What does the Apple v. Samsung verdict mean to LG?

Now that Samsung owes Apple more than $1B in patent infringement charges, what can LG do to set itself apart?

The LG Optimus 4X HD's quad-core features set it apart. Josh Miller/CNET

After a jury decided on Friday that Samsung owes Apple $1 billion in reparations due to patent infringements, many other OEMs who make phones using Google's Android OS (which could be Apple's real target ) may be battening down the hatches.

Though it looks like, for now, Apple isn't suing anyone else, it's easy to understand why LG should pay close attention to this trial's verdict and even closer attention to its fierce competitor, Samsung.

In addition to running Android, which Google is already trying to distance from the case , many of LG's products look similar to the Samsung devices cited for infringements. (I mean, have you seen the Samsung Galaxy -esque LG Connect 4G ?) As a comparison, certain Microsoft Windows Phone handsets, like the Nokia Lumia 900 , don't have this problem due to their unique design and build.

Furthermore, LG wouldn't be pining for a patent lawsuit, since it looks like it's concentrating its efforts on a rumored superphone to be unveiled later this year.

So what are some things that LG can do to take advantage of the U.S. phone market and compete with its crosstown rival during this tumultuous time for Samsung? It must continue to tinker with its user interface, take more design risks, and keep investing in novel hardware.

LG Optimus 3.0 UI and beyond
A few months ago, LG released a string of handsets like the LG Optimus L7 and the L3 . Along with their debuts came the launch of LG's newest user interface, Optimus 3.0.

Except for that boxy weather widget, there were a lot of things to like about the UI. Customizable icons for several apps gave users more aesthetic options, and styles ranged from sleek to cutesy. Furthermore, some devices were equipped with QuickMemo, a fast and easy way to access note-taking features from your phone.

The Optimus 3.0's phone unlock visuals are also unique. You can unlock the device by dragging your fingers from anywhere on the screen, but during this flicking motion, you can catch a quick glimpse of what's underneath the lock screen (this is useful when the homescreen wasn't the last thing that was accessed before the handset locked).

Different lock screen patterns can also trigger different apps to open, like the camera for example, which combines a reassuring security function with a quick-launch feature for apps.

Extra goodies like these keep LG phones fresh and fun to use. LG should expand these features and ship them natively with all upcoming devices (for example, not all handsets with Optimus 3.0 have QuickMemo). By continuing to give more options to users, LG can distinguish itself.

For better or worse, take some chances on design
We've all seen our fair share of unique phones . Some are great, while others makes us ask, "What were they thinking?" But while designing a product can be a hit or miss, the more risks taken, the better.

LG Optimus Vu Josh Miller/CNET

Although not yet available in the United States, the LG Optimus Vu will never be mistaken for any other device, except perhaps the Samsung Galaxy Note. Not only does it have a gnarly 5-inch screen, but it also has a throwback collapsible antenna.

Reactions to the Vu ranged from "The bigger the better" to "Ridiculous." And while the jury is still out on the final decision (okay, bad court pun, but I had to), you have to admire LG for even attempting to create a phablet meant to compete with the Note. Sure, the 4:3 ratio is wonky, but at least no one can dispute that the squarish Vu is LG's design, and LG's design alone. Whether or not it's also LG's mistake, and LG's mistake alone, however, will have to be a chance the company takes as well.

And, of course, who can forget the LG Prada phone? That was a handset that looked like the iPhone before the iPhone.

Never forget the hardware
Wherever there's room for improvement, there's room for faster, better hardware. LG already wowed us with its LG Optimus 4X HD , a quad-core (yes, as in four) handset with blazing processor speeds and a True HD IPS display.

The Optimus 4X HD is also NFC-chip enabled, and comes with LG Tag+ stickers that let users quickly access phone presets (like screen brightness and turning Bluetooth on), via a simple tap of the phone.

Although seen by some as a party trick, the Optimus 3D Max 's 3D feature is also noteworthy. It isn't the first 3D phone, and its screen's overlaid parallax barrier is nothing new either, but by experimenting with unconventional hardware, LG can carve itself a marked place in the industry.

With so many lawsuits in the recent past, coupled with this verdict, patent infringement arguments aren't likely to go away anytime soon. The best thing any company can do is to pour time and money into innovation, expanding in the features that set a product apart, while being mindful of what users want. Despite not being the biggest dog in the game, LG and its products have lots of room to grow, and as long as the company keeps looking at fresh ideas and experimenting, it can do it all without stepping on another company's toes.

Editors' note: We contacted LG for a comment on this piece and the Samsung verdict, but it declined to comment.
 

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