LG G Flex 2 review - the bendy phone that self heals
Processor: Octa-core 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, Screen Size: 5.5in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Rear camera: 13-megapixel, Storage: 16GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 149x75x9.4mm, Weight: 152g, Operating system: Android 5.0.1
Samsung might be the centre of attention when it comes to curves right now thanks to upcoming Galaxy S6 Edge, but LG is already on its second-generation smartphone with a bendy display. This latest attempt, the G Flex 2, has a concave screen, which shares the same 700mm radius curvature as the company’s TVs – allegedly making for a more immersive viewing experience.
At 149x75x7.1-9.4mm, the G Flex 2 is almost the same size as its flat cousin, the G3, but as the name suggests, it can bend and flex when you apply a small amount of pressure to the back of the handset. This is thanks to LG's flexible plastic substrate OLED (or P-OLED) panel, which is made from a thin film rather than a rigid sheet of glass. It's still incredibly strong, though, as the phone repeatedly sprung back into shape during our tests with no damage whatsoever to the display.
Admittedly, the curve is not quite as pronounced as you might think, with the handset having a gentle bend to it; rather than a banana shape, the handset just lifts slightly at either end. This means that when it is face down, it doesn't have to bend much to go flat. That's not to belittle the technology, as other phones won't even take the slightest hint of pressure on them without the phone cracking, but it's important to point out that, despite the name, the G Flex 2 doesn’t look quite as curved as you might expect. This is particularly true if you’ve seen one of LG’s curved TVs, where the larger screen size gives you a much bigger sense of scale and of the curve; on this comparatively small handset it makes much less difference.
^ The G Flex 2 certainly catches the eye, but we're not convinced about the curve
LG G FLEX 2 DISPLAY
Likewise, OLED technology makes the G Flex 2's 5.5in, 1,920x1,080 display look absolutely stunning. With an sRGB colour accuracy score of 99.4%, colours were rich and vivid and provided plenty of punch despite a somewhat low peak brightness of 324.79cd/m2. This isn't necessarily a problem, though, as OLED screens tend to appear brighter than their LCD counterparts at this brightness level thanks to the thinner display layers inside the panel itself.
As OLEDs generate their own light, they can simply switch off whenever they need to show black, leading to deeper, clearer-looking text and a much higher contrast ratio than your typical LCD display. As we'd expect from an OLED panel, blacks measured a perfect 0.00cd/m2 in our testing and the contrast ratio was so high our colour calibrator couldn't give us a score.
The display is first rate, then, but we're not convinced the curve adds any real value to overall usability. Plenty of phones already have curved backs, so it's not any more comfortable to hold, and the fact that the front curve is more naturally aligned with our general swiping motions or a fraction closer to our face is neither here nor there.
Instead, the only main advantage it has over its flat rivals is that the concave screen will never fall flat on the ground if you happen to drop it, potentially leading to fewer shattered screens (but undoubtedly more smashed corners). In this sense, it's more practical than the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, but there's not much in it.
The G Flex 2’s ‘self-healing’ back panel didn’t particularly impress us, either. The original G Flex was supposedly able to heal light scratches in a few minutes, but the G Flex 2 is meant to be able to do it in as little as 10 seconds. After carrying it around in our bag with our keys for a few days, though, we'd made a couple of noticeable dents that failed to disappear. Unsurprisingly, anything more violent, such as gouging it with a key, will leave permanent damage.
^ The G Flex 2 won't survive deliberate scratches, but even lighter ones failed to heal
Admittedly, the glossy plastic coating does a reasonable job of disguising any leftover scratches due to the sheer number of reflections and fingerprints it picks up, but when it catches the light just right, every single scratch is clear as day. This is a shame, but our biggest disappointment about the G Flex 2's back panel is just how cheap and unattractive it looks. LG insists the G Flex 2 isn't a flagship smartphone, but its current price of £529 SIM-free says otherwise, and with so much chunky, slippery plastic on show, it certainly doesn't look or feel like a high-end device.