In the right photo, a worker sorts out leather to be used for the back of LG Electronics' G4 smartphone, which will be released on April 29. Left is the finished product. / Courtesy of LG Electronics
By Kim Yoo-chul
LG Electronics' flagship smartphone, the G4, will have vegetable-tanned leather on the reverse side, giving it "comfortable elegance and an analog feeling" for users.
"A smartphone in a leather cover might look a bit weird," the company said Friday. "But we want to add a kind of ‘analog feeling' to the latest smartphone. The G4 is a combination of the latest technology and tradition. This will be one of the most exciting and attractive elements about the G4."
LG will unveil the G4 on April 29. It wants to sell 10 million G4s in a year after the launch in its target markets, including the United States and Korea.
Vegetable tanning is an ancient and traditional craft tanneries have passed down over the years, using an ancient craft and more recently state-of-the-art technology.
LG said vegetable tanning was the most environment-friendly way to tan leather due to the use of natural ingredients rather than chemicals.
"Among the various tanning methods, vegetable tanning is the most traditional and the most recognizable," it said. "It is the only form of tanning that is able to give leather unique characteristics, retaining the natural flaws and markings. That's why only a few luxury brands such as Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton applied the tanning technology to very high-level products."
The average process time of vegetable tanning for the G4 can take up to 12 weeks ― a time-consuming process given four days it takes to manufacture plastic covers. LG will buy 100 percent of vegetable-tanned leather to make the G4 cover.
As vegetable-tanned leathers are more valuable, the G4 will be sold at a higher average price compared with previous models, according to the company, though exact retail prices will be subject to the amount of subsidies retailers offer consumers.
While Samsung Electronics is the global leader in smartphones, followed by Apple, LG Electronics is a front-runner in the tier 1.5-group as it competes with Xiaomi and Huawei of China.
LG Electronics' executive vice president for Korean marketing, Cho Sung-ha, will present its marketing strategies at a news conference on April 29 at the company's headquarters in Yeouido, Seoul.