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LG G Flex review: a new curved innovation with room for improvement

Loie Favre
5

This year’s CES 2014 brought the US model of the LG G Flex: the flexible and curved 6-inch tablet is LG’s new claim to fame. I had a chance to spend some time with the new banana-shaped smartphone in the LG press conference and pavilion. Here is a first impression and short hands-on review of the LG G Flex.

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The curved chassis is said to enhance your listening, conversation and audio experience.  © AndroidPIT

Design and Build Quality

The first glimpse at the LG G Flex signals that this is no ordinary phone, a first of its kind in fact. The 6-inch body is slightly curved inwards and according to LG, should provide the user with a better listening, viewing and talking experience, not to mention fit more ergonomically to the shape of your face. Also, when set down on a flat surface, the speakers aren’t covered, so muffled sound isn’t an issue either. Not only that, it is the first flexible device to reach the market, and this flexibility makes it much more sturdy and durable.

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A trailblazer: the LG G Flex is the first of its kind. © AndroidPIT

The body is actually quite light for its bigger size, at just 177 grams, it didn't feel much heavier than my Galaxy S3 which I held in the other hand. The design is definitely interesting, though I wouldn’t say that, with its plastic chassis, that it is elegant. Some might disagree, as it is quite similar to the LG G2, which is one of the world’s best smartphones. With the numerous people touching the device, it was quickly spattered with fingerprints making it actually quite unattractive. That being said, it does possess a back-healing cover thanks to a special resin coating. This means that if you scratch it with a key for example, the marks will disappear after a few hours.

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The LG G Flex has the same back buttons as the LG G2. © AndroidPIT

It does, on the other hand, have a good feel when held and doesn’t give the impression of breaking easily. You will find the iconic LG back-facing buttons for volume controls, power and physical shutter buttons. In my opinion, the real beauty of the device lays in its superb display which immediately captured my attention.

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We had the Press Rep Michael push the middle and it actually bends, battery and all. Should have tried standing on it. © AndroidPIT

Display

The LG G Flex has an HD OLED display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 and 245 ppi, whose image is enhanced thanks to the curved body. LG believes that the curved screen reproduces more natural viewing, imitating how you see when looking around in the real world, like a panoramic image. I can really attest that it has great color representation, viewing angle, contrast and saturation.

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The HD OLED display looks quite nice, even when zoomed in. The naked eye doesn't pick up the fact that it is not Full HD. © AndroidPIT

The big screen is ideal for video watching and when I watched some of the demo videos found in their library, I really liked what I had to see. I can imagine that playing games on the device would also be enjoyable, though I didn’t have a chance to do so yet. Compared to other Full HD displays, it might not come up to par, but this is yet to be seen when held side by side with another device.

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LG G Flex 6-inch HD OLED display © AndroidPIT

Software

LG packed its usual interface into the LG G Flex, and in addition to the features which were brought for the first time with the G2 and G Pad, incorporated a few new ones. The LG G2 features brought here are KnockOn and Guest Mode to name a few. The first of these is its multitasking capability. Long-pressing on the back button easily brings you to this function by presenting you with a list of apps to choose from. You first long press and drag one up to the top part of the screen and then the lower part. From here, you can easily swap data from app to app, like an image to an email for example.

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The Multi-tasking tool is easy to use and quite practical. / © AndroidPIT

There is also a new feature which can be used from the lock screen: "QTheatre" has the user drag their fingers as if parting the curtains in a movie theater, a reverse pinch. This unveils a few options to choose from for viewing videos. It impressed me as well.

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QTheatre works eally well and looks cool too.  © AndroidPIT
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Guest Mode has been brought to the G Flex, just like the G2. You can set up different unlocking methods for your guest or child when they choose to access the phone, all with a new interface and reduced content. © AndroidPIT

Performance

Gunned with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor ticking at 2.26 GHz and 2 GB of RAM, it won’t come as a surprise to you that, with the best in mobile processors, the curvy smartphone runs smooth as butter. Flipping through home screens was quite fluid, apps opened without a seconds' delay and videos didn’t lag either.

Camera

The LG G Flex is filled with the camera features of the LG G2 with one new addition in order to help users take selfies with the better, 13 MP back-facing camera. When you launch the camera app and turn it around so that you are looking at the back lens, an LED light right in the buttons will blink yellow as it tries to recognize your face. After this, it will shine green when it has you in dead center and you press the physical button in order to trigger the shot. This will enable you to get better pictures without needing to guess where it is pointing. The front facing camera has 2.1 MP resolution and is also an ok camera as far as high-end smartphones go.

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Another perk about the curved phone is that it can stay up on its own for taking pictures, no makeshift prop needed.© AndroidPIT

The pictures which I took were standard though not mind-blowing. The thing that the G Flex is missing is optical image stabilization. It also has your usual camera modes and settings, like Dynamic and Time Machine.

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The pictures which I shot using the LG G Flex were standard, not much more. © AndroidPIT

Battery

Though the LG G Flex is not much heavier than my year old Galaxy S3, its battery surpasses the S3's exponentially. The new bendy smartphone comes with a 3,500 mAh Li-Polymer battery. This will last you a long time, I have no doubt. Though, of course, in the short time in which I spent with the device, I was not able to actually test it. The creation of their new bent battery will surely just be the beginning though. The battery is of 3,400 mAh for T-Mobile.

Technical Specifications and Release

With the launch of the new LG G Flex, there is no exact date as of yet in terms of release in the USA. The price is also still hush-hush. All that they would say is in the first quarter of 2014. When it does appear on the scene, it will be available with Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. Sprint actually has a partnership with LG in that all the network bands of LG will be provided with Sprint.

Display 6-inch HD OLED, 1280 x 720 pixels (245 ppi)
Dimensions 160.5 x 81.6 x 7.9 mm
Cameras 13 MP (back), 2.1 MP (front)
Internal storage 32 GB
RAM 2 GB
Connectivity HSPA, LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, quad-core, 2.26 GHz
Battery 3500mAh
UI Optimus UI
OS Android 4.2.2 JB

Final Verdict

After a short time spent playing with the LG G Flex, I can say that I am indeed impressed with a few things that LG did: the display is quite nice and the performance, thanks to its super-fast processor, are undoubtedly major perks for this Android device, placing it at the head of the smartphone race. I am not sure if the design will do well on the market, but it is definitely a head-turner. It is also a shame that the camera is only so-so, with no OIS. Though I didn’t like the look of the material, it does possess a high-end look and feel and is super light-weight, a nice touch for such a large smartphone. And there’s the battery which is great as well. Of course, more testing would need to be done to really discover the LG G Flex’s entire scope and range in software and battery life, so we will conduct a test when we obtain the smartphone in our AndroidPIT office.

PRO CON
Great display for watching videos Display is not Full HD
Powerful performance Standard camera with no OIS
Long-lasting battery  
Some cool new features, like QTheater  
Lightweight  

What do you think of the LG G Flex? Is its curved body something you would have yourself or are you still a bit sceptical?

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Comments

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  • Hazel S. 11 months ago Link

    I like this phone depending on the price.I would buy this phone .I like the shape it would be so comfortable for the ear & face.and it is so light weight.and does eveything I like on a phone..Just Love everything about it .can't wait to see it.. my current phone is a LG-E400 which I find very good,and our T.V. is LG. as well..

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  • Mostafa El-sayed 11 months ago Link

    Great! !

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  • iMaC74 11 months ago Link

    Not full HD! we live in a world of HD quality so I would expect this to be a FULL HD display which it isn't, we're going backwards not forward. LG should stick with making TV's that's what there best at...

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  • CJ Brown 11 months ago Link

    I think its only a matter of time before Apple (and other Smart Phone manufacturers) attempts to duplicate what LG has done with their new G Flex ... an as much as I loath patent lawsuits in courtrooms? I'd like to see Apple take it hard financially for any attempt to duplicate the design of this Android Smart Phone! (Seriously, what is so impressive about the overall shape of an iPhone 5? Its an overpriced metal paperweight!)

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  • CJ Brown 11 months ago Link

    p.s.

    this was LG's 1st G Flex made available for C.E.S. (co-sponsored by Sprint), I will not be surprised if a 2nd & 3rd generation G Flex are available this year offering those HD / Camera features not currently available (we've got plenty of other Consumer Electronics Conventions in 2014)

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