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LG announces 3-year software update pledge for premium phones
by Paul Hill
LG has announced that its premium smartphones from 2019 and select phones from 2020 will receive two Android upgrades as well as security software updates. It named the 2019 G series, V series, VELVET, and Wing devices as well as 2020’s LG Stylo and K series as devices that would be getting updates.
The news that LG will continue to support these devices comes after it announced that it was leaving the smartphone market due to its competitiveness. LG will continue manufacturing phones through the second quarter to meet contractual obligations but after that, device availability will dry up. The firm said that it’s planning to focus its energy on electric vehicle components, connected devices, smart home, robotics, AI, and B2B solutions.
The commitment by LG will ensure that customers can keep their new LG devices for at least two or three years which will help to reduce waste in landfills and make them more appealing to people looking to purchase an LG device in the second-hand market over the next several months and years, as they’ll still be running modern software.
LG has said that customers concerned with the announcement should contact their local LG customer service centre for more information on the upgrades and which devices will receive them in each market.
LG's new soundbars supports multiple voice assistants and new audio features
by João Carrasqueira
LG has announced its 2021 lineup of soundbars, which offer new features along with coming with more eco-friendly designs and packaging. The lineup includes the SP11RA, SP9YA, SP8YA, SP7Y, and SPD7Y. The soundbars work better with LG TVs, as the company added support for the AI Sound Pro feature. Audio from a TV can be shared to the soundbar and use all the sound modes you'd get from the TV's built-in speakers, but on dedicated hardware. This applies to the entire soundbar lineup.
Of course, the soundbars also feature audio tuning by Meridian Audio, which has collaborated with LG on sound products for some time now. There's a new Meridian Horizon feature that can take two-channel stereo audio and up-mix it into multi-channel sound. The soundbars also all support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound, as well as Hi-Resolution Audio. Most of the models - barring the SP7Y - also support eARC.
There are some exclusive features for the more premium models, however. The SP11RA, SP9YA, and SP8YA support 4K Dolby Vision video passthrough, plus they come with support for multiple voice assistants - Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri - as well as Apple's AirPlay 2. All the soundbars come with optional rear speakers, except the top-of-the-line SP11RA, which includes it out of the box.
Another point of focus for LG is the eco-friendliness of the soundbars, achieving both SGS Eco Product (minus the SPD7Y) and UL recyclability validation. The SP7Y model, specifically, uses a fabric made from recycled PET bottles, which LG says results in seven fewer bottles in landfills for each soundbar it makes. Packaging has also been improved in this regard, using less EPS foam and plastic, and LG says it's using an L-shaped packaging design which allows more packages to fit in a truck, thus reducing CO2 emissions from transportation.
The 2021 soundbar lineup is available from this month in select markets in North America and Europe, and more models will be coming later.
By Rich Woods
LG is officially shutting down its mobile phone business
by Rich Woods
LG G Flex 2 Back in January, it was reported that LG is considering leaving the smartphone market, and now it's official, the company announced Monday morning in Seoul. Calling the smartphone sector "incredibly competitive", it's going to continue to sell existing inventory of its devices and then focus on its other businesses like EV components, connected devices, smart homes, robotics, AI, and B2B solutions.
The firm also said that it's still going to be developing mobile technologies, such as 6G. That's all in an effort to strengthen itself in its other businesses.
While LG's smartphone business has struggled in recent years, it's responsible for a lot of innovative products. The LG G3 was the first phone with a QHD display, and it packed laser autofocus, which was crazy in 2014. Another thing that was crazy in 2014 was the G Flex, a handset that literally had a curved screen that could flex, making it harder to break. The G Flex 2 came around and it had a flagship processor and along with the screen being hard to break, there was a coating on the plastic back that would actually heal scratches.
The LG G5 wasn't tremendously popular or even praised by reviewers, but it did have a modular design and accessories. And let's not forget the LG V10, a phone that had a second, smaller display at the top for shortcuts, notifications, and more. Of course, unique features like that were lost in the V30 when LG started making taller phones.
All of this is coming to an end, and LG says that it's going to finish winding down its smartphone business by the end of July, although there still may be inventory being sold off after that.
LG is reportedly leaving the smartphone business after failing to sell it
by João Carrasqueira
Reports of LG winding down its smartphone division have been popping up for a few months now, and earlier this year, a spokesperson for the company confirmed that it was exploring all options in regards to its mobile division. While LG tried to sell the failing business to other companies, it seems that things haven't gone well, and The Korea Times reports (via Android Authority) that LG is dropping out of the smartphone business entirely.
According to the report, LG has been negotiating a potential sale with a number of potential buyers, including Vietnam-based Vingroup, but failed to go through with a sale to any of them. The company also tried selling only parts of its business, but nothing worked out, and ultimately the only solution was to dissolve the business altogether.
The fate of LG's mobile division is really no surprise. For years, the company has been losing money on its phones every single quarter, even when its other divisions see significant growth. The smartphone market has grown increasingly competitive over the years, with a large number of brands entering the ring, including many focused on making more affordable products that LG failed to keep up with.
In 2020, there was already a noticeable shift in LG's strategy as it tried to turn the situation around. Instead of focusing on high-end flagships, LG turned to more affordable phones with premium designs like the LG Velvet, or all-new form factors like the LG Wing. The shift wasn't enough, however, and it kept posting losses through the end of 2020.
LG has refused to comment on the possibility of a shutdown, saying that all possibilities are still open. However, sources claim that an announcement will be coming on April 5 at the company's board meeting.
A likely casualty of this move is the LG rollable phone that was shown off at this year's CES. Shortly after it was shown off, LG said it was planning to release the phone within the year, but with its phone business hanging in the balance, it's reasonable to expect that it won't be happening anymore.
LG's 2021 lineup of OLED TVs starts at $1,399, and it's available from this month
by João Carrasqueira
LG has announced the pricing and availability for most of its refreshed OLED TV lineup for 2021, which was originally announced at this year's CES. OLED TVs sit at the top of LG's range, since OLED panels are still the only viable way to get individual lighting per pixel, meaning you get true blacks and more vivid colors. The lineup includes the A1, C1, and G1 series, which succeed the AX, CX, and GX series.
Starting at the top of the range, we have the "Gallery" G1 series, which is the only one to feature LG's new OLED evo technology. These new OLED panels are more power-efficient, and thus promise a brighter image and more vivid colors compared to its previous OLED technology. The Gallery series is also designed to be used as a sort of digital frame, with smaller bezels and a wall mount that leaves very little space between the TV and the wall. The G1 series will come in three sizes: 55-inch, coming in April for $2,199; 65-inch, coming this month for $2,999; and 77-inch, costing a whopping a $4,499, also available this month.
The C1 series is the more mainstream offering and it spans the widest range of screen sizes. It starts at 48 inches for $1,499, coming in April. Then there's a 55-inch model for $1,799 this month, a 65-inch model for $2,499, and a 77-inch panel for $3,799, all available this month. Finally, an 83-inch variant will be coming in May for $5,999. Both the G1 and C1 series are valid options for gamers, featuring four HDMI 2.1 ports with support for 4K 120Hz, variable refresh rates, auto low latency mode, and eARC.
If you don't need all those gaming features, the A1 series is the cheapest of the bunch, though it also misses out on the new α9 Gen 4 AI processor. The 48-inch model will be available in June for $1,299; the 55- and 65-inch models will launch in April for $1,599 and $2,199, respectively; and the 77-inch model will also launch in June, for $3,199.
While LG didn't mention the Z1 lineup today, it did say that the ZX series, which it calls the Signature OLED TVs, is already available and will be available through the year. The 77-inch model costs $19,999, while the 88-inch goes for $29,999.