LG’s latest device impressed the audience at the European launch in London; Analysts laud G4’s “great” design as LG moves away from “cold monolithic slabs”
LG is looking to re-establish itself as one of the worlds biggest handset manufacturers, following the launch of its new “incredible” LG G4 handset.
The Korean firm, once a market leader in the UK, is currently ranked fifth in the world for sales – with 4.6 per share. However, the growth signs are clear, having boosted Q1 sales by more than 26 per cent to 15.4 million thanks in part to last years G3 – which sold around 10 million units.
LG electronics president and CEO Juno Cho is confident the new device is capable of competing with “the best of the best” in the current market and has already predicted sales of eight million this year and 12 million over its lifecycle. He is also planning to boost LG’s marketing spend by up to 60 per cent – although figures weren’t given.
“From the design to the camera to the display to the user experience, this is the most ambitious phone we’ve ever created,” said Cho.
“We want to really stand out and stay away from the rest of the pack, we are very unique and stand out as an alternative to customers.”
The G4 was unveiled during a series of global launch events, including New York, Paris, Singapore, Istanbul and London – at which more than 300 media packed the Marylebone venue, hosted by TV personality Gabby Logan.
The phone, which goes on sale later this month, features a 5.5 inch screen, 16 megapixel rear and eight megapixel front facing camera capable of “DSLR quality” imaging, 32GB storage (expandable to 128GB), Android 5.1 Lollipop and a six-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
It was described by LG Electronics Europe Brian Na, who unveiled the handset in London as an “engineering masterpiece”.
“The LG G4 started with a small, but very meaningful goal,” said Na. “It must understand the user, and those who benefit from it.”
Much of the talk around design focussed on its ‘slim arc’ body, and leather rear variant option (see next page image)
According to LG’s head of mobile in the UK and Ireland Andrew Coughlin (pictured), also in attendance, the G4 provides a better grip than the traditional “cold” and “flat” smartphones built by its rivals, whilst also providing up to 20 per cent better protection against screen damage if dropped face down.
Coughlin also made an indirect dig at rivals Samsung (without naming), stating that LG “didn’t just round of the edges.” and questioned whether its rivals listen to what their customer actually want in a device.
“In the early days of the mobile era, every mobile was unique,” Coughlin explained. “But over time smartphones have become monolithic slabs of flat uniformed cold metal. You have to wonder whether these designs truly cater for consumers needs and desires?
“In your hand, handsets are not all that comfortable or indeed stable, so we thought about how we could create a different user experience. We wanted to create a smartphone that would fit the contour of the human body naturally. The solution is the slim arc design.”
Bucking the trend
LG has also gone against recent trends adopted by many of its rivals (Apple, Samsung, Sony, HTC, BlackBerry, Huawei) by including a 3,000mah removable battery. This LG claims will give 440 hours standby or 14 hours talk time
Coughlin also explained the decision to include a removable battery was born on feedback received from customers stated they would happily have a slight thicker device, if it meant for a longer charge – something often criticised with smartphones.
“As touchscreens have come to dominate the front of smartphones the back is where we felt we could really differentiate the design,” said Coughlin.
“Many phones now have non removable and low capacity batteries to they can shave off a few tenths of a millimetre. We asked customers what they cared about most in a smartphone and the vast majority said they would happily give up some slimness for a decent battery that could be replaced. With the G4, you get a removable battery and the trade off is minimal.”
The device, particularly around design has been well received by industry analysts who backed Coughlin’s comments by praising the manufacturer for listening to what consumers want in a handset – rather than simply competing for the highest specifications.
“The G4 builds upon the solid base of the G3 with only slight hardware improvements,” said uSwitch.com’s Rob Kerr. “The ever so slight curvature of the phone sets itself apart from other designs.
“Last year’s G3 set the bar in screen quality with a QuadHD display, which other mobile makers have now matched. With a similar screen in the G4, LG could be seen as resting on its laurels.
“But although there’s no showy dual curve screen to see here, it still packs in the pixels with some new brightness and colour perkiness. And with a camera that would appease professional snappers, it has listened to its market and worked in what’s important in a phone – form and features.
“LG might struggle to stand out against the S6 edge, but with HTC One M9 slightly improving on the One M8, and Sony traditionally offering slight improvements, perhaps it’s now all about evolution and not revolution.”
Abby Francis, of Mobiles.co.uk, said LG’s decision to introduce an eight megapixel front camera was a intelligent move, given the craze around taking ‘selfies’.
“It was quite clear from the presentation that LG is looking to compete, and in some cases better, Samsung’s (S6 edge) latest device.”
“LG is clearly very proud of the camera on the G4,” said Francis. “Its offering to the selfie community, with an 8 megapixel front-facing camera and gesture recognition, that will grab the attention of the average consumer. Maybe they’ll bundle a selfie-stick in with the device when it comes to retail.”
IDC analyst Ramon Llamas added: “The G4 keeps LG in the conversation about high-end smartphones. The overall design merits praise.”
Coughlin concluded: “When we made our new smartphone we put you at the centre of the G4 experience. We didn’t just chase after technology for technology sake.”