Bootloop, that dirty word
LG has always been one of the big phone brands, especially in North America, but recently, things haven’t been going great for the company. While in 2014 LG Mobile was enjoying record-breaking sales, in 2018, the company saw a 26% year-on-year decline in smartphones sold, continuing the slide down from previous trimesters, raising concerns with investors and executives alike.
Trying to shake things up with the following G5, LG decided to bet on modularity. The device allowed for different attachments to be connected at the bottom of the phone, giving it additional functionality. While that sounds cool on paper, LG’s implementation of the idea was poor, turning it into more of a weakness of the phone than a strength. The interchangeable modules were limited in number and usefulness and proved unpopular with consumers, something that we later saw with the Motorola Z2 as well.
I ThinQ LG had some bad ideas
The latest iteration of the G line, the LG G7 ThinQ, is an overall good device. What’s not so good about it, as you have undoubtedly noticed, is its name. LG decided to slap its smart appliances branding “ThinQ” to the names of its latest flagship smartphones as well. This was meant to signal how your phone will easily work with your LG fridge or washing machine thanks to LG’s AI technology. Instead, it only added confusion. It’s not even clear how the ThinQ brand name is supposed to be pronounced.
Along with the G series of smartphones, LG began releasing high-end handsets under its V series in 2015. The V line was built around the needs of power users and gave LG the opportunity to experiment. The first two iterations (V10 and V20) were most notable for their a small secondary screen on top for quick access to apps, a unique feature that today seems like the “grand-daddy” of the trendy notch design.
When it comes to cameras, LG’s smartphones are on par when it comes to technical specs and were the ones to popularize the useful wide-angle lens. However, LG’s camera app is still lagging behind. The company was one of the first to offer manual controls for those who want to take “professional” photos with their phones without having to install third-party apps, but has since failed to introduce anything exciting. In fact, it took forever for LG to add a portrait mode to its phones, instead focusing on developing gimmicky camera modes with artificial intelligence built in. The latest stand-out feature LG came up with, called Triple Shot, takes a picture with each of the three main cameras on the LG V40 along with a cringe-worthy video slideshow, but it takes a long time to do all that, and the usefulness of the feature is questionable. Another weak spot for LG’s flagships are their front-facing cameras, and we all know how much some people care about selfies.
On the bright side, at least bright for those who want an LG phone anyway, the prices of its flagship phones quickly go down, and after just a few months, the devices can be quite a bargain.
Don’t expect LG smartphones to disappear anytime soon, however. The mobile division is only a small part of LG Corp. Even if it’s not making money as a separate unit, it will likely continue to exist as a marketing tool.
Keep your eyes open for the next post of this series, in which we’ll examine HTC’s misfortunes on the mobile market. Coming soon!