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printed October 25, 2014
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Review: LG G Flex

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Screen

The G Flex has a 6-inch display. The display panel itself is flexible, which is what makes the G Flex's curved shape possible. LG typically uses in-plane switching LCD panels for its devices, but that's not the case with the G Flex. The G Flex uses an OLED panel and it offers just 1280 x 720 pixels. I fully respect that engineering a flexible display is difficult and applaud LG for taking such a chance. At the end of the day, though, this screen kind of stinks. Choosing only 720p for a 6-inch screen means the G Flex has a low(er) pixel density when compared to many other devices. Pixels were readily apparent to my eyes and some text and icons looked fuzzy at times. (To be fair, I said the same thing about the Samsung Galaxy Mega, which has a 6.3-inch 720p screen.) The G Flex's screen offers plenty of brightness, but there's a dramatic color shift (whites turn blue) when the device is viewed from an angle. You have to look at the screen head-on to see accurate colors. Last, LG pitched the curved screen as ideal for viewing videos. For my money, the experience was no different than watching video content on any other large-screened device.

Signal

We tested both the AT&T and Sprint versions of the LG G Flex.

AT&T: The G Flex had no trouble finding and connecting to AT&T's LTE 4G network. Nearly everywhere I travel in The Garden State these days boasts AT&T LTE, so I didn't see the G Flex drop down to HSPA+ anywhere. It remained on LTE throughout the review period. I thought calls were a little slow to connect, even in strong coverage areas, but they always connected on the first dial. The G Flex didn't drop or miss any calls. Data speeds on LTE were consistently good, no matter what the signal bars said.

Sprint: The G Flex performed on par with other Sprint devices that I've tested in the greater New York metro area. That means it remained on 3G most of the time, but waffled onto LTE here and there when available. Call set-up times were much quicker than on AT&T, even when the phone showed zero bars of coverage. When LTE was available, the G Flex connected to 4G and data speeds were noticeably quicker than over 3G. I didn't have any trouble making or receiving calls with the G Flex on Sprint's network.

Sound

AT&T: Calls made through the AT&T G Flex were quite excellent. The earpiece produced clean, loud voices that I found pleasant to listen to. I noticed that it was best to keep the volume above the 50% mark most of the time. I had no trouble hearing calls in noisy public spaces as long as the volume was set up all the way. Those with whom I spoke through the G Flex said I sounded good, but not great. The speakerphone also produced loud, high-quality calls. You could certainly get away with using the G Flex in a busy office or your home.

Sprint: Calls made through the Sprint G Flex were good, but not as good the AT&T variant. The earpiece produced plenty of volume, but there was more background noise and interference from Sprint's network. I was able to hear all those I called just fine, but had trouble understanding people from time to time thanks to the fuzzy sound. People I spoke to via the G Flex said I sounded OK. The speakerphone offers good volume, but the quality of calls coming out of the speaker left a little to be desired. I'd be more careful in seeking out a quiet spot to use the Sprint G Flex as a speakerphone.

Ringers and alert tones from both variants were a hair short of excellent. I was able to hear the G Flex most of the time it rang or beeped at me, even if I was several rooms away. The vibrate alert is OK, but could be better.

Battery

At 3,500 mAh, the G Flex's battery is among the biggest inside a smartphone. In our time with the device, we can say that it proved a capable power source. The G Flex had no trouble lasting well into a second day on a single charge, even with heavy testing. The 720p resolution probably helps a little bit, as the G Flex has more than a million fewer pixels for the processor to worry about than devices with 1080p screens. Using the G Flex on LTE didn't have any noticeable impact on battery life. Power users shouldn't have any issues getting a full day from the G Flex with power to spare.

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