It’s finally happened. After over a decade in the smartphone game and a years-long run of loss-making quarters, LG has officially announced that it’s exiting the smartphone business.
The news came after reports earlier this year that the company was exploring several options and was even in discussions with several firms about selling the mobile business. Nevertheless, now is a good a time as any to look back at the company’s legacy in the industry by remembering the best LG phones ever made.
We’ll only be focusing on LG-branded smartphones, so that means the LG-made Pixels, Nexus 4, Nexus 5, and Nexus 5X won’t be considered for this list.
LG G2 (2013)
LG’s first G series smartphone, the Optimus G, was a pretty good flagship phone compared to Samsung and HTC’s efforts at the time. But the company built on that foundation with 2013’s G2.
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LG’s sophomore G-series effort debuted power and volume buttons on the back for the first time in the firm’s flagship line, earning it plenty of attention. This was a feature that would remain a fixture on the G-series all the way up until 2016, when LG adopted traditional volume keys for the G6 but kept the rear power button.
The G2 wasn’t a one-trick pony either, packing powerful internals (Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM), a bigger battery than the Galaxy S4 and HTC One M7 at the time, and a solid camera experience (including 1080p/60fps recording when Samsung didn’t support it).
LG G3 (2014)
Was the LG G3 the apex of the company’s flagship smartphone efforts? It certainly makes a strong contender. Taking on the likes of the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, and the Motorola/Google Nexus 6, it more than held its own at the time.
The G3 introduced a couple of neat features to the industry, such as a laser autofocus module derived from its robot vacuum cleaners. And laser autofocus is now one of several popular autofocus technologies in the industry. It was also among the first wave of smartphones to offer QHD resolutions (alongside Oppo), with Samsung and others following thereafter.
LG also introduced an interesting alternative to biometric and PIN authentication at the time in the Knock Code. This allowed you to tap an unlock pattern using four quadrants of the screen. Fingerprint scanners make this a moot feature, but it was a neat solution at the time.
LG G4 (2015)
2015 brought more of the same for LG, but what a same with the G4. Perhaps the most striking thing about the flagship was the leather back on some variants — no wonder Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo have copied this feature since then. To be fair, Motorola offered the Moto X2 with a leather option, although this was mainly via the Motomaker website.
The Korean manufacturer also focused on the imaging experience, bringing a 16MP main camera with a color temperature sensor for better snaps. And we got improved low-light performance too, taking the fight to Samsung. Other notable specs include microSD expansion and a removable battery, which were both lacking on the Galaxy S6 series at the time.
Related: The best Android phones with expandable storage
The biggest issue with the G4 during this time was LG’s well-documented bootloop problems. The G4, V10, V20, and several other LG phones suffered from a serious hardware problem that resulted in the phones failing to boot up. This led to a class-action lawsuit and sullied what was an otherwise fantastic proposition.
LG V20 (2016)
2016 may have been a tough year for LG due to the G5’s failure, but the company also released a beloved phone that same year in the LG V20. This was the first LG device to offer quad DAC hardware for a better audio experience, with virtually all subsequent flagships sporting this feature.
The V20 also delivered a secondary ticker display at the top, used for notifications, quick toggle settings, and more. This feature disappeared when LG embraced always-on screen functionality, but it was nevertheless another interesting concept.
Perhaps the biggest reason to still consider the LG V20 in 2021 is that it was one of the last high-end phones to offer a removable battery. This means you can swap out batteries if your old one has degraded, or if you need a fully charged battery in no time flat. It’s just a pity that this phone also suffered from those cursed bootloop issues.
LG G6 (2017)
The Korean giant made a misstep with the LG G5 in 2016. Sure, it offered an ultra-wide camera for the first time in the industry, but that wasn’t enough to offset the modular design with few mods and the ho-hum build quality. In fact, I’d argue that this was the start of the company’s downfall.
But the G6 gave us hope that LG could bounce back and that better days were ahead. The 2017 flagship packed a water resistant design for the first time in the series, a rather cool 18:9 screen ratio, and put the wide-angle camera on equal footing with the main shooter when it came to resolution.
Related: The complete guide to ultra-wide camera phones
There were a few downsides to the phone though, such as LG’s nonsensical decision to restrict certain features to specific markets. Features restricted to various markets included the quad DAC, 64GB of storage, and wireless charging. And unfortunately EMEA customers received a variant with none of these features. Another odd move was the decision to adopt the previous year’s Snapdragon 821 chipset instead of the Snapdragon 835. Reports at the time suggested that Samsung had dibs on the new chipset, but Qualcomm denied that this was the case.
Nevertheless, the G6 showed LG was still capable of making a fantastic phone. But the aforementioned oddball decisions didn’t do it any favors. These weird decisions would become a theme later on, such as offering the LG G8 in dual- or triple-camera variants in various regions.
LG V60 (2020)
The last traditional flagship phone released by LG also deserves a spot on this list, and not just because it’s fresh in our memories. The V60 packed a powerful Snapdragon 865 processor, a massive 5,000mAh battery for two-day endurance, wireless charging, and IP68 water/dust resistance as you’d expect.
LG’s early 2020 flagship also delivered a great camera experience, narrowing the image quality gap to the top players. Toss in the 3.5mm port, quad DAC audio, and a $900 price tag that dropped in mere months, and you’ve got one of 2020’s sleeper hits.
The V60 wasn’t perfect though, as it lacked fast charging offered by competitors, ditched a telephoto lens in favor of middling digital zoom, missed out on a high refresh rate, and was a hefty device. But you’re still getting a powerful, long-lasting smartphone at a good price these days, complete with the recent Android 11 update.
That’s it for our look at the six best LG phones ever made. We’d also serve up the LG V10, LG Wing, and LG G Flex 2 as honorable mentions. Which LG flagship do you consider to be the best? Let us know by taking our poll below.