia 950 XL. I've now spent just about 24 hours with the LG G5 and have a few first impressions to offer.
I also want to know what you want me to test out so if there is something you want to know about the LG G5, please post a comment and I will remain actively engaged with readers to this post. I may also include some of the questions and answers in my full review after I receive a production unit from LG, AT&T, T-Mobile, or another source.
The LG G5 that I was sent is a pre-production device so I won't give any final statements or conclusions about the fit and finish. I can share some impressions though, as listed below:
- It's much lighter than I anticipated, 159 grams. The LG G4 is 152 grams and the LG V10 is 192 grams.
- The rear power button and fingerprint scanner is vastly improved over the LG G4 and LG V10.
- There is still an IR port on top, one of the few remaining devices with this capability.
- The volume button has been moved from the back to the left side.
- The removable bottom has a better fit and finish than I anticipated.
- The microSD card and SIM card are contained in one side tray.
- The headphone jack is on top.
- The battery is part of the bottom so it seems that extra batteries will include a full bottom piece. I haven't tried removing the battery from the bottom and will find out if it is removable.
- The top of the 5.3 inch display glass curves down towards the back. It's a cool effect, but also makes me wonder about the ability to survive a drop with the glass extending so far up.
The LG G5 launches with Marshmallow loaded out of the box. It's similar to what we see with Marshmallow on the LG G4. The LG UI is very light with most of the LG features appearing in the vast amount of settings available to the user to customize and optimize the experience for their needs.
It is very interesting to see there is no application launcher/app tray on the LG G5. This is similar to what we see with some of the Chinese phones, such as the Xiaomi and Huawei phones, and what we see on iOS. Thus, every app you install appears on one of the home screen panels. You can organize these into folders, but they will always be viewable. I'm not sure if I like this, but the great thing with Android is that you can always install a third party launcher if you like.
The always-on display is nice for seeing the time and date, but the notification icons don't give you anything more than the fact that there is something there from one of your apps. Windows 10 Mobile and even the small LG V10 display provide more useful information. You can toggle this display off, but if you aren't wearing a smartwatch having the time available all the time may be worth it.
I'm pleased to see that you can still customize the bottom buttons, brightness controls have been improved, and the Marshmalow OS now lets me access my bank with my fingerprint rather than a PIN or password.
I've been a huge fan of the LG G4 and LG V10, two of the most underrated smartphones of 2015. As LG continues to compete for marketshare with Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and others, I have the following comments and questions.
- Modular design: I understand LG is trying to do something different here with the LG G5, but so far the only two modules we have seen is a camera grip and a digital audio converter. These are pretty specialized modules and the camera grip could have been accomplished with an add-on case, like we saw with the Nokia Lumia 1020. With a smaller capacity battery than before, it seems to me the water resistance and massive capacity battery of the Samsung S7 seems like a better move than going modular. I hope I'm wrong here and that LG offers up some compelling expansion options, but so far I'm not "getting" it.
- Camera: The cameras on the LG G4 and LG V10 were amazing and the LG G5 continues that with its two rear camera solution. I've only taken a couple photos so far, but am liking the quick switch to wide-angle capture that we enjoyed through the front camera of the LG V10. I wish the front camera had that same functionality, but I guess LG ran out of room in the LG G5.
- Price: We don't yet know the price of the LG G5, but if LG goes with the same launch strategy as the LG G4 and LG V10, then the price may help the LG G5 compete with the Samsung S7. These last two phones were priced $100 to $250 less than comparable Samsung phones, with microSD memory card expansion to add memory at a much lower price. You can pick up a LG G4 from T-Mobile now for just $350, which is a fantastic deal.
Again, please let me know if there is anything you want me to test out or if you have any questions about the LG G5 as I continue testing it out over the weeks and months.
In full disclosure, the LG G4 and new LG G5 that T-Mobile sent was offered as part of a special T-Mobile customer preview program (I've been with them now for almost 15 years). The units are pre-production devices, have no warranty, and cannot be sold during the program. While T-Mobile and LG encourage participants to share their experiences so the companies can gather input from actual users, there is no obligation associated with the preview program.