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Counterclockwise: A Brief History of LG Phones

Seoul, South Korea is home to two tech competitors – LG and Samsung. While the latter is the biggest company, LG has also brought a lot of innovations in the field of technology even if it is not often appreciated. So, let’s tell you her story and see if you can gain more respect for the company.

Let’s start with the LG Prada – debuted in December 2006 and launched in May 2007, it was the first phone with a capacitive touch screen. Yes, LG beat Apple by a few months. The company even suspected Apple of ripping off the design, although there was no such thing.

Unfortunately, Prada can’t be the success that the iPhone has been. Its smaller screen (3.0 inches versus 3.5 inches) has a limited color gamut (256K versus 16M) and doesn’t support multitouch, which means fancy pinch gestures won’t work.

Worst of all was the storage – only 8 megabytes (megabytes!) included. Sure, there was a microSD card, but it only supported up to 2GB (very expensive at the time). Despite Apple’s usual stinginess, it was the first phone to have 4GB of storage as the norm, which was a lot in 2007.


LG KE850 Prada

LG KE850 Prada

Another phone from the same era was the LG Viewty. It was a camera phone with a 5MP sensor (compared to 2MP for the Prada and iPhone), and it had Schneider Kreuznach optics with autofocus and digital image stabilization. And it had a xenon flash!

However, its claim to fame was its slow motion mode – it can record 320 x 240p video at 120fps. Not bad considering the usual recording mode was 640 x 480 pixels at 30 frames per second.

LG stated that within five weeks of sales, Viewty had moved over 300,000 units in Europe. One UK retailer even suggested it beat the iPhone. However, it was never made available in the United States, which limited its impact.


LG KU990 Viewty

LG KU990 Viewty

LG, Samsung, Nokia and Sony Ericsson were in competition for the most impressive picture phone — it was the camera that drove sales back then (and largely still is today).

LG Renoir was introduced in 2008 as the first full touch screen phone with an 8MP camera. It beat rival Samsung Pixon by a few months and there were few 8MP non-touch shooters to contend with. This phone was the thinnest 8MP phone among them at 14mm in diameter.

Renoir boasts a built-in GPS for image geo-tagging, manual focus, flash detection, and other goodies.


LG KC910 Renoir

LG KC910 Renoir

LG briefly played with Symbian, but in 2009 it placed its bets on Android. The first Android phone was LG GW620 also known as Eve or InTouch Max. Like the original G1, this device packed a slide-out QWERTY device. LG said it would launch more Android phones and even Windows phones, but it wasn’t done with feature phones.


LG GW620

LG GW620

Earlier that year, the amazing LG Arena came out. It featured an ultra clear display – 311ppi with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels – and was covered with Gorilla Glass. The metal body of the phone reinforced the impression that this is a premium device.

LG has prepared a visual feast with the S Series’ touch user interface, with a 3D cube replacing tabs and a 3D carousel acting as menus. Although not a smartphone, the Arena supported multitasking (at a time the iPhone could not), and included a multi-touch browser, Google Maps (with built-in GPS, but no voice guidance) and the Microsoft Office suite.


LG KM900 circuit

LG KM900 circuit

In some ways, LG prefigured the widescreen craze we’re experiencing right now. The LG New Chocolate had a 4-inch screen with an insane 21:9 aspect ratio and Dolby Mobile support, which was a boon for watching movies on the go.

The phone also used an S-Class UI, complete with multitasking (the app switcher UI was designed to look Symbian-like). And it had voice-guided navigation thanks to Wisepilot, the app worked much better than Google Maps (which didn’t quite match the Chocolate screen). Unfortunately, this was just a demo app.


LG BL40 New Chocolate

LG BL40 New Chocolate

By the way, it’s “New Chocolate” because the original phone was LG Chocolate (from 2006). They were the first Black Label Series phones and traded in their design. The capacitive keys around the D-Pad disappeared when the phone was closed, keeping the exterior looking sleek.


LG KG800

LG KG800

Cell phones were at a critical juncture in 2009 – the market was still moving from key phones to touch screens. The main push was done by smartphones, but they were very expensive so LG offered budget-friendly alternatives.

LG Cookie had a resistive display and a stylus – a 3-inch 240 x 400 screen. LG cut out the features, even the basics like 3G, Wi-Fi and GPS, but it didn’t matter – the price was right (€200) and it became a bestseller , which is the best-selling touchscreen phone, LG says.

It sold a whopping 2 million units in five months and 5 million in 9 months.


LG KP500 cookie

LG KP500 cookie

Before we move on, let’s mention that LG made some Windows Phone 7 phones. There, we spent as much time thinking about them as LG did.


LG E900 Optimus 7
LG C900 Optimus 7Q
LG Quantum
LG mobile jill sander

LG E900 Optimus 7 • LG C900 Optimus 7Q • LG Quantum • LG Jil Sander Mobile

LG’s latest history is marked by the LG Optimus, a mid-range phone designed for the first time in smartphones. You followed Cookie’s game plan: the right price will get the crowd going. After a short detour through 3D, the Optimus series brought us the LG Optimus 2X – the world’s first smartphone with a dual-core processor.

Powered by the Nvidia Tegra 2 chip, it was also the first phone with enough power to record 1080p video (supposedly at 24fps, but actually less than that). The update story was surprisingly good, launching with Android 2.2 Froyo and brought to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Performance was the Optimus 2X’s best feature. We had Nvidia promising games with Unreal Engine 3 and “maybe even” iD Tech Engine 5 (Doom 4!) and Frostbite (Battlefield: Bad Company). This did not happen, unfortunately.


LG GT540 Optimus
LG Optimus 3D P920
LG Optimus 2X phone

LG GT540 Optimus • LG Optimus 3D P920 • LG Optimus 2X

But really, we’re looking at the LG Optimus G – the first widely available phone with the Snapdragon S4 Pro, Qualcomm’s first chipset with a quad-core processor (but not the first quad-core phone, it was the Optimus 4X HD with a Tegra 3). Processing power is put to good use with the Q Slide option – LG’s multitasking solution that uses windows instead of split screen. The 16:10 screen gives you some wiggle room. Q Slide didn’t work for all apps, but it was the beginning.

The hardware was used as the basis for the Nexus 4 – the phone that redefined the word “flagship”. It costs $300 at launch, steal the Snapdragon S4 Pro, and the price will drop to $200. Competing phones can easily cost 2-3 times as much. This was one of the first phones to support Qi wireless charging as well.


LG Optimus G E975
LG Nexus 4 E960

LG Optimus G E975 • LG Nexus 4 E960

The next-gen phone dropped the “Optimus” and used the now-familiar G-series branding — the LG G2. It was a bezel-less phone before it was cool and had an unusual arrangement of keys — the volume rocker and power button were on the back.

At the same time, the company unveiled one of the most modern phones in years – the LG G Flex. Not quite a foldable phone like the ones we see in the rumor mill today, but it does fold. Everything, the screen, the battery, the motherboard, everything is flexible. And we liked the idea of ​​the self-healing coating on the back panel. Bye, bye scratches!

The first generation P-OLED panel had a lower resolution (720p) and suffered from other issues. LG would fix many of those who had the LG Flex 2, but then abandoned the Flex line.


LG G2

LG G2

Moving on to the LG G3, one of the first phones with a 1440p QHD screen. LG worked hard to get acceptable battery life (and heat control) out of its 2014 chipset, which wasn’t well suited for QHD displays (even today, many majors default to 1080p internal resolution).

The laser autofocus system was an improvement over the slow autofocus systems of the time, too. Selling nearly 10 million units in less than a year made the G3 a success.


LG G3

LG G3

LG tried to get fancy with the LG G4. It was a curved phone and had optional leather back covers with decorative stitching. The rear buttons have been improved with a fingerprint reader, which is another forward-looking step from LG. The Quantum IPS display (QHD, of course) fixed some of the color rendering complaints about the G3’s screen, but the Snapdragon 808 chipset wasn’t perfect (LG wisely avoided the S810).

Later that year, LG introduced its Note competitor – LG V10. It was a phone that meant business, and it was MIL-STD-810G sturdy and had a solid back. Its unique feature was the display of a byline containing notifications, shortcuts, and other widgets. The selfie camera has been pushed into an initial slit on the side.

And it was a dual camera – one of the first of its kind. Not for use in 3D, it offers two fields of view 80° and 120°.

Around this time, bootloop issues (which also plagued previous LG phones) became a meme, which wasn’t cool.


LG G4
LG V10

LG G4 • LG V10

LG also built the Nexus 5 and Nexus 5X (which was available alongside the Huawei built Nexus 6P). Not quite as cheap as its predecessor, the Nexus 5 was still among the most affordable flagship phones and continued to become a fan favorite. The 5X was expensive – $380 / €480 for a 16GB phone that will never fly.


LG Nexus 5
LG Nexus 5X

LG Nexus 5 • LG Nexus 5X

Then came the LG G5 — LG’s take on a modular phone. But more importantly, it passed the dual-camera magic back — it was among the first usable dual-camera phones, once again demonstrating LG’s ability to innovate. But the modular system faltered and turned to a metal body marred by odd coatings that gave it a plastic-like feel. On the upside, Always On Display worked well and the battery was handy.

The G5 was followed up by the LG V20, which dropped the V10’s practical exterior for a sleek metal chassis. It was still MIL-STD-810G compliant, and the battery was still within easy reach (the removable back cover had soft padding). The V20 was the first phone to launch with Android 7.0 Nougat.


LG G5
LG V20

LG G5 • LG V20

The LG G6 launched last year has adopted the military-grade ruggedness of the V series and improved it with an IP68 rating. The display is improved with HDR10 and Dolby Vision, but the chipset’s short supply left it with the outdated Snapdragon 821. The failed modular system was dropped, sadly, and the removable battery went with it.

The LG V30 is more than the G6+ — the secondary display is gone, replaced by a P-OLED screen. Although HDR10 and Dolby Vision are once again supported, the screen has come in for some criticism. But the V30 has a lot to be proud of, it’s upgraded to the Snapdragon 835 and its dual camera features a brighter aperture (at the time) at f/1.6.


LG G6
LG V30

LG G6 • LG V30

This brings us to today and there is not much to report. The LG G7 ThinQ felt like a small upgrade over the V30 (but with a cut-out LCD), then LG refreshed the V30 with the V30S (a minor memory upgrade) and again with the V35 (V30 display and camera, G7 chipset). There may have been a Plus version or two out there, but we feel like we’re going in circles.

As you can see, LG has a long history of innovation, especially when it comes to cameras, but also when it comes to processing power and displays. However, despite being the first on many occasions, it seems that the company has rarely managed to be on top (especially recently).

This leaves us with a multimillion-dollar question: What can LG do to turn “first-to-market” into “first-to-market”?