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LG G6 to lose modular design

The LG G5 has been nothing short of a flop for LG, but many are calling for LG to make a modest comeback with the V20 (now that Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 has been withdrawn from the market). I’m not sure that the Note 7 troubles will automatically translate into overnight success for LG, but some are optimistic. The V20 isn’t for everyone though, as its price tag is about $100+ more than that of the LG G5. Already, LG G6 rumors are starting to swirl because LG will likely announce the new phone at Mobile World Congress in February 2017.

According to the latest news, the LG G6 will ditch the modular design of the LG G5. It appears that the modular design stance LG took with the G5 wasn’t the success the Korean OEM believed it would be. An article from Korea’s ET News says that (regarding the G5) “there was inconvenience in removing and attaching modules and users had to buy additional devices. Sales of G5 were low as there was a problem regarding production yield due to more complicated structure.”

LG has had time manufacturing the complicated phone structure, and users have had numerous problems regarding the G5 — such as GPS and other board issues. An entire Reddit page has been established to discuss the problems and vent about repair troubles. One customer in particular is now on his 6th G5 (that’s right: this is his sixth unit called “LG G5”). No customer should have to go through that just to get a properly-working unit.

The LG G6 is a good chance for LG to start over. The company has gone back to the usual removable battery stance in the V20, a sign that modularity is gone for good. LG had said earlier on that it would continue modularity with the G line, but the G lineup is more popular than the V lineup — and most consumers don’t want the trouble that modularity brings. Perhaps LG can create something of a “geeky” tech series for those who want to experiment with it. Even then, though, LG is in the business of making money and can’t afford to dive into geeky projects with little financial return. With that said, the company shouldn’t have implemented Google’s Project Ara; it would’ve done well to fix the basic issues with its handsets before trying to go all out and do something “big” just to one-up Samsung.

LG needs to fix the fundamentals before trying something quite as large as modularity. In 2016 and in 2017, most consumers will prize an LG G6 that features the basics: LG will likely retain the removable battery because it’s a favorite with its customer base, but the company should work on bringing hi-fi audio to the LG G6 — along with great cameras, great battery life, and great camera controls (perhaps adding some physical buttons to achieve this for diehard photographers). The LG G6 could also be made water-resistant, bringing water protection to consumers who’d appreciate it for the peace of mind it brings.

What LG must understand is that the LG G6 should sell consumers on what it means to have a whole experience in one smartphone. It’s insane to assume that most customers will spend over $1,000 just to “craft their own experience” when Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge bring a “Galaxy” to the user by themselves — without the need for modules and additional parts. Perhaps the LG G6 campaign should stop telling users “Life’s better with friends” to sell modules and promote a “back to the fundamentals” philosophy.

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Deidre Richardson (dual B.A., History and Music, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) stumbled upon tech a little later in life than expected. After picking up her first smartphone (the Galaxy S3), the rest is history. She currently writes for SamMobile, the largest Samsung fan site worldwide, as well as smartwatch site smartwatch.me.

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