LG abandons the modular smartphone after just one model

Report suggests what everyone suspected: LG’s modular experiment will not be repeated

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When Jon Bray reviewed the LG G5 last year, he called it “one of the most interesting smartphones I’ve seen”. Interesting it may have been, but a strong seller it wasn’t. LG only made two modules to work with it, and both were heavily discounted and bundled in the months that followed.

So it should be no surprise that LG is planning on retreating from its dream of a modular smartphone utopia with the LG G6. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company is “responding to feedback that consumers aren’t interested in modular phones,” according to an LG spokesperson. Instead the company will be focusing on the as-yet-unannounced G6’s “aesthetics and usability”.

The company’s struggles to maintain a foothold in the hugely competitive smartphone sector had some speculating that LG might back away from handsets altogether, but that’s something that chief technologist Skott Ahn denies is even on the table, telling the paper that “spinning off the smartphone division is not something we would consider”.

That – for the moment at least – leaves just one company standing in the modular mobile phone space: Lenovo. With Google killing Project Ara before a single phone could be created, the Chinese company’s impressive Moto Z series is the last one standing.

I reviewed both the Moto Z and Moto Z Play for Alphr, and found both handsets to be absolutely fantastic, and far more convincing of the future of modular phones than LG’s efforts. That’s partly because the modules connect more simply (they’re magnetic and just click onto the back, without needing a reboot) and partly because Lenovo seems more committed to the cause: there are already five modules available, and the company has promised at least 12 more over the next year.

That suggests that modular phones aren’t completely dead, but unless the next Lenovo Moto flagship sells incredibly well, it seems likely that everyone will abandon the idea for an easier life – no matter how great being able to upgrade your phone on the fly sounds in theory.

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