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Give the LG G5 physical camera controls with the LG CAM Plus module

What's old is new again, it would seem. It's been since 2001 since we've seen a major handheld with an expansion slot — the Palm OS-powered Handspring Visor Pro. And now the expansion slot is back in a big way with the LG G5 and its add-on modules. In addition to the advanced audio module, there's an optional attachment for adding physical camera controls and a chunk of extra battery.

Replacing the standard module is straightforward: unlatch the bottom bezel, pull it out with the battery, yank that battery off and attach it to the camera module, and slide the whole shebang into the bottom of the G5. The camera module adds four physical controls, a grip for you to grab onto, and an extra 1100mAh of battery.

LG G5 with the LG CAM Plus expansion module

Those four buttons include a two-stage shutter button, a dedicated video record button, a zoom dial, and a switch to jump into and out of the camera. The two-stage shutter button works as you would expect — half press to focus and push all the way to fire the camera — and holding it down will snap photos in rapid procession. The video record button does exactly what you would expect, which is it starts recording video when you click it and stops when you click it again.

The activate button is an interesting choice, though. It's a spring-loaded switch that when pulled launches the camera app from no matter where you are in the phone (as will holding down on the camera button), and you can also pull down on it again to exit camera mode back to wherever you were before. We're not certain it's really a neccssary switch, though we can see some use cases for it. That said, its positioning on the bottom edge of the phone (the right side when you turn to landscape) was kind of awkward.

As for the zoom dial, it sits right on the corner of the module. Spinning it will perform a hybrid digital zoom between the two sensors, switching from the standard-angle 16MP sensor to the wider 8MP sensor as you go (there's a tick mark on the on-screen zoom scale to indicate where the switch happens).

In addition to the switches, buttons, dials, and extra battery (which brings the total battery capacity to 3900mAh), the LG CAM Plus also includes the USB-C port and loud speaker that are part of the standard base for the LG G5.

This module does add a considerable bit of bulk to the base of the phone's backside, which LG touts as being a traditional camera grip, but in our brief time with the LG G5 and the LG CAM Plus it came across as quite awkward. The blockiness of the grip and positioning of the buttons aren't what we're used to from either high-end DSLRs or point-and-shoot cameras, nor did we find them comfortable to control without weirdly adjusting our grip. Maybe it's something we could get used to, but it's a large hunk to add to the phone with an awkward control scheme too boot.

We're withholding final judgement until we get to spend more time with the LG CAM Plus and the LG G5, and get more details about it (importantly, the price is still unknown). But for for now you can color us intrigued, if not necessarily by this specific module, then at least by the overall potential of the LG G5's expansion module concept.

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm (the old one), and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

15 Comments
  • I know one guy who would be very happy to hear this. A small loan of a broken G4
  • Yeah. There is someone in this forum who loves the camera shutter Posted via the Android Central App
  • The addition of extra battery and better camera controls is awesome. A great traveling phone. Let's hope battery life is better managed and that 820 processor is great on battery life. Looking forward to reviews. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It'd be far more exciting if they'd built an additional lens into the module, with more substantial glass.
  • Exactly... if you're going to make it that much more thick... why not put a real higher end camera module in there with physical zoom not digital or something??? who know what they were thinking but this thing doesn't look very practical at all.
  • How much would the cam cost Posted via the Android Central App
  • Interesting, the Lumia 1020 also had an add on grip that worked wonderfully as well added to the battery. Nokia's also have had "always on" glance screens for years now, yet these features seem to be touted as "new innovations".
  • I did a shoot off against the S7 at best buy. When the sales guy zoomed in his image had jpg artifacts, my 1020 still looked smooth.
  • My S7 edge will smoke your lumia 1020 galaxy phones have always had the best camera sensors and best quality
  • I disagree. Samsung phones are only "better" at low light. They lack detail that you find in LG. Samsung phones make your photo smooth and bright whereas the person is not. So if I want real photos wt detail I'd go for LG and Windows. Infact am the user of LG G5 SE.
  • You got that right and those live images, also.
  • Derek Kessler is a jackass. Biased twit. LG is the only cell phone manufacturer actually doing anything to further expand the architecture of the cell phone industry, instead of chasing whatever Apple does even though Apple has done NOTHING revolutionary since the first iPhone. Mr. Kessler probably raves about the S7 because he now can monitor Facebook and his friends status at the only time he hasn't been able to be glued to his phone - in the shower.
  • Well, the LG G5 CAM PLUS is down to $6 on ebay, I'll get it just for the additional battery now...
  • In fact, with the addition of a spare battery for an extra $9 and a second cam plus module, you have ANOTHER 4000 mAh on deck ($15 for the pair) -- along with the primary 4000 mAh, for a total of 8000 mAh........starting to sound like the ideal weekend-away-from-electrical-outlets phone........
  • Sometimes its fun and cheap to live 2 years in the technological past. LOL