First Look

LG G5 boasts host of snap-on 'friends'

LG's latest smartphone, the G5 (below) has many "friends". They include (above, from left) the Rolling Bot, the Cam Plus camera accessory, the Bang & Olufsen co-created sound module Hi-Fi Plus, the 360 VR and the 360 Cam.
LG's latest smartphone, the G5 has many "friends". They include (above, from left) the Rolling Bot, the Cam Plus camera accessory, the Bang & Olufsen co-created sound module Hi-Fi Plus, the 360 VR and the 360 Cam.PHOTO: LG
LG's latest smartphone, the G5 (above) has many "friends".
LG's latest smartphone, the G5 (above) has many "friends". PHOTO: LG

LG had one of the most holistic and forward-looking presentations at the Mobile World Congress.

Instead of the stage being dominated by a single speaker, the LG folks had a constant stream of people from different companies, such as Bang & Olufsen, Parrot and Google Street View, introducing new devices and features.

The devices form an ecosystem that revolves around a central mobile device - in this case, LG's new flagship smartphone, the G5.

The new glass-and-metal unibody phone feels more elegant compared to the G4, which has leather and polycarbonate options. It is powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chip, has 4GB of RAM and a removable 2,800 mAh battery.

In itself, the G5 is a great phone, but it truly comes to life when paired with LG's suite of add-ons and companion devices, which the company has dubbed "LG Friends".

The LG Cam Plus add-on, for instance, adds a better camera grip and physical buttons as well as additional battery capacity, while the LG Hi-Fi Plus is an external 32-bit DAC and amplifier combo unit, created in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen.

Then there are companion devices, such as the LG Rolling Bot, a rolling sphere with an 8-megapixel camera that can be used as a home monitoring system or for pet care.

LG also announced the LG 360 VR and the LG 360 Cam, the Korean company's crack at producing and consuming VR content.

Unlike some other phone-compatible virtual reality headsets, there is no need to slot a phone into the 360 VR as it has its own dual 1,080p Oled screens. This means that it is only a featherweight 118g.

The 360 Cam has two wide-angle cameras placed back to back, and can be connected wirelessly to a phone to create immersive, all-round pictures or video that can be viewed using a VR headset.

However, while LG's intention with these complementary devices is clear, some of the pre-production products that were on display unfortunately were not quite up to scratch.

I cannot shake the feeling that they were rushed out in order to keep up with the timeline of the competition, and did not undergo a full-fledged development process.

The 360 VR felt flimsy and cheap, and is meant to be perched on the face like a pair of glasses, rather than being strapped on with a headband. This means that there is plenty of light leaking in. Sometimes, even when my head was still, the headset thought that I was moving, and when I did move, it took a noticeable second to keep up.

The image quality of the 360 camera was also underwhelming, and the resultant images looked as if there was motion blur when I was perfectly still and took multiple shots. This is especially noticeable when it is pitted against Samsung's Gear 360, which was announced on the same day. The latter produced images and videos of a much better quality.

Lisabel Ting


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Correction Note: An earlier version of the article stated that some of the products are not quite up to scratch. LG has since clarified that pre-production products were on display. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'LG G5 boasts host of snap-on 'friends''. Print Edition | Subscribe