Let’s be completely honest here — LG’s generally known as the other South Korean smartphone company. But if that’s all you think about LG, you’re sorely missing out, as it’s been making really good smartphones that too often fly under the radar. That’s not to say we haven’t seen LG make inroads in the past few years. It’s made three Nexus phones in partnership with Google, and in recent years has become known for trying something different with wacky camera technologies, bendable handsets and removable modules.
LG’s also known for making more than a few forgettable low-end phones. But these, here, truly are the LG smartphones you need to be acquainted with.
Updated February 2017: Added LG G6 to the list.
Announced February 2017: LG’s successor to the disappointing G5 is an incredible feat of engineering. Glass front and back, with metal sides and an extra-tall 2880×1400 display, the phone is all about simplicity and versatility. Adding to its pedigree is a system of dual 13MP cameras — a standard 71mm lens and a 125mm wide-angle lens — which take amazing photos in almost any lighting condition.
Then there’s the additions to the collection this year: IP68 waterproofing, a larger 3,300mAh battery, a Quad DAC in some regions, and wireless charging in the U.S.
Released October 2016: The V20 is the follow-up to the V10, but it really is more a successor to the G5. When looked at through that lens, the all-metal design of the V20 makes a lot more sense, though its size and shape are certainly owe tribute to the V10.
Like the G5, it has a dual camera, but it also sports the impressive and unique Second Screen from the V10. And being a late-2016 device, it’s got all the specs you’d expect: a 5.7-inch QHD LCD display, a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and a huge 3200mAh battery. It’s also got the same audio and camera pedigree as the V10, with an amazing Quad DAC from ESS, a powerful amplifier, and plenty of manual camera controls for photos and video.
Released April 2016: The LG G5 arrived earlier in the year than previous G-series phones, making its grand debut at MWC 2016. It also marks yet another new direction for LG, with the G5 taking buttons off the back of the phone and introducing an all new, slightly crazy, modular design.
For the most part the G5 is what you’d expect of an early-2016 flagship product: Snapdragon 820 processor, 5.3-inch QHD display, 32GB internal storage and 4GB of RAM. The cameras aren’t what you’d expect, though, with two of them on the back combining to take genuine wide angle shots if you so wish.
But the modules are among of the highlights: the whole bottom chin of the G5 comes away and can be replaced. Options announced so far include a Bang & Olufsen enhanced-audio module or one with an extended battery and camera controls. It’s an interesting idea that may or may not have legs — nevertheless, the G5 itself is more than worthy of your attention.