The LG G6 needs to do a lot of things really well. Not having the latest Snapdragon chip is not a great start.
We were so excited. Well, we're still excited, but less so. See, a Forbes contributor, Ben Sin, splashed water on the idea that the LG G6, which is expected to be announced at MWC in February and debut in March, will not have the newer Snapdragon 835 chip, but rather the older-yet-still-excellent-but-not-quite-ideal Snapdragon 821. Yes, the Snapdragon 821 inside the Pixel phones and OnePlus 3T, all of which are excellent performers.
The question, though, is whether, by duffing its G5 flagship as much as it did, it's too far behind Samsung in the ways that matter.
After this week's leak, which shows LG's flagship at its sleekest and most forward-thinking, it's unfortunate that the hardcore user base is probably not going to be able to see past this decision, if it was a decision at all. With LG (mostly) eschewing gimmickry in favor of a phone that just works, it seems 2017 is off to a better start than last year for the South Korean giant.
The question, though, is whether, by duffing its G5 flagship as much as it did, it's too far behind Samsung in the ways that matter. Ignoring for a moment the fact that Samsung had its own troubles last year, the company still managed to sell upwards of 40 million Galaxy S7s, and dozens more millions more of its low-to-midrange devices in the Galaxy A and Galaxy J series. While LG has never really been competitive against Samsung in units sold and market share, there's always been a perception that the two companies were at least technologically well-matched. Beautiful LCD vs. stunning SuperAMOLED. Smart camera vs. smart camera. Sleek design vs. sleek design.
The G4 may not have been as aesthetically significant as the metal-and-glass overhaul of the Galaxy S6 back in 2015, but it had its fans, me among them. The G5 was supposed to be that radical reinvention to take on the more sedate, mature pivot of the Galaxy S7, but it failed. Hard. That's OK, there's always next year, and LG appears to be well on its way to correcting course. The V20 was already showing what it's capable of doing with a legacy form factor and a bit of focus, but it looks like LG is positioning the V series as the performance-heavy entrant in the series.
Building the equivalent of the Galaxy S7 in 2017 is not a bad idea for LG.
So now we have the G6, and we know a few things: it will have a tall 5.7-inch screen with an unusual 2:1 aspect ratio. It will have teeny tiny bezels that will certainly attract the minimalists out there. And it will be made of metal and glass, much like the Galaxy S7, while retaining the G5's dual-camera-and-fingerprint-sensor on the back. It's probably going to be waterproof, too, because all flagships need to be waterproof in 2017.
Building the equivalent of the Galaxy S7 in 2017 is not a bad idea for LG, but Samsung is now a year ahead, about to release the Galaxy S8 with what appears to be the fastest SoC on the market and a reinvigorated commitment to safety and security. And AI. The good news is that LG has typically been able to eke better day-to-day performance from its flagships than Samsung, mainly by optimizing software and incorporating fewer gimmicks. But Samsung is doing the same thing, so this year should be very interesting for flagship smartphones.
Can LG keep up? Let us know in the comments!