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The modular nature of the LG G5 is easily its most intriguing new feature, not only for the range of standalone peripherals and insertable modules it supports but also for what it means for LG going forward. If the idea is picked up it could mean huge things for not only LG but smartphones in general, but it could also signal bad things for the G series if it doesn’t catch one. Let us take you through all the new LG G5 modules announced at MWC 2016.

First thing’s first, the name. In the lead-up to launch, the LG G5’s modular design was known as the Magic Slot. This is not the official name and in fact there is no official name for the slot itself. Rather, the various modules and peripherals are called LG Friends, complete with a new cool cat icon and signature lime green color. Depending on how well the modules are received, other LG devices might also support modules in future.

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Not all of the LG Friends are modules that physically slot into the G5, some are standalone products, like the new LG 360 VR camera or LG Rolling Bot (think of a headless BB-8) and will work with other phones besides the LG G5. Others, like the LG CAM Plus or LG Hi-Fi Plus slot into the base of the LG G5. LG is making the proprietary connector available to selected third-party makers to create their own custom modules and accessories. All modules replicate the bottom edge of the G5 as part of the module itself.

On the software side, all modules and peripherals are auto-detected by the pre-loaded LG Friends app, which automatically downloads the companion app for each new accessory in the background.

LG demoed four modules with promises of a drone at the press conference, which we’ll explain in detail below.

LG CAM Plus

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The LG CAM Plus is the module we leaked a few days ahead of the LG G5 launch. It is a bulky module that adds finer controls to the G5’s existing camera functionality at the same time as providing additional grip and an extended battery.

The bottom of the LG G5 is removed via a small button on the lower left hand edge to disengage the locking mechanism. The default module can then be removed and the battery popped off the base. The battery is then snapped onto the LG CAM Plus module and reinserted into the G5.

The LG CAM Plus adds an extra 1,200 mAh to the G5’s 2,800 mAh battery for a total capacity of 4,000 mAh. There’s also a dedicated shutter button, which can be half-pressed for focus lock, a zoom dial, video record button, LED and power switch. LG is claiming an additional 15% usage time and “real camera UX with one hand”.

LG Hi-Fi Plus

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The LG Hi-Fi Plus is an audio module made in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen. The module features a 32-bit Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) and dedicated amplifier. The Hi-Fi Plus DAC supports up to 32-bit source files and native DSD playback. It also boasts audio up-sampling to 384kHz and there’s an “up-bit” feature to convert lower bit-depth files into a 32-bit format before they head out of the DAC. The LG G5’s standard DAC supports 24-bit bit depths.

When the Hi-Fi Plus is attached, the existing headphone port on the top of the G5 won’t work, as the headphone port located on the bottom of the module is prioritized for its superior sound quality.

The Hi-Fi Plus does not contain a battery, so it only works when attached to the G5, but it can also be used with other USB Type-C-equipped devices. The standard G5 headphone port provides 24-bit audio tuned by LG, whereas the 32-bit Hi-Fi Plus is tuned by Bang & Olufsen, to provide a greater audio experience for audiophiles.

LG 360 CAM

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The LG 360 CAM is a dual-lens, standalone 360° VR camera that pairs with the LG G5 via Bluetooth but still carries the LG Friends branding. It has 4 GB of built-in storage with a microSD card slot, three microphones, a 1,200 mAh battery and two 13 MP cameras that combine to form 16 MP flat or spherical images.

Each camera captures 200° and is stitched together for a full 360° image. The LG 360 CAM supports 2K video and is supported by YouTube 360 and Google Street View. Images and video are processed and stored locally on the LG 360 CAM and are then transferred to the G5 wirelessly although the G5 also supports real-time previews from the 360 CAM.

LG 360 VR

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The LG 360 VR is a tethered virtual reality headset that connects to the LG G5 with a USB Type-C cable. It can be operated either with headset controls or via the G5. Because it is cabled to the G5, the headset itself is much smaller and lighter than most other VR head units at just 118 grams. LG claims it can be comfortably worn for much longer than larger, heavier and less comfortable VR units.

The individually-adjustable 360 VR lenses are 1.88 inches each with 960 x 720 resolution, producing a pixel density of 639 ppi. LG tells us the experience is like looking at a 130-inch TV from two meters away. There’s a headphone port on the bottom left of the glasses but you can also plug headphones into the G5 when it is tethered.

There’s an OK and Back button on the unit, but you can achieve the same thing on the G5 via a tap or long-press on the screen. 2D movies in your gallery can also be watched on the 360 VR unit, although they won’t be in VR for obvious reasons, and the LG 360 VR is compatible with YouTube 360 and Google Cardboard.

LG Rolling Bot

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The LG Rolling Bot is kind of like a decapitated BB-8 unit from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s a little spherical robot, a bit smaller than a soccer ball, that contains a camera, speaker and multi-colored laser and can be used for home monitoring and terrorizing your pets.

What do you think is the best LG Friends module or peripheral? What other LG Friends can you envision?

  • yvsaimadhav

    The accessories and the peripherals with the G5 sound interesting if not promising

  • jay

    Just thinking about SSD storage or a SD card reader. Man that is something…. Or maybe a credit card reader for a small business.

  • Maikel92

    I think that’s an awesome feature I hope the succeed with these one, there are a lot of possibilities

  • Wooo that phone looks so sick, so many things that we can do with that…of course that move from LG will not gonna waste. Admit it soon there will me many after market companies will make peripherals for that phone.

  • Zhiyong Sun

    This is the innovation I am waiting for!!!

  • Lindle

    There should be one the doubles the thickness of he phone for triple battery capacity

  • Kunal Narang

    LG is on the right path! Bless them!

  • Choda Boy

    Although I am not a fan of the “LG Friends” naming, I am a fan of the module concept (Springboard?) and hope it is a success.

  • malifact

    Is the standard DAC in the G5 referred to in the article made by Qualcomm or another company?

    • jimv1983

      I’m not sure who makes the standard one inside the phone but if it’s like pretty much any other phone it probably sucks.

  • SnakeSplitskin

    Well, there seems to be a glaring design flaw. That battery looks to be
    already attached to the bottom plate as a single module. So much for
    storing spare batteries in your pocket. The phone itself might have
    enough features to still sell well but you can take replacing the
    battery out of the equation.

    • Dan McSweeney

      Battery is not permanently attached to bottom. It clips on to it and the other modules.

      • SnakeSplitskin

        You are correct. You and others have pointed that out and I’ve also discovered that on photos I hadn’t seen previously showing the two as separate pieces.

    • jimv1983

      Would you really want to store batteries in your pocket anyways? Even with just the battery that is SUPER annoying.

      • SnakeSplitskin

        I used to do it with my old smartphone back in the day. I hated it then and I’ll never go back to it. The problem though is that if you’re a guy, you typically aren’t carrying around a purse or a handbag. Even as a student you probably keep the battery in your pants pocket for easy access rather than at the bottom of your backpack.

        So basically more often than not your spare battery Or batteries are in your pants pocket. And yes, it’s SUPER annoying.

  • andrewl9891

    I would be worrisome of ever buying a device from LG after the experience I’ve had with my G4. Mine has entered the boot loop state twice and each time it took them a month to complete the repair process. I worry that this device will have a major manufacture defect as well.

    • Ryan Neely

      Every company has defects. There’s no need to boycott them over it.

      • andrewl9891

        I’m not trying to argue that LG is the only company to ever have a defect. I’m just telling about the shit experience I’ve had which I’ve never had with any other device that I’ve owned.

        • Paulo Gutierrez

          My brother’s LG G4 didn’t experienced that boot loop since he bought his G4 on late 2015. I think it’s been resolved at that time already.

        • abn

          Dont go breaking the Lg fans hearts about there phones. They got alot riding on this and all those attachments. Wowawuwa for Christ sakes why they just didnt build those attachments within the phone. YOU will only be able to use LG friends because if not phone warranty will void. I’ll give it to them though they threw all in

  • Nadia Al-Belushi

    Hopefully this pushes Google into releasing the Project Ara smartphones/phablets this year!

  • Mike Thaler

    I got the G4 because when it came time to replace my S4, Samsung was emulating Apple by not being able to replace battery (which I need to do 2 or 3 times a month). Also make use of sd memory slot.
    If lady of the house needs to replace her S5 later this year, this would be the one. (Don’t know what’s in the S7, yet.) Oh – I have a hand tremor, and the G$ w. OIS allows me to take very good pics! Hadn’t been able to do that for a few years.

  • Nickname303

    I think the modules and peripherals are an exciting idea. I hope it takes off so that LG and third parties put further work into it and come up with more, as the possibilities are endless

  • Joshua

    LG should have made the battery ejectable, instead of attaching it to the modules. Otherwise I like it.

  • Mrichelo

    The video ad at the bottom of your article keeps jumping the page to view it, while I’m trying to browse your article. Are you a tech blog or a money-making machine? Make up your mind before you attach this marketing drivel on your content.

    P.S. Honestly, I’m disgusted. It’s even jumping to the video as I type this comment. Get your act together, Android Authority.

    • Exare

      Doing the same for me. I’ve commented on it a few times myself. It’s horrible.

  • Allen

    So far it seems LG are as bad as Acer and Samsung for you bought it, we don’t care any more. Android updates are slow to get if at all. So I will look elsewhere than Android phones next. My Ipad gets all the updates even though its years old. But the windows phone is also still waiting windows updates. I don’t like Apple but at least they look after people who pay a lot of money for a phone.

    • asten77

      They have to break from the carriers. Moto’s done it and they’re reasonably quick. I wish the rest would too.

  • Dave

    Any signs that the battery & modules are hot swappable? … or some instant sleep/wake state that can be entered to swap out batteries/modules?

    • asten77

      I’ve seen stated a few times that they are not hot swappable. That would be a great addition, but obviously require more space.

  • Martin Cohen

    I would like a keyboard like the Priv.

  • jimv1983

    So finally a phone that has good sound quality?

  • CANADAMETALFAN

    is there enough room to put a bigger battery in the phone? If a third party made one… I keep my g5 in a life proof case so removing the case to get at the phone to take out the battery is more time consuming.