Deserved better, yet could have done better
So this week by far the biggest news in the tech sphere has been the departure of LG from the smartphone business, with the company shutting down it’s LG Mobile division and aiming to instead focus on it’s more profitable divisions like home appliances, smart devices, laptops and even future endeavors such as electric vehicle parts and robotics. It’s saddening news that many seemingly predicted, but still hurts many a tech fan when one takes a moment to actually see how much of an impact LG had had over the smartphone industry especially in the last ten or eleven years. In fact, it’s safe to say that LG is now worthy of the title of the most underrated smartphone company of the last 10 years, and as we take a brief look at LG’s best phones, we’ll see why they deserved more credit, but also why they shot themselves in the foot often.
Now I put the MKBHD video above not to necessarily distract from this whole deep dive but rather to add to it, as it’s another chronicle of LG phones including some feature phones and it’s first Android flagships. I didn’t really want to dive into that as much as I wanted to bring out some very basic facts about both me and my relationship with LG devices and smartphones in general. For starters, my daily driver phone is an LG V30, paired with Microsoft Lumia 540 and an occasional Nokia 3.2 as well. The V30 is my main phone however, and since I bought it in late 2019, it’s proven to be an amazing one at that. I had the choice between this phone , a Galaxy S8 and Note 8 and while I occasionally missed the stylus of the Note, I never once thought I chose the worst phone of the three. And that’s because I didn’t.
Released in late 2017 (one of the best years for phones of the past decade), the V30 was essentially a sleeper hit of the year, being a feature-packed video-focused heavyweight meant to take on the Galaxy Note 8 and even the iPhone X. It gained some praise from some tech critics, but failed to raise a lot of fanfare despite most people agreeing it was a worthy contender with features the other two didn’t have. And that’s really what became the definitive story for a lot of LG’s best phones, because trust me there were more: being good, unique, even great phones, that most people didn’t really know about. Why didn’t they know about them? Well blame that on a combination of terrible marketing, dicey naming choices and even a poor distribution or market segmentation strategy outside of the U.S.A. . Basically, LG made great devices that no one heard of or people in certain countries couldn’t get their hands on, and that’s arguably the most hurtful part of this whole story.
And I keep hammering the point of devices because the V30 wasn’t a one-time fluke .Beyond the V30 , LG had the less earth-shaking V40, the close-but-no-cigar G5 with it’s modular phone approach, the delightfully amazing Wing which essentially lit up my love for phones again last year, and the G3 and G4 which were actually much bigger successes for the company in a time when Samsung and Apple hadn’t run away with the rest of the market, the former being LG’s greatest selling flagship phone. Add in the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 phones that Android still hold as Holy Grails and even dart back to phones like the G2 and you begin to realise something: not only did LG make good phones, but they made pretty influential ones too. LG is the company you have to thank for
Multiple cameras on a phone(first came with the LG Optimus 3D)
18:9 aspect ratios which most phones use(G6)
Wide angle cameras (G5)
Built-in Quad DAC’s for the best headphone quality(V20)
QHD display resolutions (G3)
Double tap to wake(G2)