LG G Flex 2 upgrades the curved phone, but it’s on the slow side

It looks like curved phones are here to stay. The first curved phones debuted in 2013, a product of flexible displays and the desperation of smartphone manufacturers to differentiate. The LG G Flex was among them.

It was also a gigantic underpowered beast of a phone, and although its curved screen could turn heads, it couldn’t turn a so-so device into a good one. The curve arguably provided some advantages, but it was hard to see them through the clumsy overall experience.

Now comes the LG G Flex 2, which promises to upgrade the curved phone with better hardware and design that’s closer to the mainstream. For starters, the phone’s display measures 5.5 inches instead of 6, so it’s easier to hold and more in line with today’s flagship “phablets.”

But LG didn’t stop there: The phone’s display is full HD (1,920 x 1,080), which is a notch down from the Quad HD flagship phones like LG’s own G3, but it’s still more pixels than you need on a phone screen. The G Flex 2 runs the latest version of Android, version 5.0 or “Lollipop,” and it’s one of the first phones to pack a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor — the state of the art.

Arc plot

The star feature, of course, is the curved display. While the first model had a straight-up 700mm radius the Flex 2 has a curve that varies, going from 400mm on the sides to 700mm on front to 650mm on the back (the lower the number, the sharper the curve). LG says the variation delivers a more refined look that is “uniquely organic,” whatever that means.

So what good is a curved phone? Here are the advantages LG claims, with our take on each:

1. Less glare

Claim: The curve reflects light differently, letting you more easily find a “sweet spot” with less glare. The effect is probably most visible when watching video, but it’s a plus for viewing anything on the screen really.

Truth: This one actually checks out. In most situations — that is, in a well-lit room or outdoors — the G Flex 2 will give you a slightly better viewing experience than what you’d see on a flat phone.

2. Clearer phone calls

Claim: The curve puts the phone’s microphone ever-so-slightly closer to your mouth, which translates into better audio for phone calls. On average, your voice is 2dB louder with the G Flex 2.

Truth: The claim might actually be true, but it’s virtually impossible to tell since there’s no real “standard” way to hold a phone that we could measure against. In any case, who still talks on the phone anyway?

3. More pocketable

Claim: The phone’s curve makes it a natural fit for rear pockets, since the contours are very glute-friendly.

Truth: Indisputably true, but is anyone clamoring for this feature? Sit down, Kim Kardashian!

4. So cool

Claim: The G Flex 2 is simply an unusual design, which will lead to onlookers and passers-by noticing it, commenting about it, and lauding your coveted status as a hip person who has the latest cool thing.

Truth: Your status as a cool person very much notwithstanding, the curved design of the G Flex 2 is certainly eye-catching.

Tough guy

Although it’s not directly a consequence of the curved screen, the G Flex 2 is built to take punishment. As with the first model, LG correctly surmised that the curve actually puts the phone at higher risk of stress; it could easily find itself at the bottom of a stack of books, for example.

LG didn’t scrimp on durability. I was able to bend and squeeze the LG G Flex 2 plenty without damaging it, and the back is fairly scratch proof: Minor dings will actually “heal” themselves within minutes thanks to a special coating on the backside. Applying a little heat can speed up the process.

The back of the phone is actually removable, letting you add a microSD card and access the SIM. The back is also where you’ll find the volume and power buttons — an LG design hallmark.

The rear camera snaps 13-megapixel pics that look very good. It helps that it’s equipped with optical image stabilization (OIS), which reduces blur a bit for indoor and low-light photos. It’s not a miracle worker — you’re still going to see blur in pics with motion that don’t have perfect light — but every little bit helps.

LG throws in an ultra-convenient extra for selfies: Instead of tapping the screen to snap the pic, you can instead hold up your hand and then clench your fingers into your palm. Boom, a three-second countdown timer appears, which culminates in the camera going off. Swoop the phone down and the pic appears for your review — no tapping necessary.


The LG G Flex 2 has a problem, though, has nothing to do with the curve, and it can be summed up in one word: lag. The phone can be a real slowpoke to respond to even the most everyday taps and swipes — this is not the buttery smoothness that you see on your typical iPhone.

I’ve encountered slowness on many Android phones, but it’s never been as bad as I encountered on the G Flex 2. When I first started using the phone, it was crazy slow: Simply calling up the app switcher sometimes took as long as 20 seconds! That’s unacceptable in 2015.

The slowness was a big shock considering the cutting-edge Snapdragon 810 chip inside. It’s 64-bit, it has eight cores, it probably beats the Millennium Falcon in the Kessel Run, too. None of that means anything, though, when you’re waiting for a web page to react to the swipe you traced with your finger seconds ago.

I should note here that I tested the Korean version of the phone, which was loaded with bloatware, but even after I deleted most of it, the Flex 2 was still a slowpoke.

I investigated further by running some benchmarks with Geekbench 3. On the single-core test, the phone scored 493, putting it in the neighborhood of the Motorola RAZR HD, a phone that came out in 2012! For multi-core, it averaged 1854, or about the same as the HTC One. That is, the HTC One from 2013.

Then, just hours before this review published, it sped up after a couple of reboots. The lag, while not eliminated, was significantly reduced. Benchmarks jumped up, too, but only to about late-2013-device level — not as high as I’d expect from a Snapdragon 810-powered phone. A single reboot later, however, and it was back to slowsville.

All that said, my experience could mean there’s simply something wrong with the review unit that LG provided for us. We’re checking with the company to resolve the issue.

But given what we saw, we’re cautious: The LG G Flex 2 appears to be somewhat underpowered — either by a little or a lot — for its ambitious goal of giving curved phones a good name. Given its higher-end features and improved design, I was expecting the whole package, but the lethargic experience I encountered isn’t for the demanding consumer. But if LG can get the next one to move a little faster, the third time might be the charm.


Author: Pete Pachal

Source: Mashable