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article imageLG introduces the innovative G5 with modular parts and 'Friends'

By James Walker     Feb 21, 2016 in Technology
LG has officially unveiled its 2016 flagship smartphone, the G5. The handset marks a radical departure from its predecessor, introducing a new design featuring modular components that can be replaced to add additional functionality.
LG took the wraps off the phone at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 in Barcelona today. It is built of anodized aluminium with a uni-body design offered in four different colours, silver, "titan," gold and pink. It weighs only 159g and is just 7.7mm thick.
The phone is powered by Qualcomm's octa-core Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM. The 5.3-inch display has a Quad HD resolution of 2560 x 1440 and includes an always-on mode that continuously displays the time and date even when the handset is asleep or locked.
According to LG, this feature doesn't impact on battery performance as it sips just 0.8 percent an hour and should mean users won't need to turn on their phone so frequently. The company says people turn on their smartphone up to 150 times a day just to check the time, wasting power by causing the device to come out of sleep mode and power up the display to full brightness. LG says the G5's Always-on Display should improve battery life across the day.
The LG G5 s  Friends
The LG G5's "Friends"
The main camera is 16 megapixels and is joined by a secondary 8-megapixel unit with an ultra-wide 135-degree field of view. LG says this helps users fit more in a single frame without having to step back, capturing wider landscapes and taller buildings from a closer perspective. As with the G4 and G3 before it, LG has included a laser autofocus system to minimise the time spent waiting for a shot to focus.
The rest of the specifications are a fairly standard example of what to expect from 2016's flagship Android phones: 32GB of expandable internal storage, USB Type-C, NFC, a fingerprint sensor, Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The G5 has a unique feature that really sets it apart from the crowd though, a set of interchangeable extra hardware components.
The LG G5 s camera module
The LG G5's camera module
LG has developed a modular design that lets the G5 transform itself into a digital camera, Hi-Fi system and more using special accessory devices that are inserted into its battery compartment at the bottom of the phone. The LG CAM Plus module is described as a "versatile camera module" that provides a physical camera grip and extra camera functionality including intuitive auto focus and exposure lock. The module also adds an additional 1,200mAh to the G5's 2,800mAh removable battery.
The other module announced so far is the LG Hi-Fi Plus with B&O PLAY, a portable Hi-Fi DAC audio player for people who love to listen to music while on the go. It adds support for 32-bit DAC audio up-sampling and high-definition 32-bit 384KHz playback and can also operate in standalone mode with any smartphone or computer.
LG's modular system represents the first time a high-profile manufacturer has launched such a feature with a high-end smartphone. Google's Project Ara remains in development while other crowd-funded projects have tended to err on the side of expanding customisation options rather than functionality.
"The new LG G5 will encourage owners to rediscover the true joy of a mobile life," said Juno Cho, president and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications. "The G5 and LG Friends are the result of many experts inside LG asking themselves if it was still possible to be innovative and unique in the smartphone space. I think once customers spend a little time with the LG G5, their answer will be a resounding yes."
To accompany the G5, LG has also developed a range of companion devices known as Friends. Built by the company itself or its hardware partners, LG says the accessories will "fully maximise the LG Playground." The aim is to deliver fun and a mobile experience "far beyond traditional smartphone boundaries."
The LG 360 VR for LG G5
The LG 360 VR for LG G5
The Friends include the LG 360 VR, a VR headset that can be connected to the LG G5 and used to simulate a 130-inch TV viewed from two meters away. It supports all existing Google Cardboard virtual reality content and footage captured with the LG 360 CAM, another friend of the G5.
This is a compact 360-degree camera that features two 13-megapixel wide-angle lenses for shooting high-definition 360-degree video. A partnership with Google lets users instantly upload to YouTube and Google Street View to show off immersive tours of real-world places.
Other friends include the Rolling Bot, a ball with embedded 8MP camera for use as a pet care companion or home monitoring system, the LG Tone Platinum, a high-definition Bluetooth headset, the H3 by B&O PLAY earphones and the LG Smart Controller, a device designed specifically to simplify the control of drones. Users can view a drone's video feed in real-time on the LG G5 and control its motion with a dedicated joystick.
The LG G5 is the first flagship smartphone to launch at Mobile World Congress this year but many more will be unveiled shortly. Proceedings in Barcelona have only just begun and other major manufacturers are expected to announce devices to rival the G5 over the next few hours.
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