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LG G Flex review: Ahead of the curve

With so many flagship “plus ones” out there, it’s refreshing to see something truly revolutionary. The LG G Flex is curved like a Beckham free kick and has a flexible screen and battery, along with a unique self-healing coating on the back.

The LG G Flex is curved top to bottom and, as the name suggests, it can flex. It’s not bendable like rubber, you have to really put some muscle to it. It’s quite impressive all the same, as nothing about phones is flexible, not the screen glass, not the screen itself, nor the motherboard or battery. Oh well, they didn’t use to be.

Key features

Unique curved design
Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE support; CDMA and 1xEV-DO
Quad-band 3G with HSPA; Penta-band LTE Cat. 4
6″ 16M-color 720p curved POLED capacitive touchscreen; Gorilla glass
Android OS v4.2.2 Jelly Bean; LG Optimus UI
Quad-core 2.26 GHz Krait 400 CPU, 2 GB RAM, Adreno 330 GPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset
13 MP autofocus camera with LED flash, geo-tagging, Intelligent Auto, Time catch shot, smart shutter and VR panoramas
1080p video recording @ 60fps with continuous autofocus and stereo sound; HDR mode, Dual recording, optical image stabilization
2.1 MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
32GB of built-in storage, 24GB user-available
microUSB port, USB host support, USB on-the-go, SlimPort TV-out
Bluetooth v4.0
NFC
Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA
GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS
Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
Stereo FM radio with RDS
Voice commands
Multi-tasking with Dual Window, mini-apps with optional transparency (QSlide)
Accelerometer and proximity sensor
Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
Non-replaceable 3,500mAh Li-Po battery
IR emitter for remote control of home appliances

Main disadvantages

Screen has low ppi, issues
Rather large device even for a phablet
No optical image stabilization for the camera
The hardware controls at the back take some time getting used to
No microSD slot
Non-replaceable battery

LG leaned on its component manufacturing skills and created a Plastic OLED (POLED) screen that’s flexible (more so than the G Flex itself). The next step is a curved, flexible Lithium Polymer battery (a world first). Despite its odd shape and 8.7mm thickness of the phone, the battery has a respectable 3,500mAh capacity.

The screen measures the massive 6″, but the curve of the device helps the ergonomics. While it impresses with size and flexibility, the screen has only 720p resolution (245ppi). Here’s hoping that the new technology makes up for the lacking density.

While flexible screens and batteries might become more popular with wearable devices (say a smartwatch that wraps around your wrist), the next trick might become standard for all sorts of devices – the coating on the back can heal itself if scratched. This will put an end to all the silly cases and protectors that just make phones thick and ugly.

Beyond the breaking news, the LG G Flex is just the phablet version of the LG G2 with a Snapdragon 800 chipset, 13MP camera (no OIS though), Optimus UI gestures and updated multitasking (with a split-screen option). It even has the trademark hardware controls on the back. The Optimus G Pro is getting a little old and small and the LG Vu 3 is a niche product with its 4:3 screen, so another phablet is a welcome addition to LG’s fleet.

The LG G Flex name will outlive the device itself – years from now we’ll be covering flexible devices or ones with self-healing finish and we’ll add “like the LG G Flex pioneered back in 2013”. But we’re not there yet, for now you can read more about the Flex’s design and build on the next page.