Update: TheLG G5 release date is being teased for February 21 at MWC. Here's what we expect.
The LG G4 got a lot right, but with a couple of significant missteps and a few other minor niggles it didn't quite reach the heights of greatness we'd hoped for. But 2016 is another year, and the LG G5 is another chance for LG to deliver the handset we all know it's capable of.
As we saw with the G4, LG won't be drawn into following the norm of metal and glass bodies, happily slapping plastic and leather on its latest flagship handset – but something is going to have to give in the design department, as LG is getting left behind somewhat by Apple, Samsung, HTC and Sony.
There aren't a huge amount of rumors circulating just yet, but expect the conjecture to heat up soon. In the meantime, we've created our dream LG G5, and listed what we'd love to see in the handset.
Cut to the chase
What is it? LG's next flagship smartphone
When's it out? Likely February 21, 2016
What will it cost? A lot – it's a flagship after all
The techradar LG G5 Concept
We've taken it upon ourselves to put together a concept of how the G5 should look, and we're thinking all-metal, with a curved screen above and below (rather from side to side), and that fingerprint scanner in LG's magic power button on the back.
Our design allows LG to still stand out from the crowd, while bringing it into the premium tier of design. The South Korean firm isn't afraid to throw in some curve balls here and there, so while the concept is ambitious there's always a chance for LG to surprise.
We've starting to hear more LG G5 rumors, and they're all pretty promising. For one thing we might finally see LG deliver a truly premium flagship, as Naver.com reports that it will sport a full metal body, which would be a nice change from the plastic the company usually uses and the less said about the leather-backed LG G4 the better.
In other news a source with a solid track record has claimed that it will have a Snapdragon 820 processor, which should be a big upgrade on the Snapdragon 808 chip found in the LG G4.
The same source also claims it will have a 20MP camera with a custom Sony 1/2-inch sensor, which should also be an upgrade on the 16MP snapper that the LG G4 has.
Though another rumor suggests it will have a 21MP snapper on the back and a 5MP one on the front, as well as a 5.6-inch 2K screen.
We're bound to start seeing iris scanners in smartphones sooner or later and LG hasn't been afraid to innovate or be the first to do things in the past, so it's possible that the LG G5 will pack this tech, but we're a little sceptical, though that same rumor has popped up again, so you never know.
LG G5 release date
You won't have to wait very long for the LG G5 release date. The company's flagship Android phone is expected to launch two months earlier than its typical annual refresh cycle.
An invite went out to us and other members of the press asking us to "Save the Date" for February 21. The vague email teased the phrased "Play Begins" and the location of Barcelona.
It's not a final confirmation that the LG G5 is coming to MWC 2016, but the move would make sense. Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9 were announced there last year and got a two-month headstart on the LG G4.
It looks as if LG isn't allowing the Samsung Galaxy S7 and HTC One M10 to do the same all over again, so we may have our first look at the LG G5 one month from now.
1. An all-metal build
LG moved away from plastic towards a more premium design with the LG G4. It…didn't go well. The unusual choice of leather was certainly novel, but it felt cheap, looked odd and wasn't anywhere near as visually pleasing as the metal HTC One M9 or iPhone 6.
So hopefully the LG G5 will have a more conventional all-metal design. It's hard to go wrong with metal and it should make the phone even more premium and less divisive. Thankfully early rumors suggest a metal G5 is on the way.
2. A fingerprint scanner
While many smartphones are now incorporating fingerprint scanners LG has so far resisted, and it's a shame as the prominent power button on the back of its devices is crying out for one.
Turning the button into a single touch biometric scanner seems like an obvious decision and it would give the LG G5 one more useful feature.
The company is rumoured to be going a step further and working on an iris scanner and while we wouldn't say no to that a fingerprint scanner is probably a safer choice.
3. More innovative edges
We're bored of flat phones and if the LG G Flex 2 is anything to go by so is LG. But companies are yet to crack curves and we want to see LG try something new with the G4, so how about taking a note from the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, but rather than having curved sides have the screen spill over the top and bottom edge.
That would give it an eye-catching look, but it wouldn't just be for show, the curves could also display extra notifications depending on which way the phone is held.
4. A 4K screen
The LG G4 already has a QHD screen and it's glorious, but even the LG G3 was offering QHD so it's time for LG to move things along and give the LG G5 a 4K display.
Assuming it stays at 5.5 inches a 4K (3840 x 2160) screen would have a pixel density of 801 pixels per inch, making it one of the sharpest displays around. Why? VR of course! Making this the perfect phone to strap to your head needs a really pin sharp display.
We only want this to happen if LG can avoid giving the battery life a hit in the process, but LG had a reputation for being ahead of the game on screen resolution and that's something it should try and hold onto.
Current rumors are that the screen will be growing to 5.6 inches but sticking at QHD, so we may not see LG fully embracing VR just yet.
5. Better battery life
The LG G2 had great battery life but in the last couple of years LG has struggled in this area. Perhaps it's the move to a QHD screen or perhaps it just needs to use bigger juice packs or a more efficient processor, but whatever the reason the LG G4 barely makes it through a day and that's just not good enough.
So we really want to see better battery life on the LG G5. Phones should be pushing at least two days of life as far as we're concerned, not struggling to manage one. We'd rather this than a high res screen, to be honest.
6. Slicker performance
Despite being a flagship phone the LG G4 isn't always that fast. We've mentioned that the camera can be slow to launch but flipping between running apps can take a second too and the interface sometimes occasionally even needs to rebuild itself after jumping between apps.
This could be down to the Snapdragon 808 processor powering the G4, but we'd think that coupled with 3GB of RAM it should be more than enough to deliver slick performance. So whether through a power injection or better optimised software we hope the LG G5 is a smooth operator.
Early rumors are that we'll see a Snapdragon 820 chip in the G5, in which case slicker performance is likely.
7. A faster camera
The LG G4 has a hugely impressive camera, but it's not always the fastest to launch. Tapping the camera icon should see it boot up in just 0.6 seconds, but if using a double tap of the volume button to launch it when the phone is asleep it takes more like 2 seconds.
That's still not slow but it can be long enough to miss the perfect time to get a snap, so hopefully LG will speed the process up on the G5.
8. Knock Code improvements
Being able to double tap the screen to wake it up is great and generally works well, but with Knock Code LG went one further and allowed you to unlock the phone with a series of taps too.
Sadly this doesn't work quite so well or consistently and it's enough of a problem to render it less useful than more conventional unlock options like a PIN or pattern, so hopefully LG will tighten this up for the G5. Then again if it includes a fingerprint or iris scanner it could probably just ditch Knock Code altogether.
9. A more compact design
We don't necessarily want LG to put a smaller screen on the G5, especially if it's going to keep pushing the pixels to this extent, but there's no denying that it can be a little more unwieldy than a smaller phone, so one solution would be to trim down the bezels.
There's still quite a lot of empty space, especially above and below the display, so if that goes on the LG G5 then we could see a 5.5-inch phone that doesn't require hand gymnastics to use.
10. Less bloat
LG clearly puts a lot of work into its interface and the version found on the G4 is fairly clean and colourful. It even has a few genuinely useful features, such as Smart Notice, which is hugely improved since its debut in 2014.
But there are a number of less useful features, apps and widgets which we'd just as soon see the back of. From Q Slide to LG Health there are a lot of things here that feel like they're just ticking boxes or exist purely to help the phone stand out without really having been thought through.