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Updated: 9 Apr 2021

LG stops making smartphones: what to do if you own one, or want to buy one

Find out how LG's announcement affects its mobile phones, and why you should be wary of discounts while models are sold off
Person using LG smartphone

After two decades of making mobiles, LG is winding down its phones business by the end of July 2021.

In an industry dominated by the likes of Apple and Samsung, plus new challenger brands offering high-spec phones for less, LG has struggled to find its place in recent years.

According to an official statement, the brand is intending to redirect its focus to 'growth areas', including electric vehicle components, smart homes, robotics, artificial intelligence and the development of 6G.

Read on to find out what this means for you, whether you own an LG phone already or had one on your shortlist.

Find out if your phone is still receiving important security updates, or browse the best contract phone and Sim deals at Which? Mobile Switch.

Will LG's smartphones keep receiving updates?

Most likely yes. LG's initial statement was vague, promising updates for 'a period of time which will vary by region', although today it announced more concrete update periods.

If you own a premium phone released from 2019 onwards - including any from the G series, V series, Velvet or Wing - you will receive three years of security updates.

For cheaper models released from 2020 (the K series and Stylo), you're looking at two years before your phone is no longer updated.

LG has promised that it will offer the latest OS for every year of updates. That means if your LG phone is currently on Android 10, you could end up seeing it reach Android 13 if it's a premium model, or 12 if it's a mid-range device.

How long does LG update its mobile phones?

Security updates can be a thorny issue, and brands aren't exactly forthcoming on when their phones will run out of support. Until this week, LG was one of the worst.

Unlike most other brands, it doesn't have a page on its website that states which phones are still receiving security updates. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for customers to know when is the best time to trade in their handset for a newer model.

It's been known to lag behind on OS updates too. The LG K42 is due to get its Android 11 upgrade in the last quarter of 2021 - more than a year after the new OS first became available.

Following LG's announcement this week, eagle-eyed developers found a mention on its Korean site of 'selected models' getting an OS upgrade to Android 12. We don't know when this will be though, or if it even applies to any UK phones.

We've exposed how phone brands put customers at risk long before the end of a handset's life. You can also read about the mobile phone brands that are best and worst for software support.

Why are phone updates important?

The latest Android Operating System will give you access to improved usability and fancy new features, but security updates are also important, with brands often continuing to roll them out for phones on older operating systems.

Over time, bugs may be detected in your phone's software. Smartphone brands stay on top of these, sending out patches to fix them, but after your phone stops receiving updates it can no longer shore itself up against these vulnerabilities. In a worst case scenario, a hacker could get into your phone and access your personal information

Although these security updates are vital for using your phone safely, some brands only support their handsets for two years after they launch. A lack of regulation in the industry means that brands don't have to be transparent with consumers, either.

We believe this has to change, and that brands should do more to support customers, and reduce the impact on the second-hand market and e-waste implications of short-lived phones. Which? is calling for:

  • At least five years of software and security updates across all devices from point of release, regardless of popularity or cost.
  • In-device notifications about when update support will cease, so that consumers can make more informed decisions about next steps.
  • More regular update support from when manufacturers are first made aware of patches, particularly for those using the Android operating system.
  • Greater clarity about actual updates policies at time of purchase, and on a publicly available website, so consumers are fully informed about update provision before they buy.

Should you buy an LG mobile phone?

Mobile phone security

LG will still be selling new phones until the middle of this year, and now the news is out, there are likely to be some tempting prices on handsets, too.

You're taking a risk buying an LG phone now though. If you are considering one, make sure to choose from one of the models that LG claims to be supporting for three years, such as the LG G8S ThinQ.

It does have a disclaimer that 'future updates will depend on Google's distribution schedule as well as other factors such as device performance and compatibility', so there are no absolute guarantees, whichever phone you pick.

Our round-up of the best mobile phones from our tests can help you find a new model.