LG G5: A Module of Magic
An innovative product or a complete miss? Natasha Desai investigates whether the LG G5’ modular phone hits the mark or not.
Since the development of Google’s Project Ara began, modular smartphones have promised exciting times, much like the era when a turtleneck sporting visionary stepped on to a stage and forever changed how we used our phones. With the G5, LG has taken a step into the future with it’s modular design. At a price point of Rs. 54,000, it comes with dual rear cameras, comprising a 16MP ‘normal’ one and an 8MP wide-angle set up. It also has a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB RAM and 32GB internal memory, that is expandable to a whopping 2TB. As a flagship, the LG G5, sounds interesting, but how it delivers as a cameraphone is what I wanted to find out.
The Modular Strategy
LG is addressing the woe of battery life, especially for heavy camera users via its removable battery module. You pull out the existing module at the bottom of the phone, which houses a 2800mAH battery. You can then attach one of the two modules currently available, which is the Hi-Fi Plus, a DAC by Bang and Olufsen and the camera module, called the LG CAM Plus. This gives you the options of zooming, shutter release and a toggle to move between the two rear cameras, which is a let down as I expected more from a Rs. 6500 module. This could be either in terms of improving camera quality or adding to its functionality in a significant way. Both modules come with an additional add on battery.
A Dual Shooter
The 8MP camera offers a 135° view, and you can toggle between this one and the 16MP with two buttons on the screen. In the camera menu, you will find three shooting modes—Auto, Simple and Manual, and in Auto you can change the aspect ratio, use filters, toggle flash and more. RAW capability is available only in the Manual mode, which also has the usual controls. The JPEG images of the 16MP camera has good detail in both shadows and highlights. Its low light performance is pretty good even at ISO 1600 and 3200. The RAWs have a good amount of recoverable details, and the depth of field offered by the camera is great too. Macro images are clear and crisp, provided you hold the phone reasonably steady. The AF performed well and managed to lock on fairly accurately, even in low light. With the 8MP camera, the daylight images are acceptably good and low light performance is fairly decent too. However, details get awfully smeared as the ISO increases. The wide-angle view of this camera produces an almost fisheye lens-like distortion, which is correctable and can be used interestingly. AF performance here was decent too, however it did hunt in low light.
As a flagship, the LG G5 has impressive specs, innovative and interesting technology, and a dual camera setup that performs well. Where it misses the mark is in its execution of a modular concept. For instance, would an upgrade render the current modules obsolete? Also, Rs. 6500 for the current camera module does not seem worth it. However, the LG G5 is undoubtedly in the big leagues, despite its current modules which we hope will be improved on. It definitely deserves a chance considering its features and camera performance.
|AT A GLANCE|
|SPECIFICATIONS||6MP & 8MP wide angle rear cameras, 8MP front camera, 32GB memory expandable to 2TB, Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB RAM, Rs. 54,000|
|WHAT WE LIKE||Dual cameras, good image quality and camera performance, 2TB expandable memory, OIS, good battery life and replacable too|
|WHAT WE DISLIKE||Modules are overpriced and not as interesting as the phone itself|
|WHY BUY IT||It’s flagship phone with excellent specs, performance and an interesting set up.|
|CAMERA FEATURES||16MP , 8MP wide angle rear cameras, OIS||23/25|
|IMAGE QUALITY||Good RAWs and JPEGs, good low light performance||25/30|
|VIDEO QUALITY||UHD video, no 4K||12/15|
|HANDLING||Solid, sturdy phone, easy to handle||12/15|
|SPEED & RESPONSIVENESS||Speedy phone with no lag||13/15|
Tags: better photography, Better Photography Recommended, BP Review, BP Test, cellphone cameras, LG G5