LG G5 launches in South Korea

In possibly its most important product launch in recent years, LG has begun sales of its modular G5 smartphone and accompanying accessories in South Korea a day ahead of the US launch on April 1.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

LG has launched its flagship G5 phone in its home country South Korea, a day ahead of the US launch on Friday.

The US and South Korea are the tech giant's two most important markets, accounting for the majority of its mobile division's revenue.

The G5 will cost 836,000 won ($730), around the same as Samsung's Galaxy S7, and is available in local mobile carriers SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus. It is the first time since 2013's G2 that LG is offering a similar price to Samsung's, suggesting a confidence that it can compete with the world's largest smartphone maker. LG models for the past two years were always priced lower than the Galaxy series due to LG's lack of brand power.

Accompanying modules that can be attached to the phone, called LG Friends, will also be available, each costing around $100.

With subsidies and depending on price plan, the cost is lowered to 530,000 won ($460), the cheapest in recent years for a flagship model. The price drop is in the face of South Korea's current market saturation for smartphones and the increasing popularity of low- to mid-end phones.

Globally, the company may be hopeful. South Korean analysts expected the G5 to be the company's bestselling phone globally yet, with its unique modular concept appealing to consumers enough to make strong sales and turn the firm's mobile division back to the black.

LG is promoting the G5 heavily, more so than previous flagship phones. It held a developer's conference in South Korea earlier this month where it said it will open up the SDK and HDK for the smartphone and its accompanying modules. A similar event is planned for San Francisco sometime in the future.

Mobile chief Juno Cho has said that LG is planning to continue the modular concept for future phones. The tech giant has also updated the software on the G5 with the UX 5.0.

The company is hoping that outside developers will make software and modules of their own to build an ecosystem around the product line.

Launch in the US is expected to begin on April 1, a LG spokesman said, while other markets will get them around the end of April.

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