Why are LG phones not as popular as they once were?
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.
The first serious blow to LG’s reputation came in 2015. It’s then-flagship, the G4, had bootloop issues, forcing users to seek service centers so they can get their devices running again or receive a replacement. Unfortunately, many of the replacement G4’s came with the same issue, which understandably caused many to never consider an LG smartphone again.
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.
G5’s successor, the LG G6, wasn’t a huge hit either, coming out with a Snapdragon 821 SoC when its competitors were flexing the next-gen Snapdragon 835. Needless to say, such a drawback is hard to overlook in the high-end segment, marking the third strike for LG on the flagship front.
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.
On the software front, LG doesn’t have a stellar performance either. The company is notorious for being very slow to release major software updates for its handsets and abandoning support altogether rather quickly, sticking only to the occasional security updates. LG is positioned 16th among smartphone manufacturers when it comes to software updates, according to AOSMark. It’s UX custom Android skin is not the most bloated next to those of other manufacturers, but it’s far from the snappiest.
Despite posting underwhelming smartphone sales figures one quarter after the other, as a result of customers’ diminishing trust in the brand, LG refused to make adjustments in one of the aspects that matter the most: price. Without having anything exciting to offer and differentiate itself from the competition, LG could have tried to win over some of its lost user base by offering quality flagship phones at a lower price. Instead, it kept up with the trend of inflating prices without backing them up with cool features that could get people’s attention. A Quad DAC will do more to make someone google what it means than convince them to buy a smartphone.