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LG’s first 5G smartphone fuels new network competition

LG Electronics’ first 5G-powered smartphones have been fueling competition in a new network market where the nation’s three mobile carriers are in a fierce battle for subscribers since the commercial rollout of 5G network services last month.

SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus have been scrambling to woo subscribers since LG’s V50 ThinQ hit the market Saturday, offering substantial subsidies and trying out other marketing gimmicks.

Mobile carriers appear to be taking the launch of the V50 thinQ as an opportunity to rekindle the popularity of 5G handsets, as subscribers remain concerned about how effectively the handsets operate when they are connected to the 5G network.

According to industry sources and reports, the number of South Koreans subscribing to 5G service is estimated to hover above the 400,000 mark. The Ministry of Science and ICT put the number at 290,000 as of the end of last month.

“We believe the V50 ThinQ is the best smartphone for 5G content,” Lee Hyun-seok, who heads KT’s mobile business department, said Friday when the company began sales of LG’s first 5G-powered smartphone. “We’re confident that it will bring a whole new 5G experience.” 

LG Electronics’ dual-screen LGv50 ThinQ (LG Electronics)
LG Electronics’ dual-screen LGv50 ThinQ (LG Electronics)

Korea began the world’s first commercial 5G service last month with Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S10 5G, but subscribers have complained that service is not as speedy or as secure as what was advertised, and that it is sometimes unavailable outside Seoul and other major cities.

Samsung has been flooded with complaints from consumers who have had difficulty accessing the 5G network, even in Seoul and the surrounding area. The same is true of mobile carriers’ consumer message boards. Also, some 5G smartphone users have reported glitches when switching between 5G and 4G Long Term Evolution.

Given the fact that LG introduced its first 5G smartphone belatedly, instead of adhering to the original launch date of April 16, some industry watchers believe the V50 ThinQ is better equipped with functionalities that are attractive to consumers.

“Of course, LG’s smartphone can’t resolve coverage issues,” said an industry watcher. “But it appears that LG has worked on the issue of poor connectivity when transitioning between 5G and 4G LTE.”

Released for the first time during the Mobile World Congress 2019 in February, the V50 ThinQ 5G comes with dual-screen functionality that allows users to watch two screens installed on a single handset.

The technology allows users to enjoy separate images or videos on parallel screens without technical delays, LG said. For example, users can hold the phone in a horizontal position and play mobile games on one screen, with virtual joysticks below.

The smartphone also supports Qualcomm aptX and aptX HD audio technology for premium Bluetooth audio quality and low latency ideal for immersive listening over headphones or earbuds, according to the company.