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Smartphone evolution: LG's quirky innovations

Smartphone evolution: LG's quirky innovations

A trip down memory lane reveals that LG phones can range from innovative to forgettable to downright weird - and sometimes all three. Here's a brief overview of some of the more memorable phones, for better or worse, from the brand's past.

The evolution of LG isn't a straight line or about a certain line of flagships, it's about trying new things regardless of how many times the brand misses the mark. That's the quirky spirit that I love about LG, despite all the forgettable phones they've made like the LG G Stylo. With the following devices, you'll see that the pendulum swings between brilliant, game-changing innovations and gimmicks that didn't exactly catch on.

LG Prada (2007): first capacitive phone screen

It wasn't an Android phone - it had a Flash-based UI - but this 3-inch phone made a big impact on how we use our smartphones today. The LG Prada, also known as the LG KE850, was the first phone to feature a capacitive touchscreen. Back in the day, touchscreens responded to pressure, making them annoyingly inaccurate and non-responsive. The capacitive touchscreen meant that you could use your fingers rather than a stylus to get things done easily on your phone. 

LG DoublePlay (2011): secondary display in the slider keyboard

The LG GW620 from 2009 was the first LG smartphone to run Android. It launched with Android 1.5, and was eventually upgraded to 2.2. It featured a simple slide-out keyboard. These were simple times. But, LG couldn't just leave the sliding keyboard alone - it had to find a way to make it interesting. In 2011, LG released the LG DoublePlay, which served as a good example of LG doing something different just because it could. It had an awkward, bulky design, Android 2.3 and poor call quality. It was forgettable except for one thing: its slider keyboard had a secondary display.

LG G Flex (2013): bendable, curved screen

Samsung released the Galaxy Round curved smartphone first, but the LG G Flex could bend. If you set this curved phone down on a table and press down on it, it will flatten out without breaking. The rear cover could also self heal - preventing it from being scratched. This phone not only looks cool, it brings smartphones one step closer to being undamageable by normal daily life.

LG V10 (2015): two screens and two selfie cameras

If the G line is for flagships with top specs, then the V line of phones is where LG can get a bit wacky. In 2015, LG brought us the expensive and odd V10. This smartphone has a 5.7-inch display. But, why leave it at that? LG put an extra, tiny screen above it. And two front-facing cameras, because in 2015, we were just starting to see the selfie epidemic get out of control. Luckily, this year's new LG G6 flagship has dual 13 MP rear cameras rather than front cameras.

AndroidPIT LG V10 7
Two screens, two front cameras. Because why not? / © AndroidPIT

LG G5 (2016): modular went mainstream

The first modular smartphone was the Fairphone 2, but the first high-end, mainstream smartphone to have a modular design was the LG G5 of last year. The "Friend" modules basically gave the G5 super powers, as you'll see in the video below.

If this is improved over time and executed well, it could really be a game changer for smartphones. The modular design concept, in theory, could someday give a single device the ability to become limitless in terms of camera quality, audio quality and more - simply by swapping out modules. 

LG keeps making wonderful, ridiculous phones, and I can't wait to see what they come up with next. Are there any interesting ones we should add? What are your favorite LG innovations?

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  • chulo Mar 17, 2017 Link to comment

    I've owned the M7, M8, Note 4, Note5 and S7 edge. Also... the iPhone 4, 5c, 6s and 7. I finally bought the V20 and a couple of Stylo 2 pluses for my kids. They are some of the best phones I've owned.

  • I wonder how many people got burned along the way though. I for one will never buy LG again. I had a G2, was great, though stuck on 4.4.2 was a pain, until I finally got a notification via LG PC Suite that an update to 4.4.4 was available. It bricked my phone and LG UK did not accept responsibility, even though it was their software that determined I had an update and then broke it. I was hurt, but not totally put off, until I bought a G3. Great in theory, but the processor and GPU couldn't keep up with the QHD, and widgets didn't fit on the screen either as no one was doing 5x? layouts.
    My daughter had a G Optimus, this lasted about 7 months before started playing up, then not holding charge, then dying.
    Am now a chinese convert, had an Elephone P9000 that was great except for the mic on video capture, quite weak, so now have an Umidigi Z Pro coming. Sure, the chinese smart phones might turn out to be crap as well, but atleast they cost substantially less than their korean counterparts.

  • Knock knock feature to turn on and unlock the screen when knocking on the preselected location is awesome

  •   2
    Deactivated Account Mar 12, 2017 Link to comment

    Mentions little to nothing of the trademark lg software. Double tap? Qslide? Are these things availible everywhere? Insomuch you wouldn't mention them? =/ so far my evidence proves to the negative. Also the trademark rear buttons!! The g2 was my favorite phone ever. I even felt special because they had an Italian boys choir sing your ring tones 😍
    I miss the white phone option though

  • storm Mar 12, 2017 Link to comment

    Successful evolution is about thriving in your niche. LG has pretty much struggled the whole time. They aren't profitable, have poor market penetration. Their​ innovations don't impact the market successfully. Sounds like the dead end line of phones to me.

    Modular had been around before LG. Handspring PDAs were modular including cell phone module fur example. USB OTG is a form of universal modularity.

  • I like the LG phones but the G5s that I had started having problems. Three phones under warranty in two weeks had cameras that would not auto focus. Could not get resolved so had to upgrade. Got LG V20 and am very satisfied.

  • Love my G5, sadly the G6 dropped the removable battery. I moved to LG from Samsung because they stopped offering a removable battery. G6 may as well be any other Samsung or iPhone now. Hoping that the V30 doesn't drop the removable battery for water resistance. Samsung made a water resistant phone with a removable battery in the S5, so it can be done.

    • I think that was Lgs best option the removable battery. I think consumers really looked forward to that, now it's history! Oh well, I guess it's called progess!

  • I was expecting another item in the list: the rear mounted volume and power buttons! They were innovative and offered unique interaction ways. Plus, they also 'forced' LG to introduce the innovative knock knock power feature. Not sure if they came first, but they actually invested much on these innovations.

  • LG Stylo is a GREAT budget phone!

  • Still on process to. Buy the g5 but I beliv is a gud stuff

  • I love my LG phones. I've had many Samsung phones. I've had many Apple devices. But the gadgets I truly love the most are the LG's. My favorite and best gadget has been and is the G5. I'm still scratching my head on why the G5 did so poorly in sales. My S6 is a great gadget but the G5 is miles better in every way. The battery. The camera. Yes! Even the way it looks and especially the way it feels. And I say this with no access to any "Friends" at all. The "Friends" would have put it over the top.

    I do hope they keep taking chances. My wife is still using her "LG made" Nexus 4. And I still have mine as a backup that my kids have borrowed more than once to use while the one they own (which ever the make is) is getting repaired. If it wasn't for the crappy camera I would have never bought the S6 or the G5.

    I'd still love to get my hands on some "Friends" to lengthen the ownership of my G5. I kind of can't wait for my wife's Nexus 4 to crap out so I have an excuse to buy either another G5, a V20, V30 or maybe a G6. I kind of like the swappable battery even though it's not really needed.

    I'll have to agree on the comment that LG causes their own problems but that's what happens when you take chances and try new things.

    Samsung and Apple make great gadgets but... Borrring!

    • I totally agree..I have the G5 and it's great. I also bought the camera "friend" and it works perfectly. Always buy LG, Probably skip the G6 but looking forward to the G7..

  • LG caused there own problems and Bad name for themselves in Europe by starting off so many unreliable phones on the "3" network ,once people experienced this you just keep away from buying another LG phone again,they keep trying to compete more with Samsung but have never been able to challenge them,just look at the LG G5 its sales were disappointing,o.k the new G6 does look nice but will wait to see a Full review is released then all of a sudden LG seem to overpricing there New phone

  •   31
    Deactivated Account Mar 11, 2017 Link to comment

    of all the very cool and quirky stuff LG have done, the innovative and subtle G6 is most impressive..
    unlike a certain Chinese OEM redoing a 2yr design for a higher screen to body ratio..
    LG started from scratch, with a completely​ new design that looks great and actually works, lots of small almost unnoticeable innovative stuff gets us the impressive looking G6.. and maybe we're all gonna be using smartphones with 18.9 screen in the future..

    i really hope LG carry on being interesting and innovative..
    Partnering with Google for Nexus phones offered something unique that's now lost.. last yrs N5x was a very cool design and very different from N6p, how many companies do that, now the new pixels are identical twins...
    can't say I blame the likes of Samsung or Apple for playing safe with design, they've got far too much invested to take design risks.
    so respect to LG for always doing something original and interesting, it's a big part of what really makes Android the great OS that it is.

  • Thank you for the article. You have described a very interesting aspect of LG phones. They tend to try out innovations that are downright audacious and brilliant, in contrast to, especially, Samsung, whose so-called innovations are downright boring. But I am sad to note that none of these innovations really caught on, perhaps because LG really didn't have the grit to follow up properly. Innovative features really catch on only when consumers get used to seeing them for a reasonable period of time.

  • Mark
    • Admin
    Mar 11, 2017 Link to comment

    I like LG because they will try new thing. They truly try to be innovative with their phones. Unlike boring Apple and Samsung who only make a small change once every few years. I do not think the curved display was innovative because it is not useful.

    • I had and still have an LG Voyager. Had that touchscreen on the outside and flipped open to a full keyboard with the internal screen. That was a texting beast at the time. It had a lot of potential but LG never took it further. I still look at it every now and then to reminisce. And it's my backup to my backup.

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