latest rumors and details on LG’s upcoming flagship handset, the LG G5
The last couple of years have been really big for LG, as it has essentially managed to propel itself from trailing behind Samsung, its Korean sibling-come-rival, into being a very real and present contender in the space all on its own. The leaping-off point was the LG G2, where LG decided it needed to get with the program and launch its flagship globally in one go, rather than focusing on the Asian market first and slowly (often too slowly!) seeding it out to foreign distribution. The LG G2 was also a seriously capable phone in terms of specs, features and design, and LG put a decent amount of thought and care into its presentation and marketing. The LG G2 did reasonably well, but crucially it caught the attention of Google, which offered LG the chance to work on its Nexus program. That produced the Nexus 4, a fantastic phone which propelled LG into prominence, from which it further worked on the stunning LG G3 and Nexus 5. All of this created a lot of hype around the 2015 model, the LG G4, which didn’t dissapoint with its great camera, performance and amazing leather-backed design.
So it’s understandable that a lot of people are keen to see what the LG G5 has in store for 2016.
MWC in 2016 will be happening a bit earlier than usual, February 22, to be precise, and it’s already whispered that Samsung will launch a new Galaxy S7 flagship in the days just ahead. LG, on the other hand, has been in the habit of having its own launch events later in the year, but a bunch of recent rumours say it may be pulling a Samsung and revealing all on or around MWC 2016 too.
Android Headlines also reckons the LG G5 could launch as early as Q1, 2015 — so, quite a bit earlier than the G3 and G4, which both landed inside Q2 of 2013 and 2014, respectively. You can read our LG G4 Review for all the brilliant details of that fantastic handset, but this article is going to be all about the next device in the series.
As of December 10, new info has emerged suggesting LG has brought its release plans forward to February 2016. The word comes via Taiwanese sources on the country’s branch of the Weibo social network, where it’s alleged we’ll see a 5.6in QHD display, a metal unibody design rather than the LG G4’s leather back, and a 20/21MP camera with a large 1/2″ sensor size. The rumour also reinstates the previously suggested biometric security suite, including both a fingerprint scanner and an iris scanner. Once again, Qualcomm has been fingered as providing a Snapdragon 820 SoC.
LG G5: Display
The LG G5 is rumored to have a 5.6-inch True HD IPS display with a flexible touchscreen. The resolution should come in right around 3840 x 2160, meaning it’s a 4K display. The rumored resolution is likely accurate as most flagships in 2016 should move to 4K displays (if they don’t have them already). 2016 will be the year 4K goes norm with virtually all high-end smartphones having the ability to shoot 4K video and many TV sets now supporting 4K natively.
But this is always the case with next-generation technology, particularly display technology, and particularly from Android manufacturers, which are always pushing the limits of consumer expectations in a bid to sell more hardware by having the latest and greatest bells and whistles present on their newest flagships. We saw it happen with the advent of 1080p and QHD and now it looks as if we’ll see something similar happen in 2016 with the move to 4K panels on smartphones.
Do you need 4K on a smartphone? Not at all. It is largely superfluous; overkill for the marketeers to get their teeth into. But this is always the way with Android phones: it’s ALL about specs, specs and more specs. I said the same thing about QHD panels a couple of years ago, but the point still stands: I’d take 40% more battery over a 4K panel any day of the week. Hell, I’d take a 50% or more improvement in battery and quite happily live with a 1080p display.
Other reports claim the smartphone will feature a 5.3in QHD display, Snapdragon 820 chipset, metal bodywork, an IR blaster, microSD-support, USB Type-C slot and 3GB RAM. Interestingly, this would make the G5 smaller than last year’s 5.5in LG G4, though the G5 will have a smaller, EDGE-like secondary display — 160 x 1040 — for displaying notifications just like Samsung’s Galaxy Note range.
But that, dear reader, wouldn’t be exciting enough. And as we all know: Android phones HAVE to be exciting and on the cutting edge of what’s possible with current technology. This is no bad thing. Not in the slightest, but sometimes — like the case with displays — you get the distinct impression that RAW SPECS take precedence over things like user experience and battery performance, which, if we’re honest, is all that really matters at the end of the day. What use is a 4K panel, anyway, if you don’t have enough juice to run it all day without requiring a re-charge?
An Eye SCANNER!?
One of the more interesting developments in tech in recent years has been the rise in interest surrounding biometric sensors. Fingerprint scanners are now commonplace on mobile phones, largely thanks to the success of Apple’s TouchID, but what does the future hold? Something to do with your eyeballs, apparently. And we could see it debut aboard the LG G5.
“If new rumours are to be believed, the LG G5 could be one of the most secure smartphones ever released. However, rather than using a fingerprint scanner like the iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S6, the LG G5 may use your eyes,” reports Alphr.
LG is reportedly working with IRIENCE, a South Korean-based technology company that specialises in eye-scanning technology. IRIENCE will provide the scanner for the upcoming LG G5 apparently and said scanner will be able to read a person’s eye from a distance of 50cm, making it ideal for use when held normally.
Gimmick or not, the LG G5 will likely be the first smartphone to ship with such a feature. How well the feature will play out with consumers remains to be seen. It will have to work seamlessly, unlike Google’s ill-fated face recognition technology which really did SUCK quite hard.
LG Planning Own Mobile Payment Platform
Details emerging on November 19 appear to confirm that LG is planning to introduce its own mobile payment system inside 2016. The Korea Times reports having heard from an LG spokesperson, although alarmingly the report states the firm plans to launch the new platform as early as next month, December. However, LG is quite often one for going public with longer term plans, so it may simply be an official announcement with a rollout starting in 2016. Either way, the LG G5 seems like a likely candidate for a debut of this technology, especially if it has biometric eye scanner security as previously rumoured.
It’s said that LG is still in talks with major credit card companies, so it’s also possible that the December announcement is a moving target that could be delayed if negotiations do not go according to plan. No additional details have been confirmed, meaning we don’t know if LG plans to implement NFC (as with Apple Pay) or opt to follow Samsung’s example via Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST), which is compatible with existing contacless points-of-sale and would be a very easy “drop-in” solution. All of which being said, does serve to demonstrate that LG is attempting to enter an already crowded market with Samsung, Apple, and Google already vying for position with their own mobile payment platforms.
LG G5: Design
One area where LG can make sure serious improvements to the G5 is build materials and overall design. The LG G4 was a decent enough handset, but the design and finish kind of left a lot to be desired, especially when compared to the Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9. Could this year’s model see some changes?
Potentially. Metal-clad bodies are all the rage at the moment, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see LG adopting something similar on its next flagship release. We don’t expect LG to increase to overall size and weight of the handset much; the G4 was already pretty big. Nevertheless, we do expect to see some refinements to the shape, thickness and polish of the handset.
There are no firm rumors on what the G5 will look like beyond that it will have an “improved design”. However, according to a report from November 17, the LG G5 may launch with a completely new design featuring a metal unibody – the word comes via news sources in LG’s home nation of South Korea. Assuming this is accurate it would make the LG G5 the firm’s first full-metal handset. The reports detail that LG is actively attempting to cash in on the popularity of metal-bodied phones from rivals such as Apple and Samsung. It’s also suggested the device may arrive in Q1 2016 to oppose Samsung’s next flagship, so we may be looking at a MWC launch, or perhaps shortly afterwards (as LG usually waits a little bit).
Unibody design is great for looks but if you’re a fan of removable batteries and SD-cards they do become problematic. Samsung famously ditched its removable batteries and seriously irritated A LOT of its most loyal fans. The fact that LG kept its batteries removable aboard the LG G4 was commendable, design complaints aside. But you can’t please everyone and the fact that a lot of people took snipes at the overall design and finish of the phone proves that most — if not all — prefer nice design over things like removable batteries.
LG G5: Processor, Storage, and RAM
Things get a little more firm when you talk about the G5’s specs. It’s widely rumored to include a 8-core Snapdragon 820 processor, which is set to be a beast of a SoC with a 14nm process and a 2.2-3GHz speed. It also offers support for native 4K displays at 60fps with 120 Hz, which lends credence to the G5’s display rumors.
The Snapdragon 820 processor’s upgraded X12 LTE modem offers:
- LTE Advanced speeds
- Cat 12 (up to 600 Mbps) in the downlink
- Cat 13 (up to 150 Mbps) in the uplink
- Up to 4×4 MIMO on one downlink LTE carrier
- Breakthrough connectivity support in unlicensed spectrum:
- 2×2 MU-MIMO (802.11ac)
- Multi-gigabit 802.11ad
- LTE-U and LTE+Wi-Fi Link Aggregation (LWA)
- Comprehensive service across connection types
- Next Gen HD Voice and Video calling over LTE and Wi-Fi
- Call Continuity across Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G, and 2G
- RF front end innovations
- Advanced Closed Loop Antenna Tuner
- Qualcomm RF360™ front end solution with CA
- Wi-Fi/LTE antenna sharing
In addition to its leading LTE features, the Snapdragon 820 processor also supports superior Wi-Fi performance and connectivity experiences through Qualcomm® VIVE™ 802.11ac with Qualcomm® MU | EFX MU-MIMO technology, along with tri-band support, through multi-gigabit 802.11ad (11ad) Wi-Fi. With 2×2 802.11ac (11ac) plus MU-MIMO technology, devices will have the ability to achieve a range increase of up to 50 percent over the 1×1 configuration.
As for RAM, the LG G5 is rumored to include anywhere between 3-6GB of RAM, depending on your sources. I personally think the LG G5 will come with 4GB of RAM. For a 2016 flagship, 3GB is too little–and 6GB just seems like overkill.
As for storage, the LG G5 is rumored to come in three sizes 32, 64, and 128GB. This is probably entirely accurate as LG wouldn’t be dumb enough to pull an Apple and start out a flagship phone with only 16GB of storage. It is also rumored to keep the Micro-SD slot for storage expansion.
LG G5: Cameras
This is the really exciting part of the LG G5–it’s supposed to have killer cameras. The rear camera is rumored to feature an exclusive Sony lens that has a width of 1/2 an inch, allowing it to shoot supposedly amazing low light shots. It will be a 20MP sensor and will feature smile, face, and multi-gesture detection.
“The LG G5 is also believed to feature a 135-degree wide-angle camera, dual-lens configuration, and probably two LED flash bulbs and one laser between the two lenses inside,” reports Android Community. There’s also the RGB sensor for better recognition and autofocus while the front-facing camera will still have an 8 megapixel sensor just like the LG G4
But more interestingly, the front facing camera is rumored to have iris scanning technology for advanced security. That potentially means you’ll be able to unlock your phone just by looking at it. There are rumors that this iris recognition will even replace thumbprint biometrics (or it could have both), but only time will tell.
LG G5: Connectivity
Nothing much new and exciting on the connectivity front. The LG G5 is rumored to have 4G, NFC, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0.
LG G5: Battery
Rumors point to the LG G5 having a 4000 mAH battery. All we can say is–it better. Anything less than that will probably be woefully inadequate to keep a 5.6-inch 4K display smartphone powered most of the day.
The LG G5 is also rumored to incorporate Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 Technology. This tech allows the battery to be charged to 85% full capacity in just 35 minutes.
LG G5: Cost & Availability
No price specs have leaked yet, but as the LG G5 is LG’s flagship, it’s going to cost a lot. The price of $900USD has been thrown around as conjecture–and that’s probably close to accurate. In that case expect to spend almost £600 buying the LG G5 unlocked.
As for availability, plenty of rumors are pointing to a November announcement. Some people are even saying the LG G5 could ship in November or December–just in time for the holidays. I personally think that seems unlikely: LG would have too big of a marking mess on their hands getting the word out about the new flagship in time to sway holiday shoppers to opt for their smartphone over others that have been advertised for months.