Back when LG launched its G5 phone at last year’s Mobile World Congress, its revolutionary modular system was met with a fair amount of acclaim. But a clunky execution and a lack of third-party support doomed the handset before it could get off the ground, and the Moto Z’s more elegant magnetic solution all but put a nail in the G5’s coffin.
So it should come as no surprise that LG is backing away from the modular concept. According to The Wall Street Journal, the phone maker is planning to release its G6 handset “in the very near future,” but its Friends might not be coming along. LG told the paper that it would be “scaling back the modularity of the G6, compared with the G5, and is instead focusing on the phone’s aesthetics and usability.”
LG has struggled to make much noise in the smartphone world despite releasing two flagships in 2016, the LG G5 and V20. While it ranks third in the U.S. behind Apple and Samsung with roughly 10 percent market share, it trails Huawei, Oppo, and others on the global stage.
Back in June, the company shook up its mobile division in response to poor sales of the G5, and it most recently reported a 23 percent drop in its third-quarter sales on a quarterly operating loss of nearly $400 million. However, LG Chief Technologist Skott Ahn insists LG remains committed to making handsets, saying that “spinning off the smartphone division is not something we would consider.”
The company is reportedly eyeing a release of the G6 at MWC in February, though several other dates are bring considered. A spokesperson for LG told the Journal that the phone will likely be priced in the same $500-$600 range as the G5.
Why this matters: Smartphones are very quickly approaching an innovation wall, as manufacturers look to find the next direction. LG’s approach, while admirable, didn’t pan out for the company, but the modular phone concept is far from dead. In fact, Moto plans to release a dozen new Mods for its Z handset this year, including one that brings support for Google’s Tango AR OS.
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