Yesterday’s events from LG and Samsung certainly brought a positive vibe to the start of Mobile World Congress, which officially kicks off today and lasts until this Thursday, February 25. While both handsets are making headlines across tech blogs, I have to admit that between the two I was most intrigued by the G5.
The LG G5 came with a major redesign this year. With rounded corners, an oddly sloped top, and a full-metal unibody design that still manages to keep the removable battery as a feature of this device makes it quite different from most other smartphones (including last year’s LG G4). But what really makes the LG G5 shine, aside from its flagship specs, are all of its aptly named “Friends”.
It’s true - backing up the LG G5 is a crew of intriguing “Friends”. Among these friends are a couple of modules that can be attached to the G5. The mechanism LG implemented for users to remove the battery (sliding off the bottom bezel, which allows the battery to fall out) is the same mechanism that allows users to insert modules into the device. These modules are meant to enhance the features that users care most about.
As of right now, there are two modules that work with the LG G5: the LG CAM Plus, and the LG Hi-Fi Plus.
The LG CAM Plus is a module that transforms your G5 into a standalone digital camera, giving you the “convenient control” of a standalone camera with the addition of physical buttons for power, shutter, record, and zoom, an LED indicator, and provides a comfortable grip. The LG CAM Plus also acts as a battery pack as it adds a 1200 mAh battery in addition to the G5’s 2800 mAh removable battery.
The Hi-Fi Plus with B&O Play module, on the other hand, is for those who want a premium listening experience. The Hi-Fi Plus serves as a portable DAC audio player. The Hi-Fi Plus brings the 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC unsampling featured in the LG V10, but also adds 32-bit 384KHz of high-definition audio playback. In addition to this, you can use the Hi-Fi Plus separately by connecting it to any smartphone or PC.
While it wasn’t specified, I can’t imagine that these will be the only two modules to join the “LG Playground” of “Friends” – the potential here is just too great to use it solely for enhanced camera or audio purposes. I imagine battery life at the very least (more so than just the 1200 mAh brought to the CAM Plus module) will be a focus at some point in the future. Who knows what else can surface with this kind of technology?
However, while I do think more modules will eventually surface, I imagine that the number of additional modules may not be too plentiful with the G5 seeing as it only features one slot for one module. However, I do think it’s a great start, and the two modules that LG created are two that I can easily see being important to a lot of people. Many people want a high-quality audio experience, and I think even more people care about the quality of their smartphone’s camera.
But as cool as I find LG’s “modular type” design to be, will people actually go for it? After all, we’ve become so accustomed to our smartphones just having features implemented in our handsets without having to do anything. With the G5, the modules take a little bit of work and it may require carrying additional accessories around – which is part of the reason having a smartphone in the first place was so nice. It will be interesting to see if people find the modules intriguing enough to use or not.
If nothing else, I have to applaud LG for coming up with something genuinely cool and, to use one of the most cliché terms, innovative. I’ve been interested in modular smartphone design since I saw the kickstarter for Phonebloks, which later became part of Google’s Project Ara. While Project Ara seems to be on hold for now, this seems to be a good, slow introduction to what may be the future of smartphones.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the LG G5’s “modular type” design? Do you find the concept to be appealing, or do you find the idea of switching modules a hassle? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!