It’s been a year since LG decided to exit the smartphone business, abruptly ending more than a decade of Android phone releases. The company was responsible for a number of neat innovations at the time, including the first phone with an ultraviolet camera, manual video mode and a capacitive touchscreen.
That being said, the South Korean company was behind some innovations that were not fully launched. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of these interesting but unfortunate LG features.
A modular phone
The 2016 LG G5 saw the company move away from its traditional formula and be all-in on a modular smartphone. Pulls out the phone’s chin, releasing a removable battery. But there was more to this magazine-like slot than just switching batteries
Read more: Best phone with removable battery
Users can slide several modes in this slot, such as a camera grip and a hi-fi DAC. Unfortunately, only a few add-ons were released for the phone because LG quickly abandoned the idea due to poor sales.
Other companies, such as Motorola, also offered modular smartphones, but all opted to use magnets instead of the magazine-slot method to attach accessories. But the trend was not sustained, and today only the niche Fairphone series continues to offer modular components.
Those are the second screens
LG first doubled in with the second screen when the 2015 V10 (seen above) introduced a small secondary “ticker” display above the main screen. This second screen was different from the main display and had a few simple functions when the similarly equipped V20 arrived in 2016. These functions include showing app shortcuts, notifications, calendar entries, media controls, browser tabs, and more.
When the LG G6 was released in 2017, it was clear that the secondary ticker display above the main screen was not going to catch on. After all, the G6 debuted an 18: 9 screen ratio that effectively submitted a ticker display. However, the secondary screen idea has found a spot on the back of some phones like the Mi 11 Ultra, which allows users to take selfies with the rear camera.
Read more: Everything you need to know about the LG Dual Screen Case
The company tried another second screen concept in 2019 when it debuted the LG V50 with a dual screen case. This flip case has another screen, which gives users a Surface Duo-like experience instead of a single foldable screen. It was a neat idea, and the company also offers it on the G8X and V60 (seen at the top of the page).
After years of trying to make it work, LG’s second screen project ended up in the unfortunate wing.
LG’s final second screen project was the unfortunate wing in late 2020. The phone had a square secondary screen that rotated behind the display of a traditional smartphone. This was another fancy idea, allowing you to run an app on every screen (such as texting on a small screen and YouTube on a smartphone display). But like LG’s other dual-screen concepts, the Wing never caught on with the mobile world.
Back volume and power buttons
Another memorable LG invention was the decision to remove the power and volume buttons on the back of some phones. The company debuted this layout on the LG G2 in 2013, featuring a volume rocker with a power button between the volume-up and volume-down keys.
Related: Android phone makers have to leave the power button alone
It was a rather Nifty concept and it became a signature of the early G series. The LG G5 offers back-mounted volume and power keys. That 2016 device moved the volume keys to the side but left the back power button and added a fingerprint scanner.
Rear-mounted power and volume buttons have been LG Hallmarks for years.
The LG G7 has seen that the company has taken a stand on this issue because it has put the power button aside. Still, the rear-mounted power and volume buttons have been an LG Hallmark for years.
This security feature allows you to unlock your phone by tapping certain areas of the screen sequentially. Specifically, you had to tap specific blocks on a 2 × 2 on-screen grid. You can set your code as two taps in the upper-right block, one tap in the lower right block and two taps in the lower-left block. Pretty neat. Unlike other security features, a knock code works even when the screen is off.
LG’s knock code quickly became obscure after the advent of fingerprint scanners, but it was a great idea at a time when biometric authentication was not common or reliable.
Vertically curved screen
Curved screens are a common sight on high-end smartphones – Samsung, OnePlus, Xiaomi and others all use curved panels. However, these phones offer all displays that stay away from curves on the left and right ends. LG had a very different idea.
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The original G Flex invented a plastic-OLED screen with a concave curve, slightly curved from top to bottom. This has given the phone a unique look, taking a similarly curved screen for the LG G Flex 2 and G4. It was initially an aesthetic choice, although the G Flex and G Flex 2 screens were also somewhat flexible in terms of durability (along with the rest of their body).
Although LG did not keep this technology for very long. After adopting the traditional display instead of G4 and LG, its vertically curved screen has disappeared. Still, the LG G4 has something to say about the vertically curved display and the horizontally curved leather combo – it was a great looking phone.
Quad deck audio
Inside the LG 2016 LG V20 is the introduction of quad DAC (digital-audio converter) audio hardware, which offers higher audio quality than the DAC hardware seen inside other smartphones. At least in theory. This allows the use of high impedance headphones with the phone’s 3.5mm port and promises premium sound quality.
Related: All you need to know about LG Quad DAC
The company has kept the quad DAC hardware on its flagship phones for years, as the latest high-end phone to offer the LG V60 feature. Unfortunately, LG Wing and LG Velvet missed. Outside of LG, we haven’t seen the Quad DAC at all on other smartphones. Other phones use a more conventional DAC or use one built into their SoC. That said, a high-performance DAC isn’t a necessity these days, as most flagship phones have (sadly) dropped the 3.5mm port.
By 2019, the smartphone industry had firmly adopted fingerprint authentication, face unlock, and (to a lesser extent) iris recognition. However, LG thinks that the LG G8 has an open space for completely different types of biometric authentication.
Our main review: LG G8 Review – LG chooses to blend rather than separate
The G8 has introduced hand ID technology using a 3D ToF camera and IR sensor on the front. This technology promises to read veins in the palm of your hand to verify your identity and unlock your phone. It sounds pretty crazy, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, the process of unlocking your phone by lowering your hand was awkward and slow. Worst of all, our review mentions that the feature only works 20% of the time. In other words, there was no reason to use this over-fingerprint unlock or 3D face unlock, which was faster and more accurate.
Hand ID reads the veins in your hand to unlock your phone. Pretty crazy, isn’t it?
LG has also used the 3D ToF camera for its Air Motion feature, following in the footsteps of the Galaxy S4, allowing you to communicate with your phone without actually touching it. But the technology was as flashy as Hand ID, requiring users to first hold their hands four inches apart and then create a Zoidberg-style claw six inches away.
A “boombox speaker” on a phone
One of LG’s more intriguing innovations is the Boombox speaker, which comes with the LG G7 ThinkQ. The smartphone had only a single bottom-firing speaker, but it used the inside of the phone as a resonance chamber when the phone was placed in a hollow container or on a hard surface.
More audio coverage: Best phone with a 3.5mm headphone port
It was a great idea and also worked amazingly well in practice, providing a huge increase in volume. However, we still thought that stereo speakers were better for high-quality sound. Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing this feature reappear on low-end phones where stereo speakers are unlikely in the first place.
Self-healing back cover
A phone that can heal itself sounds like science fiction, but LG made that idea a reality not once but twice with the LG G Flex and LG G Flex 2 in the mid-2010s. LG’s Flex phones have not only flexible screens and bodies that can be slightly curved, but they also had self-repairing backs.
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Light scratches gradually disappear within minutes, thanks to GFlex’s self-healing technology. This technology is developed on the G Flex 2, which takes less than 30 seconds to heal from light scratches. It doesn’t work in the case of deep scratches and more extensive damage, but it’s certainly an innovative feature that makes LG’s phone more powerful for wear and tear.
G-Flex’s self-healing technology allows light scratches to gradually disappear.
Unfortunately, self-healing backs did not catch up with the rest of the industry. Instead, most companies have adopted polycarbonate backs and glass covers with gorilla glass protection. Go to the figure.
It is a pity that the world of smartphones has lost to LG, as it is clear that the company is not afraid to try new things. Of course, some of these innovations may be gimmicky, but we’ve got more interesting mobile industry as a result.