The LG G5 and its “magic slot” modules: some thoughts

by: Kris CarlonJanuary 26, 2016


You may have heard the rumors regarding the LG G5 and its so-called magic slot. While not a lot is known about this slot, I am personally convinced (or at least strongly hoping) that the rumors are entirely accurate, and that these new removable “modules” will radically alter the fate of the G series, for better or worse. There are plenty of reasons why this could be one of the coolest new additions to a flagship smartphone for a long time, but just as many that make me think this could ruin the G5 if things go badly.

Let’s be honest: smartphones haven’t changed much in form or function for a while. Sure, smartphone photography has only fairly recently become a true replacement for pocket digital cameras and apps continually replace tasks we used to use computers for. But the basic structure and feature set for most phones – barring the BlackBerry Priv – have been pretty stable since flip phones disappeared.

LG-G5-11See also: LG G5 rumor roundup: release date, specs, and features158


Breaking the mold

Front-facing LED flashes and speakers aside, most phones these days have stabilized into a fairly predictable pattern of features, with a variety of superficial enhancements designed to help them stand out from the crowd. If the LG G5 arrives with a removable bottom that allows users to insert optional modules – like a bigger battery or a variety of better cameras – the smartphone game will be blown wide open.

Imagine the possibilities: a battery exactly the size you want it, a 360-degree VR cam or action camera, physical keyboard, audio amp, professional microphone, the options are pretty much endless. The G5 would basically become a mobile hot-shoe hub for everything. While the move is obviously targeted at the highly profitable accessories market, it is also a very novel way to make the LG G5 truly unique.

Other rumored features like a twin camera array for wide-angle photography, the secondary ticker display like that found on the LG V10, or even the elusive iris scanner, can all be categorized into run-of-the-mill upgrade expectations for a brand-new flagship device. But user-switchable modules are a whole new kettle of fish, one that is as risky as it is exciting.

LG G5 modular battery design

A risky gamble

The real trick to pulling it off is twofold: the “magic slot” needs to be an entirely optional feature that can be ignored (and not paid extra for) by the casual user that has no intention of using it, and the module idea needs to avoid being seen as a proprietary cash grab, in the same way as Sony’s custom “Memory Stick” SD cards once were or Apple’s endlessly non-compatible cables still are.

A failure on the first score – meaning that the G5 is either much more expensive than “normal” phones or that the magic slot is deemed “too complicated” for the casual user in the popular consciousness – would turn the LG G5 into a niche product when, as a flagship, it needs to appeal to as many consumers as possible.


A failure on the second front – that the magic slot is seen as an unnecessary and costly gimmick that is simply designed to squeeze even more money out of the consumer – could be fatal to the G5’s success. While Apple has managed to get away with endlessly “upgrading” its connectors and accessories, requiring fresh purchases of things you already have, LG doesn’t enjoy half the cultural cache as Apple and, if the gamble is unsuccessful, could cripple its most established flagship device.

This is the conundrum facing LG right now: it desperately needs a unique, stand-out feature in order to differentiate itself from its countless competitors with similar specs and frequently lower price tags. But even more importantly, LG needs to finely balance the form that competitive edge takes with something that is also entirely optional so as to avoid alienating “regular” customers. Just as Samsung lost a lot of fans by removing microSD expansion, LG could suffer a similar fate by adding something unnecessary and costly.

What do you think of the module idea? Will it catch on?

  • Orrpickaname

    LG is losing money.
    Nobody WANTS LG.
    no slot will not help LG.
    LG’s problems are too wide and deep.

    • Anonymous

      According to me LG can get back in the game and actually beat sammy….thet just HAVE to improve battery and launch the phone at an affordable price…Also they need a little work on the UI….Other than that i think they r good….

      • Jumperone

        samsng has so strong marketing unfortunately. I saw/know many ppl think that samsung is the best because.. it’s samsung…
        Even if the could buy better phone from other manufacturer for same price – NOO it’s not samsung :r
        so i don’t believe that they can beat them but i keep my fingers crossed for lg :)

        • Anonymous

          I know right….some of my own friends dont want to try a phone just because it isnt samsung….the name matters more to them
          …and also samsung isnt introducing new stuff…atleqst lg is trying to

      • Phillip

        Beat Samsung your kidding right last year Samsung sold almost 400 million phones and LG sold 60 million all year . Just the fact please

      • jasonlowr

        According to you…

    • Jumperone

      i think you meant htc instead of lg

      • Phillip

        Nope he’s right LG just reported big profit looses they sold less all year then Samsung sells in a quarter

  • Bruno

    I have a lg g4 and i can say its a great phone. about the lg g5 i will wait to make my proper comments. lets be real this is just rumors. But im excited with the LG G5 more then the samsung s7:)

    • Keith Ho

      I have the G4. I think it’s the best phone ever made. Picture quality is excellent. Durable. Reliable. Replaceable battery and SIM card. Again, it’s the best phone ever.

      • Steve Brain

        Second that :-D

        • Giles Peach

          I have the G4 also. I love it, but felt there was something missing. I didn’t have the same excitement as when I bought my G3. Perhaps because it just seemed like more of the same? The UI, while functional, isn’t the prettiest. When I got my Nexus 6P, I finally felt the excitement again. A phone I love unreservedly.

          • ChrisPollard77

            Understandable. The 6P is a great phone, and, a Nexus. I still have times I miss stock Android, coming from a Nexus myself. I miss unlocked bootloaders and flashing ROMs. But that’s about it. LOVE the camera, love the expansion (128GB microSD in mine), love that I can replace the battery should it ever stop holding a proper charge the way my old Nexus 4 did after three wonderful years. It’s still sitting beside me … as an emergency backup that can’t be too far from a charger.

            So while I miss the advantages of a Nexus, I love the added features of the G4 even more. Curious to see what the G5 brings. I hope it’s not a horrible departure for them. They’ve had a few really good phones since they started the G series.

          • Giles Peach

            Yes, a lot of the talk surrounding the G5 has me very interested. In my humble opinion, LG is currently producing the most innovative hardware at the moment.

          • SamsaraGuru

            You are right. LG is trying to innovate and create and obviously any time you try you can fail, but you can’t succeed without trying! Samsung on the other hand despite so many advantages has decided to play the me too/we’re just as good as game and with each iteration of their phones becomes less distinctive, less differentiated in the eyes of the consumer. Whoever is “leading” Samsung’s mobile division should be fired.

    • Phillip

      Yet the gs7 will be the 800 pound gorilla when there both are released next month

      • not a fan

        ever htc desire hd has a slidable battery but horizontally


      I won’t be excited if they follow the Hipster Troll Carwash / iPhone / Sammy “premium” design with the aluminum

    • vacuumcleanerLG

      slide-out battery in an all-aluminum smartphone. Nokia N8.
      BTW Samsung is going to make a removable battery and expandable storage in S7.

  • Ryan

    Why can’t they put an oled display on it?

    • Shadowsumbra

      who said they aren’t?

    • Chong Wen Hao

      Maybe they will. LG display is now really into OLED ao maybe they will influence LG mobile to use OLED.

  • Phillip

    Samsung lost me as a customer when they decided to ditch the removable battery and expandable storage. They alienated their own customer base. I think LG has a lot of potential to change the game with the “magic slot”.

    • Phillip

      Well the general public don’t see the removable media and battery that big a deal and the fact that it didn’t help LG sells at all is prove

      • Diego

        Why did the flagship galaxy phones do so poorly, then?

        • Phillip

          Haha you naysayers cracked me up with that comment the only single phone that sold more than the gs6 note 5 combo is the iPhone . Know other android phone was even close to matching the sells

          • Shadowsumbra

            But sales of their s6 were much lower than expected, so I can only imagine a lot of people outright skipped upgrading because of removing features. I personally was considering upgrading to an s6 or lg g4, but poor battery life in the g4 and the fact that the s6 is a downgrade from the s5 made me skip that altogether.

          • Phillip

            The sells of the gs6 where never posted but considering the fact that I see a lot of people using them in the wild is a good test that they sold a bunch. As far as the s5 comparison to the gs6 it’s not even close in a performance

      • magnanimous

        I work for Verizon and as far as the Galaxy 6 line goes. Customers were less bothered by the battery as the we’re the lack of SD card slot. Their go to alternative was often the Galaxy S5, Note 4, and then the G4. In that order.. Lots of soccer mom types seem to know what SD cards are and they’re not willing to give them up. Weather that helped G4 sales or not. Well, I can’t really say.

      • Phillip

        IDGAF about the general public. I was simply stating that Samsung lost me.

        • jasonlowr

          Lost you? Who do you think you are?

  • drago10029

    i hope the LG G5 is Game changing! i like the direction the V10 took things & im putting my money on them.

  • 404

    I’m sorry LG, but Apple is too big of a trendsetting juggernaut. This won’t catch on, unless Apple does it. Then you’ll be accused of copying regardless of who released it first.

  • Gunther Mangelschots

    Both the G2 and G3 charmed me but the G4 couldn’t get my interest mainly due to the leather backs. I don’t like it at all.

    The G5 however has become my most anticipated phone and the V10 is actually the reason for this. If the G5 could get the same sound chip I will already be very happy. All the other rumours I read now are a very positive bonus to it. Dual SIM and waterproof I still hope to get their way to the phone. I really hope it is as great as the rumours are starting to indicate.

    • DanielPowerNL

      The G4 comes with a leather and a plastic back. The leather is entirely optional. I personally prefer the leather back, but use the plastic back when the phone is in a case.

      • Gunther Mangelschots

        Yes, I know. What I basically was trying to say was that it tried to give itself a more premium feature but the rest of the phone couldn’t convince me design wise. If I see the G3 and G4 next to each oher there isn’t that lot of a difference and yet I still prefer the look of the G3 over the G4. The G4 is too big as well imo. That is why I will not look at the Galaxy S7 Edge as well if its size going to be 5.5″

  • Fartemis

    Will they be making a variant for adults or only 5.2 inch screens?

  • Don Rambarran

    I love my LG G4. I think it’s a few shades away from being perfect. Hopefully the G5 makes a few of these shades. Phone users need to understand that there will NEVER be a perfect smartphone. EXAMINE the NEGATIVES first….and the one with the fewest or most you can live with just might be for you. The fastest and most stable phone might always be the iPhone. The highest specs might always be a Galaxy. LG gives you a little bit of everything

  • Marty

    Nah…I don’t think I’m interested in LG stuff. Been reading about laginess, bootloops and experiencing poor performance with my Nexus 5 compared to my other devices with the same SoC.

    Glad I never bought into any LG branded equipment. Bad enough having this LG nexus device.

    • Jumperone

      so maybe try another, normal lg device insted of writing stupid comments? “I did not have so i will hate”…

      • Marty

        Not hate. A lack of desire. My Nexus 5 scores really low compared to the other devices I have with the same SoC. Add to that the reports of faulty hardware causing bootloops and the reports of devices with Qualcomm processors being laggy removes any and all desire for LG devices.

        • Jumperone

          so maybe u have broken one. Couldn’t you send it to lg service??
          Yea, G4 had some problems with bootlops so LG replaced this bad hardware for free.. ;)

          • Marty

            Not just bootloops. I’ve been reading user comments about lag on the V10 and other LG phones. And in this day and age when the majority of hardware makers aren’t having faults that require the user to “send it in”, LG isn’t doing well enough.

            There are way too many other options for smartphones than to consider an “iffy” manufacturer.

  • nikolas ostropolskiy

    Let’s hope it’s not like the note 5 stylus, you put one module in the wrong way and the whole system comes crashing down!

    • Jumperone

      haha truth!

  • AS118

    If the magic slot really lets you put in a blackberry-style keyboard, while retaining the ability to have a removable battery and microSD slot, I just might be sold. Is till love my G2, except for its lack of a removable battery and microSD slot. The 5.2″ screen is the right size though. Wasn’t thrilled about the G3 and G4 being 5.5″ only.

  • Cozz Gutierrez Alcos


  • killerbot

    LG g4 h815t I’ve had to be with this tragic device for 7 months before moving to a note 4.

    Every review said what an awesome camera.

    Every shot I took indoor and compared either Samsung or iPhone lg G4 couldn’t even focus properly.

    I’ve owned G3 and nexus 5 before this.

    To LG I’ll never be able to buy ur Devices again.

    To others don’t go by reviews.

    • Ifnkovhgroghprm

      so did you hate the g3 and nexus 5?

      • killerbot

        Absolutely loved n5.. G3 was a progressively forward device too.. They’ve never been able to do a good camera. I was shocked to see the camera results not one atleast 20 times. I went back to read online reviews, couldn’t believe my eyes.

        Now I’m using a note 4 camera is awesome, wish I had bought a Samsung in the first place.

  • nik1988

    I don’t know why people believe in the existence of this so called magic slot. Have these people seen any teardown videos for mobiles. There is absolutely no room inside a modern smartphone to incorporate any sort of module.

  • Jack_Package

    Totally agree with the article, this will be difficult to pull off…especially tricky to try this method on such a high-stake model for the first time.
    But I have faith in LG, if it works, I might change to the G5.

  • SamsaraGuru

    Sounds like LG is doing some really innovative thinking and working very hard to bring/make available a lot of features that will help their offerings to be both more customizable as well as individual; unlike the rest of the “me too”, we’re just as good as Apple crowds out there.

    How refreshing; a company that is trying to open up possibilities rather than close them off like Apple or Samsung.

  • raffr

    “..radically alter the fate of the G series, for better or worse.”

    I assume you really don’t want the fate of the G5 to be worse! But I agree it is nice to see some (any) innovation in hardware design. The glass slab look is very uninspiring.

  • Jeff R.


    I just wanna say that if this is there new redesign then they my have lost me. I have always hated buttons on the side of my phone. The G2,G3 and G4 were awesome because of the backside buttons that fall naturally on your finger. The curve was awesome because it made it so that you could not block the speaker not matter how it was laid on a hard surface.

    BNow they want to radically switch the curve and the buttons to make a phone with NO distinct features at all. Based on these early predictions on its design i am sure that LG has lost me to Nexus or some other boringly designed phone. It looks like an iPhone and a GS6 mixed together. BORING AND UNORIGINAL in every way. LG needs to have the backbone to stick to one direction otherwise they look like a company thats making changes based on other handsets and not their own identity. I have never met a single person who says that the G4 is not a good phone or even say that there was another phone that they would get.

    Where is a new Moto Octa-Core? I wish i knew because they made phones like tanks and they did not listen to people saying its too heavy or too silly. Moto now makes the MotoX Pure which is still less impressive than my G4 or my sons G3. I would not even be out here wondering about another brand if they had kept the most distinctive features they had. I hope someone else take their idea and run LG out of the phone industry. They have No backbone or sense of longer term goals.

    Its like when Apple made Final Cut X. It was a sign that they wanted to conceded the industry to Adobe and Avid. Well LG if you wanted to stop making interesting smartphone you could have just said “We can not compete and we are scared that people who buy grandmas iPhone and Samsungs will not like us.”

    The G-Series WAS better than samsung, Moto , HTC or Apple design wise and better than all but Apple for performance. LOOK IT UP and find more than 3 sources when you do.

    THIS IS THE UGLIEST REDESIGN IN HISTORY !!!! I don’t care what the new attachment does. I will keep my G4 and i am betting money against anyone who reads this article that the new G5’s are going to be HATED by EVERY G2-G4 USER.

    No button on back and no curve. SEE YA, HATE TO BE YA. I can buy boring from anyone of your competitors. I don’t even care about your specs LG. If you put in a 4.0GHz 12-core processor with 16gigs ram and a 8k screen YOU WILL NOT GET MY DOLLARS. without those rear buttons and that curve.

    I do not like being so negative but this takes the cake. They do not do copycat moves with their TV’s so why do it here? GROW SOME BALLS Really.


    • alec reser

      So if they ditch the buttons, what device will fill the void in your soul since no other device has that other than the Zenfone 2….? From my viewpoint it sounds like your stance is you’re never going to upgrade your phone again.

      • Jeff R.

        Not Sure what i will replace it with maybe the Nexus. My point is that the drawing and renderings to this thing make it no different than any other phone you name. The G5 is not curved from my perspective on the drawings. That is a signature element of the G4 design, and its much better to hold in your hand even with a 5.5inch screen. Hold any other phone in your hand for 30min plus and you will quickly see how the curvature makes the phone seem smaller than it really is.

        No matter where your phones buttons are when you are talking on it normally your finger falls right on those rear buttons. It was a VERY Smart idea and again it made it have a distinction.

        It doesn’t matter what i replace it with. As long as I have an octo or hex core and 3gigs ram. All flagship phones will look the same (accept maybe the unimpressive Zenphone) until LG trys it again.. Look, I have no idea why people want the same thing as everyone else. Maybe we all should wear beige Kakis and a Polo shirt but i am sure many of us would not like that. All of our cars are already white, some shade of gray, black, a type of red, and champagne-ish ( you see blue also but not much). I get bored of that. The G2,3,4 was a refreshing change in design. I like no buttons on the side.

        This is not.

    • Ryan Neely

      Isn’t that just a little petty? I could use almost any flagship and be fine with it, they’re all the same.

      • Jeff R.

        All accept the G4. Yes it is petty but so is what color shirt you wear and we still look at 2-3 shirts on every outing even though we might always wear jeans.

  • Guaire

    It’s pure fantasy IMO. You can put it in a smaller battery, not other way around. A different camera won’t work unless its own drivers already installed. There is a reason phones with physical keyboards is nearly wiped out.

    Dual camera, if it implemented right and replaceable battery in a metal body is interesting enough.

    Nuclun 2 chip manufactured by Intel foundry as once rumored and WOLED displays like used by LG TV divison would make it more interesting also.

    Unless they would offer a clear price advantage I don’t think they can change the status quo. Apple will continue to being most profitable and Samsung will do the same with being largest Android manufacturer with a good margin. Only Chinese brands will steal more market share as they reached new markets.

  • “But user-switchable modules are a whole new kettle of fish, one that is as risky as it is exciting.” – Not so new. This has already been done before in one form or another. Way back there was the Handspring PDA (remember those?) with its Springboard modules. More recently there was the Jolla Phone and its “other half” concept. Neither one was particularly successful. I give LG kudos for at least trying, but don’t hold your breath. Nobody wants to be tied to one brand — what we need is an industry-wide spec, something like ISA/PCI slots for smartphones. Maybe Google’s Project Ara is a start down this road. Now that would be thrilling.

  • Faux Restes

    LG already has 3 stand out features, its ‘knock the screen to unlock it’ feature, its buttons placed at the back and its removable battery.
    But why WHY WHY are they planning to remove the back buttons from the next flagship???

  • Leszek A. Szczepanowski

    I like this idea, because it allows to connect for example external camera – mounted with proper angle to catch your driving, while the phone itself could be faced directly to you, on a holder mounted to the desk.

  • Major Pain

    A droid phone with a keyboard???? I waited for the droid 5 for years!!!! Hallelujah!!!!!

  • nionebirk nionebirk

    A physical qwerty slider keyboard similar to the Droid 4 keyboard will be a killer app for a large undersreved niche of power users who do text editing, ssh-ing etc. I will absolutely pay premium price for this phone and the module.