LG officially shuts down its smartphone business

Intense competition from newer Chinese rivals cited as the reason for the demise of the 'quirky' manufacturer

An LG smartphone on a desk

LG has officially killed off its smartphone businesses after reported losses of $4.5 billion over the last decade. 

The South Korean firm is arguably the biggest manufacturer since BlackBerry to call time on its mobile phone production. The company was once the third-largest smartphone provider, but in recent years had struggled to get inside the top 10.

LG is best known for offering 'quirky' designs but it said it could no longer compete in the market. The decision to shut down the business is "unsurprising", according to CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood, as rumours had been circulating for a while. Even so, he called it a "sad day" for the South Korean conglomerate.

"LG's decision to abandon mobile phones reflects the unrelenting competitive pressure it has faced in recent years," Wood told IT Pro. "Its traditional arch-rival, Samsung, was always considered to be the biggest threat, but arguably it's the slew of relatively new Chinese rivals that likely beaten it into submission."

"There is little doubt that a number of other sub-scale phone makers will see LG's news and wonder how long they can remain in such a highly competitive, over-saturated market."

There were reports earlier in the year that Huawei might offload its smartphone businesses due to the crippling restrictions placed on it by the US. The firm has sold its Honor brand, but it refuted claims that its P and Mate series of phones would go the same way. As such, a P50 smartphone is due to be unveiled in the coming months.

Sadly, the same can't be said for LG handsets as the company has decided to call time on its 25-years as arguably the market's oddest manufacturer. We look back at some of the company's creations over the years. 

LG Prada

LG P940 Prada 3.0

Not only did LG beat Apple to market with a colour touchscreen device, it spectacularly name-dropped one of the world's biggest designers. 2007's LG 'Prada', also known as 'KE850', could arguably be considered a necessary failure in the evolution of smartphones. It didn't have a physical keyboard, but its touchscreen capabilities were limited, to say the least. 

LG G5

The removable module on the LG G5

Manufacturers typically release a new smartphone every year - most launch two or even three - but what if you could just keep your old device and just add newer parts to it? This was the basic thinking behind LG's G5m which was launched in 2015. It was a handset that's insides could be pulled out from the bottom so users could add extra components. At least, that was the idea, its initial range of add-ons included 'better' speakers and camera grip and didn't really expand any further than that. 

LG Wing

The LG WIng
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There is a suggestion that LG's designs took a more gimmicky turn as it edged closer to the end. While other manufacturers developed 'foldable' screens, LG looked at more quirky methods to increase displays. The 'Wing', was actually two 'regular-sized' screens with one that sits on top and spins to create a 'T' shaped display.  "It's hard to know whether these were just ill-judged bets or acts of desperation as LG tried to take a different approach to rivals, but sadly, with the benefit of hindsight, they did little to help the company," Wood added. 

The Wing may very well be the last of the firms 'unusual' designs. At CES 2021 LG revealed a prototype for a smartphone with a 'rollable' display, where the screen extends like a garage door. Sadly, though, it will never be sold in shops. 

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