LG banks on modular G5 smartphone to regain ground in global market

BARCELONA, Spain -- LG Electronics broke the smartphone mold today with the introduction of its G5 smartphone on the eve of the opening of the Mobile World Congress show here.

LG G5

The device, which comes in silver, pink, titanium and gold, features a removable battery, full metal body and a modular design that allows the user to transform it with companion devices into a virtual reality headset, a 360 degree camera, a rolling home security device and more.

The phone, which Juno Cho, president and CEO of LG Communications, described as a "theme park in your pocket" will be sold by Verizon, Sprint and AT&T when the phone launches (LG said it will be available in April). Price has not yet been announced.

The device is receiving favorable reviews from analysts. IHS analyst Ian Fogg said that he believes LG had to take "radical steps" like it did with the G5 in order to make its smartphone stand apart from the competition or be forced to lose more market share. IHS previously forecast that LG's smartphone shipments would decline 3 percent in 2016. In 2015, the analyst firm estimated that LG had just 4 percent of the global smartphone shipment market share.

Verizon said it will offer the silver and titanium versions of the device along with "select" companion devices and accessories. AT&T said it will sell the G5 and the 360 CAM virtual reality camera, LG 360 VR, and the LG 360 Sound Bluetooth speaker companion devices. Sprint said it will also sell the G5 and companion devices like the LG 360 Cam virtual reality camera and the LG TONE Platinum Bluetooth headset.

The G5 comes with two cameras on the rear: one with a standard 78-degree lens and another with a 135-degree wide angle lens. It also has a 5.3-inch Quad HD IPS Quantum display with an always-on feature so that the user can always see the time and date, even when the G5 is in sleep mode. To minimize power consumption, LG fine-tuned the device's power management so that the display's backlight only illuminates one small part of the overall display.

The G5 features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, which comes with an integrated X12 LTE modem that supports Category 12 download speeds of up to 600 Mbps and LTE Category 13 uplink speeds of up to 150 Mbps. The smartphone also has Adreno 530 graphics and Qualcomm's Hexagon DSP as well as Spectra 14-bit dual image signal processors (ISPs) designed to deliver high resolution DSLR-quality images.

Companion devices, which LG is calling the "LG Friends," include:

  • The LG 360 VR, a virtual reality goggle that can be connected to the G5 with a cable allowing users to view virtual reality content;
  • The LG 360 CAM, a 360 degree camera equipped with two 13MP 200-degree wide angle cameras, 1,200mAh battery and 4GB internal memory that can be connected to the LG G5 allowing users to create 360-degree content.
  • The LG Rolling Bot that can roll around a user's home and capture images and videos with its embedded 8MP camera. The Bot can be used as a monitoring system for the home, pet care companion as well as a remote controller for compatible home appliances.
  • The LG TONE Platinum, a Bluetooth headset.
  • The H3 by B&O PLAY, a high-end set of earphones.  

For more:
- see this LG Electronics press release
- see this AT&T post
- see this Verizon post
- see this Sprint release

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