- Atypical design
- Decent hardware performance
- Great for multitasking
- Battery life
- Display imaging dull in spots
- Images linger on display
- No microSD
- Handset slow to wake up from stand-by mode
True to its name, the LG G Flex is flexible. Too bad that's not enough to overcome this Android phablet's glaring shortcomings.
As a leader in the new curved and flexible screen trend, it’s no surprise that LG released the LG G Flex phablet. After just a few minutes of usage, it seems clear that LG wanted to test the waters and see how consumers would react to a flexible phablet. While at first glance the device looks premium, and a bit futuristic, the LG G Flex leaves much to be desired.
The 6-inch Plastic OLED (POLED) display features a 720p HD resolution and Gorilla Glass 2. Under the hood, the LG G Flex houses a 2.26 GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2 GB of RAM drive, and Android OS 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) with LG’s Optimus UI modifications. The back camera has 13 megapixels, while the front-facing one has 2.1 megapixels. This device comes with 32 GB of internal storage, but it lacks a microSD slot for increased storage capacity. Keeping with the slim curved design, it is equipped with a flexible 3500 mAh battery.
Build and Design
The design of LG G Flex is certainly unique, and can’t be compared with other phablets, like the Galaxy Note 3 or HTC One max. It is curved, concavely and facing downwards. It is not curved throughout its width of 3.21 inches making it cylindrical. This makes the design ergonomic, fitting the side of one’s face when holding it to one’s ear. It’s 0.34 inches thick and weighs .39 pounds, which are pretty standard specs for a 6-inch phablet.
Because it is curved, the device feels comfortable and natural in the user’s hand and against the ear while making a phone call. However, the design makes it awkward to use with just one hand, even one extremely large hand. This practical flaw is expected, given that the curved and slightly flexible shape would not make any sense if the device were smaller. But when considering how often people use their smartphones outside of phone calls, this design element might frustrate some users.
As its name suggests, the device is actually flexible; however, it cannot be bent or folded, and its curvature cannot be significantly altered. The device can be placed face down on a table and then forcefully pressed and flattened, but as soon the user lets go, the phone returns to its original state. Applying force does not damage the device, but the necessity of a flexible smartphone is unclear.
As far as the curvature goes, apart from the possible ergonomic advantages for phone calls, users will not notice any other advantage in everyday use compared to straight screens.
The front of LG G Flex sports no physical buttons; there is just a 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera above the display, an RGB notifications LED, and the proximity and light sensors. The sides do not have any buttons, only a microSIM card slot located on the left edge. The lower rim includes an audio jack and a microUSB hub with SlimPort technology, which means it can also be used as a TV-Out adapter.
The upper rim of LG G Flex is blank and all control keys, including the Power button and volume control, are located on the center of the phablet’s back side, right under the camera, just like with LGG2. Strangely enough, there is an IR transmitter next to the back-facing camera, which means this device can be used as a universal remote control.
The curved display may draw the most attention, but the display quality is disappointing. In this price range users should expect a stunning display with high image quality and sharpness. Unfortunately, this is not the case with LG G Flex, which has a pixel density of 245ppi. The imaging is not sharp enough, which is particularly evident when viewing contrasting colors on sloped lines and text in thick fonts. The teething effect is especially apparent when such elements move across the display or when through altered viewing angles. Although the display supports 16 million colors worth of depth, colors appear off with a lot of noise, making them resemble compressed JPEGs.
Finally, testers at Brighthand noticed a pronounced ghost effect, where the slight shadows of previous images linger for a second or two. It’s reminiscent of the old plasma TVs, and display technology has advanced well past the point where it should be an issue. On the other hand, contrast sustainability, brightness and viewing angle are praiseworthy, which is significant considering the display is curved.
It seems pretty clear that LG had to compromise some features on the phablet in order to achieve the curved and flexible POLED display.