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LG's plans to sell iPhones in Korea could be scuppered by its own agreement

iPhone XR held in hand alongside river
iPhone XR held in hand alongside river (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • LG had planned to sell iPhones in its defunct Korean stores, but that seems unlikely now.
  • LG signed an agreement in 2018 stipulating that it wouldn't sell anyone else's phones in its stores.

LG's recent plans to sell iPhones in its Korean stores could be brought to an end before they could even get off the ground. An agreement was put in place in 2018 that saw LG promise to only sell its own phones at those stores – nobody else's. That should, theoretically, mean it can't sell iPhones even though its own phone business is being disbanded.

According to The Korea Herald, LG – and Samsung – agreed not to sell other phones so as to protect independent outlets. That agreement was made in 2018 and has not been rescinded.

LG Electronics' plan to start selling Apple's iPhones at its stores is facing backlash from local phone distributors and a private consensus-based panel on shared growth on Thursday threw weight behind opponents, saying LG would be breaking its word if it pushes ahead with the plan.The Korea Commission for Corporate Partnership cited the firm's pact with the commission signed in 2018 in which LG pledged to strive for co-prosperity with small players in the industry.

The fact LG no longer has a dog in the smartphone race could potentially change the dynamics of the agreement, but that's something that will need to be pondered by all concerned. At the time of writing, however, it isn't looking good for anyone who expected to walk into an LG store and walk out with an iPhone 13 this fall.

"LG's withdrawal of the smartphone business has become an unexpected change to consider," said an official from the commission. "Both sides will need to coordinate and come up with a new agreement on the issue."

Few would agree that picking up an iPhone at an LG store would be the best iPhone buying experience around. But Apple saw the partnership as a potential way to increase its Korean sales, although the company has declined to comment publicly.

Now it could end up being left to the commission to decide whether the Apple-LG deal gets the go-ahead, or not.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.