LG's stunning resurgence in 2017

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

No one wants to be the runner-up, or the second-place finisher, just because you know that despite all of the efforts put into something, there's still someone else that has done it better than you. That's exactly the predicament that South Korean based company, LG, has seen itself year-after-year for as long as they've been in the Android smartphone market. Looking back at nearly the last decade alone, they've always seemed to be in the shadow of Samsung's grandiose acclaims – always coming ever so close, but never once finishing ahead of its esteemed rival.

That kind of thing can obviously have a huge impact on one's ego, as repeated failures to cruise past the main competition can thwart the kind of motivation and inspiration that's needed to really become a premier player in today's smartphone landscape. For LG this year, though, it seems like that trend of being a second-rate company behind its arch rival has finally changed! And you know what? The timing couldn't have been any better, seeing that certain events did allow LG the opportunity to make ground, not only against its biggest competitor, but also to push forward its position on a global basis.

Even though 2017 will end up going down in history as a banner year for LG, one in which they've been able to gain back consumer confidence, LG's handset division will still have quite the uphill battle financially. They were still in the red after reporting their third quarter earnings back in October, but for the year, we still have the decisive fourth quarter to get through, which might help sway things in a more positive direction for them. Still, it's worth looking back to see the company's transformation this year alone!

Coming off 2016's disappointing efforts

Prior to 2016 and the announcement of its flagship in the G5, LG seemed to be going at a decent pace. They weren't necessarily revolutionizing things with its line of smartphones, but they were nonetheless able to remain a relevant player in the space, as Apple and Samsung continued to battle each other for supremacy. Both the LG G3 and G4 were solid contenders against other flagships at the time, providing the confidence to become even more ambitious with their next iterative venture. But things took a sudden turn for the worst when they announced and released the LG G5, which was their attempt at the "modular" phone – one that was critically panned by critics, so much so that the fallout from its failures had reverberations that directly affected its successor.

LG's tagline of "life's good when you play more" seemed promising when it was unveiled that the phone would feature a modular design, allowing its "friends" to deliver additional functionality to the phone. While many folks applauded the decision to go with a metal design that retained a removable battery, versus the plastic constructions of its predecessors, the pricey and limited modules that were made available didn't do much to enhance the overall experience per se. Rather, it seemed to over-complicate things instead.

All of this didn't do much to advance LG's position in the mobile space, lagging considerably behind its main rival in Samsung, who was seeing a receptive response with its flagships in the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge respectively. Maybe in its eyes, LG believed that it was doing something revolutionary with the G5, but as we've quickly seen, its implementation was soon eclipsed by the more practical Moto Mods introduced with the Moto Z later on in late 2016. With that reality setting in, LG's fate was sealed in disappointment because its dramatic efforts with its flagship was futile. Call it a crash and burn, or whatever, it was just disastrous for them regardless!

Fortunately, they quickly adapted to the lukewarm reception, paving the way for a glint of hope with the LG V20 soon afterwards, in attempt to salvage what it could for the year ending in 2016. On the surface, it borrowed its sibling's metal construction, but ditched the modularity of the G5 in favor of a more straightforward, streamlined approach. This decision to some extent could've been brought on by the lack of consumer interest in modularity, so regardless of the fact that the V20 couldn't escape the sour reputation of the G5 before it, there was already this growing change happening within LG to do better.

However, it needed something else entirely unexpected to happen for them to turn things around.

Unexpected help from the Samsung Galaxy Note 7

LG's opportunity came around with Samsung's debacle with the Galaxy Note 7 in the fall of 2016. You could say that Sammy was sailing smoothly prior to the events that unfolded with the Note 7, but that undoubtedly changed everything, causing the juggernaut in the smartphone space to go into disaster/recovery mode. We all know by now how significant this moment was in the landscape, but at the same time too, it bought LG the opportunity to start thinking about its strategy for the subsequent year.

When we look back to LG's beginnings in Android space, they've never been able to shed that reputation of being a second-place finisher to Samsung. And in the greater scheme of things, they were still competing against the hordes of other major players in the space – like Apple, HTC, and Huawei to name a few. But this single moment can be attributed to the genesis of LG's eventual turn around.

Looking back now, it's almost unimaginable to fathom that this one single event could have such a huge impact in shaping the mobile landscape for the following year, but it did! And luckily for LG, it was in its favor to come swinging for the fences with something far more ambitious than what they've done in the past.

A refocus back to the basics

Aiming to forget what transpired in 2016 with its flagship, LG definitely wanted to go back to the drawing board and produce something far more palatable. The result here was the LG G6, one of the first major flagship smartphones to be announced in 2017 – ushering a new chapter for the company. Out of all the other handsets unveiled at MWC 2017, the LG G6 was voted best phone of the show by many outlets and industry personnel – including myself, who was surprised by the phone's complete 180-degree transformation.

Failing to spur interest with its modular flagship the prior year, the LG G6 ditched that in favor of a totally new redesigned smartphone that focused heavily on some of the core features that the series has been building out since its inception. You can say that it was this sort of "going back to the basics" approach with the G6, which too sheds its all-metal construction in favor of that trendy metal meets glass water-resistant design. The phone as a whole was a substantial improvement over its predecessor, earning acclaim in the process, but it wasn't without some drawbacks – like the it being powered by the older Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chip.

Despite that, this was regarded as a valid win for LG, steering them towards the correct direction. The opportunity also allowed LG to highlight the stringent quality assurance testing that the phone is put through, with a focus on its battery – a knock to the Samsung Galaxy Note 7's issues. Proving to be one of the biggest shakers during MWC 2017, the LG G6's supremacy was later tested with the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S8 a month later. Granted that the LG G6 helped to wash away the failures of the G5 before it, the Galaxy S8 ended up being a more coveted device in the long run. In fact. It was a more refined, superior performing smartphone that continued Samsung's dominance over LG.

So yeah, as much as LG strived to push ahead of its main rival, they still finished second place once the Galaxy S8 came around. Undeterred by that, things shifted into high gear as they anticipated the second half of the year.

Enter the LG V30, the no-BS smartphone

Mid-year, LG was still in an odd position because Samsung appeared to somehow come out on top – even though the Note 7 disaster was still fresh in the minds of many. By the time fall 2017 arrived, LG seem poised to deliver their biggest punch to date with the video-centric V30, which is something that the series has taken pride on focusing over other features. What's amazing, though, was that the V30 ensured itself that it was a high-end smartphone in every facet.

First and foremost, it was endowed with all of the latest and greatest hardware, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC – something that was absent with the G6 earlier in the year. Even better was the fact that the V30 was that no-BS smartphone that delivered all the goods consumers want in a phone. From the water-resistant premium design, to its dual-camera setup, and even its incorporation of a microSD card slot, wireless charging, and 3.5mm headphone jack, the V30 was every bit of the no-BS, no excuses smartphone we all crave! Even as we're closing out the year, the LG V30 continues to stand prominently for its uncompromising features.

By the time it was unveiled officially during IFA 2017, it earned surprising initial remarks from critics, analysts, and the media. And when we look at the current lineup of smartphones competing during the holiday period right now, very few phones can match the breadth of features that accompany the LG V30. That alone is what makes it so impressive in the current landscape, as it doesn't compromise in any sort of way. Adding to that as well, the phone was priced lower than most of its esteemed rivals at approximately $830 – versus the higher price points of the iPhone X, Galaxy Note 8, and Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

Speaking of the Note 8, which was announced a little later after the V30, most people believed that the Korean giant would blow things out of the water given the Note 7's disastrous explosion the prior year. Surprisingly, though, Samsung opted to take the approach a bit more cautiously with the Note 8, which in hindsight was arguably the logical thing to do. While it was still perceived as a powerhouse, it wasn't particularly flaunting the kind of features rich package we've been accustomed to seeing in the Note line – you can say that it was a moderate upgrade versus its predecessor.

Comparing the two arch rivals, it looked as though that the V30 delivered vastly more improvements over the LG G6 – while the Note 8 seemed like a modest offering after the Galaxy S8. For myself, this was a shocking revelation because I've always been a staunch supporter of Samsung's products through the years. Most of the time, I've always called a Samsung-made smartphone at least one of my two daily drivers. Rarely did I ever choose to go with an LG offering, so things suddenly seemed to be turned upside down.

Still, I have to hand it to LG for meticulously taking the time to deliver something grandiose – and it felt complete from top to bottom! This was the kind of spark that LG needed to reassert itself as a top contender in the market, because prior to this year, their place in the market was undeniably questionable. And you know what? The timing couldn't have been any more in favor to LG, as it managed to steal the thunder that generally greeted Samsung's fall flagship.

Partnering up with Google

As if one success was asking too much from LG, the company managed to ink a deal with Google to manufacture Pixel 2 XL. Technically a "made by Google" device, LG was contracted behind the scenes to manufacture the larger-sized of the two new Pixels launching later in the fall. Even though the initial reactions to the phone have been mostly positive, issues relating to the screen and other things soon emerged shortly after its release. Considering that Google was ultimately in charge with the end product, LG didn't seem to suffer as much of the brunt in this particular case.

It's not to say that LG's not out of the woods just yet, but the situation is very different here because it's slapped with that "made by Google" tagline – so at the end of the day, it's Google who will be the one to be facing the questions and concerns from consumers. At worst, this could somehow affect Google's relationship with the Korean company, or even potentially dismissing them entirely with future endeavors, but that's something that only time will unearth.

What's remarkable to me is that LG has its hands dipped in the best photo and video-centric smartphones this year! The Google Pixel 2 XL, along with its machine learning and camera algorithms, help aid the phone to deliver some of the best-looking photo-still captures seen around – easily eclipsing the dual-camera wielding phones meant to deliver those creamy looking "portrait" shots. On the other end of the spectrum, the LG V30 is unmatched when it comes to its video-centric features, manual controls, and "Cine" color grading modes. No other phone in recent memory can match the kind of depth offered by the V30's video features!

Stunning transformation & huge gains in the market

As the end-of-the-year quickly approaches, I'm enamored by LG's drastic transformation in such a short period of time. Sharing the sentiments of many other colleagues and friends in the industry, it's almost unbelievable to know that LG rose to the occasion after the adversities it faced after last year's disappointments. True, I was rather skeptical about its ventures early on in the year, but towards the end, they definitely surprised me in more ways than one.

For the better part of the last 5 years or so, the battle has been largely split between Apple and Samsung at the top fighting for supremacy – with everyone else playing catch-up, including LG. This year, however, LG managed to refocus its strategy to deliver something tangible for consumers. Unlike the overly ambitious attempts we saw in 2016, they've toned things down tremendously and actually listened to feedback from customers. The results speak for themselves, as LG's major offerings this year have proven their worth amongst the elites in the space.

Learning and adapting are qualities we ended up seeing in LG's performance throughout the year. Indeed, it remains unseen whether they'll end up seeing green and generating profits based on earning reports, but the fact remains that they've made huge strides in reshaping their reputation from the year before. That alone is the kind of spark that's required to maintain an upward swing going into the new year.

Ripe opportunity to capitalize on success

Earning the momentum that finally puts them on a level path to success, it'll be intriguing to see what the company intends to do for 2018. Needless to say, we'll continue to see successors for both its flagships lines, but we're going to be more curious about how they'll be able to innovate in the space to continue being relevant. Sure, iterative improvements are always greatly appreciated, however, it may require yet another risk to continue this healthy stream of success.

Conversely, though, LG might want to take a cautious approach because of its history. All of this forward momentum might bring them back full-circle to the dilemma they found themselves with the LG G5 – being overly ambitious, thinking that was the right approach. In their current situation, they're in a prime spot to really pull ahead most of the other competitors in the space, especially from Chinese manufacturers that have been relentless with their low-cost phones and thin margins.

For now, though, we'll leave it at what it is right now – and that's applauding LG's stunning resurgence in 2017! LG's gamble to refocus its priorities paid off with the G6 early in the year, and subsequently, they really executed magnificently with the V30 at the end of the year. CES 2018 is around the corner, followed by MWC 2018 right after that, so the next couple of months will be critical for them.



1. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

My experience with LG has never been good. Tv and mobile. I almost got G2 years ago but lack of micro sd was a big con. Honestly I do not see the 2017 phones better than 2016. The no 16:9 screen, round corners on screen and no front speakers keep me away. I think the vertical cam looks better, like on Mate 9. I did like the design of V10. V30 looks so S8 with curved glass. I have watched youtube videos recorded on v30, I expected more from this phone.

3. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

You expected more from the V30? Well damn man no phone lives up to your standards huh?

8. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

LG says v30 is focused in videography. But results are not same level of U11 and XZ Premium. Both outperform v30 in stabilization, sound and image quality. The OLED is far from the level of note 8. An oled that does not have unmeasurable contrast. Low brightness.

12. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

You sound like someone who simply has a biased option about LG products man. I can't have a conversation with someone like that.

17. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

I said I have had LG stuff before. That includes : Tablet, TV and microwave. My tablet fell on the wood floor ( half yard distance) screen got scratched a little bit but not broken. Then couple days after that a huge crack showed up . On the opposite side. Due to heat, even with weak SD400. My phone ( sony) has fallen a few times, even on sidewalk. It has never got broken glass, I do not use a case. When I had tv from other brands my experiences were better. My mother used to have a LG smartphone.

24. tedkord

Posts: 17511; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I've got an LG TV (about 5 years old now). It was top of the heap for 2D 1080p picture when I got it, with very good 3d. It's still humming along, still a great picture. Not in the league of 4KOLED, but there's not enough 4k content broadcast now to justify them.

33. rsiders

Posts: 2037; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

The sound reproduction from the V series is unmatched. Your other points may be valid specifically in stabilization which LG has gotten better with but not hit a home run yet.

34. Furkan

Posts: 552; Member since: Feb 25, 2017

I have been happy with my LG TVs and LG phones.I had G3 G4 G5

2. midan

Posts: 3213; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

LG is currently winning TV markets back with their awesome top reviewed OLED TV, so it will eventually give them better brand name which will help with their phones too. Biggest problem is lack of brand name, it's not about products.

25. tedkord

Posts: 17511; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

No, it's both. Their products in mobile just lacked. The V30 is a good phone, but the display falls behind. The battery on the G6 wasn't great. They had great points, but fell far short in others.

32. midan

Posts: 3213; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

You really think masses know that stuff? No the biggest reason by far is lack of brand name. When people pay lot for their devices, they want device which they know will ve good or trusted. LG could have best phone in the market and it wouldn't sell.

4. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I couldn't agree more John V. I have never been more tempted to buy an LG phone than I have this year.

5. Clars123

Posts: 1079; Member since: Mar 16, 2015

Except they did their absolute best to make sure people forgot about them. I'll never buy an LG phone again after the mess that was the G3 and G4 but the V30 looks really good. FINALLY got to see one in-stores

6. jellmoo

Posts: 2675; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

I disagree completely. LG took heavy hits this year. The G6 was outclassed badly by the S8 and the V30 was largely unrealized potential against a stronger Note 8. Then when it came to the new Pixels, it was the LG made one that was much more problematic, compounded by OLED displays clearly inferior to those made by Samsung. The G6 only really sold when heavily discounted. LG was owned badly by Samsung this year.

13. J2017

Posts: 77; Member since: Oct 25, 2017

'Outclassed badly'? How so? Camera's were on par. Only thing Samsung had on it was the curved screen if you like that story of thing.

18. maherk

Posts: 7054; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Cameras are on par? Lmao

22. jellmoo

Posts: 2675; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

The S8 has a better camera, better screen, faster processor, better screen to body ratio,larger base storage in many markets... I'm not even a Samsung fan, and think they crushed LG this year.

7. Ralph.

Posts: 249; Member since: Dec 20, 2017

LG phones are ugly Only v10 G2 were nice

26. tedkord

Posts: 17511; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Come on, the V30 looks great. I was trying one just today.

27. Furbal unregistered

V30 does look damn good in person.

36. riteshrkm

Posts: 165; Member since: Apr 15, 2015

Looks r subjective. Even 2 yr old S6 Edge looks great today. Just a personal opinion

9. Valinor

Posts: 185; Member since: Mar 26, 2013

Lg has the worst customer service i have ever dealt with. I'm from europe but searching on google I found out its the same story everywhere. 1 star rating on all sites, its unbelievable. In my case, when i ordered they had a 75 euro cashback. Few days after my order they changed the rules of the cashback. I send them a message for an explanation. They told me i should still be getting my cashback. Now they are denying everything, even after sending them all the proof, i still have the pdf with the cashback rules AND the email. Its ridiculous, not only are they breaking the law but also denying the cashback which they allready agreed on. Its really ridiculous. I will sue them and get my cashback, thats not the problem. But i cant believe they would lie like this even when its crystal clear they are in the wrong. First LG phone ever but also my last even though i love the v30. Apple plz take me back, i miss the service. Ps. Honestly, if they are like this now, im scared what will happen when i have a warranty issue.......

10. J2017

Posts: 77; Member since: Oct 25, 2017

No mention of LG being the first to pioneer 18:9 displays or the awesome wide angle camera on the G6? Lol

11. J2017

Posts: 77; Member since: Oct 25, 2017

No mention of LG being the first to pioneer 18:9 displays or the awesome wide angle camera on the G6? Lol

14. Jrod99

Posts: 781; Member since: Jan 15, 2016

Still haven’t seen a V30 yet.

15. Cat97

Posts: 2021; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

When going "back to basics" LG removed just a bit too much. Lack of a simple notification LED is what made me skip the G6, such a feature along with an IR blaster would attract a lot of G2 fans back to LG. Also, the 3300 mAh battery, even if quite big in size, failed to provide adequate battery life.

16. RaulBlas

Posts: 47; Member since: Mar 31, 2014

I have an Lg G5 and I’m pretty happy with it. The cameras are awesome and fun to use, and the screen is fine. The battery life is about the same that the others in its generation. It’s been more than a year now and I have absolutely no plans (or need) to change it.

19. MarmiteTheDog

Posts: 192; Member since: Jul 31, 2017

Some markets still don't have the V30 - how many months after its launch?!

20. WPX00

Posts: 513; Member since: Aug 15, 2015

You call it stunning resurgence. I call it the year they got slightly better, but fell behind on cameras. My uncle hates his G6. The camera is worse than the Zenfone 3, the wifi reception is poor and the battery is no improvement. And the V30 to me is the phone that could have been, weakened by its bad display and LG's refusal to use a camera with bigger pixels.

21. mike2959

Posts: 699; Member since: Oct 08, 2011

LG is the Chevy of phones. No resale value. Not the best at really anything.

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