Name: LG G Flex
Price: $300 w/two-year contract, $672 (in full)
The Back Story: Curved gadgets are becoming the latest trend in tech. And like the wearable market, every major electronics company is gravitating towards the creation of contoured-shape devices in hopes of being ahead of the consumer curve. After witnessing the overwhelming response to Samsung’s UHD curved TV during CES 2013, LG set forth to replicate the same allure on the mobile front with its own creation: the LG G Flex. It's a bendable handset with a self-healing exterior, and the buzz has been huge since released in Asia last December.
Backed by a cutting-edge design, monstrous hardware, and long-lasting power, the G Flex certainly has the brawn to compete with the industry's best. But does it flex enough mobile muscle to bogart the Android throne from Samsung? Or is it just another gimmick smartphone flaunting a conceptual design and updated spec sheet?
• Striking, ultramodern design: Call it fad or fashion, but there’s just something about a curved smartphone that exudes sex appeal. The G Flex’s arched layout is certainly a head-turner sure to gain you notoriety anywhere you pull it out, but it’s also meant to enhance the mobile experience in a number of ways. Viewing angles are far superior on here than a flat phone, producing a wider sense of depth to accommodate multiple viewers. Not to mention it reduces glare in the brightest environments. Call quality is also enhanced as the design was set up to match your face and bring the microphone closer to the mouth for clearer voice output.
• Commanding performance: Take Qualcomm’s latest 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 chip, mate it with an Adreno 330 GPU and 2GB of RAM—one can only expect speedy results. Our Quandrant Benchmark tests had the device scoring between the 17,000 to 19,000 marks, making it arguably the most powerful smartphone on the market. It clearly delivers swift execution by booting apps and loading web pages instantly. Most 3D games play at high frame rates with animations rendering smoothly. There was no sign of slowdown, even after we left eight apps running in the background.
• Self-healing capabilities: The media has already dubbed it the Wolverine of smartphones. Granted it’s nowhere near as indestructible as the adamantium-infused mutant, the handset is constructed to sustain heavy bumps and scrapes. It’s reinforced with resin coating, which is commonly used on cars to stave off scratches. Now don’t fall under the impression that the G Flex can withstand an incision from Rambo’s knife because super-sharp objects can cut deep through the protective layer. But it’s strong enough to handle a set of keys and 80 pounds of pressure.
• Multitasking features: Like the Galaxy series, LG’s flagship phone promotes its own suite of notable productivity apps. The most popular is Dual Window, which like Samsung’s Multi-Window Mode lets users access two programs simultaneously. Now you can access up to 13 apps including most of Google’s offerings such as Chrome, Hangouts, Gmail, and more. QTheater makes it possible to access photos, videos, and YouTube without unlocking the phone. There’s also universal remote functionality courtesy of the QuickRemote app, as well as a Guest Mode for parents to share their handset with kids and spouses. Translation: the phone is multitasking savant.
• Amazing battery life: Equipped with a 3,5000mAh cell, the G Flex packs enough juice to get you through most of the day on heavy use and close to 24 hours during moderate engagement. That is a little more vitality than what we’ve experienced using the One Max, Galaxy Note 3, and Lumia 1520. Having a low-res display obviously plays a huge part here.
• Disappointing screen: LG chose a 720p display over the more standard 1080p panel found on most premium handsets just to ensure the screen’s bendability. That’s a compromise we could’ve done without because there is no reason why any user should have to endure grainy output, unsaturated coloring, and 245ppi this late in the mobile game.
• Hefty size and price tag: We’re talking about a six-inch device, which is nearly the size of a tablet and just so happens to be curved. Its clunky and overbearing form makes for an uncomfortable carry in hand and pocket. And sorry, but $300 for any LG phone is unjustifiable, only because the manufacturer has yet to establish its mobile elite status.
• Awkward key placement: The rear-button scheme didn’t go over so well with the G2 and the G Flex can basically be considered strike two. Controlling volume and powering the device by reaching to the back of the phone is frustrating for even the most open-minded Android user.
Final Say: The G Flex is certainly a feat in mobile engineering that deserves props for its state-of-the-art design and damage-proof construction. Dynamic features and strong benchmarks also prove the handset can balance style and substance. Though compromises were made to accommodate the latter, as the weak 720p display blemishes the G Flex’s presence. And sorry, but if there’s any phablet on the market worth dropping three Benjamins on, it’s most likely manufactured by Samsung. Overall, the G Flex is a flashy and impressive smartphone that could do some damage with a $100 price drop.