Someone at LG must have thought: “Leather is so last-year, let’s do something nobody has done – or long quit trying.” And here we have the LG G5. It has the looks of a brand new flagship, the heart of a dragon and an adventurous dual camera setup suited for every occasion. But there’s more than meets the eye, the Magic Slot. The LG G5 is a modular smartphone, which lets you plug a handful of external add-ons: a semi-pro camera grip with shutter buttons and a bigger battery, or an external sound amplifier by B&O.

How long since you last saw the inside of your phone? It seems like while everyone was busy experimenting with designs and mixing up various alloys, there was something unusual cooking in the LG labs.

Brand new or just well forgotten old, innovating for its own sake or trying to defy the impossible, the modular design won’t let you upgrade the processor or the camera, but it certainly offers plenty of options. The add-ons will mostly be sold separately but initial prices don’t seem too bad. You might even get a bonus camera grip – LG will throw one in the bundle in select markets. Who knows, we might see the return of the xenon flash or some smart docking solutions along the lines of Microsoft’s Continuum.

What you do get right out of the box is the base equipment and in the case of the G5, it’s anything but modest. Perhaps the star of the show is the camera combo. The 16MP camera borrowed from the LG V10 does top-notch stills, and the secondary 8MP sensor offers unmatched super wide shots while adding a hybrid zoom of sorts to the package.

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Let’s check out all the LG G5’s features.

Key features

  • 5.3″ IPS LCD display, Quad HD resolution (554ppi); Always-On option
  • Snapdragon 820 chip: quad-core Kryo processor (up to 2.15GHz), Adreno 530 GPU, 4GB of RAM
  • 16MP (f/1.8) + 8 MP (f/2.4) main camera setup; 3-axis OIS; laser autofocus; LED flash, 2160p video capture, 8MP selfie camera
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Optimus UI 5.0
  • 32GB built-in storage plus microSD card slot
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Cat. 9 LTE (450Mbps); Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth 4.2; GPS/GLONASS; NFC; USB Type-C port; FM radio; IR blaster
  • Removable 2,800mAh battery; Quick Charge 3.0
  • Innovative Magic Slot for add-on modules

Main disadvantages

  • No water proofing
  • No wireless charging
  • No 1080p video recording at 60fps
  • Latin America gets the LG G5 with a Snapdragon 652 and not the top-of-the-line S820 chipset

Now, the first thing that got scrapped right at the drawing board must’ve been water proofing. If it ever was on the cards to begin with – after all, LG isn’t known for water-tight flagships, is it? Anyway, the Magic Slot pushed it off the agenda altogether.

As for the Magic Slot itself, what good it is to you depends on how much you’re willing to spend on add-ons. Even if it’s only for the access to the battery, it’s good enough by our books. Yet, we can see how some users may be alienated by the idea of detachable bits exposing the innards. Habit is a big thing and the industry has gone a long way now in exactly the opposite direction.

The metal chassis, on the other hand, stands in the way of wireless charging – but probably hasn’t ruled it out entirely. It may as well be another use of the Magic Slot down the road.

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LG G5 review

The LG G5 has lost its signature rear volume keys, which is easily explained by the already busy rear panel. Thankfully, the fingerprint scanner/power key is still around, right below the camera module.

Care to learn more? Our detailed hardware overview kicks off right after the break.

Disclaimer: The LG G5 unit we are reviewing here is a pre-production sample. While we’re quite happy with all aspects of its performance, the final retail unit may differ in some ways. We’ll make sure to re-do all tests once we get our hands on a retail-ready device and we’ll update all relevant sections. For now, we hope you’ll enjoy this in-depth look at what LG has achieved with the G5 so far.