The LG G5 is a modular phone. No you can’t replace the screen, processor, or camera, but you can augment the device with feature-boosting plug-in modules, adding new functionality quickly and easily. LG calls these modules and accessories Friends, and although the G5 is at the heart of them, they’re the key to its full potential. Without a Friend, the G5 will be a bit lonely.
LG’s Friends aren’t cases or extended battery packs, they’re way more complicated. They’re also, potentially at least, reasons to go out and buy the G5 over any other smartphone. The initial collection consists of the LG Cam Plus, the Hi-Fi Plus, and the 360 Cam. In the near future, the 360 VR headset will also join in with the fun, along with — hopefully, at least — other modules made by other companies.
We’re already fans of the G5 phone, but it’s up against some very stiff competition in 2016, and the modules need to be seriously good if it’s to win hearts. We’ve been testing the Cam Plus, the Hi-Fi Plus, and the 360 Cam for a while. Let’s see if they’re up to the job.
Clip and unclip
Before we get into the actual modules, let’s talk about how they’re connected to the phone. First, there’s a button on the bottom left of the G5 which requires a solid stab to pop the base of the phone out a millimeter or so, after which you give it a tug and out comes the battery. Make no mistake, that button’s not going to get pressed by accident. Not only is it flush with the phone’s body, but it’s also quite small. We’ve tried a few G5 phones, and they all act a little bit differently, with one needing a harder press than the other.
I’ve passed the G5 around to a few people who aren’t tech-fiends, to see how they get on with breaking a phone apart. Universally, after pointing out the button to press and the right way to unclip the battery (which are in the instructions anyway), everyone felt comfortable with changing the modules. No-one fumbled either section, or tried to put bits in the wrong way around. The only concern was durability of the separate parts, a natural reaction to any delicate device that comes apart. It seems LG’s confidence that people would be happy to swap modules was correct, but the trick is to get them to buy the phone in the first place.
Check out our in-depth review of each module.