As has unfortunately been the case for the last few years, LG‘s smartphone division seems to be losing the plot. Sitting in seventh place in the global market, the company’s smartphone shipments are declining faster than the global average. Having shipped just 11.4 million devices worldwide in the first quarter of 2018, LG’s global presence in the smartphone space is one-seventh of what market leader Samsung ships. What’s to blame for this rapid decline? Being boring, in my opinion.
The most sure sign of what I’m suggesting is visible on the face of LG’s latest smartphone, the G7 ThinQ. Let’s be clear though, it isn’t a bad phone by any means, and boring doesn’t mean bad. It’s a flagship device through and through, with all the right features, bells and whistles. You get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC, up to 6GB of RAM, Android 8.0 Oreo out-of-the-box, a dual-camera setup at the rear and a notched display that bumps up the screen-to-body ratio. But doesn’t it all sound so familiar?
It does, and as David Ruddock of Android Police puts it:
Why does the G7 have a notch? because the iPhone does
Why does the G7 have an AI Button? because Samsung does
Why does the G7 have an AI camera? because Huawei does
LG never bothered asking why having these things was desirable. It just blindly copied them because it could.
— David Ruddock (@RDR0b11) May 2, 2018
The LG G7 ThinQ is, as mentioned above, a complete copy of an amalgamation of various top flagship smartphones. It borrows inspiration from other major manufacturers, jumps onto trends simply because they are trends, and has seemingly put no thought into any of the decisions its taken to build the phone. At the end of it, what you will get with the G7 ThinQ is a pretty good smartphone that you’ll get bored of in about a week. Nothing in the smartphone is special, nothing that LG has done is innovative and there is literally no reason I’d buy the LG G7 ThinQ over a Samsung Galaxy S9+ or a Huawei P20 Pro.
WATCH: LG V30 First Look
LG’s decline can be traced back a couple of years, and some of the company’s poor decisions are visible in previous generations of the flagship G range. The LG G5 was definitely innovative with its modular design and early adoption of the dual-camera setup, but it’s lack of support for its modular design, not launching any new modules after the initial launch and slightly iffy build meant it was a flop. The LG G6 was one of the earliest phones to market with an 18:9 aspect ratio, but rushing it to market meant it ran on the dated Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC while other smartphones came with the newer Snapdragon 835.
LG’s second flagship device of 2017 was the LG V30+, which is popular among audiophiles thanks to its support for high-resolution audio and excellent digital-analogue converter. However, apart from audiophiles, few others cared for the device, considering it cost more than the competing OnePlus 5T while being nowhere near as good. Simply put, LG’s flagship smartphones have developed a tendency to have a flaw so critical, or to be so utterly ordinary or niche, that it appeals to very few people.
Some might argue that the OnePlus 6 will be exactly like the LG G7 ThinQ, with its copycat notched display, specifications, dual-camera setup and more, and that’s true. But the Chinese company positions its products differently, offering the benefits of excellent software, timely updates, class-leading performance and undeniable value-for-money. OnePlus doesn’t pretend to be anything except a device manufacturer that develops good software, listens to its community and strives to offer value. LG, on the other hand, wants to play among the premium flagships, but is losing the innovative edge that has traditionally allowed it to claim a seat among the smartphone elite.
The LG G7 offers absolutely nothing that can be called new. It’s AI push has been done already by other brands, the notched display isn’t a big deal anymore, the software has nothing of value on offer and the camera setup will be good but not as good as what you get on other premium smartphones. And LG’s product strategies mean it won’t even have the price advantage when it is launched. Simply put, the LG G7 ThinQ is an uninspiring smartphone.