LG has a feeling you might need more friends.
Last week, the South Korean-based electronics company released the LG G5, the latest model of its flagship smartphone. With its latest phone, LG is also trying to navigate the relatively uncharted waters of modularity with a new feature called Friends. The slim, aluminum-bodied G5 — which LG first unveiled at the Mobile World Congress — has a feature that uses add-ons to enhance a phone's functionality, rather than trying to entice consumers into shelling out for regular upgrades. The new design will let users turn their phones into digital single-lens cameras, virtual viewers and more.
"We noticed the excitement that people once had for their smartphone has waned a bit, and there's this unmet need you have for something that is new, yet original and interesting," said Frank Lee, LG's director of communications and account marketing, told CNBC in a recent interview.
The plug-in feature is fairly user friendly, and is similar in function to a Nintendo Game Boy — formerly ubiquitous devices whose primary appeal were the many game cartridges that were sold separately.
"Think about it. When was the last time you truly got excited about a smartphone?" he asked. "We have something that's going to give you what you want and yet still be very unexpected."
With the G5, LG has bragging rights as the first major smartphone maker to feature a working modular device. It's a gamble by LG, which analysts say is hungry to appear relevant and innovative as it fends off fierce competitive pressures from the likes of Apple, Samsung and Huawei. So are modular smartphones the next big thing, and can they help reverse LG's market share, which recent comScore data show is under 10 percent?