Ever since the LG V20, LG’s V-series smartphones have suffered from an unfortunate identity crisis. What started out as a rugged, beefy, spec’d-out smartphone line slowly developed into an amalgamation of LG’s G-series smartphones with more video-centric features. Look at LG’s 2018 smartphone line as an example. Aside from a few extra features, the V40 ThinQ didn’t have a discernible focus — it was just slightly “different” to the LG G7 ThinQ.
Now, LG is bringing focus back to the V-series, but not in the right way.
At MWC 2019, LG told Android Authority at a press roundtable all V-series smartphones will be 5G devices going forward, and all G-series phones will stick with 4G LTE. That means we won’t be seeing an LG G8 ThinQ 5G this year, nor will we likely see an LG G9 ThinQ 5G in 2020.
The decision to market the V-series of smartphones as 5G devices was made, believe it or not, by LG’s marketing and sales teams — presumably the same people who brought us the awkward and slightly confusing ThinQ branding.
Giving the V-series more focus is a good thing. Putting yourself into a box is not.
I’m all for giving the V-series more focus, but I can’t help thinking LG is unnecessarily putting itself into a box. What happens in a couple years when every flagship phone supports 5G?
Assuming LG is still making both G- and V-series phones by then, the company will have to introduce a G-series phone with 5G capabilities, which could cause unnecessary confusion among consumers. It’s already a reach to expect consumers to grasp a product made distinct by whether it supports 5G. Why risk confusing them even more just a few years later?
It’s very possible this will all just lead to another rebrand. It’s equally likely LG will change its mind and do something entirely different. Again.
The LG G8 and LG V50 are now official, and there are plenty of differences between the two. The LG G8 feels like LG’s true 2019 flagship, with innovative features like a ToF sensor with vein recognition and a Crystal Sound OLED.
The LG V50 seems like more of an LG V40 5G than a true successor. It’s almost like LG is exclaiming “Me too!” in response to the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. I’ll admit, the appeal of LG’s new 5G hotness wouldn’t be nearly as intense if the company launched an LG V40 5G here at MWC, but at least consumers would know what they were getting. Don’t get me wrong — 5G is very much the future. It’s nice to see the company so gung-ho about it, but that may come at a cost.
Android Authority asked LG why the G8 seems to be a big step forward, but the V50 seems more iterative.
“When we brought out our first 5G device, we wanted it to run on a platform that is secure, that does not consume too much battery power,” said Kyle Yoon, a product manager at LG. “We wanted [5G] to run on a stable platform, which is the V40 we had before… We thought long and hard about whether we should have [5G] in both devices or just in one.”
There’s no telling if V-series phones will always be more iterative, or if they’ll eventually become more experimental as 5G technologies develop. Either way, we can be sure LG’s “finding itself” phase isn’t ending any time soon.
LG isn’t nearly done innovating — not in the slightest. You just have to know where to look, and right now the V-series isn’t the place.