LG took it upon themselves to release an exciting product this year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a product that could end up revolutionizing the stagnant mobile industry. The company’s CEO calls it a “theme park in your pocket.”
That product is LG’s Magic Slot, coming soon to an LG G5 near you.
What is the Magic Slot?
The South Korean giant re-imagined what a smartphone should be, ditching the curved plastic design in favor of an all-metal body. It’s a big improvement over its predecessor and the front and the rear of the device blend in very well.
What was most interesting was LG’s innovative take on its flagship phone. Instead of going for a non-removable sealed battery, LG’s ambitious designers came up a modular design to keep the existing swappable components and accessories, called the Magic Slot.
The bottom of the LG G5 features the magic slot or compartment which can be replaced with other LG-made and third party compartments. These specialist accessories (or add-ons) can be used to boost anything from the photography experience, battery life or audio quality.
To unlock the magic slot and remove the bottom compartment, a lock button is placed at the bottom left side of the phone. Pressing that button loosens the bottom cap, providing access to the compartment. We will be discussing the modules offered by LG. If you want to know more about the G5 head to our detailed coverage here.
Sliding out the bottom cap gives you access to the removable battery. It takes some courage to snap the battery off the bottom cap, as it requires to be removed in certain way and makes a click sound. Of course, LG had to go for a reliable method to prevent the battery or the bottom cap from being too loose, a possibility that could’ve caused unintentional and unnecessary power offs.
To LG’s credit, the design is well implemented and the phone feels solid when the module is attached to the phone.
Users can simply remove the battery and place a charged one in its stead. The battery capacity may not be much, only 2,800mAh, but making it removable along with a metal body gives the G5 an advantage over its competitors.
LG Cam Plus
If you thought that the removable battery was a cool feature, then you’ll love the other functionalities. LG is selling a camera grip, called the LG Cam Plus, which replaces the standard bottom compartment.
This bottom add-on offers an additional 1,200 mAh of battery, summing up to a massive 4,000 mah battery unit. But this isn’t the main feature of the accessory, the grip is supposed to make photography on the LG G5 much easier. Users get access to several manual controls like a hardware shutter release, a digital zoom dial, a video recording button and a camera toggle. There’s an additional mic on the module as well.
Of course, being a camera grip, it eliminates all dangers associated with phone slipping. It improves on one-handed use for on-the-move photographers, thanks to its rubbery texture and slight heft. The module costs around USD 70 (approx. Rs. 7,300) and is available for pre-order wherever the phone is officially available.
The Cam Plus module might be priced a bit too high considering what it offers, but it does give photographers a choice when using the G5 and its new camera tech. The G5 is amongst the best camera phones around and such an option will only make it a better investment for those who consider a phone’s camera amongst its most important features.
Bang & Olufsen LG Hi-Fi Plus
LG also offers a dedicated audio module for the audiophiles. After teaming up with Bang & Olufsen, a leading name in the music industry, the Korean company created this module. This module comes with an H3 B&O headset as well.
Those who love to feel the high and the lows of the music they listen to, would love to make use of the dedicated audio accessory. The audio cap, includes a 32-bit DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) which makes listening to music, especially when using a pair of headphones, a pleasant experience.
For those, who don’t have a G5 or want to connect the accessory otherwise, there’s an additional snap-on module which offers outboard compatibility via its UDB Type-C port. The pricing details are yet to be revealed. However, with the price of other B&O accessories (like the H3 headphones costing £149 / Rs. 10,600) in mind, it definitely won’t come cheap.
Those who have the cash and want high quality sound, there really is no other option which also provides the option of a micro SD card and a removable battery. Both battery life and storage trade-offs are to be expected when using a dedicated audio accessory for high quality music listening.
These are just the modules developed by LG. Third party developers are also encouraged by LG to develop their own modules and come up with more useful accessories for the magic slot. The phone is yet to be released in most of the markets, but when it does, we will get to know more about these modules and their pricing. After the phone is released worldwide, third party developers will come up with many more modules for the LG flagship.
The South Korean firm has definitely opened new doors in the smartphone world with its innovation. The G5 may have dropped the rear volume controls to attract more consumers, but this modular approach using the magic slot might be the killer feature needed to get the sales going. Modular approach in smartphones is also what is needed until we get something like a Project Ara in the market.