Even though LG has put out a respectable line of phones in 2018, sales for the company’s mobile division continue to struggle. So in an effort to rejuvenate its business, alongside an increased focus on robotics and autonomous vehicles, LG announced today that LG Home Entertainment President Brian Kwon will also be taking control of LG Mobile starting 1 December.
The reasoning behind the move seems pretty clear. Featuring Kwon at the helm, LG’s TV division has become a major force in the segment thanks to its class-leading OLED sets, with LG Display raking in record profits earlier this year. And with a fair bit of crossover between smartphones and TVs, especially when it comes to their screens (and to a lesser extent their designs), Kwon should be in a good place to potentially push LG Mobile back on track.
As it stands now, one of the biggest issues LG Mobile is facing is a lack of identity. Although its phones are typically solid, they often fail to stand out when compared to equivalent Samsung, Apple, or even Huawei models. Additionally, while the triple rear cameras on the LG V40 are nice, it’s not exactly a novel idea given that Huawei introduced a somewhat similar setup on the P20 Pro this spring.
Another problem for LG Mobile is that it seems to spend a little too much time focusing on features like hi-res audio, tricky video tools like smooth panning and stabilised zoom, and a built-in cinemagraph maker that, while neat, may be too niche to pull in the typical consumer.
It also doesn’t help that, recently, LG has also been a bit late to market, particularly when it comes to facing off against Korean rival Samsung, with the LG G7 arriving two months after the Galaxy S9, while the LG V40 debuted in October, nearly three months after Samsung released the Galaxy Note 9 in mid-August. And if you go back to devices like the LG G5, the company may still be feeling some of the fallout from its ambitious-but-flawed attempt to make a modular handset. (I do wish LG came out with a new version of its rolling ball bot though. That thing was cool.)
That said, it’s not all doom and gloom for LG Mobile either. After a couple rough attempts, LG’s OLED screens for smartphones are finally in a place where it can provide some much-needed competition to Samsung’s panels (which are found across a number of flagship phones). And with recent patents for things like a device with 16 rear cameras and new ways to put selfie cams on phones, it’s clear LG is thinking a lot about how to improve mobile photography in the future.
There are also things that need some re-evaluating, because, while it’s been getting better, I’m still not a big fan of LG’s Android skins, and the company’s whole push with its ThinQ branding is often confusing and not as impactful as the tag might suggest.
Either way, it’s still too early for any foreboding forecasts regarding LG Mobile, and with new leadership in place, we could be looking at a new era of LG phones coming soon.