LG G Flex2

LG G Flex2
LG G Flex 2 smartphone.

You can question the need for it or wonder about its use, but one year after the debut of LG's curved G Flex smartphone, it looks like semi-flexible phones are here to stay.

LG unveiled its G Flex2 last month at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and Singapore is one of the first countries where it will be available.

Almost everything about the G Flex2 is better and faster than in the original.

The most obvious upgrade is the screen, which went from just 720p to a full high-definition 1,080p.

My biggest beef with the original was the screen grain that appeared whenever brightness was dialled down. This does not happen any more.

The 810 processor is Qualcomm's latest and the G Flex2 is among the first smartphones to use it.

This is Qualcomm's bid to establish Android's 64-bit standard.

Google's Android 5.0 Lollipop, which powers the G Flex2, is the first version of the operating system to support 64-bit processing.

Of course, there will be a need for apps that can exploit this hardware, but alas, those will come only later, when there are enough 64-bit devices for app developers to consider making the software.

Another improvement with limited use is the support for LTE Cat 9, which offers theoretical download speeds of up to 450Mbps.

This is more dependent on the network infrastructure.

The camera has been upgraded to the same 13-megapixel camera found in last year's LG G3 flagship phone.

The software has been improved and, overall, the photos here show more details.

In night-time shots, the colours are deeper and lens flare is less pronounced.

The G Flex2 has also inherited the laser autofocus from the LG G3, so focusing is significantly faster.

A tap on the screen triggers the shutter and infrared detection quickly works out the distance between subject and camera.

Sometimes, smaller is better.

Instead of the 6-inch display of the original, the G Flex2 has a 5.5-inch one with a thinner bezel and almost edge-to-edge display.

So the phone is a better fit in your hands although it is not as thin as the 5.9-inch LG G3.

The smaller screen makes it easier to use with one hand, especially when the curved back sits so nicely in the palm of your hand.

LG has added a new glance view mode. Swipe downwards on the screen while the phone is in sleep mode and it will show the time and incoming notifications.

The knock-on feature, which wakes the phone with a double tap, remains the same, as does the knock-on code, which lets users key in the smartphone's unlock code while the device is in sleep mode.

For those heavily invested in taking selfies, a selfie mode has been added here as well.

This happens when you place your palm within the frame and close it to form a fist.

This triggers a three-second delay with the camera, which is more than enough time to pose for a photo.

What is new is the viewing mode once the selfie has been snapped.

By lowering the phone immediately, the screen automatically displays the photo for users to decide if they want to take a new shot or are happy with the current one.

Other additions include a fast-charge feature that claims to charge a flat battery up to 50 per cent in under 40 minutes.

My one complaint is that the phone has no indicator to show if a fast-charge charger has been plugged into the phone, which is useful if you happen to have multiple cables sitting on your table.

While the front panel uses a Gorilla Glass 3 display, LG has added a special in-house Dura-Guard glass treatment that claims to make the display 20 per cent stronger.

Despite the improvements in hardware and software, LG has yet to answer the most important question: Is there really a need for a curved screen?

The lack of a real answer has seen flexible screens take two different directions: Samsung's Galaxy Note Edge uses the curved display as a secondary screen for listing shortcuts, while LG seems content to use the curve for mostly aesthetic reasons.

Sure, it sits better in your back pocket and the flexible screen will not distort permanently.

But is there more use for it?

As LG has maintained with its line of curved TVs, the curvature of the phone's screen provides a more immersive experience.

Of course, the reality is slightly different, especially as any viewing pleasure here is disrupted by the fact that the lone speaker is located at the back of the device instead of facing the user.

Much of this immersiveness, as I see it, depends on user preferences.

As with 7.1-channel surround sound at home or a reversing camera in a vehicle, buyers may not necessarily be willing to pay more for them or to base their purchase decisions on such features.

But if they offered it as a feature that comes with the product, a buyer would not object to their inclusion.

The LG G Flex2 is an eye-catching device backed by some great hardware.

If you habitually slip your phone into your back pocket, this is the device to get.

TECH SPECS

Price: $998

Processor: 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 64-bit octa-core CPU

Display: 5.5-inch curved P-OLED 1,080 x 1,920 pixels (403 pixel density)

Operating system: Android 5.0.1 Lollipop

Camera: (Rear) 13 megapixels, 4,128 x 3,096 pixels, laser autofocus, optical image stabilisation, dual-LED flash; (Front) 2.1 megapixels

Memory: 32GB, microSD expandable up to 128GB, 3GB RAM

Battery: 3,000mAh

RATING

Design: 4/5

Performance: 4/5

Value for money: 3/5

Battery life: 3/5

Overall: 4/5

sherwinl@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 18, 2015.
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