When you think about the dominant players in the Android space, there is really one company that has remained dominant and synonymous with the platform. That company is Samsung, not Google (the company that makes the operating system). Samsung’s Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines have become industry standard recommendations for someone looking for an alternative to the iPhone in the US. With this constant, the secondary players or challengers to Samsung in the Android space has always been a bit of a revolving door.
In the early days of Android those companies were HTC and Motorola. This made sense, as those two companies were making inroads into the Windows Mobile space (HTC) and the “dumbphone” market (Motorola). As time has gone on, these players have changed a bit to companies such as Huawei, Google, and OnePlus. But there has been a company that has remained somewhat relevant throughout this whole time has been LG. LG has always found themselves in the strange position of being known enough but not well enough to gain extreme mass appeal.
There have been LG devices that have been considered iconic Android phones but yet they were to be outshined in sales and attention by their South Korean brothers. The G2, G3, and V20 were all critically acclaimed but the sales numbers never matched the quality that the devices had. For the longest time, it hasn’t been much of a big story. LG would release their two flagships every year and the mobile division would lose money, but LG wouldn’t have any issues since their home entertainment and home appliances divisions could make up the losses. But as time has gone on, there has been a disturbing trend that has been developing.
This trend is that this lack of success has led to LG giving up on innovation and copying industry trends since they feel that their experimentation has not been working. When you look at a phone that is sold today, and look at the features and design cues on these devices, there is a chance that that feature was originated on an LG device. Smaller bezels, ultra wide angle cameras, zoom in audio, rear fingerprint scanners, and so on all originated on LG flagships. However, their devices that pioneered these features have been rejected by the mainstream buying public. So, logically, LG probably has thought that people don’t like these experimental features. What is the answer to this? Dial down the heavy handed features to just a few and then make something that is more in line with what Samsung and Apple are doing.
And this course of action is really a tragedy. This means that one of the few companies that was still trying different things is being told not to do that and just fall in line. In this world that we are in of YouTube tech channels and a million Android news sites, the people that report on these devices could be partially to blame. Every LG phone that is made now is either a “gimmick” or has an “uninspiring design”. In other words, there is no winning for LG here. They try something different, they are bashed for pushing gimmicks. They go a little bit more of a conservative route with their features and designs, and they are uninspired.
Consider the way that the leaks of the LG G9 has been reported on so early on. “Bezels from 2018”, “lackluster design”, and similar types of criticisms. This was the case with the LG G8 ThinQ when it was released as well. There were hypocritical comments made by a lot of reviewers. An example of this is many reviewers lamenting the camera bump on new flagships. Yet when LG created a design with no camera bump, the commentary was centered around a thick chassis and no mention of them solving a design flaw that those reviewers criticized on other phones. Another instance of this is failing to commend LG for maintaining the headphone jack while every other manufacturer has gotten rid of it.
Now LG is far from a perfect manufacturer, as no company is. They have made quite a few missteps such as the notorious bootloop issues on the G4 and the ultimate failure and abandonment of the G5’s modular accessory ecosystem. But they still do make consistent hardware with ever improving software. So let’s consider what the LG G9 will potentially be when it is released later this spring. What feature will it enable that will be panned by the mainstream? What limitation will be mentioned by the masses that makes it so inferior to the Samsung flagship that will be released at that time? As time goes on, it becomes more and more clear that there is some sort of bias against LG phones. We can only hope that LG can finally produce a flagship that will finally silence these critics.