Usually high-end smartphones are high-end from top to bottom, and mid-ranged phones are mid-ranged from top to bottom. But LG is taking a different approach (sort of), with its new "Specialist" X series of phones – giving each phone one supposedly flagship feature surrounded by a supporting cast of mid-ranged features and specs.
The first two phones in LG's new series are the X cam and X screen. As its name suggests, the Cam has what LG calls "one of the most advanced camera experience[s] in a mass-tier smartphone."
LG doesn't say much about what makes it so "advanced," apart from having a dual rear camera setup (something that was dismissed as largely a gimmick on past phones like the HTC Evo 3D and, to a lesser degree, the One M8). The X cam's primary rear shooter is 13 MP, with the secondary rear cam coming in at 5 MP. LG hasn't revealed any finer details like aperture, pixel size or whether it supports optical image stabilization, suggesting the camera could still potentially be mid-ranged on the whole.
The second specialist in LG's new lineup is the X screen (above), which borrows that odd secondary "ticker" display from the LG V10. Like on the V10, the always-on secondary display sits above the main screen, and can launch frequently used apps, take calls or look at notifications without affecting the main display real estate. It's similar to what Samsung is doing with the curved portion of its Galaxy Edge flagships.
Apart from their unique killer features, each phone has lackluster specs. Ironically, the X cam has a better screen than the X screen: 5.2-inch, 1080p for the X cam, 4.93-inch 720p (primary display) for the X screen. They each have unnamed processors – octa core for the Cam and quad core for the Screen – along with 2 GB RAM and 16 GB storage.
LG hasn't said anything about cost, other than promising "a price that rivals mid-range smartphones." With recent high-ish end flagships from Motorola and OnePlus shipping with mid-range prices, it's getting harder to recommend decidedly lackluster-specced handsets like these (single flagship features and all), but we'll reserve final judgment until we see specific pricing and try them out in person. LG will be demoing them at next week's Mobile World Congress, before a launch in Asia, Europe and Latin America next month.