LG G5: Do we really need modules on a smartphone?

by Jerry

LG presented the first modular design for a smartphone with its LG G5 at Mobile World Congress 2016. An announcement that caused a lot of excitement as much as it left marble, because the question arises: do we really need it?

LG naturally made headlines at Mobile World Congress 2016 by introducing the first high-end modular smartphone. Thanks to the LG G5's battery port, it is now possible to attach accessories that increase the phone's capacity.

But these accessories have been greeted with as much enthusiasm as disdain, even misunderstanding as the Korean manufacturer's new phone seeks to truly change the high-end smartphone landscape in 2016.

A complete LG G5 even without accessories

To understand, the concept of the LG G5 wants you to have basic a very complete phone: Snapdragon 820, 4GB of LPDDR4, 2800mAh battery and especially double camera sensor 16 and 8 MP wide angle are all arguments that the flagship claims and this without needing any extra.

LG Friends, as the company calls them, are just additions that you can buy to optimize certain uses of your phone. Do you particularly like taking pictures? The LG Cam Plus is for you. Do you like listening to music? The DAC B-O is for you. Etc etc.

Modular by design

Let's be clear: the LG G5 doesn't need these accessories to be a very good high-end smartphone in 2016. The concept simply wants you to take with you the accessory you need at a T moment. The LG Cam Plus is much more likely to take it on vacation with you than to let it constantly connect to your phone.

The goal is to emulate the same use as a PC: a central machine that you can customize by your use. Interested in virtual reality? LG has a headset for you, plugged into the G5. Interested in drones? LG has a controller for you, plugged into the G5.

Problem being that this message is quite strange, just as its design is not necessarily complete. Indeed, even if the idea looks good on paper, it goes against the principle of the smartphone.

Isn't that a smartphone?

Looking at the message of smartphones about recent years, the problem finally appears: what LG offers is the promise kept or not (the answer being very subjective) of all smartphones. The ability to have a compact device constantly on us allowing all uses.

Ironically, the accessories of the LG G5 give the impression that without them, the phone is unable. It's no wonder that the Galaxy S7 and its dual pixel may seem far more attractive in the public eye than a smartphone that can be turned into a digital camera: the photo argument seems much more compelling when you don't attach accessories to it.

After all, what is the LG Cam Plus other than extra buttons and battery extension? Many phones already have touch interfaces that easily emulate these offerings, as well as incorporating a capture button into their bodies.

A promise already fulfilled

The practical side evoked is also strangely dissonant with smartphones: what is practical to have to carry around a range of accessories to do what we are promised to do since the advent of the smartphone and its compact format?

In addition, the modularity of the LG G5 means that the battery must be completely removed from the phone in order to change the module, forcing itself to plan to use one of the modules before the shot. If you want to take a photo on the spot, the LG Cam Plus must be pre-installed. This concept runs counter to the current use of smartphones.

Optimization first and foremost

To think so, however, would be to mislead on the offer that LG wants. Problem being that it does not necessarily go to the end of its concept. The LG Cam Plus is really the biggest example of this fact: by being only an extension adding buttons and an extra battery, it finally only makes the use of the camera closer to a traditional camera.

If the LG Cam Plus added a new photo power to the phone, its interest would have been much clearer in the image of the DAC B-O whose function is immediately understood. Because the manufacturer does not want to segment its offer: it wants to make it global. A smartphone to attract them all by the power of the Friends who will take care to adapt them to the use of its buyers.

Having the answer to everything

This is where LG has a real shot to play with its LG G5: to have answer to everything, without obscuring the raw power of the phone. Communication naturally focused on the modularity of the phone at MWC 2016, but now it's time to really put the phone first.

After all, the smartphone itself has a lot of advantage, it's only now a matter of directing communication. Are you a gambler? Look at this LG G5 and its Snapdragon 820 compatible with the Vulkan API, and if you're convinced why not add a module that turns your phone into a real portable console.

Photographers, look at this stunning double sensor. Going on vacation? Hang an LG Cam Plus and be constantly ready to take the best shots. The price will do a lot for these accessories,as will the ability for accessory manufacturers to attach themselves to the LG Friends range. Two important arguments for consumer accessibility to these products.

Because in fact, consumers don't need the modular. The LG G5 does not need these modules. The market does not need to provide them. So we're going to have to create this need from scratch,as every innovation has done before.

And in the case of LG, this will have to go through a clear, varied and accessible offer. 3 points difficult to collect, but potentially potentially change what is expected of a smartphone on future years if they are all 3 achieved.

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