LG has been making a comeback of sorts of late with their newer devices and in my opinion the most interesting of those handsets is the LG G Flex. This smartphone arrived last year with a six inch curved display and an oddly placed volume rocker/power switch, so how could I not be interested? Did this intrigue turn into love or hate? Let’s find out.
Lets start where we always start with new devices the specs:
The only thing that really needs to be noted is the 720 display coming in at only 245ppi while I found the screen to still be very usable without noticeable pixilation when you are looking at other flagship Android devices most likely this spec will fall short of other devices.
This is truly what makes this device different... It's not only the curved six inch screen but it's also the rear placed buttons and "self-healing" plastic. I am going to be upfront with you and let you know I didn't have the time to test the self-healing plastic on this device, so we can discount that. I have done research on it though and the take away here is it will work on small dings. By all accounts it's not a miracle worker but it does work, which is pretty amazing in itself.
The rear facing buttons are not as big of deal as I thought they would be and they have of course found their way to just about every device LG has made since the G2. It does take a while to get used to the placement, but I see after a month or so it would become just as natural as any other smartphone button configuration. The overall reason for this placement is augmented by some neat software tricks, which we will discuss later on in this review.
Now for the part everyone came here for, the curved screen; a gimmick or not? I am going to have to say not a gimmick on this time, which does not mean it is a trail blazing innovation either. The more I used the curved screen the more I liked it, from a call standpoint people I talked to told me I sound clearer, which is normally an issue on the average phablet device. Normally you would get some form of "echo" from your voice bouncing around before it gets picked up by the microphone.
In hand the curved screen helps with the travel of your thumb to make each corner of the screen just a little more reachable, and while this will never be confused for a one handed device the screen helps it feel not so big. This transfers to pockets as well; I personally carry my device in my back pocket and curve makes a more natural feel on my rear end. The flexing of the screen also helps as I could actually sit down with the device in my pocket without fear of sitting wrong and breaking it, although of course putting that much weight on the handset regularly is not recommended.
The curve also helps while reading and watching videos, both things are kind of hard to describe to you, but while reading on Flipboard I found the screen helped me "flip" through information more smoothly and with less effort (my finger almost flowed over the screen). While watching Netflix I found the curved screen helped immerse me into the show/movie more, but I can of course see where these traits would depend on personal preference.
The 13mp camera is a pretty darn good snapper. While I am pretty picky on such things, this device performed very well indoors indeed. As long as you are not zooming into the detail it’s great, and in fact it's not until you zoom ALL the way in that you start to get grainy shooting indoors. Outdoors the only fault I can find is sometimes this camera has a hard time keeping bright light under control without washing out some of the pic.
Naturally, this lighting issue is in auto mode and can be pretty much eliminated by using the in depth controls. The issue is not that evident however, but if you are a photo buff like me you will notice these things, but if you are not this camera will be more than enough for you.
LG has its own special brand of Android skin (just like every OEM) and frankly I think I like theirs the best, or at least some of it. The company has improved the experience further with the G3 UI, which will eventually find its way to the Flex. To start with, this device has double tap to wake which isn't that special to start with, however there is also double tap to lock which is awesome. This eliminates the need for the oddly placed rear lock/unlock button because once you power up the first time you pretty much ignore this button. The other cool unlock feature is once you are at the lock screen, if you pull two fingers away from each other in the middle it will take you to a screen for photo, videos and YouTube. While this feature was not necessarily useful for me, I can see why some would enjoy this.
The other features of this device are standard fair however. I like the look of it better then say Samsung's interface, it's a cleaner looking UI with all the extra features tucked away in the menus were they can be accessed easily but not seen all the time. There is standard fare of software additions like gestures on screen and the IR blaster remote.
The only disappointment I found with this software is LG's voice mate, which does all the basic functions but doesn't go any further and is kind of a let-down if you are used to a fully featured assistant on your device. That said, most people will be using Google Now for these features anyway.
Odd and Ends:
One of the things that was disappointing was the single rear facing loud speak on this handset. It has enough volume to work well in quiet space, such as your own home, but once taken out and about it falls flat. It's simply not loud enough to start and it's facing away from the user, which only compounds the situation. For what it's worth, this is also a sealed unit so there will be no battery changes during the day. I really don't foresee that being an issue since I got through the day with 40% battery left even with heavy usage.
This device is a great all-round smartphone with some cool LG software tricks. The shape of the phone is helpful in everyday usage for a myriad of reasons. If you are looking for capable phablet the LG G Flex should fit the bill. Overall this device I'd give this device a 9 out of 10.