LG did a respectable job of show pilfering at Mobile World Congress in March when it unveiled its new modular flagship handset, the G5, alongside a range of accessories for it, including a 360-degree camera and a headless-Sphero/cat-infuriator called the LG Rolling Bot. Today the G5 officially lands in SA on 15 April, and if you’ve decided to forsake Samsung, HTC or even Apple for the purported Good Life, it’s going to cost you R11,800.
At the South African launch in Johannesburg on Wednesday the company says the G5 will represent LG’s largest media spend in South Africa to date. So brace yourself for G5 advertising up the wazoo.
So, a quick recap for those of you who’ve been dozing off at the back of the class — despite its svelte unibody design, the G5 has a removable bottom allowing users to swap out the battery or plug-in one of two accessories — a dedicated camera module and an amplifier from Bang & Olufsen.
These will arrive in SA on 22 April. LG’s promised other accessories will follow, whether from it or third parties, but we’re not expecting a glut of these given the two year shelf-life of most handsets.
In other words, if NutriBullet was going to develop a plug-in for the G5, we figure it would’ve already. Nonetheless, perhaps the G5 will spawn an ecosystem of supported devices or make modular design of a sort (this is no Project Ara device) the new normal for Android manufacturers. We doubt it, but stranger things have happened.
LG’s also included the always-on display we’ve already been underwhelmed with and annoyed by on Samsung’s S7 and S7 Edge (we find it incredibly distracting and unnecessary). LG claims the display only consumes 0.8% of the device’s battery life per hour, but we’d recommend turning it off entirely and saving even more power.
Much more exciting is the dual rear-camera setup LG’s opted for: a primary 16MP shooter (which looks like the same excellent one we saw on the G4) and a wide-angle 8MP one. We’re expecting to see this from a ton of other manufacturers before the end of the year.
LG’s also decided against the phone-as-display approach to virtual reality headsets popularised by its arch rival in favour of a compact, portable headset that looks like some sort of poorly conceived superhero visor. When we tested it out in Barcelona we were pretty unimpressed with it — poor resolution, not particularly comfortable and a little flimsy — and with it expected to cost around R4 000, it’s a weak proposition the face of the Samsung’s substantially cheaper R2,000 Gear VR, we can’t see it taking off.
The LG 360 Cam looks like fun, though — a pair of 13MP cameras in a compact package that’ll let us create 360-degree pics and videos — but we’ll have to get hands-on with it before we can call it a delight or a dud. It’s expected to cost R3 600. And once again, how well it does will be tied at least in part to how well that other Korean electronic’s company’s equivalent device fares.
It’s a lot more compact and discreet than Samsung’s Gear 360, but the best in show prize will go to the one that offers better image quality, which will probably come down to which makes the joining points between the footage from each camera the least noticeable — we’re feeling good about LG’s prospects here given how much closer its pair of fish-eye lenses are than those on Samsung’s 360-degree camera.
But it’s not the phone or the camera we really want. What we’re after is the LG Rolling Bot. A video feed that can be accessed remotely, the ability to control your TV and even a built-in laser pointed with which to entertain/madden your cat, it’s the rolling robot we never knew we wanted. We’re so excited about it we’re even considering getting a cat. Here kitty, kitty.