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LG G5 review: Reinventing the smartphone?

By Liu Hongzuo - 16 Apr 2016
Launch SRP: S$988

Benchmark Performance, Camera Performance, Battery Life, Conclusion

Benchmark Performance

Within the LG G5 is a 64-bit quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC. On board is four custom-designed 64-bit Kyro CPUs - two of which are clocked at 2.15GHz, and the other two at 1.59GHz. For graphics, it has the Adreno 530 GPU, and it supports OpenGL ES 3.1+. We have an in-depth piece on the Snapdragon 820 SoC if you want all of its meaty details. We expect the Snapdragon 820 to be far more powerful than its predecessors since it has improved performance, improved LTE support, and better power efficiency over its old flagship SoC, the Snapdragon 810. The 4GB RAM built-in should be able to give the phone a run for its money as well. LG G5 is one of the first Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC-equipped smartphones to be officially available in Singapore.

Test phones compared
  LG G5 LG V10 Samsung Galaxy S7 Sony Xperia Z5 Apple iPhone 6s Plus HTC One M9
  LG G5 LG V10 Samsung Galaxy S7 Sony Xperia Z5 Apple iPhone 6s Plus HTC One M9
Launch SRP
  • From S$988
  • From S$1088
  • From S$998
  • From S$998
  • From S$1008
Operating system
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  • iOS 9
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop with HTC Sense 7
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core (dual-core 2.15GHz Kyro & dual-core 1.59GHz Kyro), 14nm process
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (quad-core 1.44 GHz & dual-core 1.82 GHz)
  • Samsung Exynos 8890 octa-core (quad-core 2.3GHz Cortex- M1 & quad-core 1.6GHz Cortex-A53), 14nm process
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core (Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A57)
  • Apple A9 64-bit dual-core 1.8GHz processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core (Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A57)
Built-in Memory
  • 4GB RAM (LPDDR4)
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 3GB RAM
  • 2GB RAM
  • 3GB RAM
Display
  • 5.3-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (554ppi) / IPS
  • Always-on Display
  • 5.7-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (515ppi) / IPS
  • 5.1-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (577 ppi) / Super AMOLED
  • Always-On Display
  • 5.2-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (424 ppi) / IPS LCD
  • 5.5-inch Retina HD / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels / IPS
  • 5-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (441 ppi) / Super LCD 3
Camera
  • Rear (Standard): 16-megapixel with f/1.8, optical image stabilization, laser autofocus
  • Rear (Wide): 8-megapixel with f/2.4, laser autofocus, 135-degree Field Of View
  • Front: 8-megapixel with f/2.0
  • Rear: 16-megapixel with f/1.8, optical image stabilization and laser autofocus
  • Front: dual 5-megapixel
  • Rear: 12-megapixel with f/1.7 aperture and smart OIS
  • Front: 5-megapixel with f/1.7 aperture
  • Rear: 23-megapixel, f/2.0, 1/2.3-inch sensor size, 5248 х 3936 pixels, OIS, autofocus, LED flash
  • Front: 5.1-megapixel
  • Rear: 12-megapixel iSight camera with phase detection autofocus, optical image stabilization and dual warm/cool LED flashes
  • Front: 5-megapixels FaceTime HD camera
  • Rear: 20.7-megapixel, f/2.2, 27.8mm lens, autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
  • Front: 4-megapixel (HTC Ultrapixel) f/2.0, 26.8mm
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, A-GPS, GLONASS, LTE/3G/2G
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, A-GPS, GLONASS, CAT 6 LTE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 9 (up to 450Mbps), Bluetooth 4.1, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot, NFC, Bluetooth v4.1
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot, Bluetooth v4.2, A2DP, LE, GPS, GLONASS, Lightning connector, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX enabled, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 and 5GHz), NFC, DLNA, Micro-USB 2.0,
Storage Type
  • 32GB internal storage (UFS)
  • 2TB (MicroSD)
  • 64GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 2TB
  • 32GB internal storage (UFS 2.0)
  • 200GB (MicroSD)
  • 32GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 200GB
  • 16 / 64 / 128GB internal storage
  • 32GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 128GB
Battery
  • 2,800mAh
  • Removable
  • 3,000mAh
  • 3,000mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • 2,900mAh
  • 2,750mAh
  • 2,840mAh
Dimensions
  • 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7mm
  • 159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6 mm
  • 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9mm
  • 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm
  • 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
  • 144.6 x 69.7 x 9.61mm
Weight
  • 159g
  • 192g
  • 152g
  • 154g
  • 192g
  • 157g

 

SunSpider JavaScript

SunSpider JavaScript measures the browsing performance of a device when processing JavaScript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is at delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. The default web browser on this phone is none other than Google Chrome, and it is smooth and swift in day-to-day operation.

 

Quadrant

Quadrant is an Android benchmark that evaluates a device's CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performances. As this is an Android benchmark, the Apple iPhone 6s Plus is not included here. The G5 may not top the benchmark chart in this aspect, but it feels faster than the Samsung Galaxy S7, and it handles multiple apps just fine.

 

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

3DMark 2013 - Ice Storm is designed to test the gaming capabilities of a device, putting its GPU through a rigorous OpenGL ES 2.0 benchmark test that uses fixed off-screen rendering with high quality textures and post-processing effects. The Unlimited version of the benchmark disables v-sync, display scaling and other OS factors, making it ideal for chipset comparison. It’s on par with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and slightly better than the iPhone 6s Plus. Truly, a Snapdragon 820 SoC with the Adreno 530 GPU reinforces how the 2016 flagships outperform everything before its time by a significant margin.

With smartphones getting more powerful, we will have to progress to an equally advanced benchmarking tool for graphics. The LG G5’s 3DMark Sling Shot Unlimited benchmark score averages out at 2,713. We will be using this number for future benchmarks.

As a whole, the LG G5 feels and works like a powerful phone, as it should. Its real-world performance is on par with the Exynos-equipped Galaxy S7, so that makes two powerful flagship units for 2016 thus far.

 

Camera Performance

The LG G5 technically has two rear cameras with different outcomes in mind. One is a 16-megapixel shooter with an f/1.8 aperture, and it has the standard field of view of 78 degrees. The other rear camera is a wide angle lens at 135 degrees, with an 8-megapixel resolution and f/2.4 lens. They come equipped with laser autofocus, three-axis OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), and LED flash. Naturally, having a built-in lens with a 135-degree field of view is a great way to make smartphone photography slightly more varied, and it lets you capture more of the scene ahead. Both rear cameras support Manual mode, and it’s not that different from the LG V10’s manual mode, with control over white balance using a color temperature scale, and the ability to adjust ISO, shutter speed, and focus. You can capture photos in RAW+JPEG formats, too.

LG’s support for selfies is quite impressive as there's a host of features for the 8MP, f/2.0 front camera. Functions like Gesture Shot and Cheese Shutter are still available on the G5, but there’s a new Auto Shot added to the family of selfie assistants. During Auto Shot, the phone will automatically snap a picture every time it detects a face in the front camera (an on-screen white border will show that it has detected a face, and a cyan border will appear briefly before it snaps the photo). This is ideal for users who want to take a roll of selfies before meticulously choosing the best of the batch.

Taken with the 16-megapixel rear camera.

100% crop of above image.

Our test image above showed us that the LG G5’s 16-megapixel rear camera snaps decent photos. We can’t really say if the OIS did help out when taking the test images, but it’s undeniable that the photo quality is quite sharp, even if the colors captured aren’t the most vibrant for a smartphone camera. Although it’s not big on detail, the words on the bottle’s label are still very legible.

Taken with 8-megapixel wide angle rear camera.

To demonstrate what you are getting out of the wide angle rear camera with its massive field of view of 135-degrees, here’s a test image taken from the same spot.

As you can see, the original test image with its standard rear camera shows you nothing beyond the test image setup, but the wide angle lens is able to tell us that the setup is actually on a shelf, in the corner of the room. We have to give LG props for including this wide angle option on the LG G5. Frankly, if you’re not a stickler for image quality, the LG G5’s rear camera capabilities will truly offer a fresh perspective on your smartphone photography opportunities.

 

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones includes the following parameters:

  • Looping a 800 x 480-pixel video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

While its 2,800mAh battery capacity feels like a sufficient number, the LG G5 actually has the worst battery life out of all the smartphones in this list. The LG V10 and LG G4 also suffered at the hands of our battery benchmarking process. However, this should not discourage a potential LG G5 user from getting the phone, since our battery test forces the G5 to run videos at full brightness on its power-demanding QHD screen. Fortunately, LG still makes flagship phones with removable batteries, so we highly recommend picking up the G5 with a spare battery and charging kit (worth S$168). It also helps that LG will bestow a complimentary set of said battery and charger with each LG G5 purchase.

And yes, the LG G5 supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0.


 

Conclusion

LG’s journey to reinvent the flagship smartphone ended up inviting more questions than answers. LG did successfully build a phone with a metal construct and removable battery, and the care taken in its blend of materials has ensured its physical attractiveness. The effort expended is admirable. Yet, it seemed to lose sight of the way when it came to the finer details of the G5. It wants to be seen as the beginning of something revolutionary with its modular type design, yet it did away with its iconic rear volume buttons. The phone’s front display is a testament to its elegant look and feel, yet it missed out on the chance to make a good phone great when we saw the lapse in design sense on its back. It welcomed the convenience of enhancing the phone's capabilities by giving it modular attachments, yet it's not designed to be hot-swappable. Variety of the attachments isn't great either.

LG’s adventurous experiments conducted on this 2016 flagship phone aside, let's not lose sight that the G5 is a powerful phone in its own right, topped off with a great display and good-enough camera performance. Features such as the Always-On Display, removable battery, and the option (unfulfilled potential?) to enhance the phone with modular attachments combined to make the phone feel like it’s worth its weight in gold. It is also wonderful in day-to-day use, and we can see the physical appeal it had when it first stole the show at MWC 2016. This is LG Mobile's first step to something great and new, and we think the company did put a good foot forward in pursuit of that greatness.

Just make sure you get that (free) spare battery when you purchase your LG G5.

Don’t forget, too, the LG G5 will launch on 16th April 2016, at a recommended retail price of S$988. Check here for a list of LG G5 launch promotion bundles.

Update (8th April 2016, 6:04pm): LG has updated us with its latest changes to the LG G5 promotional bundles - there will be an overhaul to the offers, and bundles offered prior to this review are no longer available.

8.0
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • User-Friendliness 7.5
  • Performance 8.5
  • Value 8.5
The Good
Powerful Snapdragon 820 processor
Gorgeous QHD display
Removable battery
Lightweight
Useful cameras
The Bad
Limited modular attachments
Modular type design not hot-swappable
Lackluster battery performance