Before it was making your refrigerators, televisions, and smartphones, LG corporation started out as an industrial chemical company, which was established in 1947. It wouldn’t be until 1958 until that the company established Goldstar Co. Ltd, now better known as LG Electronics. A lot has changed since 58′ and LG certainly has been a part of transforming the electronics sector with wealth of different products in its portfolio. Now LG looks to be at the top of its game and we’re going to take you on a short trip to show you how the company got there with some of its most notable devices to date.
Known primarily for making low-end flip/feature phones, one of LG’s most notable handsets was the Chocolate phone. For its time, the LG Chocolate was sleek and sexy, and ended up landing on Verizon Wireless when it hit the US. The Chocolate phone was a slider phone that was one of the first to use touch as the primary was of navigating through the software. A set of red LED capacitive buttons lit up when the phone was unlocked, but were otherwise invisible, which allowed the phone look very clean. When slid upwards, the Chocolate revealed a numerical keypad that wasn’t anything to write home about, but was still very usable.
While we doubt that the Chocolate hit Motorola RAZR sales numbers, this was definitely LG’s RAZR moment.
On January 18th, 2007, LG unveiled its first full touch screen device, the LG Prada KE850. The announcement came just 9 days after Apple announced the first iPhone but beat the company to the punch by releasing it a few months before Apple’s device hit the market. The specifications seem very humble by today’s standards, but it does look like the Prada phone caught Apple’s attention when it was designing the iPhone 4.
The LG Prada rocked a 3 inch (400 x 240 resolution) touchscreen, 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.0, WiFi, and more. The device never saw a US launch, but one could find it in some select Prada stores on this side of the pond. This wasn’t much of a surprise, as the Prada logo above the screen surely added a couple hundred bucks to the price tag.
It took more than a year (18 months) for LG to sell one million Prada phones, and we’re pretty sure that it’s almost $800 price tag was the cause. No word on how the 24 karat gold-plated version fared.
The flash-based software UI was slick and very simple, all decked out in a white on black color scheme. The UI was modern for its time but still felt lacking, especially when the iPhone was released. Nonetheless, the LG Prada was a nifty little device, and LG has since created two successors, aptly named the Prada 2 and Prada 3.
I owned this phone for a while (until I lost it at a bar.. not a joke) and it’s always held a place in my geeky heart.
Launched in August 2007, the LG Viewty was the company’s first phone that had a 5 megapixel camera, which was the main selling point of the device.
“The phone’s main selling point was its 5 megapixel digital camera with Schneider Kreuznach optics, Xenon flash, autofocus, and a digital image stabilizer. It featured an ISO 800-equivalent High-Sensitivity mode for night scenery shots and “Smart Light” for bright and clear images in the dark. It allowed capturing DivX VGA video at 30fps, and QVGA at 120fps for slow-motion playback. According to the manufacturer, the camera’s frame rate was high enough to film a balloon bursting.”
The phone was anything but pretty, although we can’t complain too much. Another phone I personally owned, the Viewty was exciting and boring at the same time. The most use I got out of the camera’s 120fps recording capabilities was recording my clothes drying at a laundry mat, which was admittedly pretty fun to play back.
The Viewty also introduced me to hacking phones, as there was a decent amount of people who wanted to throw tweaks onto the handset. One of the most popular hacks for the Viewty was adding the iPhone’s “slide to unlock” feature on the lockscreen, but there were many other tricks you could do with the handset. Unfortunately, working at such a low-level of the Adobe Flashed based UI allowed no room for errors. And that’s how I killed my Viewty.
Offered up in a wide assortment of colors, the Viewty found 5 million homes by the beginning of 2009.
LG Optimus 2X
The LG Optimus 2X currently sits in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the very first dual-core smartphone. Powered by the NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor, the Optimus 2X was fast and proved to be quite the contender. When T-Mobile picked up the 2X, it was renamed to the G2X, which seemed to carry a handful of bugs that the original lacked. Nonetheless, the 2X was another LG handset that I held onto for a long time (in phone years).
One of the main features of the US version of the Optimus 2X is that it shipped with stock Android, which is something T-Mobile has done with all of its G-series Android phones. That alone got the phone a lot of attention, as it’s now a rarity to find an Android handset that isn’t skinned.
LG Optimus One
This handset may not be oozing with high-end specifications like some of its other handsets, but I see people with this phone all the time. The entry-level Android phone launched on several carriers, and sales hit 1 million in 40 days, making it the company’s fastest selling smartphone to date. Rocking the specs of something similar to the original Motorola Droid and a 3.2 inch display, the Optimus One was suited for the first time smartphone buyer, and LG’s move to go to the bottom of the shelf worked out for them.
LG Optimus 4XHD
LG has come out with some pretty decent Android phones in its time, but the devices never seemed to take off like some competitor’s offerings. Sometimes the handset came off bland, or just wasn’t up to par with the rest of the market. This earned LG an immediate, “eh” to many people when the mention of its smartphone lineup came to the table, but LG certainly wasn’t finished yet. LG went back to the drawing board, taking the criticism (constructive or not) with them, and birthed what we think is one of the best smartphones available to day. Enter the LG Optimus 4XHD.
The Optimus 4XHD has a lot going for it. It shares a lethal combination of great design and powerful innards, which is what we had wanted to see from LG all along. The handset is sleek and sexy, all while keeping a minimal and modern appeal. It also proved that LG has a lot up its sleeve that we haven’t seen yet.
Announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Optimus 4XHD was one of the first quad-core smartphones announced this year, alongside Huawei’s Ascend Quad D and HTC’s One X. Like the One X, the 4XHD uses the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core CPU, making it one of the fastest processors out there today. Unfortunately, we still heard much about a US release, but we certainly hope that the handset does end up shipping in the states as the T-Mobile G4X, which has been rumored since February.
Like we said before, LG wasn’t done in the smartphone market, nor did it have intentions of fading away. That said, it took the 4XHD to prove that to the world, and now we’re listening.
We walked away more impressed than we’ve ever been with a handset that’s come from LG in our review, and now we can’t wait to see what’s next.
On the Horizon
There have been a few rumors pertaining to some upcoming LG devices, including a Verizon-bound Vu, and some other, unsubstantiated rumors that we’ll leave you to ponder over. We’d like LG to take another crack at the tablet market, and see a level of quality and attention to detail that the 4XHD received on all of its upcoming devices. Whatever LG decides to do next, we’ll be ready to bring you all the details.
The company has come a long way from its Chocolate days, and while it might have been an uphill battle to stay relevant at some points, we’re glad to see that LG has the resilience that does. With the recent announcement that it’s shipped more than 5 million LTE handsets, the company stands a good chance at regaining some of the mind and market share that others have taken.