LG planning high-tier smartphone

Alongside its G4 and G Flex 2 smartphones, LG is preparing to launch a 'super' phone in the second half of 2015, according to mobile boss Juno Cho.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

Speaking at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this week, LG Electronics head of mobile Juno Cho revealed that besides the company's soon-to-be-unveiled G4 smartphone and its new line of budget smartphones, LG has a "super" flagship phone planned for the second half of the year.

"Since we already carved out a place in the high-end segment with our G series, in the second half of the year, we are planning to launch a product that is even one tier higher," Cho said. "We plan to announce specifics at the right time."

The South Korean tech giant will also expand in launching its curved-display phones.

"I think consumers will either hate or love the G Flex 2, and I admit some will find its experimental design overbearing. We tried less experimental design with our new budget models, and we will determine later whether we will apply similar design to our premium phones," Cho said.

Cho said LG will continue to provide high-quality displays and cameras for its new phones, with a focus on premium design, as demonstrated by the LG Watch Urbane.

While LG joined the smartphone fray belatedly, Cho's predecessor, Park Jong-seok, helped it reach the same quality and specifications as top rivals such as Samsung and Apple. Last year, LG finally turned a profit in its mobile business; its mobile division contributed 67.4 billion won in operating profits, allowing it to stay in the black for the third consecutive quarter. Results for the first quarter for 2015 are forecast to also grow, despite it being low season, due to the release of new products such as the G Flex 2, the company said last month.

South Korea's second-largest handset maker must now defend its brand against the onslaught of Chinese vendors' increasing profitability, and truly differentiate its offering from what's already out there.

On when LG will apply metal in its phone design -- its compatriot Samsung having just launched the full-metal S6 -- the exec said metal has become "generalised", with its use no longer being a differentiating factor. Rather, it will become more about how metal is used and presented on devices, he said.


LG and Samsung have been consistently praised for their top-notch hardware. However, software, or more specifically UX, has been a particular challenge for both companies. Samsung toned down its TouchWiz on the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, while LG's UX has not been the most impressive.

Cho said that since he took the helm three months ago, the biggest discussions with his senior mobile execs have been on how to make a more intuitive UX.

"We don't want to just make consumers experience new features and technology [from new phones], but provide an innovative UX that can change their lives," said the mobile boss. A vastly upgraded LG UX 4.0 will soon be announced, he said, which will come with a regular mode and a mode specifically designed for heavy users.

As soon as he was appointed as the new mobile boss of LG, Cho, who comes from a non-engineering background, tested out for himself all of the company's smartphones. He wanted to know how a layman would feel about their usability. His conclusion? Smartphones are still difficult to use.

"Your regular consumer, around 60 to 70 percent, still finds it their 'life goal' to successfully upload a picture on their Kakao Talk pages [South Korea's counterpart of Facebook on mobile]," said Cho.

"I believe if we can allow consumers to use that powerful computer in their hands more easily with fun, we can differentiate."

Jeong Hyeon-jeong also contributed to this story.

Source: ZDNet Korea (zdnet.co.kr)

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