LG Electronics is well known for producing quality smartphones based on Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG ) (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) Android operating system. However, it, like rival HTC, has had a terrible time of making money on these phones. Indeed, Samsung Electronics (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF ) seems to be the only vendor really raking in the profits in the cutthroat world of Android smartphones. The question, now, is whether LG's recently released G3 handset will be enough to make a dent in Samsung's latest Galaxy S5.
The LG G3 looks great
The LG G3 offers some pretty impressive hardware -- a quad-core Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM ) Snapdragon 801, a 2560-by-1440 5.5-inch display, and either a 16GB flash + 2GB RAM or a 32GB flash + 3GB RAM storage/memory configuration. It doesn't quite have the crazy-high-resolution cameras that the Galaxy S5 has (LG's G3 sports a 13MP back-facing sensor and a 2.1MP front-facing one, while the Galaxy S5 weighs in at 16MP and 2MP, respectively), but it is by no mean an imaging slouch.
Further, from an aesthetic point of view, the design looks really nice, with extremely small bezels and with a UI that doesn't look as "cluttered" as some of the interfaces on many of the other Android players' devices. There's definitely a fine line between having "too many" features and having just the right amount, and the impressions from tech sites around the Web seem to indicate that LG struck a good balance here.
Unfortunately, LG is going up against Samsung's marketing machine
The big problem for LG isn't the smartphone -- the LG G3, like the HTC One, looks to be a fantastic phone for those who prefer Android. However, it is very difficult to fight Samsung's marketing machine. Not only does Samsung spend gargantuan amounts on marketing, but it also already has a very established brand and is the world's leading smartphone vendor by sales volume. The sheer mind-share alone is difficult to build and even more difficult to fight.
Further, given that Samsung enjoys massive profitability in this market while LG struggles to turn its mobile division profitable, Samsung has a lot more room to cut prices, step up advertising, offer better deals to carriers, and so on. LG's phone is great, but it will need an innovative and, I daresay, disruptive approach to truly grab sales/profit share away from Samsung. Apple proved it could be done long ago with the iPhone, but the iPhone was truly revolutionary while the LG G3, as great as it seems, is only evolutionary.
Foolish bottom line
Samsung's position in the flagship Android smartphone world is strong, but LG has built very nicely upon its already popular LG G2 with the G3. LG's mobile division is currently losing money, but with the right marketing approach, the company may finally be able to bring ii to profitability. However, whether this device will put a dent in Samsung's mobile sales or profitability remains to be seen.
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