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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 G Flex does do a decent job with low-light conditions, and LG's camera software is easy to use with a variety of shooting options. For most casual photo-taking purposes, the phone's camera should be good enough, but it definitely falls below the level of quality provided by other devices in its class, such as Sony's recent Xperia Z1S.

The G Flex is capable of shooting 1080p-quality HD video through both its main camera and its 2.1-megapixel front-facing lens.

The software

The G Flex runs custom LG software based on 2012's Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system. LG has not yet said if or when the phone will be upgraded to the more current Android 4.4 KitKat release.

The G Flex's software is pretty similar to what I saw on the G2, so I'll refer you to the software section of my G2 review for an in-depth look at its pros and cons. In general, I'll say this: LG continues to fall into the trap of attempting to "differentiate" by making arbitrary UI modifications, many of which end up hurting the quality of the user experience.

To the company's credit, the G Flex's software is more polished than some other manufacturers' takes on Android — but it's still cluttered, messy and a step backwards from the restrained and tasteful base OS upon which it's built. LG also continues to insist on using the outdated Android 2.3-era Menu button in place of the current Android 4.x Recent Apps button, which makes getting around the system far less elegant and intuitive than it should be.

Interface aside, LG has loaded the phone up with a smorgasbord of software features, a few of which are genuinely useful. One example is a new Samsung-reminiscent Dual Window mode that lets you split the screen in half and view two apps simultaneously (with a limited range of compatible programs).

At a Glance

G FlexLG
Price: $300 (AT&T and Sprint with two-year contract), $672 (T-Mobile with 24 monthly payments of $28)
Pros: Excellent performance; outstanding battery life; technologically impressive curved form; can run two apps on-screen at the same time
Cons: Bulky and awkward; subpar display; mediocre camera; messy user interface; ships with Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean); uses outdated Menu button; glossy plastic casing looks and feels cheap compared to other high-end phones

While that feature can come in handy, it also speaks to the broader lack of focus within LG's software design: Dual Window is one of three separate and confusingly similar multitasking mechanisms LG has added into the G Flex.

 

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