LG's just-announced marquee G6 phone adds a new chapter to the legendary rivalry between South Korean neighbors LG and Samsung. And for once, LG's G6 could gain the upper hand against Samsung's forthcoming Galaxy S8.
One reason is an about-face in strategy. Where the G5's tone-deaf modular design failed by being too different, the G6's potential comes from aligning with the competition. It will be one of the first global phones to have a large display that takes up about 80 percent of the screen -- a nearly "bezel-less" design -- and a trend we expect to see in many high-end phones this year.
It also has dual cameras and adds two important features that last year's G5 lacked (and which last year's Samsung Galaxy S7 had): "waterproofing" and wireless charging (for US buyers only). Embracing these mainstream features is a strategy that could set LG up to weather Samsung's relentless onslaught of features and marketing dollars when the phone does come; that's rumored to debut on March 29.
Secondly, LG can benefit from getting the G6 in front of buyer's eyes before the Galaxy S8. The G6 can start courting customers now, though it'll also be important for the phone to launch before the S8, LG also starts with a cleaner slate -- Samsung is still picking up the pieces from its Note 7 disaster that marked (and marred) late 2016.
Third, if LG's G6 costs a little less than the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, while also offering most of the same experiences, that price difference makes LG look good. Some customers won't want to part with a extra cash just for a little more polish.
We won't know anything for sure until Samsung's official announcement, but the Galaxy S8 is rumored to share many of the G6's top-shelf features, including the 18:9 screen ratio that puts more screen on the phone face, and dual cameras. In fact, the only major differences might come down to the S8's:
- Curved screen
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor (which promises benefits over the G6's Snapdragon 821 chipset)
- Bixby AI assistant (LG has Google Assistant on-board, just like the Google Pixel phones)
How much would those features add to the Galaxy S8? If they all arrived as speculated, these features could give the S8 an edge, at least in theory. Alternatively, the AI assistant might wind up being a gimmick, and the processor may add slight rather than massive gains. Again, we just won't know until the S8 is ready to be shown. But the G6's strong showing means that when the S8 does launch, Samsung will face tougher competition out of the gate.
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