Yesterday's earnings report from LG painted a bleak picture of the company's mobile business, which hasn't generated meaningful profit since about this time last year, and even then it was only moderately successful. Sources familiar with LG's plans now tell The Verge that the company is going for a fundamental redesign with its next flagship smartphone, the LG G5. Unlike the G3 and G4 (pictured above) that preceded it, the G5 will not be an evolution of its forebears — it will look and feel "nothing like" those earlier Android smartphones.
The operating system won't be changing, of course, but LG's new flagship will have a significantly altered design, with our sources confirming it will feature a new accessory slot at the bottom, as first reported by Evan Blass over at VentureBeat. CNET Korea followed up with some renders showing the slot as essentially a cartridge receptacle that would make the battery user-replaceable, but we haven't been able to confirm the specific functions of this new slot. In any case, it will be a focal point for LG's efforts to differentiate the G5.
Another change in design for LG will be the relocation of the volume buttons from the back of the handset to the side, with the latter spot being a much more common and familiar one for most users. A number of G5 case leaks have suggested that the shifting of the volume buttons has been done, at least in part, to allow room for the addition of a second rear-facing camera. We've not been able to confirm that information yet, nor the reported "all-metal design" for the G5, though it does appear as though most of the early revelations and leaks about this handset have been accurate.
Taking on the Galaxy S7 directly
The G5 will be the first of two flagship smartphones for LG in 2016, and its launch date has already been scheduled for February 21st at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It will be vying for the spotlight with Samsung's anticipated Galaxy S7, which marks yet another strategic change for LG. The company's flagship G series has traditionally been introduced a few months after Samsung's latest Galaxy flagship, allowing for some breathing room between the two, but it seems like LG has now decided to go directly against its nemesis.
Whether this newfound courage proves propitious or not will depend in large part on how LG uses the G5's enigmatic new accessory slot. At a time of growing nostalgia for old technology and boredom with smartphone spec wars, perhaps LG's new cartridges could be just what a phone company needs to stand out. We'll find out at MWC.
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