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Review: LG's G Flex smartphone is a preview of the future

December 14, 2013|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • The LG G Flex is one of the first two commercially available curved-screen smartphones, but it's really nothing more than a concept phone.
The LG G Flex is one of the first two commercially available curved-screen… (LG )

The LG G Flex isn't available in the United States, but it could be a preview of what's to come in the world of smartphones.

That's because the futuristic devices features two technologies we haven't seen before: a curved screen and a self-healing coat.

The LG G Flex is one of the first two commercially available curved-screen smartphones. The phone's massive 6-inch screen curves slightly from its top edge down to the bottom. If you lay it on a table, the top and bottom stick up ever so slightly.

To make the curved screen, LG used a plastic organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, technology. This kind of screen has been heavily talked about in the tech industry since late last year because of what they could mean for smartphones.

OLED screens are flexible, which means phone makers could potentially come up with new shapes and screen designs for their devices. And because OLED screens are made of plastic, these displays are supposed to be more durable than the glass smartphone screens we have today.

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The South Korean company said the phone's screen is curved for improved ergonomics and to create a more immersive video-viewing experience.

Holding the G Flex to your ear does feel a little like holding a traditional wired telephone thanks to the curve, which brings both the earpiece and the microphone nearer to the user's face. And the shape makes the G Flex fit quite snugly in along the user's own curve in a back pocket. 

The device also lives up to its name and seems to be very durable. If you set the G Flex on a table and press down on both ends, you can flatten it without damaging it. After letting go, the device flexes right back to its original shape without any screen cracks or impaired performance.

But there isn't much improvement in the image quality.

The G Flex's 6-inch screen is a 720p HD display, and although it looks very nice, its quality isn't any better than the screens on most smartphones these days. Watching YouTube videos on the gadget felt the same as it does on any other device.

But plastic OLED screens should be a contender, even if only for their durability. The fact that the LG G Flex can flatten out without cracking is astounding.

Adding to the G Flex's impressive durability is its self-healing coat, which protects the phone's back cover. The coat is supposed to keep the G Flex safe from regular wear and tear.

I tested the self-healing coat two ways: by scratching it directly with my keys and by carrying it in the same pocket as my keys.

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In my first test, I laid the phone down, found the sharpest part of my keys and used it to scratch the back of the phone the same way you'd cut with a knife. LG warned me that the G Flex probably wouldn't be able to withstand that kind of damage, and sure enough, the mark is still there. But credit to the self-healing coat -- the only way I can see the mark is by angling the phone a certain way. And even then, I'm fairly certain I notice the mark only because I made it on purpose.

I'm happy to say the G Flex didn't take any other scratches from sitting in the same pockets as my keys. If my keys did make more marks, I didn't notice because when I look at the G Flex now, there are none (except the one I mentioned above).

The only downside to the self-healing coat is that it seems to give the phone a bit of static cling. Dust and hair easily stick to it. After I left the phone next to my dog, the phone's back was covered in fur.

Aside from the curved screen and the self-healing coat, the G Flex is like most other smartphones. It features a solid camera, a speedy processor and an accurate touchscreen. It does have an impressively long-lasting battery -- it could go more than a full day without needing to be recharged.

There's no word on when or if LG will bring the G Flex to the U.S., but even if the company does, you may want to hold off on buying. At the end of the day, the G Flex is not much more than a concept phone, but future curved-screen devices may be worth a purchase.

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