While many applauded LG for trying something different with the LG G5 smartphone for bringing modular design into the mainstream, underwhelming overall sales and consumer ambivalence toward the interchangeable "LG Friends" modules may force the manufacturer to rethink its strategy for its next flagship device.
Rumoured for a Spring 2017 release, the "LG G6" will reportedly abandon modular functionality in favour of a more traditional design. The move will allegedly see the South Korean company adopt a "change within stability" strategy for its next flagship (i.e. keep it simple, keep it safe) in an attempt to re-establish itself as a major contender in the Android market.
According to ETNews, "sales of G5 were low as there was a problem regarding production yield due to more complicated structure."
Rather than being "buried in creating innovations," the report claims that LG is instead focused on adopting a less risky approach with the G6 by listening to customer feedback on the ill-fated "Friends".
While we praised the LG G5 for its bold attempt to try something new and stand out among an increasingly homogeneous market in our review, the writing appears to have been on the wall for modular smartphones for a while now.
Earlier this year, Google unceremoniously halted its own modular experiments as Project Ara bit the dust. Originally imagined as a way to end the annual upgrade cycle by creating smartphones with swap-in swap-out components, Project Ara's demise was seen by many as the death knell for modular mobile devices.
As for LG's reported decision, we can only imagine that part of the problem lies in the swappable "Friends" themselves. LG's official website currently lists just five "Friends" for purchase – only two of which actually slot into the G5's module port: the LG Hi-FI Plus and the LG Cam Plus.
While LG hoped that third-party developers would step in and dream up new ways to take advantage of the feature via its approval process, those dreams seemingly never came to fruition, leaving the LG G5 with a nifty design quirk that likely sat unused for the majority of users.
Despite its revised strategy, ETNews' report also notes that the G6 will still offer "new functions" to improve on its previous smartphone offerings.