(Pocket-lint) LG has a long history with phones and it’s a history with some great successes. LG has been turning heads, moving on new technologies and giving us some iconic devices over the past two decades.
On April 5, 2021, LG announced that it would withdraw from the smartphone market to focus its efforts in other areas.
LG has been a huge player in the feature phone market, a pioneer in design, with a number of high-profile partnerships and a company that never fails to be experimental.
Here’s the history of some of LG’s most important phones.
LG KG800 Chocolate was the most refined phone at that time. He put design first, from the unboxing experience to the product itself.
In a world dominated by foldable phones and uninspired candy, the LG Chocolate was a cut above the rest and an instant icon. Since the likes of Coleen Rooney were seen sporting it shortly after its launch in 2006, this slider gave us a glimpse of phones as a lifestyle accessory.
The KG800 wasn’t the only Chocolate model, with a 2009 Chocolate-themed phone that seemed to bring us smartphone skills, once again focusing on design.
LG’s reputation was only solidified by its high profile pairing with fashion brand Prada, which resulted in the LG Prada, or KE850.
The LG Prada may be the only phone you remember, but phones were fashionable at this point: There was Dolce & Gabbana working with Motorola, Julian McDonald with Sony Ericsson and Cath Kidston on Nokia phones.
Didn’t all of this work out well?
The LG Prada, launched in 2007, was a touchscreen device that ditched most of the buttons and embraced the future we have now.
The LG KS360 may not stand out among the members of this list, but it was an area where LG is excellent: the side slider.
The KS360 was a refreshing phone that fit a QWERTY keyboard so it could focus on group messages that were essential to life in 2008, and looks to challenge BlackBerry’s offerings.
The LG GW520 followed this up, improving the experience in smartphone style, before in 2010 we got an even more significant side scroller, the LG GW620 – LG’s first Android phone. Also called InTouch Max. This was to dictate LG’s transition to the Android smartphone in the future – and it all started with the LG KS360.
The LG Arena, the KM900, is an important device for LG because its 2009 release coincided with the release of another really important phone – the HTC Magic or Google G2.
The year was 2009 and LG Arena was LG’s chance to solidify its own platform and user experience for the S Series.
It was a great phone too, offering many of the connected features you’d expect, but questionable support in the face of the dominant BlackBerry phones, iPhones, and Symbian phones.
Even though Android wasn’t that big of a deal at the time, we had a lingering feeling that Google’s Android was going to be the next big thing.
And indeed it was.
The LG GD900 saw LG explore alternative design in phones, continuing a trend that LG has become known for.
With a clear back-lit panel to show touch controls, it was like something out of a sci-fi movie.
It was also a smartphone of sorts, using LG’s S-Class interface, but in the end, touchscreens took over, and crystal was something of a novelty.
LG Optimus 3D phone
In 2011 the 3D world was going crazy and LG came out with a 3D phone. After moving into offering 3D TVs – and an ecosystem of devices to support 3D entertainment in the home – LG Optimus 3D really gave us the sense that LG was using its experience from other areas of its business.
With a pair of lenses on the back of the phone, it can capture 3D content and display it on the screen without the need for glasses. Not all of the phone was 3D, and it was meant for photos, videos, and games, with some 3D widgets as well.
In the end, however, we all know where 3D went — but the idea of putting multiple cameras on the back of phones stuck — as did the sheer size.
LG has had plenty of Optimus-branded phones, culminating with the Optimus G in 2013, which launched the subsequent LG G series.
Google Nexus 4
This is correct. It wasn’t an LG-branded phone, but a Nexus, part of Android’s premium offering. Both Nexus 4 and subsequent Nexus 5 were launched in 2012 by LG but they come with pure Android.
Sure, LG followed in the footsteps of the Samsung-built Galaxy Nexus, but the Nexus 4 helped solidify the idea that Android was better without all the manufacturer customization thrown on top.
One of the negatives can be seen in LG’s manipulation of the user interface in its Android software.
LG G Flex
With the new G series as its flagship phones, LG has made sure to continue what the Optimus 3D started and showcase LG’s skill with displays, or OLED screens to be exact.
The LG G Flex was a curved phone with the highlight being that it used a flexible OLED panel. This means that you can bend the phone slightly without it getting damaged.
It was a lot of fun and a great display of LG’s skills in both design and manufacturing — and with foldable phones on the agenda in the 2020s, the LG Flex is an important part of that history.
The LG G4 follows a number of successful flagship LG G series which were seriously good Android phones. But the G4 was different because there was a model with a leather back.
The screen was great with Quad HD resolution, but there was something interesting about it. LG used an older Snapdragon 808, while competitors were using the newer Snapdragon 810. It was a bit of a curiosity that LG wouldn’t use the latest hardware and give critics something to criticize.
Besides, the LG G4 will probably be the pinnacle of LG Android phones in 2015, because after that, LG’s next gamble didn’t really pay off.
LG G5 and friends
The LG G5 was launched in 2016, and it was a benchmark.
Rather than owning just one phone, a range of accessories are designed to expand the options you offer. There was a camera module with a battery booster and a B&O Play facility to enhance the audio show – as well as a 360-degree camera and VR headset.
Perhaps more important was the fact that LG added an ultra-wide camera to the phone as a permanent fixture — something that’s been widely adopted by the rest of the industry since then.
However, the LG G5 wasn’t very successful, and the modules were more than a distraction, prompting the question as to why these features weren’t just included.
Better sound and a larger battery were to come in the V series that LG showed off “designs” but segmenting the flagship phones only led to confusion.
LG G6 and beyond
What followed was a two-tiered strategy by LG, in which the flagship G series was often improved upon by the often better technically better V series models.
It wasn’t the end of LG’s good phones, but Samsung’s dominance in Android was now well established, with cheaper competitors coming out of China — notably alternatives offered by Huawei and newcomers like OnePlus.
LG has drifted through a number of G7 and G8 releases, trying to spark interest in dual-screen models, while getting more hands-on with the Explorer phones — the LG Wing feels like a forlorn hope.
LG’s contribution to smartphones will not be missed. There have been some great characters in the mix and some significant moments over the past two decades.
Written by Chris Hall.