LG G Flex in-depth review - Bells, whistles and a curved screen

The LG G2 was an amazing phone. Not only did it match every other flagship device every step of the way, but also did better than most when it came to innovation.

With the rocker button on the back, it played a curve ball in a world of side panel buttons and copycat one finger touchscreens. The incredibly thin, almost non-existent bezel around the screen combined with a slender, curved body felt marvellous and we kept discovering impossibly cool features. The only reason we docked half a star from a five-star score was because it felt more plastic-y and not quite as premium as perhaps it should have.

The G Flex is basically the G2 on steroids and protein shakes. To say it is almost as big as a small newborn born, or felt like it, wouldn’t be totally off the mark. The phone is a whopper. And it is curved, so cradling it wouldn’t be a problem at all. The screen stretches from edge to edge and the ‘knock on’ feature means that it just needs a couple of raps to ‘wake’ up. The ripple effect unlock animation with sound when you touch the lit screen is beautiful and reminiscent of retro iOS apps. 

 LG G Flex Review - Bells, whistles and a curved screen
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Review by Sunetra Chakravati,4/8/2014 10:07:49 AM

8

out of 10

Performance

9

out of 5

Look and feel

7

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

10

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Innovative curved form factor Incredible battery Self-healing backplate Some useful software tweaks

Cons:

Very expensive Under-par screen resolution No MicroSD slot for storage expansion

- Sunetra Chakravarti, Editor

 

The LG G2 was an amazing phone. Not only did it match every other flagship device every step of the way, but also did better than most when it came to innovation.

 

With the rocker button on the back, it played a curve ball in a world of side panel buttons and copycat one finger touchscreens. The incredibly thin, almost non-existent bezel around the screen combined with a slender, curved body felt marvellous and we kept discovering impossibly cool features. The only reason we docked half a star from a five-star score was because it felt more plastic-y and not quite as premium as perhaps it should have.

 

Look and feel- Is big better?

The G Flex is basically the G2 on steroids and protein shakes. To say it is almost as big as a small newborn born, or felt like it, wouldn’t be totally off the mark. The phone is a whopper. And it is curved, so cradling it wouldn’t be a problem at all. The screen stretches from edge to edge and the ‘knock on’ feature means that it just needs a couple of raps to ‘wake’ up. The ripple effect unlock animation with sound when you touch the lit screen is beautiful and reminiscent of retro iOS apps.

 

Usually, anything bigger than an iPhone is too big for our *cough* dainty hands and using phablets is like physiotherapy for carpal tunnel syndrome. The biggest difficulty has been typing Whatsapp messages, texts and of course emails. And let’s face it, how many of us get the luxury of two-handed typing on a heaving commuter train to and from work? However, the G Flex has a nifty little feature that blew us away… with the touch of a button, you can get the keyboard to align left or right so you can use it one-handed. So in portrait mode the keyboard would only take half the space of the width of the phone.

 

Curvy beauty

We are sure you are wondering why we haven’t yet said much about the feature that LG want you to buy it for… the curve. We weren’t really sure what to expect when we read about it and saw the images, but the curve, even though unmissable, is fairly subtle at 700mm.

 

The virtues of being curvy in a world of linear shapes are numerous. Because of the concavity of the glass, the phone gives the illusion of being smaller than it actually is. But to test the ‘flex’ on the G Flex, you have to turn it over and press the middle down with some considerable force. The result is a painful squeak that leaves you in mortal fear of having snapped a £500+ phone in two plus there’s a tiny flexing of the middle of the phone so it is momentarily almost flat. This is a phone where Gorilla Glass really comes to its own.

 

The flexibility is definitely a great feature but a party trick will never be the reason for us to invest in a new phone. However, we realised that the curve wasn’t just a party trick… if you spend a lot of time streaming movies, catching up with TV over BBC iPlayer and Channel 4OD then you will thank us forever for recommending this phone.

 

Despite the lack of an HD screen, streaming movies through Netflix was a joy as the curved plastic OLED screen really came to its own and the low pixel density really made a difference to our viewing pleasure. Rendering the blacks deeper and primary colours stronger, it was an experience like none other - it seemed a lot better than the usual HD screens out there.

 

The experience of watching the trailer for Hunger Games was so immersive that with the curtains drawn and a Coke in hand, we felt like we in an IMAX theatre.

 

Sadly, texts, emails and other more mundane tasks are let down by the non-HD credentials, and they all came off looking fuzzy and bland. And call us shallow, but for us our biggest gripe with the curvy screen was one of the features LG raves about, its penchant for ‘cupping’ your face when you speak. With flat-n-straight phones, you can hold the phone away from you so it never touches your made up face. However, a couple of phone calls on the G Flex and much to my dismay, my make-up managed to transfer itself perfectly onto the phone! It wasn’t a good look and I made sure to use headphones from then on.

 

Work Horse

LG has been prudent with the space in the phablet, making sure to house the gargantuan curved 3500mAh battery pack in the bottom half. If numbers aren’t your thing then suffice to say the battery is bigger than any other phablet battery out there. And in terms of performance, it whacks the ball out of the stadium.

 

It went from flat to 100% charge in a little over three hours leaving us very pleasantly surprised. And then it was capable of streaming multimedia on 100% brightness for 14 hours non-stop and had 8% still left at the end of the day.

 

During regular use which consisted of a couple of phone calls and pretty heavy web browsing and email usage, it didn’t nned a charge it for two days which was pretty great as most phones need to be charged every day and sometimes a quick juice-up during the day. Streaming music, with push notifications on and pretty much relentless Pinterest use for 2 hours just saw the battery charge drop by just 2%.

 

The low battery usage obviously has a lot to do with the non-HD low resolution screen but it is a phablet…

 

A Wolverine phone

Although plastic, you have to give it to LG for trying… the back of the phone comes with a thin rubber film encasing it. This means that small scratches, the ones your phone would pick up from being bashed around next to the keys, pens, toy car and make up in the handbag, would all vanish off its back. We tested this Wolverine-like self-healing ability by carrying the phone in a handbag for a couple of weeks and also running (we never do this lightly) a pen and a couple of matchbox cars along its back. And sure enough, although it looked to have picked up some scratches, they melted away within a few days.

 

Features, features and then some more

To say the phone comes packed with features would still be an understatement. Pretty spot-on handwriting recognition, a full universal remote control function which was a breeze to set up and use, and the dual mode allowed us to use two apps – streaming video on 4OD while Whatsapping or Face Tracking with ease.

 

The camera is what we expected it to be – 13-megapixels wouldn’t blow your socks off compared to the 41-megapixel Nokia ruling the roost. But with the world selfie mad, LG comes to the rescue with the Face Tracking feature. Change the camera focus to ‘Face Tracking’, turn the device around and you can take a selfie like a usual picture with the rear camera, without using the front 2.1-megapixel front-facer. Look at the rear camera, the power button glows yellow and when it detects your or any face, the light glows green. A selfie to put all the other low-res ones to shame!

 

Sunetra Chakravarti

Sunetra.chakravarti@nhmedia.co.uk