LG could give Samsung a run for its money if it ever decides to care about software again

LG Velvet
LG Velvet (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

LG makes a lot of different products and almost all of them are best-in-class. Whether it's a washing machine or a television, you owe it to yourself to check out what LG has to offer. The same thing could be said about the company's phone business, if only it could fix its horrible software.

Normally, this is not a problem I would waste any internet bandwidth on. Lots of companies make phones that very few people buy for one reason or another, but with LG, things are different. LG makes really excellent phones that look good and are built extremely well. And every one of them is spoiled by the software running on them.

LG has never been afraid to make quirky phones that were beautiful and well-built.

I'm not going to be shy — LG is my favorite phone manufacturer when it comes to quality. The company also isn't afraid to keep doing something different, like tiny ticker-style windows on the original V-series phones, cases that also hold a second screen on the G8, or even a swiveling phone that unfolds into some sort of tomahawk on the Wing. Some of these ideas are well-received, others not so much, but LG keeps on trickin' and the next thing we'll see is a screen that rolls up according to the internet rumor mill. Compared to an army of black slabs, this is what innovation looks like.

Samsung does the same thing. I remember when everyone was trying to figure out why Samsung would build a phone like the first Galaxy Note. It had a big screen and came with a stylus, but it was basically just a Galaxy S phone. Fast forward to today and everyone loves the Note series. The same will happen with foldables like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 — questions today will turn into purchases in the future.

There's one big difference between Samsung and LG though: Samsung put in the hours to make the software on its phones really good and LG hasn't.

LG Wing

Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

You might be thinking that I'm just some sort of hater and nobody should bother taking this idea seriously. But spend a few hours reading reviews of LG phones and you'll find that almost everyone takes issue with the software. That's because it is not great at all, and when you compare it to any other company which takes the time to rewrite Android into something more custom, it looks even worse.

Phone makers should build custom versions of Android, but they should do a good job, too.

I think it's great that LG wants to turn Android into something custom and self-identifying instead of leaving it generic and boring. I know a lot of enthusiasts like generic and boring Android (me, too) but that doesn't mean companies like LG or Samsung or Oppo shouldn't be doing something more. Android was designed to be customized and even Google is all for doing it.

But you have to do it right. If you've used any recent LG phone like the V60 or the sexy little Velvet (seriously, this thing is a work of art) or even the LG Wing, you know LG's software looks a lot like Samsung's One UI, but it lacks the same level of polish and user-friendliness Samsung offers. It also gets oddly sluggish at times, gets jumpy when scrolling, has a horribly slow fingerprint scanner, and gestures can be hit or miss. This is unacceptable.

You also can't ignore LG abysmal track record when it comes to updates. You will probably see a major update and some security fixes, but don't count on getting either very quickly. When a company is unable to update its software in a timely manner, the software needs to be really great to start with. LG's software definitely is not really great.

LG V10

Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central The only phone that can drive those headphones properly. (Image credit: Source: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

This seems to have been the LG story since forever. Classic LG phones like the G2 or the Optimus V were wonderful in terms of build but the software was janky as hell. There have been some issues — the whole motherboard issue that caused a ton of phones to bootloop comes to mind — but people still stuck with LG because the hits were good enough to put up with bad software. That was at a time where most third-party versions of Android were bad though. Today things are different, and we see LG's market share slipping lower and lower.

We need a phone manufacturer to compete with Samsung so the competition makes both work harder.

I'm not just being nitpicky here; I honestly want LG to succeed. Two of my favorite Androids were the V10 and Optimus Black and both of them were amazing phones with cringeworthy software. I can't deal with that today and don't have to because other companies like OnePlus and Samsung make great phones with great software. Their software might not be my style, but everything runs really well.

I just want LG to do the same and start to compete, at least a little bit.

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.

  • A general complaint about LG software, where are some specifics?
  • Fingerprint scanner on my G8 is wicked fast thankfully, but one of the biggest complaints I have is the gestures. First of all, for some reason it always randomly switches back to the on-screen buttons by itself after a day or two. And then the actual gestures are so glitch and laggy. The current launcher I'm using also won't show the homescreen if I'm in gesture mode. Lots of problems that came out with Android 10 earlier this year. I've had two phone updates since then and neither fixed the problems.
  • I had a V10 and a V20. I loved the hardware of both. Perfect size, great screens. Nifty and useful features. But the software was 💩. And don't count on getting a fix in an update!
  • Havnt had any problems with my G8. I've never used the stupid air motion or hand ID features even to just try them out. Best all around phone I've ever owned.
  • Couldn't agree more with this headline. I just switched back to Samsung after using an LG V60 for about 4 months and I actually really loved the phone. The battery life was fantastic, the camera rivaled 2020 flagships despite being much cheaper, The dual screen add-on, quad dac, etc. But, after 3 warranty exchanges due to a charging port issue, many minutes spent waiting to use my phone after it crashed and rebooted again and again, and achingly slow updates meant I regretted buying it.
  • "The same will happen with foldables like the Galaxy Z Fold 2 — questions today will turn into purchases in the future."
    I highly disagree that foldables will ever become mainstream...sorry, but no they will not.
  • Yes they will lol
  • that's like saying that smartphones won't become mainstream in 2007
  • What a ridiculously stupid comment lmao
  • The last LG phone worth anything was the G3. Easily rootable, tons of custom ROMs available, wireless charging, expandable memory, removable battery,great screen. All in a perfect size body. Ah, those days, long gone! 😁
  • G2 was the last best LG phone... It was just about perfect
  • I had the G2. That phone had a great point and shoot camera. The ois was a work of art. The best thing was you didn't have to be a pro photographer to get nice quality photos.
  • Generally my opinions don't line up with Jerry's but this one yep have the same opinion and I tend to buy multiple phones in a year since it's my hobby. LG always disappoints with their lack of focus on software experience.
  • Yep, like my Samsung, had the Note8,9,10+. Then saw the V60 and decided to give it a go. Liked the battery life, dual screen, headphone jack, but not the software. Was lacking compared to Samsung, and updates were not frequent like Samsung. And the dual screen accessory made me realize what I wanted was one large screen, so Z fold2 it was.
  • Also interesting article I read below, LG wants to have ODMs make more of their phones going forward including Velvet 2. They might lose the focus on their hardware as well soon. https://www.gizchina.com/2020/10/29/lg-is-looking-for-for-producing-new-...
  • I miss the days when Google and OEMs would partner together to release phones. Google struggles with hardware, LG struggles with software. May as well throw Sony and Motorola into the mix too. Let the hardware companies focus on the hardware and the software companies focus on the software.
  • They could just run pure Android and solve the problem. Samsung's variance of Android is almost equally as slow for updates, and comes with a sh*t storm of bloatware.
  • Lol not really
  • LG takes one year to push a major Android version to their latest flagship, Samsung it's about 3 to 5 months generally...
    Not really the same
  • Not the same at all...
  • I really enjoyed the article about how to find clorox wipes is was very informative
  • I worked for them as an ambassador until January. Due to very bad sales and the impossibility after nearly 2 years of work to push them higher, the complete staff had to say goodbye. During this time, I had the chance to use the G7, V40, G8S, G8X. Apart from the G7 where the LCD screen was bad even though ultra luminous, they were all very well made! Softwares weren't coming fastly at all and that was the main complaint from shops and customers which destroyed nearly all sales. LG knows where the problem is, they wanted to make a change but it only had an impact on Korean version models... Their priorities aren't well set and with the catastrophic sales for 2020 (as bad if not worse than last year), LG might just finalise the shut down of the mobile sector in Europe and most country. In January they were thinking about stopping all sales apart for USA, Asia and some emergent countries...
  • I’m taking the big leap from IOS to android, I’ve owned nothing but Apple forever & I think it’s time I stop drinking the Kool-Aid, I’ve always been an LG fan, never had a bad tv, so I may give them a try
  • Go Samsung... Stay clear of lg ... I but lg tvs, but I assure you it's not the same experience with their phones...
  • I have some trouble seeing how LG could "give Samsung a run for its money", given that it has spent the last 10 years copying every bit of software that Samsung has released.
    Seriously, LG includes Samsung's new features and interfaces 6 months to 1 year after Samsung releases them.
  • The last phone by LG I used was the Nexus 5x and my experience with it was horrible, I had never seen android run that choppy on a Nexus device before. I tried the LG G3 & G4 as well and my biggest gripes about them was the software design overlay. It was functional, just ugly to me but the features they offered were nice at the time and whatever they were lacking, I was into rooting at the time so I just found a build from someone that I liked and went on my merry way.
  • I'd have to disagree with everything said on here.
    I'm currently using a V50 as my primary phone, the hardware is fantastic and the software is absolutely fine too.
    I have no slowdowns, no issues with gestures (and no resetting to buttons), no lagging or glitching.
    The install is fairly lean by default (in the UK), a small number of LG apps (far less than Samsung) and the usual FaceBook install stub.
    LG's launcher has some useful features, skinning support, app hiding in the drawer, flexible screenshot tool and such. It has all the standard features of Android 10 exactly where you'd expect them to be, the security update is usually about a month behind on my network which is not bad actually.
    All I did was install a Pixel skin to tidy up the icons, install GBoard and it was good to go.
    LG's UX was clunky up to Android 8, average on 9 but perfectly fine on 10 - not much different to Samsung.