LG Pledges Three Years of OS Updates After It Stops Making New Phones

Illustration for article titled LG Pledges Three Years of OS Updates After It Stops Making New Phones

Photo: David Ramos (Getty Images)

LG will continue to provide operating system updates for its mobile phones over the next three years, even after the company stops making phones entirely by July of this year, according to an announcement posted on LG’s website. And that’s good news for anyone who recently bought an LG phone or may be thinking of picking one up for cheap in the near future.

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“LG Electronics (LG) announced today that all premium LG smartphones currently in use will receive up to three iterations of Android operating system updates from the year of purchase,” the company said in a statement released early Thursday.

“The three OS update guarantee applies to LG premium phones released in 2019 and later (G series, V series, VELVET, Wing) while certain 2020 models such as LG Stylo and K series will receive two OS updates,” LG explained.

The company, based in South Korea, did note that these promises will depend on “Google’s distribution schedule as well as other factors such as device performance and compatibility.”

Interestingly, LG elaborated further on why it was continuing to produce some phones through mid-summer, and it apparently has to do with contracts that it’s already signed.

“LG will continue to manufacture phones through the second quarter to meet contractual obligations to carriers and partners. This means customers can still purchase LG mobile phones currently in inventory and service support and security software updates will continue to be provided for a period of time for certain devices,” LG said.

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This Could Be the End for LG Phones

Illustration for article titled This Could Be the End for LG Phones

Photo: Sam Rutherford

After years of repeated rumors and rumblings, the future of LG’s smartphone division has come under speculation again as LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok reportedly sent a message to staff on Wednesday suggesting that there could be major changes coming soon.

After years of losses, while the possibility of LG exiting the phone business or selling off its smartphone division shouldn’t come as a big surprise, this recent news does feel somewhat abrupt coming less than a week after LG debuted a new rollable phone concept at CES 2021.

However, according to info from the Korea Herald, following Kwon’s message about potential “big changes,” another LG official also explained that “Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about time for LG to make a cold judgment and the best choice. The company is considering all possible measures, including sale, withdrawal and downsizing of the smartphone business.”

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Thankfully, Kwon said that “Regardless of any change in the direction of the smartphone business operation, the employment will be maintained, so there is no need to worry,” with the Korea Herald reporting rumors that around 60% of staff would be moved or reassigned to other divisions with LG.

Recently, while LG has been able to cut losses stemming from its phone division by outsourcing production of lower cost devices to third-party manufacturers, LG’s mobile division still suffered from an operating loss of $124.9 million in Q3 2020.

The way I see it, LG Mobile struggles come from a number of different avenues. The first is that for years, LG has tried to keep pace with its big Korean rival Samsung without having the same level of tech or sales needed to sustain and support high-end phone development. Furthermore, LG’s phones have long been saddled with lackluster software and support, with efforts like its Software Upgrade Center having very little effect or benefit to end users. This often meant new versions of Android would take months or sometimes years to get pushed out to devices.

And while I really like more experimental phones like the LG Wing, it often felt like LG spent more time throwing ideas at the wall than trying to build out a larger range of budget and mid-range devices to better compete with devices like Samsung’s more affordable Galaxy A-series phones, which have been some of the best-selling handsets globally over the past couple years. 

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In a lot of respects, if LG wants to salvage is smartphone business, it might make sense for LG to take a page out of Motorola and HMD/Nokia’s playbook by focusing on hardware and device design while switching over to a more stock version of Android instead of LG’s customized skin. This would potentially let LG continue working on developing devices like its rollable phone concept and releasing more mid-range devices, while leaving Google to handle more of the load when it comes to software and OS updates.

Either way, while it’s still a bit too soon to pour one out for LG’s mobile division, it’s clear some big changes are coming.

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