Was it magnificent mid-range handsets that sealed LG’s fate, as the brand failed to move with the times?
Now that LG has closed its smartphone division, I’m one of the last people you’ll know who actually owned an LG phone. The LG G7 ThinQ (to give it its full, foul title) was a perfectly serviceable smartphone that did nothing exceptionally well, and was off-puttingly overpriced at launch; I just snapped it up when the price had tumbled down to something a bit more reasonable, which seemed to happen like clockwork with LG’s mobiles after six months.
These past couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the Poco X3 Pro and the Poco F3. These devices would have greatly impressed me based on their incredible performances alone; the latter especially has a screen that would not be out of place on a premium device, along with a top-end 5G chipset and a chunky battery to boot. The real clincher however is their incredibly modest price tags; the X3 Pro starts from £199, and the F3 base price is £329.
Of course it’s not the first time that a new kid on the block has unsettled the status quo; at its inception, OnePlus fulfilled a very similar role to Poco before it focused more intently on created flagships such as the OnePlus 9 Pro rather than “flagship killers”. Huawei also shook things up in the mid-range, particularly with its sub-brand Honor, before it found itself banned from using Google Mobile Services.
Competition at the top of any industry is always tough because the claim to be “the best” simply has an unrivalled allure. But competition from below is just as important, as innovation in the oft-overlooked mid-range section has popularised game-changing advances and spurred on yet more development at the top-end, where devices must seek to further distinguish themselves.
In this regard, it wasn’t the super-specced smartphones at the top of the market that caused LG to go under; Samsung and Apple had long surpassed the company in most metrics before its decline appeared to be terminal. Rather, it was the bar being raised by maverick mid-rangers that did the deed, while LG seemed content to rely too much on the reputation of its brand name.
That’s a ringing vindication of brands like Poco, but it also stands as a warning to them as well; in this business, if you stop swimming and stay still then you’ll soon sink.