LG’s second generation curved phone, the G Flex 2 is shaped like a banana – which makes it an attractive curio and it’s interesting to use, but should people actually buy it?
The idea behind the concave screen is that it is a more natural shape for a device designed to fit against the body, be that the face or the backside.
The Banana Phone
The G Flex 2 is has a 5.5in full HD screen with a gentle concave curve that rather looks like someone has sat on it and bent it. The body is all plastic but ironically, given the name, has little flex or give. When placed screen-side down on a flat table, it is possible to flatten the phone out, but it takes quite a lot of pressure. LG assures me that it can take the full weight of an adult standing on it without issue.
In the hand the gentle curve of the phone feels really nice, despite the smooth plastic texture not feeling as premium as glass or metal. On the face, the curve feels more like the flip phones of old, and is supposed to pick up more of the person’s voice although I didn’t notice any difference during phone calls.
There are no buttons on the side ; the power button and volume buttons are relegated to the back of the device under the camera, which naturally line up with an index finger when placing a call.
The back is covered in a self-healing coating, that seals up and removes small scratches within around 15 minutes. In testing a slightly heavier scratch couldn’t be healed, but over the space of about 20 minutes it did diminish in visibility but could still be felt. The G Flex 2 is more average-Joe-on-the-street than Wolverine powers of healing.
The screen is bright with solid blacks and is relatively crisp and detailed. It isn’t quite in the same class as LG’s higher pixel density screens such as the 5.5in quad HD screen on the G3 or the curved edged screen of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, but is higher quality than most flat full HD screens.
- Screen: 5.5in full HD (401 ppi)
- Processor: octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 64-bit
- RAM: 2GB of RAM
- Storage: 16GB, micro SD card
- Operating system: Android 5.0.2 “Lollipop” with TouchWiz
- Camera: 13MP rear camera with OIS, 2.1MP front-facing camera
- Connectivity: LTE, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1 and GPS
- Dimensions: 149.1 x 75.3 x 8.9mm
- Weight: 152g
Almost too hot to handle
The G Flex 2 is one of the first smartphones available using Qualcomm’s new octo-core Snapdragon 810 processor. Similar to Samsung’s Exynos 7420 chip used in the Galaxy S6 Edge, the 810 is split into two parts – a lower power 1.6GHz quad-core chip for light duties and a more powerful and power hungry 2GHz quad-core chip.
In my testing, everything was snappy and fast (although not quite as fast as the Galaxy S6 Edge), but the G Flex 2 gets very hot under heavy use, almost uncomfortably so near the rear buttons.
That could be forgiven when playing a graphically intensive game or using a demanding app, but it also happened when installing apps when setting up the smartphone – not a particularly strenuous exercise.
The G Flex 2 lasted around two days normal usage with push email, multiple notifications and streaming music and video for a couple of hours. Playing games such as Asphalt 8 will reduce battery life considerably, however.
Knocking on glass
LG customises the standard Android 5 Lollipop experience with a fairly simple skin that allows more customisation than would be possible on a Nexus device with stock Android, for instance. Some health and information widgets sit on the left-most homescreen pane, but can be turned off and ignored by most.
The Android home, back and app switch buttons can be customised, changing their order, colour and adding extra buttons such as access to the notification shade and dual-window button that enables certain apps to run side-by-side on one screen.
LG’s Knock Code is arguably the best addition, which acts as a version of a pin code for unlocking the phone by simply tapping the screen in a set sequence. The code can be tapped in with the screen off to unlock it, while a double tap on the screen turns it on and off.
The curve is meant to be more immersive for video and photos. I didn’t notice any difference. But the screen was easier to use than a flat 5.5in screen, bring elements slightly closer to your thumb. Typing felt especially nice on the curved screen and I didn’t find any negatives of having a curved screen in use.
The camera is the same 13-megapixel laser autofocus camera with optical image stabilisation as the LG G3, which was a decent performer. Good lightly shots were excellent, low-light photos were improved compared to the G3 and the camera app was easy to use.
It also has some nice features like “Gesture shot” which triggers the camera for a selfie when closing a hand into a fist. Users can also shout “LG” and a few other commands at the phone to trigger the camera.
Overall the camera is solid if not quite as good as units on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge or iPhone 6 Plus.
The LG G Flex 2 is certainly a curio. It looks like nothing else currently available and is strangely pleasing to use. The curve is gentle and doesn’t get in the way, but also doesn’t really add anything to usability.
It fits in a pocket just fine, and is highly unlikely to bend, even if sat on, which is actually a cause for concern with some of the thinner large-screened smartphones such as the iPhone 6 Plus.
So whether you should buy a G Flex 2 comes down to aesthetics. It’s unlikely to sell in high volumes, which will make it more unique than competing phones and it is a solid, if slightly unremarkable performer.
I like it. And I didn’t think I would. But I’m not sure I’d buy one. There’s no reason not to, but there’s also little reason to buy one – apart from being curious.
Pros: fast processor, microSD card slot, two-day battery, interesting curve, self-healing back
Cons: gets quite hot in use, plastic shell doesn’t feel premium, battery not removable, no wireless charging
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