LG G Flex Review: Behind the Curve
The one thing you can say for certain LG G Flex is that it commands attention, mostly because it is curved. Beyond that, the questions start flooding in. Why is it curved? Why is its screen so mediocre? Why would you want to buy it? Unfortunately, after using the phone for several days, I still don't have an answer.
What Is It?
LG's 6-inch phone with a curved screen. The curve isn't just a selling point, it's the selling point, as if you're supposed to say: Sure, this phone might not have a great camera, but LOOK AT ITS CURVES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
Why Does It Matter?
If the prevailing Android trend of the last few years
For starters, it's massive. Actually, it's too massive, in a way that feels clunky. Six inches is a big phone regardless, but the curve adds depth to length. I found myself absent-mindedly rocking it back and forth on my desk, like a mini balance board for my hands. Its curve had me worried I was going to break it when I flex it (it flexes, which makes sense, given) or when it's in my pocket. It never did though; the G Flex is deceptively durable.
Take away the curve, and the G Flex looks like a lot of other large Android smartphones. Were it slightly smaller and flat it'd be a ringer for its LG cousin, the G2. From the front, it's shaped almost identically to the Samsung Galaxy S4, and it has a similar glossy plastic back. It also lacks any kind of physical buttons, except for the volume and power buttons on the back. This placement takes some getting used to, although the payoff for when you are used to it isn't particularly clear.
The curved screen is supposed to make calls clearer and holding your phone against the curve of your cheek more comfortable (which sounds like something out of a gadget romance novel). That's the theory, anyway. In reality, the sound doesn't seem to be affected all that much. If there's a difference, it's imperceptible to my ears.
Holding the G Flex to your face is awkward, too, thanks to that 6-inch screen. To put it into context, the G Flex is slightly bigger and heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Note III
The one benefit to the curve that actually seems to work is that it makes the G Flex less reflective that most smartphones you're used to. It really does reduce glare. On a rare sunny January day, I killed some time outside a coffee shop playing Temple Run on the G Flex. This is something that on a bright day would ordinarily be impossible because of the sun, but I could actually manage okay! I still didn't beat my high score, though.
Beyond that though, the display is not great. The Flex has a paltry 224 pixels per inch display, a far cry from retina-quality and noticeably less than any flagship you can find. It's grainy enough that what should be a crystal-clear image looks almost blurry.
The phone is also "self-healing," or more resistant to scratches, which it actually seemed to be after several days in and out of pockets, purses, and backpacks. I deliberately scratched it with the sharp edge of a bobby pin and it didn't pick up any scuffs.
The Flex is also running a build of Jelly Bean that is completely out of date-Android 4.2.2, which came out all the way back in the halcyon days of 2012. 2012! It's also bogged down with LG's proprietary apps, which you don't need and will never use.
You can "knock" to wake the phone up, as you could on the LG G2
That being said, the phone's got a decent amount of zip, thanks to its Snapdragon 800 guts. There was no lag playing games. It handled several rounds of Temple Run 2 without a hiccup.
The G Flex's 13MP rear camera is also a pretty lackluster. It's fast enough, it's good enough, but it's just not enough to stand out above any other of its Android cohorts.
Where the Flex shines the most is battery life, which makes sense given its underpowered display. With a 3,500 mAh battery, the Flex gets the same kind of battery life as that of the Droid Maxx
The LG G Flex is a phone designed to hug the contour of your butt when placed in your back pocket.
The reduced glare on the screen is also nice, especially in that it's something you don't think about until you're sitting outside in the sun and having trouble reading a text.
It's big enough to bring back memories of the Zack Morris brick phone. The curves would be slightly more forgivable if the phone itself were smaller and less cumbersome. Six inches is just way too big for a phone. Additionally, as with the LG G2, the volume and power buttons are on the back, rather than the side. It is still strange placement. It is still not good.
The screen is pitiable. You hit a certain point with retina and beyond displays where you you don't possibly need
It is also expensive! The G Flex is $300 on contract with AT&T and $672 on T-Mobile (paid out over two years, but that's a long time to have a mediocre phone). No matter how you slice it, that's way too much. The Nexus 5
Should You Buy It?
Hard pass. The main reason for the G Flex's existence seems to be that people don't buy new stuff if you don't make new stuff. At its high price, you're also paying a whole lot for what is essentially a gimmick. I can't imagine carting this around for two years.
Don't get me wrong. The phone is fine! Unwieldy in its size, but it's fine. It'll do what you need it to do, and it'll do it for a couple days on one charge. It's just not an extraordinary device, it's awkward to use, and you shouldn't buy it unless you're truly desperate for a conversation piece in your pocket..
LG G Flex Specs
OS: Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
CPU: 2.26 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800
Screen: 6-inch 1280 x 720 Curved POLED, Real RGB, 245 ppi
Camera: 13 MP rear / 2.1 MP front
Battery: 3500 mAh Li-Po (3400 on T-Mobile)
Dimensions: 6.31 x 3.21 x 0.31/0.34 inches
Weight: 6.2 ounces
Price: $300 on contract on AT&T or Sprint, $672 on T-Mobile