An Ode To LG Mobile
HWM Singapore|May 2021
In April 2016, the cover story for the month’s issue of HWM was Samsung vs LG. It was an in-depth look at the two Korean electronics giants. Samsung had just launched the Galaxy S7 and LG, the modular G5. In just a few months after that story was published, Samsung’s follow up Note 7 devices would suffer battery failures and meltdowns. The entire line had to be recalled. It was undoubtedly a PR disaster and Samsung’s reputation took a major hit that many thought would take years to rebuild.
 Zachary Chan and Liu Hongzuo

At that point, the LG G5 was a strong and innovative flagship device, and it looked like LG could capitalise from its rival’s misfortunes. However, many cautioned that LG’s approach over the years had become too polarising. They were either launching bold, extreme designs that remained very niche in the mainstream market, or standard phones that some considered to be too safe.

The LG G5’s subsequent successors, from the G6 all the way to the V60 ThinQ— while all sensible and flagship worthy in their time—were just not innovative enough.

They were not able to stand out among the growing crowd of Chinese smartphones that were fast gaining influence in all market segments for their affordability and performance.

And given a few more years, Chinese brands like Huawei, OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi would become the main innovators, leading the market with design and technological advancements such as in-screen fingerprint sensors, ultrasonic vibration speakers, multi-camera setups and fast-charging technologies, among others.

In this time, Samsung had already regained their lost footing. In fact, it took Samsung less than a year to do so. With an all-out marketing push to highlight more rigorous battery testing procedures that were put into place following the Note 7 fiasco, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Note 8 launches in 2017 were considered successes.

According to IDC’s global quarterly mobile tracker report, in Q4 2016, Samsung’s market share dropped below 20% to come in second behind Apple. However, by Q1 2017, they were already back in top spot with 22.8% market share and Apple was back in second place with 14.9%. Huawei, Oppo and Vivo were the usual suspects that rounded up the top five. In the next few years, Huawei would rise in prominence to contend with Samsung and Apple. In fact, the same IDC report for Q2 2020 puts Huawei in the top spot, with Samsung second and Apple third. What happened to Huawei next is another story for another time.

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