LG – Things Are Not “Looking Good” – A Critical Look at LG in 2011 and Beyond
LG is no longer a foreign name among Android lovers. They have set their footprints in the heart of consumers — or have they?
The First Dual-Core Phones, Half The Excitement
The LG Optimus 2X was one of the first dual-core phone to hit the market, back in early 2011. I remember it well, as I switched from the Samsung Captivate to it. It was nice to handle and browsed impressively fast, but not without its own share of growing pains.
Initially, I was more impressed by the dual-core, dual-channel memory LG Optimus 3D, but that was delayed at that point of time, so I decided to settle with the Optimus 2X. It was generally a good device and very easy to root, thankfully. However, having an IPS display did feel like a downgrade from the Super AMOLED one found in the Samsung Captivate.
The LG Optimus 2x came with 512MB RAM, with about 150MB+ free when booted. App switching wasn’t great. On more occasions than I would like to recall, the SMS application killed my Dungeon Defenders game. It did have significantly longer battery life compared to single core phones, but it also came with Android 2.2 Froyo, which didn’t run well on devices with a dual-core processor. A majority of Optimus 2X users reported mysterious force closes, and while custom ROMS improved what LG did, despite everything, it still contained one of the worst custom manufacturer UI’s.
The OS didn’t do justice for the phone. It was laggy and resource guzzling and the 512MB ram for app switching made it hard to multitask. I also experienced massive lags with the stock messaging app. Replacement messaging apps fared worse. To this day I’m not sure if this was fixed as I have since parted ways with the device, but my close colleague who owns one and runs CM7 on it, still continues to lament that the messaging app is slow. The lack of a physical home button was welcome though, and the build quality has held its own.
It Seems Like They Are Living In A World Of Their Own
When HTC announced the HTC Sensation, Samsung was watching, and went back to the drawing board to create the SGS II, one of the best-selling Android phones in 2011. When Samsung launched the SGS II, LG had the opportunity to pull the same tactic on Samsung’s SGS II for their LG Optimus 3D. Unfortunately, they let the opportunity slide past them.
HTC, on the other hand did well to release the HTC EVO 3D; a phone that can compete well with the Optimus 3D as well as the SGS II. I’ve not handled the EVO 3D or Optimus 3D, but despite the prospect of 512MB ram (although dual-channel), I doubt it will be a comfortable experience.
In the Optimus 2X file-system, there is a SNS2.0.apk which contains the Facebook for LG and Twitter for LG applications – which is mind boggling – as their money would be much better served if they would try to improve the OS (which is still raw). Any Facebook or Twitter aficionado will surely use the official app instead of the built-in one. Users also reported their frustration in having to constantly scroll past “Facebook for LG” every time they share a link from the browser. Savvy Android users know they can removing the SNS file via Titanium Backup, but this is far from ideal. Integration is fine, but this is borderline annoyance.
LG’s Marketing Effort A Crutch?
I love Apple for one reason – the way they position their products and sell it to the masses is impressive. Steve Jobs was a salesman at heart, and it continues to shows in the way Apple advertisements are presented. Apple’s PR, on the other hand is horrible.
LG, in my opinion, could do much better in the way they make their ads. Typically, they feel very traditional and conventional. When the LG Optimus 2X launched, they hit hard with one message – performance, performance, performance. It did deliver, but it couldn’t match other phones in the same category. The question of “what does it mean to the end consumer?” remained mostly unanswered.
It might be that they are targeting a niche market of performance-driven consumers, but when compared with the HTC Sensation or SGS II, the Optimus had no winning chance. YouTube is such a powerful tool that today, most people buy certain mobile devices because of the comparisons and benchmarks they see on YouTube. As far as I can recall, I’ve never seen any LG Optimus 2x YouTube videos, that didn’t have the phone force closed on the videos once. That’s just bad, and nothing has been done to address LG’s weak marketing strategy and inferior ROM execution.
Developers Are Your Bread And Butter
Developers often create what they want to use themselves – and give or sell it to a wide(r) audience. If you have a good relationship with developers, they will pick up your phone and create OS versions and themes for your phone. If they are happy with your product, they will continue developing.
The problem is that LG hardly impresses. And when someone like Paul O’Brien aka Modaco tells the world that he is ditching his O2X for a SGS II, the world listens. I was one of them who did listen and decided to check out the SGS II and voila, goodbye Optimus 2X!
Do you seriously think users will go back to LG? I say unlikely.
Some might say that technology evolves and the cycle of change is bound to happen, but considering the SGS2 and O2X specs aren’t extremely different, it’s a shocker that LG didn’t do much better. Go ahead and overclock the O2X to 1.2GHz, and you will still face the same inferior LG-made Froyo OS. Only LG can make Froyo grow mould.
LG + Android@Home
Android@Home is still very raw. I’m not sure if LG is doing anything to take an advantage in the market, but they can no longer delay their efforts. Other competitors like Sony, Lenovo and ASUS are already gaining ground on LG’s market share, and it’s a bit of a shame that LG’s conservative leadership is not helping.
Apart from Samsung and Sony, LG is the only manufacturer that could pull Android@Home off. LG has a small, but significant foothold in home appliances, and this may prove useful for them to solder their name in the hearts of Android fans. Their range of appliances is decent, but their software department need major work for it to be competitive, or it might fail completely.
You can’t expect Android to run on your fridge and TV (for example), and still requires advanced troubleshooting from the XDA community. There has to be a line where LG decides to make their version of the OS a priority. So far, there hasn’t been any “known” prominent requirement done by LG – and their growth will suffer until they decide to improve.
Despite the odds, LG can still improve. Here are 5 ways for them to do so:
- Improve their OS version
LG has to up their game. The least they could do is to make sure their phones don’t force close in YouTube videos.
- Work closer with Android Developers
Samsung has already set the bar. Outdo them. Work long term with developers. Having known developers bail out from developing your phone will not send the right message to the audience. It may seem like a small thing, but such a PR disaster could set of a chain of events that will cause more LG faithfuls to jump brands.
- Think Android@Home
Think integration that matters. “Facebook for LG” isn’t one of them. LG can capitalise on this, but it doesn’t look like anything is happening. If something is not done quickly, they will again have to play catch-up with Samsung and Sony.
- Future-proof your devices
LG hasn’t had the foresight to do this. Seriously, holding a SGS2 in my hand makes the Optimus 2x feel really bad. When the Optimus EX hits the market, Samsung will have already left it in the dust. How much longer will LG tolerate their position in the market?
- Match (or exceed) industry benchmarks in specs.
512MB ram is now a curse word. Up the ante, 1.5GB ram? Rumors are that Samsung, Motorola and HTC are already gearing up for a 2.0GHz (and potentially as high as 2.5Ghz) device under their sleeves, and it seems that a 1.5GHz phone is currently being developed by LG. While I really can’t definitively say how much faster these phones will be, at the moment it is apparent that LG must stop playing catch-up with the competitors. We did have some very kind things to say about the LG Optimus V, however, as it was an extremely good Android phone, geared towards the budget market, that hit the sweet spot for a lot of consumers in both price and performance, but in order to win over the market, they must bring some seriously performance oriented models forward – and soon. CES 2012 anyone? We’ll be their covering that, so we’ll have to wait and see.
If you haven’t checked out the commentary on Samsung and HTC, do so. This is part of a series on Android Manufacturers. Any thoughts? I only write this because I have a genuine desire to see each and every company that produces hardware with Android on board to continue to improve. Competition benefits us all, and in order for them to truly be a competitive global player, they must improve as well. Hit us up with your thoughts!
These are the thoughts and opinions of Randy Khoo, and don’t necessarily represent that of Android Authority.