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LG G Flex Review: trouble with the curve (AT&T)


Review by Andrew Kameka on Monday February 10, 2014.

lg g flex · android reviews · smartphone reviews · lg news · android news · smartphone news · andrew kameka

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LG Flex
LG Flex

Software and Apps

LG's software hasn't really changed since we last explored it on the G2. It's still a user interface built around the concept of doing any and everything, and that can often be a distracting negative feature to have. But on the plus side, the mini-app multitasking offered in QSlide becomes a lot easier to stomach when you're doing it on a display this large. With QSlide or Dual Window, which splits the screen into two resizable panels that can open two of a small list of apps, the G Flex can text while watching a video, take notes while on a phone call, or check a calendar while sending an email. There's also SlideAside, which can stack running apps to the side so users can return to them later. Think of it as a filter multitasking window.

Part of me wishes LG would spend less time trying to include four ways to accomplish one task and spend more time making one way the best. It also wouldn't hurt if the icons didn't look like they were made by and for children. I'm not a huge fan of the dark interface used throughout the standard apps, but I especially hate the contacts app and the icons in the drawer. In case you're wondering, AT&T is up to its usual shenanigans by including a ton of preloaded apps (17).

The Android 4.2 Jelly Bean-based software has some clever little additions like the LED light flashing red if someone attempts to call multiple times, a built-in remote control, and a media app shortcut available by pinching on the lock screen. These are signs that LG is doing interesting things on the software front, even though it can sometimes go overboard by trying to throw too many options at someone. A very annoying Tips menu appears when first starting the phone, but they highlight some useful features.

LG Flex
LG Flex

Camera Quality

The LG G Flex delivers many of the same camera UI options as the G2. The results are not as good all the time, but they are still decent. I noticed that some shots were grainy, especially in the background of the subject or when shooting at a distance, but I was pleased when taking a photo in decent lighting. I also ran into problems with forgetting to turn on Intelligent Auto, the feature that best recognizes which settings to apply for a photo, so some photos came out of overexposed or dull. The absence of optical image stabilization was also felt when looking at shots with blur. It's a good camera, but not as good as the last LG device we've seen. One thing that pleased me was the use of the rear volume buttons acting as camera buttons, allowing for easier selfies and group photo shots.

Communication & Data

A curved smartphone should theoretically lead to better voice quality because the microphone is now closer to someone's mouth. I didn't notice any real improvement relative to other phones that I have tested, but people I spoke to did say that I sounded clear and had practically no noise when calling outdoors. Though the clarity boost may be negligible, the volume definitely seems to increase.

The G Flex is sold on all four major U.S. carriers but I tested only the AT&T model. The data connection seemed slightly better than previous devices that I've used, routinely getting 10 to 12 Mbps downloads and 2 Mbps uploads. Results may vary by region.

LG Flex

Battery

My favorite aspect of the G Flex is the 3,500 mAh non-removable battery. I never for a second feared that I would run out of power on any day that I ventured out with the Flex as my main phone. Using 720p instead of 1080p draws less power on the large screen, and the high capacity battery can withstand several hours of use. If you need all-day battery life, the G Flex can meet the challenge. Twice.

LG Flex
LG Flex

Conclusion

The LG G Flex is the phone you never knew you wanted. It's probably the phone you still don't want unless you're willing be adventurous. The large size and curved display make for some awkward encounters. That might be enough to scare most people away, especially when they learn that the G Flex isn't actually flexible. It can withstand pressure better than most, but it can only survive light bending. Don't put this in a back pocket and think it's impervious to body weight creating problems.

LG Flex
LG Flex

I'd only recommend the LG G Flex to a very specific type of person. That person must love the idea of trying something new and not being immediately turned off by an out of character device. He or she must love the extra-large smartphone segment and not be picky about a resolution that doesn't take full advantage of that size. The camera is decent, the battery life is fantastic, and the unique form factor might provide some subtle benefits. The G Flex is a strange device and not one that most people will readily embrace. If you're willing to bend a little and try something new, the LG G Flex awaits.

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About the author

Andrew Kameka
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.

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