LG leaving Android isn't good for anyone — except LG

LG G8 (Image credit: Android Central)

You might not remember it, but there was a time when LG was an Android powerhouse making the best Android phones money could buy. Phones like the LG G2 owned the high-end while cheap and powerful phones like the Optimus G delivered more bang for the buck than anything made today. Pick almost any phone made by LG during that period and you saw three things:

  • This phone is tough as nails.
  • This phone is hella fast.
  • The version of Android LG built for this phone was trash.

Now, LG is probably done building phones because there is no money to be made by doing it. Some folks from the company say no, others have more information about it all, and other companies are even ready to buy. Whatever happens, it will mean the death of LG as we know it today.

This isn't really surprising if you look at which phones sell, how they are sold, and why people buy them — and you see LG losing in every category.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Iphone 12 Pro Max

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

We're an Android site, and collectively we know everything there is to know about Android. Yes, that's a pretty big and bold claim, but it's true. Just because we aren't writing every little technical thing and look at the bigger picture doesn't mean we don't understand all the technical little things. We're also a mobile site and not afraid to talk about the phone everyone seems to love to hate: the iPhone. You can't talk about the imminent death of LG's mobile division without talking about mobile as a whole.

"Mobile" has a lot of companies, but there are only three making all the money.

Mobile as a category of consumer tech is weird. The three companies that own all the mindshare and make all the profits are Apple, Google, and Samsung. Google enjoys making all of its money from the shadows, but if you want to grab your credit card and head out the door to buy the best smartphone you can buy today, please make sure you are buying some variant of a Galaxy S21 or iPhone 12. That's some advice from Android Central, a company that makes all of its profit from looking at every phone and evaluating how they do the things that Apple and Samsung tell you the best smartphone needs to do.

But what if you don't care about having the best phone on the market and just need a good phone? We have an entire Android phone buyer's "bible" where we evaluate everything from phones to VPN software to accessories that matter. Once you're done reading it, chances are you will just get the cheapest one on Amazon that has good ratings, which is probably made by Motorola.

There are plenty of other phones out there that are great. Google makes some, OnePlus makes some, other Chinese brands that you aren't familiar with make some, too. However, none of that matters when it comes to the actual buying part because the average consumer will buy a phone from Samsung, Apple, or Motorola.

LG Velvet

Source: Alex Dobie / Android CentralThe LG Velvet also looks like pure, raw lust in a phone shaped container. (Image credit: Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

That's a tough field to play in, and LG sees it. It looks like LG is also done with trying to be part of it, and I can't blame the company one bit. LG as a phone manufacturer cannot compete in today's market unless it is satisfied with losing money at an alarming level. Some companies are OK with hemorrhaging cash in today's mobile market for one reason or another. Google loves to spend money on its Pixel vanity project. Yes, I said it. Fight me. OnePlus can lose money in one division and make up the losses through other parts of the company by offering unique accessories that every OnePlus phone buyer wants.

When you make the best television on the market, you make a lot of money from selling them.

LG could go this route because the cash it makes on things like smart TVs or smart washing machines or smart soundbars can easily bolster its smartphone division, but it just makes more sense to jettison that smartphone division and keep working on ThinQ products that work inside the ecosystems that sell well, like the ones Google and Apple offer. A phone like the LG Wing may be a novel idea, but the reality is that it's also an anchor. LG just doesn't need that dead weight.

LG Wing

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

That's where we lose. LG, like all companies that have had a hand in shaping Android, made things better through its "stupid" ideas. 3D screens on phones, "gaming" phones with fast but battery hungry chips from NVIDIA and software to turn the rest down when you want to play CoD Mobile are all ideas from LG. And so are swiveling phones that look like boomerangs or phones with roll-out displays that haven't been made yet.

Some of Android's best features started as stupid ideas.

But so was the first Note; it was comically huge and "nobody wants a stylus" was the synopsis of every review when it debuted. Or a folding phone: fragile, excessive, and priced "stupidly" high. We need companies like LG and Samsung to try stupid things because that's how you find the one great idea that sticks. You'll never find it from Apple, who thinks adding an old sensor to a board by the camera is innovative enough. Apple plays it safe; the Samsungs and LGs of the world didn't.

When and how LG discards its phone division is still a rumor-filled mess where nobody knows any absolute truths. But it will happen eventually, and we'll all be worse off when it comes.

Moto G Power (2021)

Moto G Power (2021)

In a bubble, the Moto G Power (2021) delivers excellent value for just $200. It has a big display, fine performance, and clean software with useful feature add-ons. There's a good amount of phone here for not a lot of money, but at the end of the day, it's just outdone by the competition — specifically, last year's Moto G Power.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.