LG’s G Flex Curved Screen Phone Review – The Shape of Things to Come?

Good:  Good performance, light UI layer over Android, stellar battery life, curved screen is great for watching videos/playing games.

Not Good: Grainy display, slightly cheap feel, HUGE.

The Bottom Line: A G2 with a big, curved screen. A great phone, but pricey at $300 w/ contract or $800 off-contract for a grainy display.

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Curved Display, Design, Self-Healing Back

Does the G Flex’s curved, 6 inch P-OLED screen bring any advantages? Watching movies, playing games, and pretty much anything you do in landscape mode is striking and more immersive. It’s the best media viewing experience I’ve seen on a phone.

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Are there any disadvantages? I’m assuming LG had to go with a grainy, 720p display due to cost and tech limitations, and it lets the G Flex down in a big way. It’s grainy to the point that anything on the screen has a recycled paper or canvas look, which somewhat negates the advantages of a curved screen. Videos, photos and games would look incredible if it was full, 1080p HD. I almost wish LG waited till they could at least get a full HD screen for the current price tag of $300 with contract, or $800 without.

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The curved screen is great for watching movies, but it’s so grainy. It’s a pleasure as well as an eye-sore.

A curved display brings with it a curved phone, and it’s surprisingly comfortable to hold. Despite its massive size, it’s fairly easy to reach around the screen because the curve brings the screen slightly closer to the user’s thumb/fingers than a flat display does. Like the Galaxy Note 3, you can turn on one-handed operation to make it easier. However, if a large phone, such as the Note 3, already feels huge and awkward in my pocket, the G Flex’s curviness makes it even more so. It’s just so big. Like the G2, you’ll find the volumes and power button on the back around the camera, which is purely a subjective preference. It’s fine with me, but I personally prefer those buttons on the side of the phone.

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A demo by an LG rep at CES ’14 proved that the polymer resin back does repair some light scratches and scuffs posed by threats such as coins in a pocket. However, press a set of keys too hard against it and the scratch will become permanent. The polymer resin isn’t the most premium material, giving a G Flex a plastic feel similar to the Galaxy S III and 4.

Performance, Optimus UI, Flexibility

With the 2.26GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM, LG isn’t trying to outdo its current (and excellent) G2/Nexus 5 lineup, or its competition, in the hardware arms race. It performs as well as any other premium phone on the market at the time of its release. We’ll have to wait to see how it compares against the Samsung Galaxy S5′s 2.5GHz CPU, but the differences should be minimal.

LG’s own Optimus UI is a light layer on top of Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) which keeps the phone snappy and mostly fluid. The Android lovers will notice that it isn’t upgradeable to Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) yet, but it surely will eventually. Of course, it comes with its fair share of carrier/OEM bloatware and useless features, such as VuTalk, which is a live drawing feature that only works with other LG phone users. The G Flex I’m reviewing reported that none of my contacts have a phone that supported VuTalk.

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Size comparison between G Flex and Nexus 5 (which has a 5 inch screen).

You’ll find some familiar features if you’ve played around with Samsung’s Galaxy S4, such as Smart Screen for keeping the screen awake by registering whether or not your looking at the phone, Smart Video for pausing video when you look away, and face detection for unlocking. It also has split-screen multitasking, which is great on such a big screen.

As the name suggests, the phone is flexible. However, it can only be flexed to become flat; an LG representative explained that if the device was too solid, it could break more easily if undue weight was applied to it, such as sitting on it with the screen facing down.

Battery Life, Camera

The 3500mAh battery provides impressive battery life, and will easily see you through the day and into the next, and maybe even into a 3rd day without a problem.

The camera takes decent pictures and videos, nothing to write home about. When viewing your pics and videos on the G Flex, you can’t help but notice the display’s graininess, but don’t worry as they appear fine on better displays.

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Testing out the G Flex camera on the sorriest selection of cold beer I’ve ever seen.

Conclusion

If the G Flex’s price indicates anything about curved screen mobile devices, it’s that they are expensive for sub-par quality at the moment. I love the curved screen, but the display is too grainy for the price. The volume and power buttons at the back might irk some, but it’s easy to get used to. Apart from the curved screen, it performs about the same as the other premium phones on the market today.

Overall, the G Flex is worth a look, but I’d wait for improvements in curved screen tech before actually getting a curved phone.