So much for modular design becoming the next big thing for smartphones.
LG, the first major phone maker to launch a modular phone, might scrap the G5’s swappable design in favor of a more traditional metal-and-glass design if a a new leak is to be believed.
Korea’s ETNews, which has a mixed track record with phone leaks, claims LG’s next flagship (tentatively called the G6), will feature a glass back with curved sides, similar to the backside of the Samsung Galaxy S7.
The glass back isn’t just for a more premium feel but could bring the return of built-in wireless charging, a feature LG hasn’t included since the G2.
The G6 might also be waterproof, putting in line with phones from Samsung and Apple who’ve both released waterproof phones this year.
Earlier leaks obtained by Android Authority suggested the G6 might sport an all-metal design, but the blog now says conflicting reports from its sources suggest the leaks might have been of very early designs and not representative of the final product.
Whether LG decides to go with metal or glass on the back isn’t what’s at stake here. Modular phones are.
A switch to a more traditional design might not be groundbreaking, but it’ll jettison all the gimmicks.
The G5 heralded in modular phones with the dream of being able to swap in a new LG “Friend”, such as a camera grip/shutter release module, or a Hi-Fi audio DAC.
It could have been a great idea… if LG didn’t half-ass the modular mechanism with a fiddly switch, an ugly gap, and a lack of compelling modules to attach. Throw in all the reports of broken and malfunctioning G5 modules and it’s not hard to figure out that LG didn’t know what it was doing.
Lukewarm consumer interest ultimately killed the G5 and the company’s modular phone vision. Google canceling Project Ara, its own truly modular phone concept, certainly didn’t help, slowing momentum for phones with swappable components further.
At this point, Lenovo seems to be the only company still pushing full steam ahead with modular phones. The company recently said it plans to release 12 new “Moto Mods” for its phones per year.
In my review of the Moto Z, I praised Lenovo for creating a modular phone experience that was more intuitive (the Mods just snap magnetically onto the backside) and complete than LG. At the same time, I was unimpressed by how pricey the Mods were, and didn’t feel they were any better than the attachments they sought to replace.
A switch to a more traditional design might not be groundbreaking, but it’ll jettison all the gimmicks LG has tried using to try to win back consumers.
When more people would rather keep using a Galaxy Note7 a phone that’s discontinued and being crippled by carriers everywhere than switch to an LG phone, you have to accept the fact that the current strategy isn’t working.