LG G5 review: A great phone in its day, but don't buy one in 2019

Alan Martin Katharine Byrne
7 Jan 2019
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The most ambitious phone of recent years, LG's G5 is an incredible handset that finally stands shoulder to shoulder with Samsung's S7

Excellent modular design
Fantastic rear-facing camera
Stunning IPS display
Slightly dull display
Poor battery life without the battery module

LG G5 review: Display

The G5 does more than match the S7's performance, too, as its 5.3in, 2,560x1,440 Quantum IPS display also has a built-in always-on feature. It's similar to what I've seen from Motorola in the past, as the G5's always-on display can show the time, date and notification icons.

You can't interact with those notification icons, sadly, but the G5 does have the added benefit of showing this information all the time instead of just when you pick it up or wave your hand over the screen like Motorola's Moto X handsets. Even better, LG says it will only drain 0.8% of the phone's battery every hour, too, so it shouldn't have too much of an impact on battery life over the course of the day.

The screen itself looks superb thanks to LG's Quantum IPS panel. First introduced on the LG G4 last year, Quantum IPS uses a slightly different liquid crystal structure to normal IPS panels, which LG says is meant to enhance brightness and the screen's overall colour accuracy.

LG G5 Always on Display

Indeed, the G5's sRGB gamut coverage of 97.1% meant that images looked stunning, as colours were both rich and vibrant without looking too oversaturated. Its black levels are also super low for an IPS display, measuring just 0.19cd/m2. Combine this with an excellent contrast ratio of 1,621:1, and the G5 definitely has one of the best IPS displays you can currently buy.

The only slight niggle I have with the G5's display is its overall brightness levels, as our colour calibrator recorded a maximum brightness of just 354.05cd/m2. This is pretty below average for an IPS screen, and is more akin to what I'd expect to see from an AMOLED panel, such as those found on the Galaxy S7.

It's still bright enough to use outside, but direct sunlight can prove a little tricky. Luckily, LG's planned around this by introducing a brand-new Daylight mode on the G5, which really pumps up the brightness when you take it outside. I simulated this by shining a torch in front of the light sensor, and it (albeit briefly) jumped right up to 717cd/m2.

This is by far the brightest reading I've ever seen on a smartphone, although the speed with which it dropped back down again suggests that it might not be able to sustain this level of brightness for very long. Still, it's good to know it's there as a temporary backup.

LG G5 review: Camera

LG's made some pretty great smartphone cameras in the past, but the G5 goes one step further by having two sensors instead of one. Again, dual cameras isn't a new idea, but the G5 uses them to great effect, particularly when it has optical image stabilisation at its disposal. One is a large 16-megapixel sensor, and the other is a wide-angle 135 degree 8-megapixel sensor.

LG G5 rear cameras

With the wide angle sensor enabled, which is activated with a simple tap of the triple tree icon at the top of the camera app's UI, it’s surprising just how much more you can fit in the frame. You not only get a lot more height and width, making it a great fit for wide-sweeping landscapes and large crowds of people, but it can also create quite a distinct fish-eye effect, something that more artistic types will no doubt have a lot of fun with. It works with third-party apps like Twitter, too, as you can simply use the in-app toggle button to cycle through the G5's three different sensors (standard, wide and front).

Admittedly, the quality of my 8-megapixel test shots wasn't great. Colours were accurate and it coped well with capturing a decent amount of sky and cloud detail without making darker objects too dingy, but the whole image was often a bit soft and lacking in detail.

LG G5 camera test wide angle comparison

^ Using the 16-megapixel sensor (above), images can feel a little cramped, but switch to the wide angle 8-megapixel sensor (below) and you can cram a lot more into each photo

LG G5 camera test wide angle

The 16-megapixel camera, on the other hand, was excellent. Detail levels were extremely high across the frame, and only the tops of passing clouds were overexposed – putting it slightly ahead of the S7 in this respect. Admittedly, images were perhaps a little dark in places when shooting in bright sunshine, but things improved immeasurably when I switched on HDR mode, as this produced wonderfully exposed images with plenty of bright, rich colours as well as lots of contrast and shadow detail.

LG G5 camera test

^ Photos could be a tad dark in bright sunshine, but detail levels are still very high

LG G5 camera test HDR mode

^ With HDR mode enabled, the G5's camera really comes into its own, producing bright, vivid shots with excellent contrast

Indoor shots were arguably even better, as it not only captured loads of fine texture detail in our still life arrangement, but noise was kept to an absolute minimum as well. In low light, there was plenty of contrast on show, and colours arguably looked more natural and neutral than the photos I took on the S7.

The S7 was a fraction sharper in places, perhaps helped by its ever-so-slightly faster shutter speed of 1/25 seconds compared to the G5's 1/24 seconds, but the G5's snapper is still a highly accomplished camera that certainly won't disappoint anyone who comes to use it.

LG G5 camera test indoors

^ Indoors, the G5 can produce excellent shots, even in low lighting conditions

That's not all, either, as the LG's Pro camera mode also makes a return here. This lets you adjust the white balance, focus points, exposure compensation, ISO values, shutter speed, and shoot in RAW as well as JPG on both cameras. There's also a handful of additional modes which make use of all three of the G5's cameras – letting you take collage shots as well as pop-out pictures with a different image in the centre of the frame. There's also Snap Video mode, which lets you record short clips and assemble them into a 60-second film, as well as slow-mo and time-lapse options.

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Of course, shooting in RAW and taking lots of videos will quickly use up the G5's 32GB of default storage, but luckily there's a microSD slot on hand that can take cards up to a whopping 2TB in theory, though you can only buy cards up to 200GB at present. Either way, even the heaviest of media creators should be well-catered for on this front. Continues on Page 3

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