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An ode to LG phones as Korean manufacturer quits mobile

In 2014 when LG introduced the LG G Flex smartphone, I asked if the “curved” display on the device put the South Korean smartphone maker ahead of the curve. I came to the conclusion not so much, though in fact I liked the handset.

In 2018, LG came out with the V40 smartphone with five, count ‘em, five cameras. I feared this quintet of cameras was merely a gimmick. It may have seemed radical at the time, but not anymore. You can’t argue in retrospect that phones with multiple lenses have more than proven their worth.

And last year, LG unveiled the LG Wing, billed as the “world’s first 5G swivel smartphone.” It had a 6.8-inch main screen and a hidden 3.9-inch secondary screen that was revealed when you rotated the entire front of the device clockwise 90-degrees. Only it flopped. The Verge referred to the Wing as a “bold experiment,” while adding that “being new and interesting doesn’t mean that something is good.”

LG’s funky form factors were almost always interesting, and for that those of us who welcome innovation on smartphones—even if some features don’t exactly pan out—we owe them a debt of gratitude.

Sadly on Sunday night, word came out of Seoul that LG would be quitting the mobile business worldwide by July 31, a corporate strategic decision whose writing has been on the proverbial wall for some time. LG's mobile division has been bleeding red ink for a half-dozen years, and the company’s phones never could surpass Apple or Samsung, and struggled against a slew of Chinese handset rivals as well.

It seemed inevitable that LG phones would fade into memory and join a lengthening list of other once shiny mobile brands, familiar names like BlackBerry, HTC and Nokia.

LG’s departure also means the “rollable” phone the company teased during the virtual CES trade show in January, and that was supposed to debut in 2021, will roll right off the stage before the curtain even opens.

Current LG owners. If you have an LG phone, the company says it will provide support and software updates for a period of time which will vary by region. LG also said it will work collaboratively with suppliers and business partners as it winds down its mobile phone business.

The phones themselves will continue to sell until the current inventory is exhausted, so perhaps Android bargain hunters will find one.

In making the announcement, LG said it plans to focus resources in growth areas such as electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and business-to-business solutions, as well as platforms and services. And LG is still a highly respected seller of top-notch televisions.

Do you have, or ever have had, an LG smartphone? What is your reaction to the news?

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Photo above courtesy of LG.

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