The unusual LG V10 smartphone running Android 5.1 (Lollipop) will go on sale online Tuesday on AT&T and Wednesday on T-Mobile, with in-store purchases coming a few days later. (Lollipop) will go on sale online Tuesday on AT&T and Wednesday on T-Mobile, with in-store purchases coming a few days later.
What primarily sets the V10 apart is its distinctive dual-screen and its dual-selfie, front-facing cameras that show off LG's interest in trying new technologies. Some reviewers have called those features "gimmicky" or even "oddball," but analysts said the features also demonstrate a capable manufacturer willing to try new things.
The dual-screen feature is composed of a second, tiny screen at the top of the display, just above the main 5.7-in. touchscreen. That second screen is always on and is designed to enhance productivity by giving access to favorite apps and notifications.
The dual, 5-megapixel front-facing selfie cameras will offer either standard, 80-degree or wide-angle 120-degree selfies to eliminate the need to pan the smartphone or use a selfie stick, AT&T said.
AT&T will charge $250 for the V10 on a two-year contract or $29 per month on a 24-month plan. T-Mobile will charge $600 outright or $25 per month on a two-year payment plan. In-store sales start at T-Mobile on Oct. 30 and Nov. 6 at AT&T. Verizon Wireless will also carry the phone, but hasn't posted pricing or other details.
LG said Monday it will kick in a 200GB microSD card, extra battery and battery-charging cradle for free on orders at all three carriers from Oct. 27 to Nov. 15.
Whether LG's tendency to experiment with the V10 (as with its previous curved-screen Flex models) will matter in sales is unknown. In a fiercely competitive Android smartphone market, LG ranked sixth globally in the second quarter of 2015, with just under 4% of the overall smartphone market, according to IDC analyst Ramon Llamas in an interview.
There haven't been many U.S. reviews of the V10, but it seems clear that LG is trying to add experimental features to a new V line of phones, while LG's G sphones will remain the flagship line. The LG G4 launched on all the major U.S. carriers in the spring, but didn't get superlative reviews. It was even called "bulky and awkward to carry in a pocket" by Computerworld reviewer JR Raphael.
Raphael also dings LG for its sometimes "terrible" performance in providing prompt upgrades to the latest Android version, although it did a quicker job getting Android 5.0 to the LG G3.
Smartphone purists will be quick to note that LG is also the manufacturer behind the Nexus 5X, Google's latest device that showcases all that the latest versions of Android 6.0 can be, at a relatively low cost.
Given all the devices and technologies LG has introduced, it's hard to say that anything LG has tried has not been accepted by buyers to some extent. More, it's creativity is partly a response to fierce global competition from Apple and other Android makers.
"A lot of LG's performance is that it's overshadowed by all things Samsung Galaxy," said Llamas, noting that Samsung was the top smartphone vendor in the second quarter, with 21% of the market. "Competition for this market area is just ridiculous."
LG had a strong year financially in 2014, but reported "an extremely challenging environment" for the second quarter of 2015 that included a 3% decline in global smartphone shipments to 14.1 million units compared to the second quarter of 2014.
Noting that LG falls behind Android makers Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo, Llamas said that LG's market share at sixth place may not be a good indicator of its future success. "LG's shipment volumes are steady and in reasonably good competition with Xiaomi and Huawei, which are not minor vendors," he said.
In addition to the V10's dual front-facing 5 megapixel cameras, the rear camera is 16 megapixels and has a laser auto-focus. The phone also features a Qualcomm 8992, 64-bit hexacore processor with 4GB of RAM, a 3,000 mAh battery, a fingerprint sensor for unlocking and 64GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 2TB with a microSD card, sold separately.
AT&T is also selling the LG G Vista 2 exclusively starting Nov. 6. The phone has a 5.7-in. display, a 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera. It runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 Octa-core processor and has 16GB of onboard storage, with expansion up to 32GB with a microSD card. It features Android 5.1 and has a 3,000 megapixel camera. AT&T's pricing includes a 24-month service agreement with the phone priced at $49.99.