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LG G Flex deep-dive review: The curious case of the curved phone

JR Raphael | Feb. 5, 2014
The LG G Flex has a curved design, flexible body, and 'self-healing' skin -- but does that make it better?

The curve is at its most noticeable when you hold the device lengthwise, in landscape orientation, which causes the left and right sides of the screen to slope slightly toward you. LG says it creates a "cinematic-like panoramic viewing" experience for video watching and game playing, but I'd say it's more of an interesting subtle effect than anything transformative. And in regular reading-based usage — email, Web browsing, social media surfing and the like — I actually found it to be slightly distracting.

Regardless, any potential benefit the curve might provide is cancelled out by the subpar quality of the G Flex's display. The phone's 6-in. 720p plastic OLED panel packs only 244 pixels per inch, which is a significantly lower pixel density than we've come to expect from high-end phones today — and boy, does it show.

You can easily make out individual pixels on the G Flex's screen, and colors look dull and oddly grainy. There's also a weird ghosting effect where elements sometimes stay partially visible after they're no longer on the screen — almost like they're temporarily burned in before they eventually fade away. It's bad enough that I thought maybe it was a fluke defect limited to my review unit, but I was able to observe the same issue on two other devices.

Display quality aside, the curve does make the phone fit nicely against your face for voice calls, though the sheer size of the handset counterbalances that benefit. And the arc is actually counterproductive in terms of pocket comfort; if you could somehow fit the phone horizontally in your pocket, it'd match the shape of your leg nicely — but in a vertical position, the curve clashes with the natural form of your body and makes the device feel extra bulky.

As its name suggests, the G Flex is flexible, to a degree. If you set the phone down flat on its face and apply heavy pressure to its back, the device flexes slightly downward. It's impressive from an engineering perspective — and it could potentially help avoid breakage if, say, you had the phone in your back pocket and sat on — but with a device this size, I'm not sure how frequently the real-world benefits will come into play.

Like the G2 before it, the G Flex has no physical buttons on its front or sides; instead, the power and volume buttons are located on the phone's back panel. That configuration bothers me less here than it did on the smaller G2, perhaps because of the ergonomic differences presented by this device's size, but I still find it to be a rather awkward arrangement. LG does offer a way to turn on the screen by tapping twice on the display, which is convenient in theory but works too inconsistently to be reliable.


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