Mobile isn’t the only area in which LG operates. The South Korean company also makes televisions, home appliances, displays, and batteries. Its mobile division, though, struggles to generate a profit. After every earnings report, it turns out that the mobile division dragged down net income despite the rest of the company performing as expected or better. LG recently installed new leadership for the mobile division, but it’s not so clear as to what they’ll immediately do.
Here we’ve listed some goals LG should set for 2018. Although they’re ambitious, the mobile division could certainly achieve them.
Make the flagship great again
To say the G6 was simply average is too kind. There was a lot of hype heading into MWC 2017 because, despite its rival deciding to delay the announcement of its next flagship, LG planned to show up and drop a stunning phone on us. It wasn’t an ugly phone by any stretch, but the G6 didn’t drop jaws. The curved corners for the display were undermined by a flat sheet of glass on top.
The inside of LG’s 2017 flagship also disappointed. Because of Qualcomm’s exclusive arrangement with Samsung, the company couldn’t get the Snapdragon 835 inside the G6. The phone was forced to have the Snapdragon 821, which was introduced as a minor Snapdragon 820 upgrade. Perhaps the differences between the Snapdragon 835 and Snapdragon 821 are unnoticeable to most, but no one wants to purchase a phone that’s theoretically outdated the day it’s announced. Also, the media will (and did) cover the topic endlessly until a success comes along.
So the G6 was basically doomed the moment LG unveiled it in Barcelona. The year didn’t turn around in the second half, either.
As long as you’re in the business of creating flagships, you’ll need to very best components available. There’s no bypassing that. LG can cut corners here and there, or it can give the people what they want. Rather than being subdued by a competitor’s ability to strike exclusive deals, LG should wait to release a flagship until it has everything necessary to get the best possible product on the market.
Embrace the V series, or let it go
The V series wasn’t expected to be a Galaxy Note-like series. LG rolled the dice, no doubt. In late 2015, the V10 shipped with an appearance and features unlike anything we’ve seen from the company and perhaps anyone else in the mobile industry. It had a rubber-like body and a ticker display above the primary display. Critics and consumers responded positively, leading to the creation of the V20.
The V20, however, didn’t seem as adventurous. LG swapped out the rubber for a plastic-feeling aluminum, and the V series no longer felt like a testing ground for new ideas. It became nothing more than LG’s year-ending attempt to sell hardware. But the V20 was still palatable. The phone wasn’t priced sky-high nor was it too much like the G5. Enough separation existed between the two 2016 flagships.
With the V30, it’s a lame attempt to repackage the G6. LG finally carved out an attractive design language but there’s nothing special. The V30 and G6 are nearly identical at this point. Even the ticker display is gone.
LG should realize it’s not Samsung. Its resources are best utilized when funneled toward one flagship, not a second that’s just like the first. If the company doesn’t want to make the V series independent, it should drop it altogether. A wise decision would be to retire the V series and develop an unlocked-based series in time for the holidays. Consumers who want the very best of LG can opt for the G series without hesitance from a looming upgrade, and then the more budget-friendly product could target a different demographic. There’s already an indication LG is interested in doing that after Amazon began selling Prime Exclusive flavors of the G6, G6+, and Q6.
The G series should stay put. Meanwhile, the V series needs to be rethought in 2018.
Fix the cameras
Going to keep this recommendation short and sweet: LG’s cameras can’t go another year without being overhauled.
Whatever the number of lenses and their corresponding sensors, the G series and the V series ship with subpar cameras. Let’s stop hiding that. Look at any comparison done between LG’s flagships and those from Apple, Google, or Samsung. It’s not even close, and the front-facing cameras are embarrassingly-bad. The entire playbook should thrown out and recreated as soon as possible.
This has always been a problem for LG. I’ve owned every LG flagship since the G4 in 2015, and not once have I though to myself “Oh wow, they finally improved the camera.” Annually, I think “Well it’s nice to see they haven’t done anything with the cameras.” On the rear, LG’s cameras struggle to take sharp pictures if lighting isn’t well-supplied. Up front, selfies come out looking like grainy messes. Both of LG’s high-end series are begging for improvements.
The industry is far ahead of LG in this area. All the company has to do is look to its left, look to its right, and take some notes on what can be done for itself. Including excellent cameras shouldn’t be difficult for a top-tier brand.
Run a big-budget ad campaign
If there’s anyone who can stand up face-to-face against Samsung, it’s LG. Both companies are based in South Korea, and both have brand recognition around the world. Yet only Samsung’s mobile devices get serious consideration from consumers in almost every region. That wasn’t always the case, though. There was a time when LG’s flagships would be in the conversation for best phone alongside the latest offerings from Samsung, Apple, Motorola, and HTC. While Motorola and HTC are nothing like the solid brands of the past, LG can still come forward and reclaim its spot near the top.
Missteps in advertising might have been what put the company behind. Dating back to the G2 in 2013, LG’s flagships have been nothing short of impressive with their specifications. LG doesn’t skimp on anything, really. But consumers haven’t seen the phones heavily promoted on television, the web, social media, or anywhere else. And, when ads do appear, they’re often strange.
Two particular ad campaigns come to mind immediately. In 2015, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt was enlisted to promote the V10. It was a partnership forged through his production company but nothing remarkable came of it. A bunch of people were dancing around in some ads, which did little to educate anyone who wasn’t into looking up spec sheets online for their own knowledge. This partnership is actually still ongoing, though Gordon-Levitt and hitRECord only appear in online and social media ads. Somehow there are executives at LG still feeling like the payments are worth it.
Then it got super weird in 2016 when LG launched the G5.
Actor Jason Statham appeared in a limited number of ads where every character was played by him. Once again, LG did nothing to prove what made the G5 so good. Instead it merely highlighted the botched modular ecosystem. Fortunately the ads for the G6 in 2017 were informational, showing consumers different features in less than a minute or thirty seconds.
In 2018, LG needs to reboot. It’s definitely too late to change what the G7 will look like and what type of features it’ll have. Ad campaigns, however, could be adjusted at almost any time. If the company really wants to compete with Samsung again, the G7 will require high visibility. The new leaders at the mobile division need to demand a large budget. That’s not to say LG should be airing an expensive ad during the Super Bowl. A big-budget ad campaign for the G7 would include spots in primetime across broadcast and cable networks, highlights of standard and unique features, and maybe most importantly repetition.
Consumers have to see LG’s latest flagship once, then they need to see it again. And after that they have to see it dozens of more times. LG should fuel the mobile division’s efforts because, aside from Samsung, barely anyone is advertising there way into the competition. The brand is already there; LG just has to refresh it.
Good luck, LG. We’re counting on you to rebound in 2018.