LG G5 Review: The first modular smartphone?

LG G5

I remember when I first heard about Google’s Project Ara, an initiative to develop a modular smartphone where you could pick and choose the components you wanted and then snap them together to build your own smartphone. This has yet to come to fruition but another company, LG, has jumped the gun with their own somewhat modular smartphone, the LG G5.

I say somewhat modular because the LG G5 is not completely modular. In fact, as of now, there are just a handful of components (see below for review of the LG CAM Plus component) you can snap in and out of the G5 and there’s only one modular component to the entire smartphone.

One of those modular components is the battery itself. With the LG G5, if you find yourself running low on battery, you can swap in a spare battery (purchased separately and currently priced at $39.99 at the LG Store). This is much quicker and more convenient than trying to find a power outlet or using a portable battery charger to charge the phone.

LG G5 removable battery

For a quicker look at this feature and other features of the LG G5, here’s a short video I found from LG. They have disabled embedding so you’ll have to click the link to watch the video: LG G5 | Official Product Video

LG G5 Official Product Video

Dual rear cameras

Another highlight of the LG G5 is its dual rear cameras. One is a standard lens and the other is a wide-angle lens. With a simple press of an on-screen button, you can switch from the standard lens to the wide-angle lens. There’s also a few photo add-ons that take advantage of the dual rear cameras like Multi-view which creates a grid of 3 separate views using both rear cameras and the front-facing camera all at once and Popout which superimposes the standard rear camera view on top of the wide-angle rear camera view.

LG G5 Multi-view
Photo taken with LG G5 using Multi-view

LG G5 Popout
Photo taken with LG G5 using Popout

USB-C connector: Good and bad

The LG G5 is the first smartphone I’ve come across that uses the new USB-C connector. The good news to this is that, like the lightning cable on the iPhone, it doesn’t matter which side is up when you plug in the charging cable. It works both ways. The bad news is that you won’t be able to use any of your non-USB-C charging cables you may have lying around to charge your LG G5.

No app drawer

One big drawback to the LG G5 is the removal of the app drawer, otherwise known as the “All Apps” icon. I found this very frustrating because I am very particular at how my home screens are organized but other users may not even notice the difference.

LG CAM Plus

While reviewing the LG G5, I was also supplied an LG CAM Plus to play with. The LG CAM Plus is one of the modular components for the LG G5 that is designed to make the G5 feel more like a traditional camera. It includes buttons for snapping a photo, starting and stopping a video recording as well as powering on and off the camera. There’s also a little wheel you can use to zoom in and out while taking a photo.

LG CAM Plus

To attach the LG CAM Plus, you first have to release the modular portion of the LG G5 which contains the battery. Next, you need to snap off the battery and snap it in to the LG CAM Plus. Only then, can you insert the LG CAM Plus back into the LG G5. If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. And the payoff isn’t that great. I really didn’t find the LG CAM Plus any easier to use than the on-screen buttons on the smartphone.

Recommendation

While I like the party tricks associated with the dual rear cameras, the swappable battery and other components just aren’t that big of a deal for me. But as I always tell people, it’s really hard to go wrong with a smartphone these days so if you like what you see in the LG G5, go for it.

Note: The LG G5 and the LG CAM Plus in this review were provided to me by Verizon Wireless and can be purchased at your local Verizon Wireless store or at www.verizonwireless.com.

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