The launch of the LG G5 heralds the start of something new from LG. It might be an impressive end point at the end of a progressive journey over the past few years, but the launch at Mobile World Congress 2016 sees LG making a bigger splash than it's done with any previous device launch.
Firstly, let's get this out of the way: the LG G5 is every inch the modern smartphone you want it to be. Yes, it has a Quad HD display, yes it has a dual camera on the rear, yes it has a metal body with a removable battery. You can read our first impressions of the LG G5 right here.
But LG's story is bigger than that of a single phone. It's about a change of direction.
As LG tells it, smartphones have become about comparing specs and things have stagnated. People are less interested, because all phones more or less offer the same experience, perhaps in slight degrees of better or worse, but the same none the less.
So LG's invitation to "play" is quite literal, launching the LG G5 with plenty of Friends to play with. As impressive as the LG G5 is, the line-up of Friends is likely to draw just as many headlines.
Joining the LG G5 is an impressive array of accessories. These aren't just the regular boring Bluetooth headset (although LG's new Tone Platinum has just been announced and is one of the first to offer aptX HD, that's 24-bit wireless audio), but the fun really starts with the LG Cam Plus and the LG Hi-Fi Plus.
These take advantage of the G5's modular nature: pressing a button lets you remove the bottom section of the phone, along with the battery. This bottom section can be changed to enhance the functionality of your phone.
Leaps and bounds ahead of clip on cases, this is the gateway to a world of wonderfully integrated and considered accessories. The LG Cam Plus is a companion for the camera. It provides better grip, gives you a shutter button and video button, offers an analogue zoom dial, as well as boosting the battery life.
Using the LG Cam Plus, you'll be able to head out and shoot pictures and video all day, with the G5's 2800mAh battery boosted to 4000mAh.
Then you have the LG Hi-Fi Plus. This again is an accessory that will replace the bottom of the phone and this time it's been produced and tuned in partnership with B&O Play. It's a 32-bit DAC and amp, giving you high quality audio, but seamlessly integrated. It makes your phone a little longer, but it's much more convenient than carrying a separate DAC.
But that's only part of the Friends story: there's the LG 360 Cam and LG 360 VR headset too. It's easy to see how these two can play together, one capturing content for the other to enjoy.
The LG 360 Cam uses a pair of back-to-back 13-megapixel sensors to give 180- or 360-degree video or still capture. This can be viewed on the phone using motion, or using the VR headset. It's fully compatible with Google Street View and YouTube 360 video, so easy to share too.
The LG 360 VR headset is designed to be more practical than cardboard and more convenient that Gear VR. With a design like a pair of glasses, it's a wired solution, plugging into the USB Type-C on the bottom of the G5.
LG has a bespoke hub for it, as well as supporting all the apps that work with Google's Cardboard system. The big difference is that LG 360 VR has its own displays, so you don't have to slide your phone into it.
Finally (yes, there's more), LG has shown off the LG Rolling Bot. This is probably as close to BB-8 as you're actually going to get, without buying BB-8. The LG Rolling Bot connects to your home Wi-Fi network and is controlled via your phone, and yes, you can control it from anywhere in the world.
The Rolling Bot has a number of features: not only can you control movement, but it has a mic and speakers, features a camera and a laser. A laser! This is a laser pointer and the idea is that you can play with your pets when you're not at home. You can view them, talk to them and let them chase the laser around the room. Or, you can just have the Rolling Bot chill out with a disco light show.
We've seen lots of companies experiment with diversification, like HTC with its Re camera, but LG is going all out with the G5 and Friends. There's a refreshing playfulness to LG's approach and even with these initial devices (there's a drone coming too, apparently) there's something for everyone - a connected toy, both sides of VR, audiophile expansion.
And sitting at the core of it is perhaps LG's most impressive G series handset yet. It looks like LG could be the company to beat in 2016. There's currently no word on pricing, although we're expecting devices to start appearing in early April.
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