Market Insight

LG G6 sets the tone for smartphone screen and body design at MWC 2017

February 26, 2017

Wayne Lam Wayne Lam Principal Analyst, Mobile Devices & Networks
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Key points:

  • New LG G6 large 5.7” screen phone with almost no bezels, top or bottom, aims to work well one-handed.
  • Super wide 18:9 aspect ratio HDR display offers improved video viewing performance, includes Dolby Vision. LG uses Amazon Prime video to promote video performance.
  • Offers a USD200 game promotion on Google Play, also special version of Temple Run 2 Lost Jungle for the wide aspect, both to promote the display.
  • Modularity failed for LG, now it’s all about ergonomics with the new G6.
  • First smartphone outside of Google, to offer Google Assistant AI built in. Other OEMs will follow.
  • Uses last years’ Snapdragon 821 chipset to speed time to market, but lacks “Gigabit LTE” as a result.

Our analysis

LG walked back much of the hype it created last year surrounding the modular G5 design, which fared poorly in the marketplace because of lackluster execution and little third party support. The G5 shipped just 3.7 million units in the whole of 2016, a fraction of the Samsung S7 or iPhone.

With the G6, LG has re-examined the modern smartphone design language with the compact yet large screen G6 flagship for 2017.  Complete with an entirely new screen aspect ratio (18:9 instead of the standard 16:9), LG’s G6 is a study in creating large immersive screen designs that do not break the ergonomic requirements of the average human hand.  By addressing dueling consumer demands for larger screens but yet more pocketable device, LG took on the challenge of re-imagining what a modern smartphone should look like and function ergonomically.

The G6’s unique 5.7 inch display is essentially two square displays side by side (18:9 reduces to 2:1) and offers a narrower overall smartphone look and feel.  LG used a display with rounded edges to both convey the immersiveness of the screen but also to alleviate the stresses caused by sharp corners especially when the phone gets dropped. 

HDR key trend of MWC

High Dynamic Range (HDR) will be a key trend of MWC. It offers improved more vivid colors and offers a new route for online video and TV providers to distribute HDR content.

Amazon, Netflix, and the TV and movie industry will soon find there are more HDR capable video devices which are in consumers’ pockets than in their home because of the sheer scale of the smartphone market and quick replacement cycles compared with the TV set market.

LG starts the completely bezeless smartphone display trend, others will follow

As of result of this re-examination of smartphone design, LG has created a compelling new smartphone design them which many other OEMs will likely follow this year.  The emphasis on physical design afforded LG the opportunity to rethink the use of applications such as the camera allowing for added functionality given the extra screen real estate.  Also, LG included high end visual enhancements such as Dolby Vision and HDR 10 to their video playback as well as optional Hi-Fi Quad DAC used earlier in their V20 models.

Completing the reversal of the modular theme of last year, LG’s G6 has a fully embedded battery design.  LG double down on that design with a large 3300mAh capacity internal battery and optional wireless charging capabilities as well as IP68 construction to create a water-resistant smartphone on par with other flagships on the market today.

LG makes different design trade-offs, opts for last years’ chipset

Internally, the G6 runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC which should enable up to LTE CAT-11 performance.  Interestingly, LG decided not to add 4x4 MIMO on the LTE RF front end which the Qualcomm chipset can support and their competitors have started including in competitive designs.

Overall, the G6 should serve to reverse the market stagnation caused by a poorly executed G5 in 2017.  The question now is has LG done enough with their G6 design to stave off upcoming designs from Samsung and Apple.  Given either will be at Barcelona this year, at least LG can bask in the MWC glow as a true design taste maker for 2017.

Others will launch soon handsets with gigabit LTE, LG must use its choice of an older chipset to seize a launch window and beat them to market, if it can.

Organization
Amazon LG LG Electronics
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