Published September 18, 2012
SEOUL, South Korea – LG Electronics will launch the Optimus G smartphone next week in South Korea, pinning high hopes on the new Android device to help revive its loss-making mobile business.
LG said Tuesday that the Optimus G will go on sale in Japan next month and in the U.S. in November. That would put LG's new phone, which costs $894 without subsidies from operators in South Korea, in competition with Apple's iPhone 5 and Samsung's Galaxy Note II smartphones during the fall and the winter holidays.
Previous Optimus smartphones have failed to make a mark in the fastest-growing segment of the mobile phone market. LG's mobile division posted losses of nearly 1 trillion won ($895 million) in 2010 and 2011 combined.
LG's mobile chief said the company hopes the G smartphone will help accelerate the division's turnaround.
"The Optimus G is our flagship phone with a competitive edge," Park Jong-seok, LG's mobile business president, told reporters at a media event. "We are trying to make phones differentiated from our rivals."
LG Electronics Inc. was the world's third-largest handset maker before being overtaken by Apple in the high-end market and China-based ZTE Corp. in the low-end.
Analysts said LG was focused on making handsets primarily for voice calls and text messaging, which delayed its response when Apple's iPhone took the mobile market by storm.
The Seoul-based company has reduced its reliance on rudimentary phones to bank on advanced gadgets using Google's Android operating system. But its efforts have not paid off so far. LG's mobile communications division reported an operating loss of 57 billion won in the second quarter.
International Data Corporation puts LG at No. 5 among global mobile-phone makers after Samsung Electronics, Nokia, Apple and ZTE in the three months ending in June.
As LG's struggles with mobile phones continue, various affiliates at LG Group, a major industrial group in South Korea, joined forces to create the G smartphone.
LG Display, which supplies screens for Apple's iPhone and iPad, manufactured 4.7-inch displays for the G, while other LG affiliates made a battery and a 13-megapixel camera. The G smartphone is powered by Qualcomm's quad-core processor and supports access to a faster wireless network.
LG also added new video-related features. The G can dim the video in a translucent layer, allowing users to send text messages or write emails while watching the show in the background. It also allows users to zoom into a scene while playing the video using a two-finger pinch.