Review: LG G Flex 2
The Flex 2's pre-loaded media apps more or less mirror those of other Sprint phones. The phone comes with Google's Play apps for buying and consuming movies, books, TV shows, and magazines. These apps work well. The Flex 2 also has the native YouTube app, as well as a basic music app for playing side-loaded content. The simple music player works well; it's too bad there's no similar app included for your side-loaded video.
Like the Galaxy S6, the Flex 2 is packed with other apps for specific media content. Options include NextRadio, Sprint Music Plus, Sprint TV & Movies, Spotify, and Sprint's NBA and NASCAR apps. If you're serious about consuming music and video content on your phone, Google offers a better experience than the Sprint apps, although Spotify is an excellent app if you want to avoid Google's subscription music service.
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The Flex 2 doesn't have a smart TV content guide like the S6, but it at least has a basic remote control app for your TV and home theater. I found the remote control software was easy to set up and compatible with the majority of my equipment.
Want to share stuff from your phone to other gear? The stand-alone MP3 player has DLNA built in and the tool is drop-dead simple to use. There's an icon at the top of the screen that, when pressed, prompts you to connect to nearby TVs or stereo receivers.
The Flex 2 uses the most recent camera application from LG, which we saw on the F60 earlier this year. The user interface is a bit more open and easier to digest thanks to cascading menu panels that come and go as needed. The Flex 2 doesn't have a physical camera button, but you can launch it from the lock screen or with a long press to the down volume button on the back of the phone.
The camera interface includes controls running down the left and right sides of the screen. Five quick action buttons appear on the left: settings, flash, user-facing camera, modes, and menu. These buttons cannot be customized. The controls float over the viewfinder if you shoot in 16:9 mode, but if you use the full sensor (4:3), the controls are repositioned into black bars along the side edges. There are separate buttons for the camera and video camera so you can easily snap stills while filming video.
The Flex 2 doesn't offer all that many shooting options. You can cycle the flash to on, off, or auto; you can shoot in normal, panorama, or dual-camera modes; you can alter the resolution; and you can turn HDR on or off. There are no controls for exposure, white balance, color, or contrast, nor are there any fun extras like effects or filters. The dual-camera mode lets you shoot pictures with the back and front cameras at the same time so you can include yourself if you want. Some of LG's competitors offer more shooting modes, and, if they don't, allow you to download more shooting modes. For example, Samsung stripped the S6 of most of the advanced shooting modes we saw on the S5 and S4, but made them accessible online for people who really want to use them.
If you press and hold the screen, the camera will automatically take a burst of shots for as long as you touch the screen. LG also added something rather neat called Gesture Shot. With this, you raise your hand in front of the selfie camera and wait for a box to appear around your hand on the screen. Once the screen appears, make a fist and wait three seconds — then the camera will fire off a shot. It's rather convoluted and doesn't work consistently.
It's a fairly basic camera set-up, but boy does it work well. I found the Flex 2's camera software to be extraordinarily quick to focus and snap photos. It's fast.
The 13-megapixel shooter from LG does a great job. I was impressed with the accuracy of exposure and white balance, and focus was razor sharp most of the time. The phone has laser-assisted focus and the results matched the cool-sounding tech. Truly, photos looked great across the board. Crummy shots were the rare exception rather than the rule. Perhaps my only complaint would concern the grain I saw on indoor shots taken without the flash. Such images showed some granularity in the darker details. Using the flash takes care of this, by and large, though it adds the possibility of blowing out the highlights. If you're using the Flex 2 outside on a sunny day, you can almost expect perfection.
Bottom line: the Flex 2 offers a great camera; you can certainly count on it for most general picture-taking needs. It may not be flexible when it comes to advanced features, but its solidity in providing consistent results is much more important.
If you're looking for a phone that can handle all your daily video-capturing needs and then some, the Flex 2 is your phone. The full HD video I captured looks great. I was very pleased with the color, focus, and exposure. I thought each was accurate. The Flex 2 can record up to 4K (Ultra HD) video, but it's not necessary at the moment (unless you're an early adopter and have a 4K TV in your house.) The full HD content you create will be more than satisfactory. The Flex 2 was able to handle most shooting conditions. As with the camera, I saw some grain when shooting in the darkest environments, but it wasn't severe by any stretch.
The Flex 2 is a great option for capturing video if you find yourself without a dedicated video camera.
Like many Android handsets these days, the Flex 2 has two picture-managing apps installed: There's an LG-designed app as well as Google's Photos app. I recommend Google's Photos app. It offers a more solid set of editing tools than the LG app and also has features such as Auto-Awesome and automatic uploads for safekeeping. Both apps have plenty of tools for sharing photos across a wide range of social networks and messaging platforms. You won't go wrong with either, but Google's native support for the cloud for safe-keeping gives it a leg up in my book.
You shouldn't be surprised to learn that there are more than a handful of apps cluttering up the Flex 2. There's 1Weather, App Pass, Lookout, Messaging Plus, NASCAR, NBA, NextRadio, Scout, Spotify, Sprint Fun & Games, Sprint Music, Sprint TV & Movies, Sprint Worldwide, and Sprint Zone. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S6, you can delete a good number of the crummy third-party apps installed on the Flex 2. Yay choice!
The Flex 2's Bluetooth radio worked flawlessly. It paired with and connected to a range of other devices without issue. Bluetooth 4.1 plays nice with things like smartwatches, fitness bands, PCs, phones, tablets, and of course headsets of all shapes and sizes. I used it to make some calls through my car's hands-free system. The calls sounded a bit murky, but volume was good. Music sounded excellent when blasted through a Bluetooth speaker.
Chrome and the generic browser are installed for your web surfing needs. Chrome is a great browser and works well on the Flex 2. It delivered web sites in flash thanks to Sprint's Spark network and the pages look beautiful on the Flex 2's bright and sharp display. The generic browser is fine for surfing, but doesn't have quite as many cool features as Chrome. The one feature it does have that Chrome doesn't is support for LG's QSlide function. With QSlide, you can put a small, floating browser window on your home screen.
Double tap the screen to wake the Flex 2 and check the time. The clock appears in a circular window near the top of the display. I wish the font were thicker and bigger to make it more visible. It cannot be customized.
The GPS radio worked fine and was very quick to pinpoint my location. It functioned well with both Google Maps and TeleNav's Scout application, which Sprint commonly installs on its phones. Maps is great for getting yourself from place to place, and I actually like Scout for helping discover nearby points of interest like banks and coffee shops.
LG is playing a bit of catch-up here with Samsung. The G Flex 2 has a dedicated health and fitness app called LG Health. You can use the app to track your activity and fitness pretty easily. I was able to set up a profile in no time and start counting steps and tracking other activities.
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LG G Flex2 (CDMA)
5.5" display 1080 x 1920 pixels
Snapdragon 810 processor 2 GB RAM
3,000 mAh battery
NFC, Headphone Jack (3.5mm), Memory Card Slot