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Digital Life

LG G Flex: Straight Truth About a Curvy Smartphone

LG G Flex: Straight Truth About a Curvy Smartphone
January 30, 2014 9:45AM

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Eschewing a traditional flat design for a curved display, LG Electronics' new G Flex smartphone hopes to reshape the smartphone market with convex designs that don't conform to the conventionally flat designs that currently dominate. LG's latest phone claims another novel if imperfect benefit: a coated "self-healing back."

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The straight truth about LG Electronics' curvy new G Flex smartphone: LG's flexible handset offers a fresh, aesthetically pleasing approach to smartphone design -- one with even a dash of sex appeal. But I'm not rushing out to buy it, either.

We'll have to see how consumers take to the curves, especially at premium prices, but I like LG's subtle approach here, even if the benefits (aside from the aesthetics) aren't obvious. You can bend this phone but not by much. Lay it down on a surface, and you can flatten the smooth back of the device by applying some pressure without doing any damage before it springs back into its natural position. While in that position, you can sneak a peek at what's behind the other side of the phone through the an ever-so narrow exposure at the bottom.

The point is that LG, and for that matter its arch Korean rival Samsung, hopes to reshape the smartphone market with convex designs that don't conform to the conventionally flat designs that currently dominate. (Samsung's version is called the Galaxy Round.)

So, what about those presumed benefits? LG claims the large, and yes, curved, 6-inch plastic OLED-type display on the G Flex can cut down on glare. That was evident after I viewed the phone in direct sunlight.

The G Flex has impressive viewing angles, too. I delighted in watching videos and browsing the Web on the display, though I'm willing to concede that perhaps I wanted the curves to make more of a difference then they actually do.

LG settled on a curvature of 700mm, after conducting what it says was thorough consumer research.

In one study, LG showed consumers a movie clip for 15 seconds on a 6-inch curved display and on a flat LCD. Eighty-five percent of the people preferred curved to flat, the company says. And LG's testers even detected more smiling from the folks watching the curved display.

Whatever!

In my own tests, I had a harder time determining whether the experience was somehow more immersive -- or superior -- compared with your typical large- display rectangular slab. It's worth pointing out that the high-definition display resolution on the G Flex is at 720p, rather than the full HD 1080p that is the state of the art on most premium phones. Video still looked good on the G Flex, but I imagine the sub-par spec could turn off tech-minded early adopters who might otherwise be drawn to a version 1.0 curved display device. (continued...)

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