The HTC 10 is an amazing phone that may be our favorite of the year; it's a greater than the sum of its parts return to form for one of the historically best, least gimmicky, smartphone makers. LG's G5, meanwhile, is an ambitious attempt at modularity – a feature that toes the line between innovation and gimmickry. Let's see how their features and specs stack up.
The LG G5 is a hair bigger: just 2 percent taller and 3 percent wider. LG's phone also comes out at 14 percent thinner – though it has a flatter back, while the more sloped back of the HTC 10 measures only its beefiest point.
The G5 also comes out a smidge lighter.
LG finally ditched the plastic edges with this year's flagship, going all aluminum – as HTC has been doing with its flagships since 2013.
This is where LG is trying to differentiate its new flagship, with a modular chin that slides off and out so you can replace it with add-ons like a Hi-Fi music player, camera grip or just a spare battery.
Technically each phone ships in four different color options, but US shoppers will likely only ever see the first two choices for the HTC 10.
The G5's display is about 4 percent bigger than the HTC 10's.
Available display area, though, will come out closer than that – if not tilting slightly in HTC's favor. That's because LG's screen hogs the bottom row for a navigation bar (home, back and recent apps buttons), while this year HTC moved its flagship's nav keys off the screen and onto capacitive buttons, below the screen (similar to what you see on Samsung's flagships).
Both phones have ultra-sharp Quad HD resolution, which means the smaller HTC 10 wins the pixel density contest at a mere 2 percent higher.
LG's and HTC's flagships each use an IPS LCD panel.
If you have a killer pair of cans and want to give them the best possible audio from your phone, then these two flagships may be your best options.
There is, however, one big difference: the G5's Hi-Fi audio comes from a module that's sold separately. On the plus side, you can use the LG Hi-Fi Plus with B&O Play Sound on its own without the phone. On the minus side, it's another £149 (about US$215) purchase – and isn't yet sold in the US.
The HTC 10's Hi-Fi audio is built into the phone, no separate purchases needed. We've been treating our ears to the HTC 10's sound for a few weeks now – it can make good headphones sound great, and great ones sound phenomenal.
The HTC 10 and LG module each have a DAC (Digital to Audio Converter) as part of that package, with the HTC 10 clocking in at 24-bit and the G5 module at 32-bit.
Like just about every modern flagship, both of these have fingerprint sensors. The G5's is on its back, while the HTC 10's is in its front-side capacitive home button.
The G5's cameras have higher resolution, but that doesn't mean it has better image quality. You can read our HTC 10 review for more on its camera quality, and check back very soon for our G5 review.
Camera aperture (rear)
Both phones' rear cameras handle low-lit photography well, with wide ƒ/1.8 apertures.
Both have Optical Image Stabilization in their rear cameras, though HTC pays tribute to selfie-takers all the world over with stabilization in the front shooter as well.
Physical camera controls
If you want your smartphone camera to feel more like a "real" camera, then you can pick up LG's $70 Cam Plus module, which adds a better grip, along with physical buttons for launching the camera, shutter and a zoom dial. It also throws in a little extra battery juice (more on that in a second).
A feature LG pioneered a couple of years ago, both rear cameras have laser-based autofocus tech, to help give your photography a jolt of espresso.
The HTC 10 has the slightly larger battery, though if you pick up the G5's Cam Plus module, it adds an extra 1,200mAh, inching it a little closer to the HTC 10's capacity.
We'll have a battery test on the G5 soon, to see exactly how it lines up with the HTC 10's very good results.
You can buy a spare battery module for the G5, to swap out for new power on the go.
We think LG missed out on a chance for a full modular experience, though, by making you power down to change batteries. The modular phone of our dreams would have had a small, secondary reserve battery inside the phone – to let you swap out without powering down. As it stands now, this "modular" feature is basically the same as the removable batteries on the Android phones of yesteryear, only with a new coat of paint.
Like pretty much every current Android flagship, both of these have quick-charging tech built-in. They're both using the new Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 standard. This is still one of the best reasons to choose an Android phone over an iPhone.
No wireless charging on either of these two.
Android is moving away from microUSB and towards USB Type C. Both of these phones are onboard with the new (reversible) standard.
Both handsets run the speedy Snapdragon 820.
We're also even at 4 GB of RAM.
US shoppers will only have a 32 GB option for either handset, though there is an international version of the HTC 10 that ships with 64 GB.
You can also expand both phones' internal storage via microSD card (up to 2 TB each). Only the HTC 10 supports Marshmallow's Adoptable Storage, though, which lets you ... adopt the card, formatting and encrypting it so the phone sees it blurring together with internal storage.
The G5 has been in stores for a month or so, while the HTC 10 is just now hitting store shelves (so far only Verizon in the US) and heading out to online pre-order customers.
Both handsets run Android Marshmallow, with their respective manufacturer UIs on top. We much prefer HTC's software approach with its Sense UI, subtle and deferring to stock for the most part (only adding something when it really has something to add) to LG's heavier-handed, not particularly attractive UI approach.
Starting price (full retail)
Prices vary a bit from carrier to carrier, but these are our ballpark median figures for both phones. If you skip your carrier and buy the HTC 10 unlocked straight from the company, then you'll pay a bit more, at $699.
Just remember, though, that to use the LG G5's killer feature, you'll want to add at least one or two of the modules to your purchase, which jacks that price up much higher than the HTC 10. Considering the HTC 10 is likely our Smartphone of the Year pick so far, that may be a tough sell.
Want a cleaner, faster loading and ad free reading experience?
Try New Atlas Plus. Learn more