LG G2 phone banishes all buttons to the back of the device

LG claims the G2 is 'the first smartphone to be completely devoid of side buttons.' Will anyone care? 

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    President and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Jong-seok Park presents the LG G2 smartphone during a news conference in New York, on August 7, 2013.
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A high-end smart phone with all the physical buttons on the back.

That's the elevator pitch for the LG G2, the not-very-imaginatively-named phone unveiled today by LG Mobile CEO Jong-Soek Park in New York. According to Mr. Park – and big hat tip to Matt Hamblen at Computerworld – "relocating power and volume buttons to the back... changes the way we interact with the form. Simply everything is more convenient."

To be clear, in most other ways, the LG G2 looks and acts like a regular smart phone. There's a 5.2-inch HD touchscreen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 operating system, LTE connectivity, a 13-megapixel back-facing camera and a 2.1-megapixel front-facing one. But it's those buttons, which on devices such as the iPhone are usually on the front of the handset, that have garnered the most attention. 

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Here's a blurb from the press release for the G2, which LG says is "the first smartphone to be completely devoid of side buttons": 

The unique Rear Key concept came from the realization when studying users that the larger the phone became, the more difficult it was to properly access the side keys. Moving the main buttons to the back of the phone gave users more control since this place was where individuals’ index fingers are naturally located. Researchers found that moving the buttons also resulted in fewer dropped phones when adjusting the volume while talking.

All of which is interesting, but it seems to be a slim premise on which to build a phone that will likely go head-to-head with the next Apple iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S4. In recent months, LG has risen to a distant third place, behind Samsung and Apple, in the global smart phone market. Still, as Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Mark Newman recently warned, "we acknowledge [LG’s] strong recovery in handsets, but remain cautious on the sustainability of this." 

LG clearly believes the G2 will help the company continue its upward trajectory. Only time will tell.

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