The LG G5 is never going to win prizes for good looks, but it excels in quirky innovation with a modular design and dual rear-facing cameras.
Modular design, wide-angle camera, removable battery, customisable software, attractive price
Not metal all over, modular design is a blessing and a curse, so-so battery life
IN A WORLD of similarly-specced smartphone, LG could easily have ushered in 2016 by making its latest flagship handset, the LG G5, just another also-ran.
The LG G5 stands out, if only for its experiments in modular design and impressive wide-angle camera, but it's a bit of a risk.
You could be forgiven for mistaking the LG G5's 'microdised' metal body for plastic, and there's a YouTube teardown video that practically spells this out. To that end, you should probably think of it more as metallic paint, and not a fully-fledged metal back. But the matte finish is grippy and pleasing.
The glass slopes slightly as it nears the top of the phone, which adds a touch of flair to what is otherwise an uninspiring silver slab.
We can't talk design without touching on the G5's big selling point. LG has beaten Google to the punch by being the first to market with a phone that boasts modular functionality. Flick a switch on the chassis and the bottom bezel pops right off.
The modular nature means that the LG G5 doesn't offer water resistance of any sort, and the mechanism serves as a trap for crumbs, dust and dirt. Removing the module will also turn the phone off as it houses the 2,800mAh battery.
Only two expansion modules are currently available (we refuse to refer to them as 'LG Friends'). The LG Cam Plus (£80) adds a useful grip to aid photographers, plus additional hardware controls (zoom, video button etc) and a further 1,100mAh battery.
The Hi-Fi Plus expansion module boosts the audio quality through a Bang & Olufsen DAC (£150). Both are worthy additions but the Hi-Fi Plus module seems a bit redundant with the arrival of the HTC 10 that already boasts hi-res audio and doesn't need a costly accessory.
We feel that LG could have chosen a little better. This is a company that has a VR headset, 360-degree camera, and BB 8-style Rolling Bot on its books, and there's no excitement when it comes to the two modules offered at launch.
This is important, as LG needs to keep the awe and momentum going. It also concerns us somewhat that the customisable nature of theLG G5 lends something of a hollowness to the handset. But that is part of the deal with a device of this nature.
The dual-camera array on the back has the most delicate bump we've ever seen, and there's a fingerprint scanner that doubles as a power button. LG has also got rid of the rear key that debuted on the G2.
Elsewhere you'll find a dual SIM/microSD slot on the right, and volume controls and a button used to eject the swappable modules on the left. The headphone jack sits on the top, and USB-C port on the underside.
There's a choice of Silver, Titan (charcoal), Gold and Pink.