5 ways LG was ahead of the competition and how that didn't matter

5 ways LG was ahead of the competition and how that didn't matter
LG has had a rough few years — despite being one of the top smartphone manufacturers, the company’s market share has been on the decline. And that’s not for a lack of trying — LG is one of these companies that constantly dabbles in new things, looking for that innovation that just might go viral.

In fact, LG has been ahead of the competition on a few occasions, even ahead of huge trend curves, yet it remained largely unnoticed. Here, we will explore how LG was ahead of the market over the past few generations of smartphones:

Ultra-wide cameras



Of course, this is the biggest one. LG’s phones have had ultra-wide cameras for some years now. First, the LG V10 introduced the dual selfie cam way back in 2015. We had one “regular” lens and one ultra-wide selfie camera for massive group shots. The next year, the LG G5 moved the ultra-wide-angle lens to the back, giving us the first action cam-like experience on a smartphone.

The feature received very little praise or notice. Now, in 2019, everyone seems to be super-interested in ultra-wide cameras. The craze is at such a high that the fact that Google launched the Pixel 4 with a telephoto lens instead of an ultra-wide-angle one is drawing negative criticism. Who would’ve guessed it? Well, LG did, some 3 years ago…

QHD resolution



The LG G3 was the world’s first mass-production, internationally-available smartphone with a QHD (1440 x 2560) screen. This was back in 2014 when everyone but Sony and Apple was pushing their pixel counts to the limit.

But to be fair, LG shot itself in the foot with the G3. It was in such a hurry to stick with the trend that the result was a rather dim display that was still a battery hog. To top it off, LG really wanted to make the G3’s screen look striking (a 1440 x 2560 resolution barely gives you visible results on a 5.5-inch display), so it added software sharpening to the image. Trained eyes quickly picked up on that and the G3’s screen, despite its dense resolution, was panned as "meh".

Stainless steel frames



Apple likes to make a big deal of how the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and now the iPhone 11 Pro have stainless steel frames going around them. And yes, they are sturdy and feel super nice in the hand. You know what else had stainless steel frames? The LG V10, back in 2015.

Too bad that this was coupled with a very flimsy, plastic-made back panel. That was in the era when removable phone batteries was still a thing and metal backs were kind of hard to pull off. Still, the result was a phone with premium materials on the sides, and a thin, bendy, rubber-feeling back.

Flexible displays



Way before the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X, LG was experimenting with bendable OLED screens. The company flexed its technological skills with the aptly named LG Flex and LG Flex 2.

These were permanently-bent, banana-shaped smartphones. Their plastic OLED screens and ingeniously arranged batteries allowed you to place the phone flat on a surface and straighten it out without breaking it. Once the pressure was off, the phone would return in its pre-bent shape with no trouble.

The last time we saw an LG pre-bent display was on the LG G4. Soon after, the company dropped the premise entirely. Shame.

Air hand gestures



Right now, Google’s Pixel 4 and its built-in radar chip are all we are talking about. The new tech allows you to wave your hand in front of the phone to change pages or control media.

But this was actually first introduced by the LG G8 earlier this year. The G8’s Z Camera allows you to control volume, switch songs, or start favorite apps by just gesturing in front of the phone.

However, it’s worth noting that both the Pixel 4 and G8’s gestures are shaky at best. They require a lot of refinement if they are to be taken seriously. Currently, they are unreliable at best. But hey, if this becomes a trend in 2021, just know — LG did it first!

And yet it didn't matter


"Innovation" is a word that gets thrown out a lot at every major smartphone unveiling. Go ahead — have a drinking game. Take a shot every time someone says "innovation" at the next keynote you watch.

But, apparently, there is more to it than just throwing new tech in your latest smartphone. LG has some major engineering skills, as evidenced by the Flex phones, but it seems to be lacking in tenacity and marketing. The company has made some great stuff over the years, only to drop most of it. Or the ultra-wide cameras — why did competitors snatch away the limelight when LG was clearly ahead of the trend there?

I look more into this in a previous editorial — check it out if you want to speculate with me:


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77 Comments

1. redmd

Posts: 1947; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

I want LG to continue to innovate.

23. Cat97

Posts: 1969; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

The author should have also mentioned: - Small bezels (fist appeared on LG G2) - Always-On Display (first appeared on LG G5). - 18.5:1 screen ratio with smaller bezels (First appeared on LG G6). The problem with LG was that each of these innovative phones had deep core flaws that could not be overlooked. Namely: - Battery size and battery life (which remained at 3000 mAh since the great LG G2). - Phone overall size (they made bigger and bigger phones with no smaller models in their portfolio - losing market share) - Removal of excellent features such as the notification LED and IR blaster when there was really no reason for it.

25. TBomb

Posts: 1632; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Yeah, I'd say LG wsa on the right track in terms of stuff the consumes would/could want but they had bad execution overall on the device. "Yay! Always on Display" + "Boo, poor battery life!" "Yay! Small bezels!" + "Boo....t loop issue"

30. User123456789

Posts: 1084; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

G6 is 18:9. S8 is 18,5:9. Sony ZL/ZQ has bit less bezel than G2. G2 has more % because larger screen. Larger screen = more %. I do not remember if G2 was first phone with OIS.

36. BoatsBoatsBoats

Posts: 33; Member since: May 03, 2018

Larger screen does not always mean higher percentage.

48. Atrixboyyy

Posts: 613; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

Especially when the phone grows along with the display..

38. ECPirate37

Posts: 345; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

And also mentioned first to introduce bootloop of death for no reason on multiple phones. My V10 was one of my favorite phones... until I went through FOUR of them because of this issue. That will kill a brand quick.

55. foreverNOOB

Posts: 174; Member since: Jul 07, 2017

I have a theory about LG bootloop. All of LG phones that went mass bootlooped (G4,V10,5X) have one thing in common, they're all have S808. And i thought that LG might have swapped to S808 from S810 later in their production schedules after found out that S810 in G Flex2 (which was debuted with S810 first before others) performed very poorly and also attracted much criticized feedback. So, instead of complete redesigned of motherboard for respective models from scratch, LG choose to just swapped out S810 and resoldered S808 in and rewrite some necessary code. Also, one supporting cause is that when G flex 2 arrived, both G4 and V10( and 5X) all must be in later steps of development processes or even got mass production started (G4 as its development schedule was already started the same time as G Flex2) with S810 onboard and the results? Yeah, everyone knows that. Ps, sorry for my poor English.

74. ECPirate37

Posts: 345; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

That is a brilliant theory. Thank you for taking time to write it out for me. I haven't seen that anywhere else, but it definitely makes sense. I'll forever be heartbroken because an entire trip to China was on the LG V10 before the first boot loop error. I thought all of the photos were backed up to the cloud, but NOPE. Or if they were, I couldn't get them to ever pop back up. It really is a shame, because other than the bootloop, the LG V10 was one of my favorite phones ever. I liked the rubber back, I loved that it could do wireless charging, I loved the camera/video quality. And I loved the dual screen. Everything about the phone was amazing.... other than bootloop.

79. foreverNOOB

Posts: 174; Member since: Jul 07, 2017

Me also heartbroken from these bootloop fiasco, too. My G4 and V10, both of them, started bootlooping on the very same day right after my 2 months long Europe trip with almost all the photos inside them gone forever as i didn't choose to save photos on SD card and can't managed to got them to stay turned on long enough to save any of those photos.

62. LeeOhNel

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 26, 2019

I'm pretty sure the always on display was introduced by the Google-owned Motorola. I think it was the new Razr/Razr Maxx and Razr Mini that had the always on display.

65. aldridhl

Posts: 77; Member since: Feb 12, 2011

Always on displays came wayy before the G5. Nokia had that before android came onto the scene.

68. Zylam

Posts: 1822; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

My Nokia N85 was Nokia's first AMOLED phone and it had an always on display in 2008.

60. AlienKiss

Posts: 241; Member since: May 21, 2019

They can innovate all they want, but everyone still thinks of LG as the poor people's choice. Even though LG changed, people still have that opinion. They never got my attention because of bad quality build(in the past) and extremely EXTREMELY BAD updating services and service centers. Funny thing is that Samsung is doing better than ever. Even I bought one and I was anti Samsung until 1 year ago.

2. m00kie

Posts: 16; Member since: Jan 23, 2019

it is not important who did it first. What is important is how it works.

7. OneLove123

Posts: 1244; Member since: Aug 28, 2018

How doe stainless steel work? Let me know, please.

20. vinnieti

Posts: 7; Member since: Feb 14, 2019

Marketing is the name of the game. Samsung and Apple won the marketing game by far. Almost 2/3 of all American teenagers want iPhones. The rest want Galaxys...marketing is everything.

22. OneLove123

Posts: 1244; Member since: Aug 28, 2018

90% of kids in America wants an iPhone.

37. AngelicusMaximus

Posts: 747; Member since: Dec 20, 2017

Please show us the research you did that proves this.

31. midan

Posts: 3097; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

” Marketing is the name of the game.” More important is brand name, both Apple and Samsung have very strong one, those are safe choices and so many have them. So when you are thinking to buy new very expensive device, you pick the safe choice, the product you know will be good. You don’t buy LG, HTC etc. phone no matter how good it might be, if you don’t know anyone who have one and you could test it etc. No no no! Very few go out from the safe zone. Those Chinese companies been able to slowly break this with their low prices. Price is low enough to take a risk, then those can raise their prices when they get brand name like exactly what Huawei did

41. MrMalignance

Posts: 317; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

@Midan: yes indeed, they achieved this brand name recognition by putting out strong products and even stronger marketing. Imagine how apple (for example, not meant to be derogatory) would have a different recognition if jobs hadn't been grooming the name since the Mac and ipods

47. midan

Posts: 3097; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Propably very well because iPhone Never been about marketing. The product marketed itself with super smooth and fluid OS. For example here where i live in EU Apple have never done any TV ads, also the marketing always been very minimal. Yet year after year iPhone is best selling phone, only people who had Mac was graphic designers. People found the iPhone by testing the device at the stores and telling great experiences for their friends and when this happens over and over again suddenly iPhone became most popular phone.

49. romeo1

Posts: 823; Member since: Jan 06, 2012

You're completely wrong. Apple has spend billions on marketing. They still do like the commissions for operators/phone stores. Advertiseing banners on the web. Even their product names are advertisements. Like when people are talking you haven smartphones and iphones or tablets and ipads, pc and mac. They made their users loyal even if samsung, lg or whatever brand is better for a specific person the step from an iphone to an android is more difficult than the other way around especially if you buy more and more products of apple.

57. midan

Posts: 3097; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

I'm talking about start of the iPhone journey. The product would have sold itself without marketing, just like it did in my country. It was happy users who sold the product to people. Apple didn't have brand name among phones. First iPhone didn't really sold that much, but slowly people found the iPhone when they saw it in real life.

59. romeo1

Posts: 823; Member since: Jan 06, 2012

You're just guessing. I don't know where you live but i know that apple did their marketing right. The hype turned over to many countrys in Europe as the iphones where all over the news when they launched. There where people even buying the 2g from the us so they had it here. Look at the lines(at launch) the 3g already had in Europe the phone wasn't even available before. Apple made a hype aeound their products since the ipod trough marketing.

52. MrMalignance

Posts: 317; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

@midan: so you're saying Apple has never had to add for the iPhone over there? Never any ads about any of their products? That seems a bit irresponsible on their part. Of course I am curious as to how much advertisement has been passive (billboards, magazine ads, train/subway ads). In America we have constantly been bombarded with apple ads. I have an iPod still. I've seen them grow since before the first iPod was even created, and the one thing I've always seen here is advertising. They created a culture and ideal that apple (as a brand) was/is hip and cool. I know a lot of Hollywood types and trendy individuals pushed hard to further that narrative. I'm not badmouthing apple, just saying that they worked very hard to set their image. Also that I find it difficult to figure that eu people are all so tech savvy and have so much free time that they can throw away time and money at trying out phones like hats

56. midan

Posts: 3097; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

It's very weird indeed that Apple have never had tv ads in here. But knowing how well iPhone been doing since 3GS, maybe they just thought they don't need that. Apple only have had big brand name in US when they lauched first iPhone. Apple didn't had any brand name among phones, so it didnt help them, people expected iPhone to be big flop Especially with that price, but when people tried the iPhone it all changed, in fluidity it was years ahead of competition and that was their biggest marketing the product itself. I mean if you check first iPhone keynote it's still hard to believe how smooth the first iPhone already was. Like i said even without marketing in US people would have slowly found it, just like what happened here. I personally found iPhone from watching owners YouTube videos about it and was blown away how smoothly it works. Then i went to try it at carrier store (3G) and it was Exactly like in those hands on etc. videos. Month after that they released 3GS and that was my first iPhone. Zero marketing needed from Apple, product sold itself being so good and ahead of time. After i got one (i was first from my friends) lot more were impressed by it when i show it to them and then some of them bought one and then their friends were impressed and same happened over and over again and suddenly iPhone became best selling smartphone months over month year after year. Happy users and the product itself sold the product to people here. Marketing been very minimal in subway/billboards/train etc.

58. MrMalignance

Posts: 317; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

@midan: well, i suppose you all had the perfect storm of settings for that. Over here, we had many devices about on par with the first iPhone. If jobs hadn't done so well marketing the "I"products it would've been doa. I've followed tech in general since before the first iPhone, and was shocked by how little people seemed to care. That was back when people thought Android was some gimmick and a "dumb phone" was a solid option. I wonder why they didn't feel the need to try and market to you all. Maybe they figured you wouldn't be into their products or be the target consumer.

61. midan

Posts: 3097; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

” Over here, we had many devices about on par with the first iPhone. If jobs hadn't done so well marketing the "I"products it would've been doa.” I don’t believe this and that line also shows that you don’t quite understand what made iPhone so popular. There wasn’t any phone like iPhone in the market. About on par doesn’t mean anything. Feature wise we had lot better phones here in than iPhone. Marketing didn’t make iPhone instant hit, if you say Apple marketed it a lot, it clearly didn’t had big effect. https://www.statista.com/statistics/263401/global-apple-iphone-sales-since-3rd-quarter-2007/ Just look this photo. Based on my experience it was users who sold this product. Just like with AirPods. I think the same effect happened with AirPods and also with iPad. When iPad came people said who need that we have laptops and phones. After people started to try one lot of people liked the experience a lot and iPad became very popular. It wasn’t easy task for iPhone here. We were very strong Nokia country and all what people saw was Nokia we didn’t see much other choices because Nokia was superior, while it really wasn’t. Slowly people saw that and started to try other choices and they found iPhone and when 3gs came iPhone was matured enought (they added video recording) to have all the needed features to make it big seller and that’s exactly what happened.

64. MrMalignance

Posts: 317; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

@midan: look, I stated an opinion. I mentioned that from my own history of watching apple develop, I didn't believe it would survive without jobs and his marketing. He was an excellent ad guy. I am also speaking from my experience in the US. You don't get to tell me I don't understand what made it popular, because I do. Stating that I thought it wouldn't do well without the marketing doesn't mean I don't understand it. It means I personally feel that it would've failed without it. Other phones had better hype and customer base, but apple hit a home run with marketing. Side note: you don't live here (you explained as much) so don't tell me about my experience. I ask you about your experiences, I don't tell you about them. I can't speak on if things sold by word of mouth on your end, I know that over here the advertised and hyped their products like crazy. Btw, you fail to understand that apple had a slow start because people were hesitant to buy a phone by the "music player" company. It was seen as a gimmick over here. Like a phone that was also an MP3 player which was a novelty at first. The marketing was everywhere, and that encouraged people to try it, then they liked it. The culture existed already. The prices didn't exactly help early adoption either, as there were usually upwards of 4-6 free phones you could pick from (dumbphones) from any carrier. As for the iPads and airpods, I can't speak on your experience, but those are another example(here) of mass marketing and hype. Making this more relevant to the article here: if lg could manage to advertise and build a culture like apple, it would help them immensely. Sadly they can't seem to keep their heads straight.

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