LG could give Samsung a run for its money if it ever decides to care about software again
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A completely new kind of smartphone
The LG Wing is not a perfect device, but even so, there's no denying just how unique and creative its design is. You can use it as a regular phone whenever you want, but in the blink of an eye, the secondary screen allows for all-new possibilities not found on any other device. If you can deal with software that needs a lot of spit and polish it's a pretty cool phone.
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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.
I highly disagree that foldables will ever become mainstream...sorry, but no they will not.
Not really the same
Seriously, LG includes Samsung's new features and interfaces 6 months to 1 year after Samsung releases them.
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.