Feature Article

February 22, 2016

LG Releases Modular Smartphone, VR Devices

According to a recent report from TrendForce, Chinese brands made up 40 percent of smartphone shipments last year, eating into the market shares of established brands like Apple, Samsung, HTC and LG. As a result, it seems these manufacturers have redoubled their smartphone efforts this year, with Samsung’s Galaxy S7 promising a return to fan-favorite features like microSD storage and HTC focusing on mid-range offerings. LG, meanwhile, has taken a unique and exciting approach with the introduction of a modular smartphone at Mobile World Congress (MWC).

The device, dubbed the LG G5, allows users to replace parts of the phone much like Google’s Project Ara, but perhaps a bit less ambitious. This somewhat more conservative approach allows the G5 to offer a familiar Android-based mobile experience with a design that seems to be a natural evolution of LG’s prior mobile devices.

Key features of the G5 include a 5.3-inch display, two rear-facing cameras that allow users to capture 180-degree images, an eight-megapixel front-facing camera, and a removable battery. In fact, removing the battery is what reveals the modular design of the G5. The G5’s modules, which LG calls its ‘Friends,’ plug directly into the G5’s bottom which, when removed, also pulls the battery from the interior of the phone. It may sound like a finicky process but, by all reports, it’s pretty smooth.

The first module available for the device is the LG Cam Plus, which features an enlarged camera grip and extra battery power. A physical shutter button, dedicated video recording key and LED indicator enable the LG Cam Plus to provide a traditional camera experience with the G5. The second module is the LG Hi-Fi Plus, an external 32-bit DAC and amplifier combo unit tuned by Bang & Olufsen to provide a superior audio experience.

Alongside the G5, LG also unveiled new VR offerings, including the LG 360, which enables 360-degree video recording; the LG 360 Viewer, a virtual reality headset; and the LG Rolling Cam, which is essentially a ball with a camera that can be controlled via smartphone.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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