“Extra battery juice and a few hardware camera buttons aren’t enough to make the Cam Plus a compelling purchase.”
- Easy to attach to the G5
- Extended battery tech is clever
- Does offer a sturdier grip for taking photos
- Quite expensive
- Adds weight and bulk
- Zoom control is imprecise
The LG G5’s camera, like other G series phones from LG, takes great pictures, urging you to get outside and find new and interesting things to shoot. The G5’s party trick is the slot where special modules fit in to enhance the phone’s functionality, and one is the Cam Plus, designed to make the G5 even more satisfying for photographers to use.
It does this not by upping the megapixel count or swapping out the lenses, but with the addition of manual controls, more grip, and a big battery pack. It’s obviously not a transformational addition to the G5, but can it make an already excellent camera even better? We’ve found out.
The Cam Plus is useful, just not really for the reason you’d expect. The fat module slots simply into the G5, spoiling its sleek lines with a backpack-style lump, with the manual controls mounted on one side, falling to hand when you hold the phone like you would a camera. There’s a two-stage shutter button, a video record button, and a manual zoom control. Exciting? No. Vaguely helpful occasionally? Yes, possibly; but not something we’d spend $70 on.
It won’t change the way you shoot pictures with the G5.
That’s not the only feature of the Cam Plus, though. The reason it’s so big is because the module contains a battery, extending the life of the one inside your phone. The way it works is clever. It doesn’t send all its energy out in one big lump, and instead slowly feeds the G5’s battery after using the camera controls. There’s always the option to override this and just use it as an external battery pack, but otherwise it does a great job of topping the G5 up after using the camera. Over several hours on an afternoon shooting pictures with the G5, the internal battery hadn’t used any of its own juice. Swap out the Cam Plus module, and you’re back to a slim, fully charged up G5. Handy.
It’s odd that we’re singing the praises of the Cam Plus module without really mentioning the cam part. That’s because it’s not really that exciting. Yes, there’s more to hold on to, and the two-stage shutter button — stage one to focus, stage two to shoot —is good, if a little light in its action, but it won’t change the way you shoot pictures with the G5. The zoom wheel is even less successful, and sometimes caused the camera app to stop responding for a moment or two, and then zoom in and out wildly. It spins freely too, with no stop at either end, or with a reassuring click with each rotation to help fine-tune the level of zoom.
Not a reason to buy a G5
The camera features aren’t compelling enough to make anyone buy the Cam Plus. The extended battery features are more useful, but choosing the $70 Cam Plus over a second battery — the G5’s battery can be swapped out, remember — will depend on how much of a shutterbug you are.
Expecting more? Sadly, that’s it for the Cam Plus. At its best, it’s a handy plug-in extended battery module, and once the battery’s flat; it’s a set of manual camera controls with negligible benefit. That’s not good news, and in the same way we’d be unimpressed by a third-party add-on case that offers similar features — there have been plenty in the past, even Will.i.am has had a go — the Cam Plus turns out to be a forgettable accessory with a limited audience, because only G5 owners will be able to use it.
However, just because they can, doesn’t mean they will. The Cam Plus’s biggest problem isn’t that it’s not really worth $70, it’s that no one will choose to buy the LG G5 over any other smartphone because of the Cam Plus module.
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