In case you haven’t heard, we will soon bid farewell to the mobile division of LG. Needless to say, this is a difficult time for all of us. To help us cope with the loss, and perhaps come to grips with its absence, we’re gathered here today to reminisce about LG’s absolute worst entries in the smartphone market.
Feeling less cynical, and more appreciative? Don’t worry, I’ve got a list of LG’s best phones for you, too.
No. 6: Google Nexus 5X
As the only manufacturer ever tasked with creating three separate Nexus phones, LG must have been doing something right for the brand. After the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 cemented themselves in Google-lovers lore, the Nexus 5X emerged as easily the least-memorable entry in the series. That doesn’t mean it was bad, per se, but more so that it was a letdown.
Released alongside the higher-end and much better-received Huawei-made Nexus 6P, it was intended to satisfy the needs of an Android buyer who preferred a smaller or less expensive device (or both). Sadly, the magic had already begun to fizzle, as the 5X had a weak screen, bad battery life, and middling hardware quality despite being more expensive than previous Nexuses. The common thread was, “I just want another Nexus 5.”
Be it the faults of the Nexus 5X or the larger shift inside Google, with these two phones the world said goodbye to the Nexus name forever — giving way to the Pixel line.
No. 5: LG G Flex
Remember curved TVs? Like many a forgotten tech experiment, this concept made its way to engineers’ meetings at LG. The result was the G Flex, a phone with a significantly curved displaying promising levels of immersion that previously impossible from a boring old flat slab. Unfortunately, the 720p screen never truly did that immersion justice.
The phone’s other claim to fame was a self-healing backside, which used technology previously seen on cars to offer protection from minor scratches that keys and the like might cause. It too, was a bit of a letdown, seeming to perform its duty only a small percentage of the time. I hope you bought a curved case.
It turns out the use of flexible OLED screens was the way of the future, just not necessarily like this.
No. 4: LG V10
LG’s business proposition for the V10 (and subsequent V series devices) could be boiled down to one word: Premium. Companies throw around the word “pro” in much the same way today. It accomplished this in some ways with a beautiful, unique build and manual camera controls, but ultimately it muddied those wins with cheeky gimmicks.
Multiple front-facing cameras meant you could take a “groupie” as easily as a “selfie”, which is something we eventually figured out how to handle with a single camera today. Meanwhile, a second screen in the form of a small strip above the primary offered little more than app shortcuts, music controls, and the ability to type a custom message. Incredible.
The hardware was also incredibly tough, which just didn’t resonate with buyers. It had a stainless steel frame (hey, Apple!) and a grippy textured back, which all made it clunky and incredibly heavy. Even though it retained a removable battery, expandable storage, and a headphone jack … it just wasn’t enough.
Though without its merits, the V10 still had a hard time when considering its “premium” price tag paired with a brand that never had the biggest market share. Thankfully, future V-series phones got closer to the mark.
No. 3: LG G5
Modular phones were an exciting idea in the mid-2010s. Concepts like Google’s Project Ara were making waves with the promise of a more environmentally conscious device able to be upgraded piece by piece rather than biannually as a whole. Of course, Ara never saw the light of day. So, with the G5, LG took its own stab at offering real consumer-level modularity, if to little fanfare.
The bottom of the G5 could be removed in order to insert either an extended camera grip and battery, or a Bang & Olufsen-designed DAC. There were rumblings of hope for third-party companies to create more accessories down the line, but by the time the G6 came out the market had spoken: There wasn’t any indication that people were going to buy these accessories, and they were never released. Not even LG brought the original accessories to market worldwide, and never made more.
Despite Motorola giving a similar concept a long run with the Moto Z line, modularity was another quirk to be remembered as nothing more than a failed experiment.
No. 2: LG Optimus 3D
3D technology is a gimmick that has eluded market saturation for the better part of the 21st century (earlier, even), and smartphones are no exception to the trend. In fact, both HTC and LG released 3D phones in the U.S. during the same month in 2011.
Like the HTC Evo 3D, the LG Optimus 3D’s three-dimensional implementations could be “enjoyed” in apps or via photos of your own capturing. The 3D technology, called a parallax barrier, was the same used in the Nintendo 3DS, and while it didn’t require uncomfortable eyewear, it had an extremely narrow viewing angle, as well as a tendency to leave the user disoriented after long viewing periods. It also made the screen considerably worse for regular 2D viewing — not great.
The Optimus 3D was actually a fairly decent phone otherwise, but if I never have to hear or read the term “3D” in regards to new technology moving forward, I’ll be all the happier.
No. 1: LG Optimus Vu
Remember phablets? Well, arguably, every phone is a phablet now. But if the Galaxy Note prompted the term’s coining, the LG Optimus Vu (aka the LG Intuition on Verizon) embodied it. Have you ever thought yourself, “Dang, I sure wish my phone was a square”? If so, this was your dream phone. If not, and I suspect this is more likely, we’ll at least reminisce with me about a time when things were just a little weirder.
Back in 2012, phones were unique, and companies were trying all sorts of things. We hadn’t yet figured out that phones should just be taller in order to give us more screen, and they were steadily getting wider instead. The Optimus Vu, and the later Vu II, thought that we could take this to the extreme with a roughly 4:3 aspect ratio. It didn’t stick for many reasons, not the least of which being that smartphone hardware just hadn’t progressed enough to include a big screen without equally huge bezels.
Beyond their awkward feel, the Vu and its successor both lagged behind the competition in terms of hardware. It just wasn’t a good time for LG, and thankfully the company pulled out of this era to make some of the best phone designs of its history.