LG G5, G6, Modular Phone, Project Ara

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When LG announced the G5 flagship phone back in March at the Mobile World Congress, it got so many people excited mainly because of its modular nature.

LG G5, G6, Modular Phone, Project Ara

Up to the point of the announcement of the G5, Google seemed to have locked up all chatter about modular phones. I mean, all talk about modular phones were invariably linked to Project Ara.

So when G5 was actually launched a month later in April, it was really heartwarming that a flagship device went modular, even if it wasn’t completely modular, at least it gave hope to people who had high hopes for phones like that.

The idea behind modular phone is quite simple really. It is based on the theory that important parts of the phones like memory chips, camera, battery, etc, can be removed and new ones fixed to improve performance. In other words, you don’t need to buy a new phone if you wish to upgrade your device’s performance.

However, LG is likely doing a rethink of the whole modular phone idea. According to reports monitored from South Korea, the G6 flagship device would do away with the modular design and go back to traditional designs.

LG G5, G6, Modular Phone, Project Ara
LG G5 showing modular battery

As usual, when decisions like this are taken, it doesn’t matter what consumers think. Companies force the decision down our collective throats whether we like it or not.

In the case of LG and the G5, the deciding was said to be based on the simple fact that people just didn’t fancy the modular design. And how did LG arrive at that conclusion? Simple really: poor sales.

Sales of the G5 did not match the expectations of the company. So the conclusion was that consumers did not like the phone because it was too complicated for them.

I guess LG overlooked the fact that perhaps the phone was too over prized for them to fork out so much money for such phones.

What the past couple of years has shown us is that as far as flagship devices at premium prices are concerned, Samsung and Apple are the only players. Perhaps you have to look in the direction of Blackberry for evidence of that.

It seems the world is now stuck with the mindset that only the Galaxy series and iPhones have the right to cost as much they are currently priced. The G5 cost almost as much as those two models. I guess LG figured that with the impressive specs and modular design, the phone would perform very well in the market.

Unfortunately it failed.

The fact of the matter is, with just the addition of a few more dollars to the cost of the G5 one can get the best phones in he world. So why waste that money on the G5.

I can bet an arm and more that the G6 would also perform poorly in the market if it is priced as high as the Galaxy phones or iOS.

The dead of modular vision

LG G5, G6, Modular Phone, Project Ara
Dead Project Ara phone

The  launch of the G5 back in April felt like the beginning of an exciting period for modular phones.

The G5 felt like the vanguard of something better to come in the form of the Google’s Ara smartphones.

But Google had other plans. After several postponements on when the Ara would be launched, Google finally killed the project because of it wasn’t commercially feasible to make them.

It felt like LG was just following the script. With the dead of Project Ara, there is no incentive for developers to design modules for modular smartphones. The G5 alone cannot sustain the market for accessories and modules.

No smoke without fire

LG G5, G6, Modular Phone, Project Ara
LG Electronics CEO Cho Juno

In an email to CNET soon after the report of the discontinuance of the G5, LG said the report was just speculation and they had no intention of abandoning the modular concept in the G6. Insisting that they are determined to give their users the best at all times:

We always look at multiple smartphone designs/features in the development phase.

The green light is given to the final design only weeks before we make an announcement… As of today, all this talk of what we may or may not do is speculative, at best.”

That is corporate speak for saying their options are open and anything can happen. I guess time would tell if the initial reports were correct.


image credit: digitatrends.com; cnet.com; koreaherald.com; extremetech.com