The chin and forehead bezel design is something that has been slowly phased out of the standard design for smartphones recently. I’ll grant that the smaller design of the G6 looks mildly cleaner and more sleek, but the press surrounding this minor progress seems out of proportion to the actual progress being made with the phone. The iPhone 7 was rumored to have smaller bezels, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is rumored to be moving in the same direction, and the insane hype for the LG G6 and similar products is creating an ugly feedback loop between manufacturers and the public - the kind of feedback loop that results in industry stagnation. If we are so excited about such a minor change in hardware design, then industry motivation to be truly inventive is diminished.
The frustrating thing about this feedback loop is that manufacturers are not improving the internal specs because the loudest of us are plenty excited about hardware. I want 8 gigs of application RAM and a terabyte of internal storage; I think many of us do. This kind of progress would get us closer to the dream and what many people believe to be the future of computing.
If you aren’t aware, the dream is one device for absolutely everything; the Nintendo Switch of general purpose computers. The dream is a phone that can run professional audio or video editing software. Not many people would want to edit professional content on a tiny phone screen with touch interface, but I want to know that I could. I want the engine of my computing life to be small enough to fit in my pocket, then I could plug that engine into various, bigger screens with different interfaces. Sounds appealing.
The LG G6 isn’t making much progress as far as internals are concerned. It has the Snapdragon 821 (the same as the Google Pixel) and the only unique internal spec seems to be LG’s focus on multitasking because of the longer screen. Despite the standard internal specs, the G6 has the Android community incredibly excited. Judging by the first few things I read about the phone, I assumed it was more groundbreaking. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
To be completely frank, Microsoft is making more progress as far as internals are concerned than anything else we’ve seen recently. The Surface Pro 4 is a tablet with Intel Core series chips. It’s a tablet that is actually capable of computing. It's not a popular opinion, but it is true. Meanwhile, Apple is integrating ARM processors into the Mac, Google is making a shell of a computer with the Chromebook, and Samsung is making tablets that don’t do much more than their phones (but at least they don’t explode… I guess).
The LG G6 doesn’t seem worth the hype it is receiving. It’s pretty, but it’s nothing special on the inside. And if the new Samsung series is as beautiful as the rumors say it is, then the G6 is not long for this world - assuming Samsung can bounce back from a terrible 2016. Breakthroughs in technology have become more rare than they used to be, but hyping up the screen/bezel ratio is not going to encourage true progress in the computing world. We all know that companies opt for the easiest option that will sell. If we are this excited about the size of the bezels, then I think we are fundamentally selling ourselves short.
Capitalism is a conversation between the consumer and the manufacturer. They make, we buy. In an industry like technology, that dialogue is even more influential. We tell corporations what we want by using the loudest voice we have: our wallets. If the press and the consumers cheer so loudly for such a small aesthetic change, then I fear for the onset stagnation of the entire industry.
I want more than aesthetics; I’d think the rest of us would too.