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LG G Flex review: a curved smartphone that doesn't have its act straight

Florence Ion | Feb. 4, 2014
Companies like LG and Samsung have touted what they can do with flexible displays for years now. At trade shows, we'd see totally bendable displays and devices with screens that curved around your wrist or rolled up like wrapping paper. All those exhibits felt like a tease for technology that would never make it to market, so it was a welcome surprise when LG announced its G Flex curved phone.

Companies like LG and Samsung have touted what they can do with flexible displays for years now. At trade shows, we'd see totally bendable displays and devices with screens that curved around your wrist or rolled up like wrapping paper. All those exhibits felt like a tease for technology that would never make it to market, so it was a welcome surprise when LG announced its G Flex curved phone.

But it doesn't feel like this is the right time for a curved smartphone like the G Flex. It's display is bent every-so-sightly to help you see better, make the phone more comfortable to hold, and make it easier for the person on the other end of the line to hear you, but the device has some kinks to work out before it can convince consumers it's worth the cash. 

Nothin' but curves
The G Flex is the biggest Android handset from LG that we've reviewed thus far. At 160.5 x 81.6 x 8.7mm, it lords over its predecessor, the LG G2, and it's almost as big as Nokia's gigantic Lumia 1520.

The bend in its body actually makes it easier to hold, at least for my small hands, and it's relatively thin compared to other phablet-sized phones on the market. The curve in its chassis also helps distract from the fact that its plastic casing is a bit flimsy.

Regardless, I like the curve in the G Flex. It makes the phone feel more "premium" than it actually is. The bend helps the phone rest comfortably in the palms of your hands for two-handed typing. I'd wager that curved smartphones will even help offset how awkward it actually is to hold a giant phone.

LG continues the trend of installing a volume rocker and power buttons on the backside. It was awkward on the G2 and it's even more awkward on the G Flex because of its larger size. There is also a "self-healing" backing which LG says is designed to be more scratch resistant to daily wear and tear or minors scuffs and scratches. Warmer temperatures and time are supposed to help with the healing process, but we didn't have a chance to really put it to the test.

Bigger display, fewer pixels
LG is known for its stellar looking displays. The Optimus G and Optimus G Pro were both impressive for their time, and the G2's display carried on that legacy. But the G-Flex's 6-inch P-OLED display is a far departure from its predecessors.

The "P" in P-OLED stands for "polymer," which refers to the display's plastic construction — that's how LG managed to curve it. That nascent plastic display compromises pixel density, however, and at 245 pixels-per-inch (ppi), the G Flex's 720p display has one of the lowest pixel counts for a large-screen phone.

 

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