It’s that time of year again where pretty much anyone who’s anyone takes to the stage in Barcelona during Mobile World Congress to announce their latest and greatest. For a long time now, nobody has quite had the cajones to go up against Samsung during Mobile World Congress, or more specifically the weekend before Mobile World Congress. Last year, HTC tried it and well, let’s just say they were overshadowed somewhat. Their South Korean rival however, is going to give it a go this year and will be announce their latest and greatest on the same day that Samsung does the same, so just what could LG have in store for us this year? Well, let’s take a look.
As is often the case concerning yearly-release devices like LG’s G-series and Samsung’s Galaxy S line, we need to take a look back to see what’s over the horizon. Last year’s LG G4 was an excellent device, in a lot of ways, but for the most part it was an improvement on the previous year’s G3. The G4 launched as a fresher, cleaner build of the G3 with a more refined look and feel and improved features. The display of the G3 was one of the first 5.5-inch Quad HD displays to hit the market, but it was all pixels and little else. The G4 featured a better Quantum Dot display that looks so much better compared to the previous model, it was brighter, more vivid and much easier on the eyes. The real star of the show however was the excellent 16-megapixel camera that featured some of the best software ever seen on a smartphone before. It was ranked highly everywhere, and it was a real joy to use day-to-day as well. So, if the G4 was just an improved version of the LG G3, then the G5 (or whatever it might end up being called) is surely going to be more of the same right? So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Pardon the pun here, but it appears (from numerous case renders and concept leaks) as though the G5 is to sport a new design language compared to the G4, perhaps even channeling a little of the Nexus 5X’s good looks. Launching a device with a new design language would make a lot of sense for LG, while they’ve become known for their rear-facing buttons and clean front-panel design, the G-series has evolved very little since the LG G3 from 2014. Besides, as their rivals Samsung found out last year, a fresh lick of paint can do wonders for your reputation and of course, your bottom line. So far, it would seem like the G5 is to be a much more “digital” design, and by that I mean gone is the slight curvature of the G4’s display and the leather back, replaced with a slick, minimal look and feel. So far, rumored measurements put the G5 as coming in at 149.4 x 73.9 x 8.2mm and the metal unibody design that’s been rumored for a while now is said to feel “nothing like” previous LG G-series smartphones. We’ve seen plenty of case renders leak out and even what appears to be a prototype hiding in a case while being tested in the wild:
The one thing that’s featured throughout every leaked image and concept render of the G5 is that bizarre camera arrangement around the back (nestled above what looks like a fingerprint sensor lifted from the V10). The G4 shipped with a sharp f/1.8 16-megapixel camera, but all the leaked images show the G5 as sporting not one, but two rear-facing cameras. There’s a lot of discussion out there on whether or not this will be a 21-megapixel rear-facing camera or two 16-megapixel cameras. To our eyes, the two cameras around the back are very different, which means they’re likely to feature different sensors behind their lenses. That would make for a more realistic combo of a 21-megapixel sensor (perhaps provided by Sony) and an 8 or 16-megapixel camera. Just what these two cameras will end up doing is unclear, but some sort of refocusing after the fact would probably be our bet. The V10 from last year was areal knockout where camera software is concerned, and what better way to go one further than offer the ability to change focus days or weeks after you’ve taken a shot?
It’s not as if LG don’t have stiff competition where cameras are concerned though. Sony upped their game with the Xperia Z5 line last Fall, and Samsung’s Galaxy S6 line had an excellent camera that excelled in low-light situations, so it’ll be interesting to see how those two – particularly Samsung – improve on their offerings from last year.
No matter how good a device’s camera is however, there needs to be some real grunt running the rest of the show. Here’s where things surrounding the G5 become a little mundane, everyone is betting on a Snapdragon 820 to be under-the-hood here, and it would seem likely. Last year LG went with the Snapdragon 808 for the G4, for what could be one of many different reasons. Regardless, LG have been a massive partner for Qualcomm for years now, the G2 was one of the first devices to launch with a Snapdragon 800 back in the day and the G Flex 2 was first to launch with a Snapdragon 810, so it’s clear they have a good working relationship. Backing up that Snapdragon 820 – which is said to be a massive improvement over the Snapdragon 810 – is said to be 4GB of RAM, no more 3GB or 4GB, just more RAM than most other devices from the get go. Last year’s V10 made headlines for including some impressive audio hardware, and it’s likely the G5 will include the same 24-bit ESS Sabre 9018 DAC combined with a powerful ESS Sabre 9602 headphone amplifier. While it might not mean much to the majority of users, it definitely makes a difference with a decent pair of headphones.
If there’s one thing that LG were proud to shout about last year, outside of their excellent camera, it was the fact that the LG G4 featured a removable battery and expandable storage. Two staple features last year’s Samsung phone didn’t feature, breaking tradition since the original Galaxy S was launched years ago. So, with a unibody design, the G5 needs to give up those things like Samsung, right? Well, it would seem that LG is just going to use a door of sorts to get the battery out when people want to change cells, and a microSD card slot can be achieved through a little door on the side, just like a SIM card tray. This has been done before in phones from HTC and we wouldn’t be surprised if someone like LG can pull this off quite neatly. Speaking of batteries, its capacity is rumored to be around 2,800 mAh making it par for the course compared with competitors. Charging said battery would appear to happen via USB Type-C, presumably due to their tight relationship with Google and the Internet Giant’s sudden obsession with the new connector.
So, it sounds like the G5 is going to launch with a more powerful processor, a whole new design language and a quirky, improved camera. The last question is when? LG have an event scheduled for Sunday afternoon (local time) in Barcelona which means that by the time most of our readers will have woken up all the news and coverage will be up for them to read while they rub their eyes and chow down at breakfast. In all seriousness, though, the G5 is shaping up to be one of the few smartphones that will be able to go toe-to-toe against Samsung this year and the fact that LG is launching it months before they launched last year’s G4 says a lot about how confident they are for this new flagship. It’s an exciting time to be an LG fan, and an Android fan in general, with just a few more weeks to go before the launch of the G5.