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LG’s Greatest Hits And Misses

LG Wing Smartphone

We’re sad to see LG go, but the innovations it made in the smartphone space won’t be forgotten. Here are some of the greatest.

LG G5

The LG G5, when it came out in 2016, created a lot of hype at the time for two main reasons. One, it was a modular smartphone. With Google’s Project Ara nowhere in sight, the G5 swooped in and garnered all the excitement for the modular concept. The simple idea of a phone that could easily add different attachments for improved functionality sounded amazing. The modules themselves, however, never arrived, leaving us with the options of only a removable charger, a digital-to-analog converter, and a camera grip. While the modular concept faded away, what stuck was the other exciting feature of the G5—the first useful dual camera setup with the introduction of a wide-angle lens. 

High field-of-view (FoV) lenses are common now, right from the entry-level segment to the top of the line, and it’s important to honor LG’s critical role in this. The setup featured a 16MP main camera (75º FoV) and an 8MP ultra wide-angle camera, with a surprisingly wide 135º FoV. The G5 was launched a year after the LG V10, which introduced the dual selfie camera—again, a first. We had one “regular” lens and one ultra-wide selfie camera for group shots. 

LG Optimus 3D

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LG’s fiercely innovative spirit took the world by storm in 2011, when the company launched the Optimus 3D. Here was a smartphone with a “glasses-free” 3D display, enabling users to take still photos and record videos in full 3D, then play them back in 3D on the phone’s cutting-edge 4.3-inch display. But it’s not difficult to understand why this model didn’t take off. Throughout the 2010s, we’ve seen multiple tech companies testing the waters of 3D tech on a consumer level. However, most, if not all, of them failed, and the LG Optimus 3D was no exception. Even so, might we bring to your attention the camera module itself? This seems like a familiar silhouette now, but the Optimus 3D was one of the first phones ever to feature a multi-camera layout. This setup is as common as dirt now, but it was the Optimus 3D that laid the foundation for multiple cameras on the back of phones. 

LG G Flex

The G Flex was the first flexible phone in the world. Instead of a flat, slate-like design, the G Flex was curved at its back in a concave form. The phone could even be flattened straight, as long as you applied pressure onto it, after which it returned to its original form. It made use of a flexible P-OLED display and a unique LiPo battery—both were first of their kind and were developed in-house by LG. The device also came with a unique self-healing coating on the back which would heal most scratches, keeping the back looking as good as new. 

Now, all this sounds incredibly expensive, both to the consumer and also to the company in the form of R&D expenses—and it was. So what was the big idea behind this phone? Well, according to LG, the shape of the phone meant that it fit comfortably along your face as you held it up for phone calls, and that’s mostly it. LG predicted that the market for curved displays will grow to as much as $2.5 billion by 2018. Oof! But was the concept an utter failure? Well, no, because it was this flexible OLED tech that made the idea of the modern foldable phone, such as the Motorola Razr and Samsung Galaxy Fold, possible. 

LG Wing 

The LG Wing is the newest entry in this list and, I’d argue, the wildest one as well. A seemingly ordinary smartphone at first transforms into a never-seen-before silhouette with just a flick of the lower right corner of the phone. The entire main display swivels up and around to a horizontal orientation, revealing a second, 3.9-inch OLED screen underneath. And in a sea of the rectangular slabs we like to call smartphones, the Wing certainly comes as a breath of fresh air. However, LG knew right from the start that this wouldn’t be a commercial success. So why did LG do it anyway? For the same reason LG did everything else in its past—to shape the smartphones of the future. 

If you haven’t noticed already, smartphones are starting to look a little boring now. If you walk into a store, the only thing you’ll see is a wall covered with black glass slates. They all look the same. The Wing, however, aimed to experiment with new smartphone form factors and features. 

LG V20

Audiophiles around the world hail the LG V20 as their favorite phone ever. Many of them continue to use theirs to this date. This is because it focused on one trait that continues to be largely ignored by the A-list companies—Hi-Fi audio. While other companies were on their way to kill the headphone jack, LG was pumping some of the most mesmerizing audio you’ve heard through it, thanks to a 32-bit Hi-Fi quad-Digital-Analog Converter (DAC). When playing back non-compressed, lossless audio files like FLAC, alax, wav, AIFF, or DSD, where all the digital bits are retained with no or limited compression and the resulting analog signal is nearly identical to the original, this level of processing power is useful. 

The audiophile community is a passionate one and they truly love this phone as no other manufacturer would take a plunge into such a niche market. Jump onto an audiophile forum and you’ll still see people daily driving this phone, even though it came out nearly five years ago. 

LG KE850 Prada

Contrary to popular belief, Apple’s iPhone was not the first smartphone to feature a capacitive display. That crown goes to the LG KE850 Prada. Launched six months before the iPhone, this LG also featured an all-touch UI. The LG Prada had a 3-inch capacitive display with a 400×240 pixel resolution. The phone’s concept was a collaboration between LG and the fashion house Prada, which gave the final product its name. The phone also came with a swanky leather cover, emphasizing its reputation as a luxury accessory. 

Today everyone points to the iPhone as the start of the touchscreen revolution, while LG’s contribution lays largely forgotten. But to be fair, this was more of a feature phone than a smartphone as it could mostly just run Java apps (J2ME) and games, making use of a Flash UI. 

LG Optimus 2X

LG Optimus 2X was the first phone to feature the ability to shoot full HD videos with a proper resolution of 1920×1080 pixels when it was released in 2011. Although since then we’ve come a long way,—phones are now capable of recording videos in 8K resolution—it was a significant step at the time. It was also the first smartphone to use an ARM Cortex-A9 processor, making it the first dual-core phone available to the public. 

Fun fact: the Optimus 2X holds a Guinness World Record for this achievement.

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