LG should learn a thing or two from OnePlus' success

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
LG should learn a thing or two from OnePlus' success
In the past 5 years, we've witnessed a pretty impressive success story. A company named OnePlus rose amidst the frenzy of a saturated smartphone market and said: "Hey... we are here to kill your flagships." Its mission was simple: offer a great phone with top-tier specs at a much affordable price than the established competition. Then rely on word of mouth and guerilla marketing to go mini viral.

You'd think that such a company would stay in the shadows, only known to the hardcore smartphone fandom out there. But nope — OnePlus has slowly but surely made its way to the mainstream and even partnered with US carrier T-Mobile to sell its phones. And sure, the "flagship killer" may have gone up in price over the years, but it is still decidedly cheaper than its more popular competitors all the while offering features that not many others have!

On the other end of what this article is about is LG — a company that was doing OK in the smartphone market until it wasn't. The LG G3 was probably its last hit. Then, it was a slow ride the downwards spiral, off of the 3rd spot for smartphone sales in the US and into... well, kind of "meh" territory.

So, what happened? How can a company that just now enters the market make such great strides while an established manufacturer, which also happens to be this multi-business mega-corporation, somehow manages to fall off the respectable 3rd best spot? It seems that the answer is "focus"

Stay on target!

OnePlus has had a very clear mission since it launched — make the best phone that you can for as little money as possible. This philosophy extended beyond the product itself, it also showed in the way the company interacted with fans and the rest of the world. There was a lot of teasing, a lot of viral campaigns started with simple social media posts, a lot of boasting and cleverly-placed product teasing. It was clear that OnePlus' efforts were focused on one thing only — make good phone, sell phone good.

Yes, there were a few hiccups along the way, a few bad lemons, and a misstep with the OnePlus X. But the company was able to get out of hot waters by simply making its next models better and better, even including features that the top-tier competition does not have yet. Like the under-the-glass fingerprint scanner of the OnePlus 6T, which arrived long before the big boys in the Western markets had it. Or the motorized camera of the current OnePlus 7 Pro, which is still a very rare thing to see.

LG, in the meantime, can't seem to decide what it wants to do. First, it experimented with curved phones — the technology that made the banana shape of the LG G Flex possible also made it to the LG G4. But the company was quick to give up on that technology despite having worked on it for years.

A few months after the G4 launched, we had the first V series — the LG V10, which was a phablet meant to go toe to toe with Samsung's Note series. The V phones had that "ticker screen" — a thin strip-shaped secondary display on top of the main one, which showed extra information or gave you more app shortcuts. 2 generations later, the ticker screen was scrapped from the V series.

We got the LG G5, which was supposed to be a part of the "LG Playground" — a whole ecosystem of mods and accessories revolving around the phone. The main concept was that the G5 would have easy swap modules that add extra features or functions to the phone. Well, that died in less than a year — no partners joined the program, no new modules were released and LG quickly lost interest.

Then, we had the LG G6 and LG G7 — not bad phones at all. Great all-rounders and probably the only mainstream phones of their time that had an ultra-wide angle camera on the back. Meanwhile, the V series kind of transformed into "Plus" versions of the G phones, throwing product differentiation out the window and causing one series to cannibalize the other. Fans were looking forward to the next LG V phone and kind of yawned at the flagship G series.

Now, we have the LG G8 whose only differentiator in the market is that weird gesture system, which allows you to wave your hand in front of the phone and have it launch an app... if it's in the right mood for it to work that is! And the upcoming LG V50, which is so close to a G8 that LG had to give it a 5G modem, just so it can be different from its sibling.

See what's going on here? Lots of running around in circles, trying to do this and that, but no coherent vision. No point, no focus — it's just stuff that's been added in the phones and then forsaken because it didn't seem to stick.

As a result, there's no identity to speak of. Modules? Nah, we decided we don't want to do them no more. Liked the ticker screen? Sorry, we didn't. Did you like our back-mounted volume rocker? Sorry, we thought we'd make our phones as mundane as possible so we scrapped this signature design trait.

Build an identity and embrace it

Over the years, OnePlus has added plenty of features to its phones. They are now quite far away from the "stock Android experience" that they used to be when the OnePlus One launched. But every one of these features was added with care — the company made sure that they would be useful, appreciated by the customer, and it also made sure to market them to the moon and back. Most of this marketing was done with giveaway competitions, well-placed influencer campaigns, and proper teasing of the new features through fun posts.

The point is, OnePlus focuses on making phones that are great all-rounders and deliver the essentials. No excessive bells and whistles, but fast performance and just overall a pleasant experience when using the device. This is what the company chose to do, this is what it markets, and this is what it sells.

In the meantime, LG is spending money left and right to develop things that simply lead to nowhere — the Flex technology, the modular technology, the ticker screens, and who knows what else will follow? How long do you figure it will take for the new gesture controls to go bye-bye? Or maybe LG will finally switch to stereo speakers and bid farewell to the Boombox speakers next year around?

See, the thing is, if you remove all these things that LG is constantly dabbling in, you actually get pretty solid phones. The LG G5, G6, and G7 were great, fast, and pleasant to use. The V30 was probably at the top of the most underrated phones of 2017 and the V40 was a worthy successor. They had amazing ergonomics and some of the best haptics on an Android phone, right up there with the Pixel 3 and the recent OnePlus 7 Pro.

In other words, your regular top-tier LG phone is as much of an all-around great device as a OnePlus. But the customers don't know that... The customers see advertisements for features they don't need, don't understand, or don't know if they would last over to the next generation. The current LG smartphone identity is non-existent and there's simply nothing coherent to market.

So, there's a lesson LG can take from OnePlus. Its phones are actually great, but it needs to trust its products for what they are and ease off on developing gimmicks that it'll drop next year. Hey, maybe use that time and money to actually support the existing products, get that Software Update Center working, eh?



1. QuantumRazer

Posts: 213; Member since: Apr 27, 2019

I like how you guys took down the LG advert immediately before posting this article.

19. Maelzinho

Posts: 2; Member since: Jun 14, 2019

You should applaud LG because wanting or not, was the company that brought more innovations in the mobile market

2. DFranch

Posts: 562; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

Couldn't agree more. Just replaced my V30 with the OP7 Pro. LG is still using batteries that are just a little too small and get average battery life (the V30 was an exception it got great battery life). The Wide angle camera was great, but the main sensor was average (fairly poor in low light). And their prices are too high. They want a samsung premium when they need to be winning people over like Oneplus did. If I hadn't gotten a deal ($200 gift card when purchasing a V30 from Verizon) I would not have paid $840 for the V30.

7. liteon163

Posts: 84; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

I recently replaced my V30 (bought on release day, with the $200 rebate from Verizon as well) with a G7 ThinQ from eBay. The G7 is a great phone at the $250 I paid for a 10/10 used phone. Brand new? No thanks, I'll pass. But I still might go back to my V30... LG needs to figure out how to offer One phones with additional LG software that can be uninstalled. And then start bringing out coherent designs with cutting edge specs for OnePlus money. They can do it, they just need an enthusiast's help instead of marketers.

14. KingSam

Posts: 1516; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

Brand new v35 for $329 and I love it. LG phones are always dirt cheap on eBay. Next is probably a G8

3. liteon163

Posts: 84; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

GUERRILLA marketing I'll work as an editor for you guys...

4. liteon163

Posts: 84; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

HARDCORE Geez, I guess I should read the entire article before trying to correct it...

5. TBomb

Posts: 1704; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Start your Friday with a really sad article about LG :( Agree 100% with the article. LG used to be my favorite. Now I find it hard to back them since I don't know what they are doing anymore. The Volume rocker on the back was the absolute best. The ticker screen was awesome and I wanted the V10 so bad but was younger and I recently gotten a phone and couldn't afford it by the time it was released. Then it was downhill.

6. MrMalignance

Posts: 352; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

I can understand the points being made, but the article reads less like a comparison l, and more like a hit piece. I know lg is phonearrena's favorite punching bag, but that was an all time low. I'm not saying lg is perfect. I realize they have had flaws and misfires. It just feels wrong that they relentlessly speak so negatively of lg, until they need that sweet advertising money, then as soon as that's up: back to negative talk.

11. TBomb

Posts: 1704; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

It's hard to speak positively of something that doesn't have many positive things to speak about. The article does have a "this article may contain personal opinions..." disclaimer at the top too. However, I agree. I do wish there was some positive news for LG. Especially since a casual surfer may not come across the site and become an avid reader/commenter, but sometimes I'd be willing to bet that a review or "Best phone of _______" does show up in someone's search results and will have an influence on a them. I'll admit back when I was researching phones in 2010 I came across PA/GSMArena during my googling. At the time, the websites had a huge influence on me.

20. MrMalignance

Posts: 352; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

@TBomb: yeah, I can agree with that. I know it includes opinions, but it kills me to see how far out of the way they go to trash every single thing lg does. I've watched them call lg on things they've messed up on, that's fair game. I do think that when they do something admirable, like pushing for an additional warranty year, or trying to adjust navigation in ways that are different, they get trashed. Sadly, even when readers admit something is good or "on the right path", the staff regularly will talk it down. There are a ton of gimmicks around, so that's not a good reason for their negativity. I just hate how they chose lg to particularly run through the ringer. It is kinda funny when one of them writes an article that is vaguely positive, then has to be followed by 3 or 4 that talk trash. Tldr: I agree, but it sucks that they chose lg as a "demonized" brand

31. KiraV

Posts: 1; Member since: Jun 15, 2019

The additional warranty year was a great idea, but they did that because they *needed* any consumer confidence they could get with how faulty their phones are. And having wrestled with LG for years now, their customer service is only getting worse. That warranty may not mean a whole lot in the end.

32. MrMalignance

Posts: 352; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

@KiraV: yeah, perhaps. There are some, like myself, who've had nothing but good experiences with them. Or at least no worse than my experience with Samsung. I do hope that they improve customer service for everyone and the quality of their products. They have potential still, but need to apply themselves

8. rkoforever90

Posts: 487; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

I don't understand their pricing strategy LG at launch prices their phones same as Samsung and then after 2-3 months it's drops to 40% of that price or so. Rather than that if they just launch the phone at like 600$ at least more people with a tight budget may consider it.

10. TBomb

Posts: 1704; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I think their idea is "Charge $800, but give $200 in free stuff so they feel like they're getting $1000 for $800 vs just $600 for $600." That way, they still make $600 per phone after they lose $200 in free stuff, but the customer gains more than if they were to buy a different phone. I definitely simplified this but I think something along those lines is what's going on.

9. Godlymansean

Posts: 339; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

Just can't appreciate LG ever since the G3/G4 known issues, and since then... Article explains it well.

21. MrMalignance

Posts: 352; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

@godlymansean: I can't live like that, or I'd have blackballed Samsung. I believe in giving phone makers a second chance after a generation or two

22. Reviewerofstuff

Posts: 136; Member since: Jun 02, 2018

It's been 4 generations. How many chances do they really deserve?

23. MrMalignance

Posts: 352; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

@Reviewerofstuff: people seem to be ok with g3/g4, and I have read good things about g7, so 2 generations is not bad. If you drop bootloops as an issue, due to other brands also suffering bootloops occasionally, there have only been the standard amount of hiccups. I admit they aren't perfect and also admit the article has some valid concerns. As stated in my comment: if I didn't forgive, I never would've trusted Samsung again. The burned me 3 times. Lg only burned me once, with a faulty g5. That was more on the carrier than the company, as they claimed they would replace it, then backed out

12. shield

Posts: 888; Member since: Sep 12, 2015

OK, but now from 5 year Oneplus, big price, copy design, no IP, no Wirelles charging, no good display, YT camera test say bad camera, LG G8 is better, audio is bad...

25. Reviewerofstuff

Posts: 136; Member since: Jun 02, 2018

None of these are true except for no wirelessing charing. Oneplus 7 pro has the best display on the market. More than enough water protection. $669 is still much less expensive than other flagships. with the 9.5.7 update the camera is now on par with other flagships. Also audio one the 7 pro is very good with stereo speakers.

27. MrMalignance

Posts: 352; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

@reviewerofstuff: the best display on the market? At 1080 I find that hard to believe. It has zero water protection. Or more accurately, it has about as much as older phones would've had. The video with it being submerged was under "optimal" conditions. That means they might have prepped the device specifically for the test, and also doesn't show long term damage that usually appears after a day or so. A number of devices with ip ratings fail dunk tests, why would a phone with no rating be trusted more? It is very competitively priced though. I haven't messed with the new camera or audio though, but they seem like they're nice

13. Rocket

Posts: 730; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

LG started going down the hill when they renamed the Optimus G to just 'G' Sad story.

15. jeferson9

Posts: 2; Member since: May 28, 2019

between LG and HTC idk who blew it more. The G3/G4 were nearly perfect minus internal hardware defects.

16. ScottsoNJ56

Posts: 157; Member since: Oct 01, 2017

The LG G8 is a great phone. If you want a big phone than get the OnePlus 7 Pro. The G8 has a really good camera,nice screen,wireless charging,ip 68, expandable storage and really good battery life. I picked up a new one for $450 because T-Mobile is always having BOGO. I think it's a great phone,nice size,great build and a quad dac


Posts: 7; Member since: Nov 15, 2015

Lg is still my fav. Oem but this article is spot on. For thr V series bring back the 2nd screen and place the volume buttons on the back. Start putting in bigger batteries and drop your ui. Go stock android.

18. hoevito

Posts: 11; Member since: Apr 18, 2012

Some LG criticism is deserved, but the G8 is objectively a great phone overall, and one of the most underrated flagships out right now. For the money, it's arguably the best phone on the market right now IMO, but all anyone wants to talk about is the "gimmicks", but conveniently ignore the great battery life, expandable storage, great camera, industry leading DAC, and being one of the only android flagships with proper 3d face unlocking AND an always reliable hardware fingerprint sensor. I say this an an owner of a Oneplus 6T, multiple iphones, and a G8...

26. Farcaster

Posts: 167; Member since: Apr 16, 2018

The difference is that LG gained popularity as an innovator. A lot of their innovations unfortunately ended up failures for them but nevertheless helped to progress smartphone tech overall (back fingerprint reader, modern display ratio, secondary camera, etc...). OnePlus, on the other hand, attained popularity in a rather shrewd manner, using methods such as controversial ads/marketing, undercutting prices, copying Samsung (even going so far that the CEO requested to "share" secrets by interning) and Apple (blatant design ripoffs, laughable inverted display in order to copy iPhone internal layout). Nothing wrong with that in a business sense, just very cunning. I feel that if LG stoops to OnePlus level of tactics, in addition to not improving sales, they will also face ridicule in the smartphone world and among their peers.

28. MrMalignance

Posts: 352; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

I agree. Lg is in a tricky place in that they have to produce products, or become like HTC. The sad part is, as the article said,they don't appear to have a particular focus in mind. The fact that they have helped to shape and round out tech is undeniable. The question is how to raise the bar. I have to agree with some of the suggestions that they start by maintaining and improving quality, but take a price gouge. All they have to do is be a healthy amount under apple and Samsung. They still have mainstream brand recognition

29. Ifeelconnected

Posts: 1; Member since: Jun 15, 2019

Do you guys even bother to learn anything about the phones before you come in here and completely put down the brand? Yes the G8 has airmotion which is "strange", but to say it's the only thing that sets LG apart is just poor and lazy research and wreaks of you just wanting to put down the brand. What about crystal sound OLED? How bout the screen it self.. Having the best resolution and most pixels per inch. How about the hi fi quad dac, uncompressed audio recording, boombox speaker, hand vein unlock. LG is still innovating, your supposed to be a balanced unbias forum start acting like it.

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