I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you somehow aren’t already aware, LG is officially exiting the mobile world. In our business, news like this is never worth celebrating. Competition breeds innovation, and LG’s mobile forays were nothing if not innovative. And so, what better way to honor its decadeslong contributions than by waxing nostalgia over its best devices of all time? Or perhaps you grieve differently, preferring instead to examine the uglier side of the LG’s legacy? I’ve got that covered, too.
No. 6: LG V20
While its older sibling, the V10, had a lot of bark and little bite, the V20 offered some truly unrivaled features. Though not the first phone with a focus on audio quality, it brought to the table LG’s very first Quad DAC as well as three microphones that together enabled high-fidelity audio recording and playback as well as support for FLAC files. All of that might sound buzzy and confusing for the uninitiated, but for audiophiles, this is what has made LG the only manufacturer worth supporting for much of its later years.
The largely useless “second screen” still adorns the top of the face, but here it’s much easier to love as a footnote as opposed to a flagship feature. For some time, the V-series set the standard in video and audio recording for smartphones.
No. 5: LG G Stylo
Taking physical notes with a phone has always seemed a strange proposition to me. It looks better in commercials than it ever feels in practice. Lest I yuck your yum, however, it’s been an undeniably popular concept throughout smartphone history, and a finger simply can’t live up to the joy of using a stylus for the job.
LG never had any intention of competing with the massively popular Galaxy Note 4 when it introduced its surface-level rival in the G Stylo, instead offering that huge 5.7-inch screen and no-frills stylus to an oft-underserved prepaid market at a fraction of the price. The best part is it continued iterating on this winning formula until the release of its Stylo 6 just this year. While it had its ups and downs without question, the Stylo series ranked among the best budget stylus devices through to the bitter end.
No. 4: LG G8X ThinQ
Foldable phones are still a marvel to most of us, and since their early days, there’s been a race to get them to market. With the G8X ThinQ, LG cheated the system, offering an accessory you could pop the device into in order to affix a second display and clamshell functionality.
This phone packed in just about everything that symbolizes LG’s best, from wireless charging to expandable storage to a rare headphone jack, all at a humble price of around $700. Was the software experience perfect? Certainly not. Was it extremely unwieldy? Like an overstuffed wallet! But it sure turned some heads and left a positive impression at the thought of a possible foldable future.
No. 3: Google Nexus 5
In its prime, the Nexus name carried a lot of weight. These were Google-released unlocked devices beloved for their clean, bloat-free experiences and years of promised support straight from the source. The Nexus 5 was no exception, checking many of the same boxes as the beloved Nexus 4 (stay tuned), with the added benefit of LTE across more carriers, the improved KitKat operating system, a higher-resolution screen, and performance that contended with the absolute best in class. Unfortunately, unlike the Nexus 4, it had an incredibly cheap build, and kept the disappointing battery life.
Still, it was a good time to be an Android fan when you had a Nexus 5. You didn’t care about the plastic build, because the performance was excellent, the camera was Google’s first standout offering, and it was still inexpensive.
No. 2: Google Nexus 4
Admittedly, the Nexus 4 walked so the 5 could run. In 2012, it was a shining beacon — literally — among the enthusiast crowd, truly competing with the big dogs for perhaps the first time. It offered wireless charging, NFC, and a super-premium design and feel, all for a meager $250. Sure there was the whole LTE debacle … but that’s a small detail. And can we please bring back that color-changing pulse LED light?
No. 1: LG G6
Tall phones weren’t always a standard. It wasn’t until LG released the G6, pushing the screen height to a then-alarming 2:1 aspect ratio that then started to catch on, and it’s this that is perhaps the single most important and long-lasting contribution LG will have ever made for smartphones. Anything shorter today would feel uncomfortably wide and spacious except when gaming or watching video, and much of that, especially on YouTube, have since largely caught up and been optimized.
The G6 had its shortcomings, no doubt — at the time, a nonremovable battery was weird. And for all of LG’s innovative (and weird) features throughout the years, the G6 was rather … boring by comparison. But it’s difficult to attribute too many negatives when talking about the impact this change alone helped make to future phones from all companies.
Article Tags: Smartphones · Time