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

LG G8
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
Jerry Hildenbrand

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.

63 Comments
  • "Hella"? Can you at least write in English instead of whatever dialect that is?
  • It’s a common and popular regional colloquialism in parts of the states. Nothing wrong with that.
  • it's also pretty normal in the uk.
  • I've never ever heard "hella" in the UK. Hopefully I never will.
  • Hella lighting famous for off-road vehicles.
  • I am so glad you never hear "bollocks" anywhere but the UK.
  • Life is strange...
  • fosho can. Prolly wont.
  • Hmm... Aight, bet.
  • He is from Cali
  • You got me feeling hella good, so I'm gon' keep on dancin'! -Gwen Stefani
  • it's a common word smh
  • San Francisco Bay area dialect. I'm not there anymore but it's fair for us to use our version of English on the internet because we invented most of it 😋
  • I am going to miss LG badly. They are my go to brand. I'll try something else for a while but I've always gone back. Ive always liked the software even though most others complain about it. I'm using the G8 right now and it's my all time favorite phone. Losing LG Sucks for me.
  • I'm still using the LG V40 and am happy with it. I've been using it for well over two years now. This is the longest I've kept and used a modern smart phone (starting w/ the OG iPhone). I haven't found anything that I like better... certainly nothing worth the bundle of Benjamins required to replace the V40.
  • Man you said it. it's so funny all of these Android phones do basically the same thing and the reviewers focus on the same few aspects. But so many people don't realize that the v series, especially the v40 is literally a game changer. Maybe too much for a smartphone? It's a nearly professional level video camera with every feature you could possibly want short of investing thousands in real gear. And the quad DAC for audio files is a game changer. So many people think it's just a phone :-(
  • I always come back to them too. I'm using a v60 right now, great phone. Drives my cheap blon bl03 and my he 400i perfectly fine. Using the dual screen right now too scroll through hear while doing a couple other things.
  • Concur with Jimmy, G8 also my favorite phone. Check the headphone jack, IR face unlock, perfect size, OLED screen, great software. LG v30 was probably my second favorite phone. This is a huge loss to the mobile industry as a whole.
  • LG sucked as a smartphone brand and fhem leaving Android is their greatest decision. Samsung is proven to far better than LG in every way with their janky software that people have valid complaints about but I guess some people love janky buggy software.
  • I used LG phones for several years, beginning with a V10 and upgrading to a V20. I liked them for what they were but great frustrated with their numerous bugs and non-existant updating (not even security updates). I traded the V20 for a Pixel 3 and have never looked back to LG.
  • No bugs and security updates all the time with my V60, the Android 11 update is supposedly out any day too... But that's the thing, they must have turned off too many people from mistakes of the past. I've gone back and forth between LG and One Plus the past few cycles and my V60 is the best phone I've ever owned. But sometimes the market is what it is, Americans seem to just buy Apple or Samsung for phones while not even considering anything else. Much like cars, we only buy SUV's now, mostly for no good reason, and now there are hardly any decent cars left to buy. I don't know if people are over worked to have time to research or care too much about what others think, but it sucks, our culture has turned into a bland homogenized vanilla of a walking stereotype, yuck.
  • Much truth in this article. I think one of the (baby) things that screwed LG that Samsung got right is the Note. Not the phone itself, but the fact that Samsung had their main flagship and then a device to try crazy crap. Look at the G5. Those stupid modules would've never premiered on the Galaxy S, they'd have been a note feature for a couple of generations, then either carried over or died.
  • LG G5 was a much better device than the critism it recieved BUT totally agree with you saying it shouldn't been gambled with on their flagship device. Samsung would have experimented on a mid ranger first and if it was successful carried it over to the S-Line. I like the fact LG try some wild and wacky ideas but they needed to get their bread and butter devices on point (and firmware updates) then try other things on the side
  • It was a great phone, but that gimmick held it back. The G4 was also a great phone, if you got one with a good motherboard. Unfortunately, that's the story of LG phones... "Great phone if", "great phone but", "great phone unless".
  • I had a G5 for only a couple days when it came out. I took it back because if the build quality issues. There was a gap where the modules connected and it was even a bit uneven. Then there was the feel of the paint, screen protectors didn't work because of the curve at the top, I had to buy the DAC separately if I wanted it, I didn't like the way the lcd looked and so on. Too many problems with that one for me.
  • Had the G3 & V10, loved the V10 but both you know what? Bootlooped, they took no responsibility. Never bought another, pretty sad, the V10 was my 🐈's meow!
  • I hear you on that one. My v10 never boot looped but the screen went out by turning insanely green within just a couple months of ownership. I sold my FiiO X3 after I bought it because I was so impressed with the audio performance.
  • LG seemed to be bootloop central. The Nexus 5 that I had made by LG died but bootloop and after hearing about your happening for others in their brand, I knew I wouldn't take the risk. It always showed up a year or two into owning the phone.
  • The galaxy S21 definitely is not the phone for me. It's just terrible at audio and can't drive my headphones without help from an external DAC which would not allow me to charge the phone at the same time without another dongle and I love my personal collection of flac audio that's always growing. I love being able to leave my DAP at home. I love being able to use the aux cable in my car. I've stopped caring about cameras since 2016 because they all seem fine to me (I also rarely take pictures and don't use social media) and from what I'm hearing the V60 does take great pictures so I'm way more than satisfied there. I've been using smartphones since the treo 600 and I use my phone for largely the same things I did then which is why the fruit phone won't work and I tried it. I would hate it if lg leaves. I'll just have to go back to carrying 2 devices or a bunch of dongles. I've also gotten so used to having 2 screens. I wish lg could've done a better job at keeping their phones updated since this is a major reason why they lost the market. Many work places are serious at needing their employees to keep updated software on their mobile devices.
  • Sony is are lost hope but you have to pay for the privilege. But even an Xperia ii doesn't offer the quad DAC or software features of an LG. I'm going to stock up on LG phones and parts
  • I bought My first Android phone over 9 years ago and it was an LG Optimus M from MetroPCS and have been buying LG's from bottom of the barrel's to mid range to Flagships, so when I think Android I think LG, they played big role in laying the ground work of what Android is today with their innovative ideas that didn't always stick the landing but pushed how we can utilize these devices, many of them being picked up by other companies and refined. they were the trial & error company, always giving us something different even if it hurt them. I don't think any other company has taken more risks. I feel like the biggest problem was inconsistent updates & marketing. they made many underrated phones V30 imo being the most underrated for how it catered to the mix media creatives. i mean the addition of the quad DAC was revolutionary as well the boom box feature on the G7 I think that could have been a really good selling point in the age of music streaming and content creating if they continued to build on it and marketed their phones towards that demographic. Nonetheless if LG shuts down their mobile Division it would be a huge bummer for the Android community. I just recently switched from the G8 to the Sony Xperia 1 ii I love it it's not too different from LG, it's more a less the same stock android just without the LG quirks and original features, being so used to it it made the transition kinda sting thankfully this phone has key features that I had on previous LG's and loved such as the remapable shortcut button, and notification light, split screen. But tbh I might buy another LG flagship & be a 2 phone person, I don't wanna see them go lol
  • I feel you there pal! I remembered my beloved Sony Xperia Z3 the copper colored one. I really loved that phone and enjoyed every single feature it offered. I feel that companies like LG and Sony are underrated and doesn't have enough ads out there. I used to like LG until it started to make phones that looked like Apple and Samsung, although is a good quality build it takes almost forever to update as well (I know LG and Sony are the same) but then after Apple decided to remove the charger, Samsung is following behind as well.
  • I've strongly considered Sony twice now. Wish I could see them in stores, but I can't find them anywhere now. Wish Sony had a better presence in stores here in the usa.
  • Sony's are last hope. Unfortunately for me and at least most I met who by LG's won't get the discounts from Sony. The Mark ii is $1000 in the U.S..
  • Thought this was well written. Completely agree. I’ve recently fallen out of love with mobiles and have just stuck with my iPhone 11 Pro Max. I used to be that guy that would switch between all phones. The only 2 phones I’ve ever loved would be my Galaxy Note 4 and my LG G3. Times are a changing and it is a bit sad.
  • I have the v30. Now it's my backup. But when it was new, I went from a Samsung s7edge to the v30 because, as an audiophile, I wanted that 32 bit dac. Turned out that the v30 was a better device in every way. It's to bad LG didn't stick to making high end conventional phones like Samsung. Especially now that Sammy did away with the 3.5mm jack, SD card slot, and a charger. My daily driver is the ZTE AXON 10 pro. Every bit as good as the top tier phones. A lot cheaper. I think for my next, I'll look at Sony. Too bad LG, you tried to much crazy stuff.
  • Eh not much will be missed if LG stops making phones. Its not all doom and gloom like you claim. There are plenty of options and someone will step up and fill the minuscule void LG will leave. 
  • I loved my LG stylo. I started with the Stylo 4 all the way to the Stylo 6. The phones always started off great, but always bogged down within 6 months. So I went to a Samsung V51 5G. I will miss them, but phones are a drain on a lot of companies bottom lines
  • It's going to suck swamp water. I'd heard of LG but didn't anything except they made washers and dryers. I sure didn't know they did phones, but once I tried one the UI has been instinctive for me and LG has been all I liked. I've still got a galaxy s5 I bought and loaned out because I didn't care for it as much. I did like the Alcatel one touch fierce after rooting it. Without LG I'll have to settle for a also ran. Kind of like you can't marry the one you love so your stuck with the ugly sister whose blind, cripple, deaf, and has a voice like Janice Joplin with a mouth full of broken glass and being choked.
  • Maybe someone will buy the division and keep the UI and turn out new phones
  • I am reading this article on LG Velvet which I adore. It's a beautiful phone. I live a dongle free life with my headphone jack which I use daily/weekly. I love my SD card which provides me with double the 128gbs of memory without having to pay and arm and a leg for it. I love having a phone that looks good, works well, produces good photos, and does not cost a small fortune. Thank you LG, you will be missed.
  • ...I remember when I got my first LG
  • Meh. Would we miss Sony? Do we miss HTC? There is plenty of innovation to push new ideas without LG in this space. Let them make phenomenal TV's and solid appliances.
  • Had two LGs, G3 and a G7 and I could only stand having them for about six months before selling and moving on. Never any updates (security included) UI was disturbing and after I dumped the G7, I to a Samsung S20 for a few days and felt it was just a more expensive LG so I sent it back and went to a Pixel 4XL. So much better, so smooth.
  • Absurd to put it mildly.
  • "but there's only three making all the money"
    Really??
    mobile companies hardly earn profit selling merely flagships (apart from Apple) as majority of the market falls under midrange price, even Apple has accepted this and shifted their resources to it
  • I will mention I love my V60 with quad DAC and headphone jack, it's the best phone I've ever had and I've owned prob five different brands including a number of previous LG models. They seem to finally get things right with timely updates and an optional dual screen I couldn't care less about and doesn't detract from my experience not having it, I prefer a laptop for most heavier use. But they just made too many mistakes in the past for people to forget, even with constant BOGO offers that got me to try them again and end up loving it... Well, I guess it's back to One Plus after this one, hopefully they end up embracing wireless charging!
  • LG burned me with the G5. After that I couldn't trust them.
  • LG leaving Android is the best thing for all concerned because LG phones no longer cut it anymore and LG should look at themselves and ask why their smartphone business has bombed, because their software is rubbish and they don't maintain their phones like Samsung, Google or OnePlus with software updates and security updates especially and when they ever do updates the software is outdated but then so LG leaving Android will be no loss and have always been the poor relation to Samsung in the smartphone business and always will be.
  • So much shade I need to shed some light. You need LG to keep making phones for the sake of competition at least in the U.S.. Even now they compete with Motorolla and Samsung in the budget offerings which far out-sell flagships. Look at the most activated phones this past Christmas: LG K's and Stylos. If LG fixed it's marketing and software, which they were steadily realizing with the Velvet and V60, we could have three major players in the U.S. competing to make better phones with more features, not less. So unless you like Android companies trying be like Apple, you should appreciate LG not stooping to Samsung (S21 and ads in OS) and Google levels of greed. OnePlus is doing better atm but they are still niche.
  • That barb about Apple was uncalled for, Face ID was a great Apple innovation when the iPhone X launched and neither Samsung or LG could match Face ID even now but unfortunately this pandemic has made Face ID kinda a bit useless now but I stand by my comment about LG who will be no big loss to Android as nobody as cared about LG in the Android world for a long time.
  • Lol yea ok
  • LOL...when they come up with REAL widgets let me know. Until then they're 10 years behind Android.
  • The widgets in iOS are better than those on Android which I don't even use on my 7T but use 2 on my 11 Pro Max which tells you all you need to know just how bad widgets are on Android, amd Android has had over 12 years to get it right with widgets. Apple is ahead in widgets already as well as software, performance and updates and iOS 14 is the first to have proper widgets.
  • So how are they better - other than a more consistent design language? As far as I am aware Android widgets are vastly more powerful, functional and useful. I haven't seen anything like that power in iOS.
  • I've had LG phones for many years and had to get a new one every few years bc I didn't have enough internal memory and microsd card capacity. My current phone is the LG G3 Stylo 3 Plus which I like in many ways but it keeps locking up on me and often it will not power off so I have to constantly remove the battery to reboot it. I have been looking at new phones and am debating between the Samsung A71 5g and the OnePlus 8 T 5g phone. Any advice is greatly appreciated!! P.S. - When my phone kept acting up on me I contacted LG and they said I could do a reset and save my contacts, etc.and then move them back on the phone but I didn't care to go through all that!! I've pretty much decided that my 32gb internal memory is inadequate for my current needs and I'm running Android 7 as well. There are many things I love about my phone but when things take forever to load and part of that may be my carrier MetroPCS which I am really not that happy with so there I am. I want to stay with Android because I like Google and I want an sd card slot that Apple doesn't offer and probably never did.
  • No SD cards in flagship OnePlus devices, you'll have to trade down to the Nord. That will get you the audio jack too. The only flagship still sporting both now comes from Sony, everybody else seems to think SD card and audio jack's are not premium features - the Apple effect in full swing, less is more.
  • Get the Samsung.
  • Heh, anyone buying Google hardware over what LG makes just goes to show you how unbelievably technologically ignorant most consumers are. Whether they write articles for a website or otherwise. ;)
  • LG is garbage...I really liked them inspite of themselves for years too...but they just do weird crap and it has lead to this which should have happened years ago. Their phones are fun, but then one you stop getting updates or security patches and the phone becomes laggy, all those cool features it has and does just become unimportant. Too bad those bums just couldn't offer the support that they needed to.
  • You want bad English (if you can even call it that) then go to the OnePlus Community forum and read some of the complaints from end users from India. I'm sure English is not their first language...but I think it should not be their "any" language. So bad that entire sentences cannot be understood no matter how hard you try.
  • Lg had great phones and great ideas that unfortunately did not catch on. The g5 for example had top specs and features for its time with "mods" and ir blaster included. Unfortunately lg had a history of manufacturing errors and never owning up to fix them.. G3 and g4 bootloops, g5 g6 and gr7 "insta burning screens"..
    I
  • I loved my LG G4. The leather back, the great camera, the great screen, the replaceable battery and the SD slot. Who would not kill for all that, now? I almost bought a G5 and I even went to a Samsung S7 Edge. If they had just stayed with that pre-G5 formula and provided a better Android experience; they might not be in the situation. My biggest regret was not buying a V30 or a V40; because I do like nice audio.