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.
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.
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.