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MWC 2013: LG discusses mobile strategy, promising to deliver larger batteries and sharper screens

LG aims to vault itself back into the top rank of smartphone manufacturers with bright screens and long-lasting batteries, Dr. Ramchan Woo, LG's head of mobile platform planning said amongst a half-dozen new LG phone releases.

Woo is the first person I've spoken to in a while who has wanted to talk about new battery technologies in phones, something about which I know a lot of readers are interested.

"Battery life and especially battery density are things we're focusing on more and more," he said. "When you look at the [new] F-series, the mid-tier smartphones introduced this year, they have higher-density batteries than others in the same tier."

On the LG stand, I popped the back off of a new F7 phone to find a pleasant surprise: a really juicy 2540mAh battery. As the F7 is no bigger than last year's LG Optimus 4X, which has a 2100mAh battery, that's real progress. The Samsung Galaxy S3 also has a 2100mAh battery. The iPhone 5 has a smaller 1440mAh battery, but it also has a much smaller screen than those other phones.

At least some of LG's improvement comes from using SIO+ batteries, a relatively new version of the traditional lithium-ion battery that uses silicon oxide instead of graphite to improve performance by at least six per cent over other same-size batteries, according to an LG blog post from last year.

LG's new line also has big, bright IPS screens. LG is showing off how its IPS screens are brighter and sharper than Samsung's competing AMOLED screens.

"The display is twice as bright as AMOLED, but at the same time it consumes half the power," Woo said. That should help battery life, too.

Android Focus, But Firefox OS Too

All of the phones on LG's stand here at MWC run Google's Android OS. LG is one of the launch partners for Firefox OS and once made a major commitment to Windows Phone.

"We try to focus more and more on Android as a strategic direction," Woo said. The Nexus 4 was a big hit for LG, and the company wants to keep up its relationship with Google. "We want to keep up that momentum," he said.

Firefox OS phones are coming because of demand from mobile operators, and it sounds like the mobile networks are helping to design them. The Firefox phones are "strongly driven by the operators, so the direction, the tier and the segment are also driven by the operators," Woo said.

As for Windows Phone? "We haven't seen the demand," LG spokesman Ken Hong said.

Focusing on the US

Some of LG's top smartphones from last year, most notably the Optimus 4X, never shipped in the US. But the US is still a "major target market" for LG, Woo said, and the 5.5in Optimus G Pro may be the company's flagship for the year.

"We definitely have North America in mind for the large-screen phablet," Woo said.

While LG has seen some success with lower-end phones in the US like the Optimus One series, its flagships, like the Optimus G on AT&T and Sprint, haven't sold as well. The premium Nexus 4 got a lot of buzz, but kept selling out because of limited supply. Woo said LG will try to build on that success to move LG up in the world.

"By the end of the year, our goal is to position LG phones as a premium product to compete with iPhone 5S (or whatever) and our neighbor [Samsung]," he said.