LG is coming full force to CES 2015 with the release of its amazing LG G Flex 2, the first smartphone officially announced to come with the latest Qualcomm SoC, that features the Snapdragon 810 2 GHz octa-core 64-bit processor, optimized for Android 5.0 Lollipop and the Qualcomm Adreno 430 GPU.
When the Korean manufacturer unveiled the first Flex last year, we were happy to discover a unique form factor, however, we were not utterly convinced about the benefits of such a design. Today, after seeing the great improvements made on the build quality and the product design of the second generation, I am quite sold on this device.
The LG G Flex 2 leverages some of the technology build in the LG G3, one of our preferred smartphones currently on the market, and benefits from the improvements of the innovations experimented in the LG G Flex, and it looks like it got the best of both.
The LG G Flex 2 comes in two flavors, Flamenco Red and Platinum Silver, no words on pricing and availability have been shared by the manufacturer during the briefing.
Key Specifications (may vary depending on market):
- SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 2.0GHz 64-bit Octa-Core CPU
- GPU: Qualcomm Adreno 430
- Display: 5.5-inch Full HD Curved P-OLED (1080 x 1920 pixels / 403 ppi)
- Memory: 16/32GB eMMC ROM / 2GB DDR4 RAM / microSD slot (up to 2TB)
- Camera Rear: 13.0MP with OIS+ with Laser Auto Focus /
- Camera Front: 2.1MP
- Battery: 3,000mAh (embedded)
- Operating System: Android 5.0 Lollipop
- Size: 149.1 x 75.3 x 7.1-9.4mm
- Weight: 152g
- Network: 4G / LTE / HSPA+ 21/42 Mbps
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth Smart Ready (Apt-X) 4.1, NFC, SlimPort, A-GPS / Glonass, USB 2.0
- Color: Platinum Silver, Flamenco Red
- Other: Gesture Shot, Gesture View, Glance View …
Industrial Design (Excellent)
"FLUID, ELEGANT AND INCREDIBLY EYE-CATCHING"The LG G Flex 2 delivers state of the art product design that makes the curved form factor look fluid, elegant and incredibly eye-catching. By comparison, the first model felt bulkier, larger, and a little too curved.
LG has modified the radius from 700 mm to 400 mm, and, according to the manufacturer, the new smartphone “incorporates a symphony of curves ranging from a radius of 400mm to 700mm across the front, back, sides and top-to-bottom edges”. Additionally, the curve brings the microphone closer to the phone during a call, which allows for better sound quality.
The new model is sleeker, lighter (152g vs. 177g) and conveys a more fluid and dynamic look than the LG Flex. The body is also more compact: 149.1 mm vs. 160.5 mm and 75.3 mm vs. 81.6 mm.
The key element that sets the LG G Flex 2 apart in terms of elegance is the unique texture on the back side. Labelled “Spin Hairline Pattern” by the manufacturer, it provides a radial gradient effect that looks particularly amazing on the red version. I have definitely never seen such a texture on a smartphone.
One of the key innovations of the G Flex was its self-healing capability. Basically the device is able to remove scratches from its surface within minutes. The healing time has been reduced from 3 minutes to 10 seconds at room temperature! The technology cannot operate at cold temperature.
Last but not least, the glass on the display is roughly 20% more durable than the one on the original G Flex, thanks to chemical treatment developed by LG. The G Flex 2 is more comfortable to hold in the hand than its predecessor, partially due to the new curves’ angles, and part due to a more compact chassis. "BOTTOM-LINE: A HEAD-TURNER"
After using it for a couple of weeks, it is clear that LG’s decision to scale back on the size was the right one. The phone will appeal to a much larger audience. It fits very well pants pockets (front or back) and its curvature is enough to give it a distinctive look, but not make it feel “thick” or anything like that. Bottom-line: it is a head-turner, and most people we showed it to agree.
LG smartphones feature some of the best displays on the market, as a matter of fact, we were very impressed by the LG G3 image quality. The G Flex 2 delivers stunning images, thanks to its P-OLED technology. As expected, the OLED black levels are unbelievable, and the colors have been tweaked to look pretty natural. this is not always the case, depending on the OEM.
The size has been reduced from 6-inch to 5.5-inch while the resolution has been bumped to Full HD (1080p), the original Flex was only HD (720p). The resulting high pixel density of 403 PPI provides a crisp and detailed image, much better than the previous model which delivered only 245 PPI.
As you can imagine, there are higher resolution displays out there, but the 1080p resolution doesn’t take much away from the user experience. Extra resolution only help with very small text or while viewing photos. There’s a genuine advantage there, but it’s not critical.
Software – Android 5.0
The Snapdragon 810 is optimized for the latest version of Android, 5.0, aka Lollipop. The main feature of the new Google mobile OS is its sleek new user interface, which conveys a more minimalist look to the software. If you want to know more about Android 5.0 go to the official page.
That said, LG has a skin on top of Android’s, so the user interface looks very much like the one updated for the LG G3, which is very nice looking. LG really nailed it with that upgrade.
A few software features unique to LG have been highlighted during our briefing namely gesture shot, gesture view and glance view.
Gesture shot allows the user to trigger the camera shutter with a hand gesture. The feature was available in the LG G3, however, it is now recognizable from up to 1.5 meters, so you can shoot a selfie with a stick. Gesture view makes it easy to check your last photo right after you shot it and glance view shows key notifications right on the lock screen with a downward swipe, even when the display is off.
In practical terms, there are little things like the QMemo screen capture utility or the Knock Code (4-taps to wake-up + unlock the phone with a password) that I was really glad to find again on the G Flex 2. Sometime, it’s the small featured that we use 100 times a day that make a huge difference.
Camera (excellent. Beyond G3)
The LG G Flex 2 camera is similar to the one featured in the excellent LG G3 (read our G3 review to see how good the camera was), with some improvements. After testing it, we can confirm that the camera exhibits noticeably better real-world performance. Some of it may come from the camera hardware, but we think that a lot of it has to do with LG tweaking the settings. For example, LG has increased the sharpness and trade it off for little more noise in low-light. "NOTICEABLY BETTER REAL WORLD IMAGING"
It globally made things better in general and for social media use, the G Flex 2 will certainly impress your friends because your party photos will be that good. In some instances, LG has been very aggressive in its low-light setting, making night photos extremely bright, more more so that they are in the real world. Here’s an example:
First introduced with the LG flagship at MWC, the fast Laser Auto-focus delivers a highly responsive auto-focus even in low light by measuring the distance between the subject and the camera using a laser beam. This allows the camera to very quickly know if the subject is very close or very far — two very common cases.
You may recall that the initial G Flex 2 performance numbers we got at CES were lower than what we expected form the Snapdragon 810 specifications. Since then we spent time with the final Snapdragon 810 hardware in the form of a development device called MDP which is typically used to test chip features (and not really performance).
The reference device has a generous thermal limit (since it’s a big device), so we would consider it to be on the upper limit of what Snapdragon 810 can do. It’s in fact closer to a tablet form-factor.
The good news is that the LG G Flex 2’s performance is up from its CES days, sometime very sharply. Just look at the progress made since CES 2015 – LG engineers have been busy!
In the graphics/gaming tests above, the LG G Flex 2 naturally takes a significant lead over the last generation phones. This is exactly what we expect from a 2015 hardware, and it is in-line with the theoretical specifications. Interestingly, the G Flex 2 even beats the reference Snapdragon 810 device in the GFXBench T-Rex test. Surprising, but it is a good reminder that Benchmarks are good indicators, but only indicators nonetheless. Despite its thin body, the G Flex 2 is an excellent Android gaming system.
In tests that tend to be a little more CPU dependent, the G Flex 2 also takes a logical lead over last-gen handsets, but the reference hardware from Qualcomm remains firmly in the lead, possibly because of its thermal design (it’s bigger). Yet, the G Flex 2 is one of the fastest Android handset out of the gate, and LG has promised to squeeze more performance out of it:
“The [review] devices sampled are representative of final industrial design and user experience but are continuing to undergo additional optimizations to enhance benchmark performance. We expect our upcoming software releases to provide further improvements in this area. We remain confident that the G Flex 2 will deliver great experiences to our customers with a tremendous blend of multimedia, performance and industry-leading design.” (LG Korea)
What we can “feel” however, is that the phone seems about as fast as the LG G3, which is a good reference. Whether or not other next-gen phones will do much better remains an active question since the G Flex 2 is the first Snapdragon 810 device on the market.
In any case, the day to day experience is quite good, but I have to admit that I was hoping for something that is even more responsive. This is one of those thing that you can never get enough of.
Battery life (excellent)
Large capacity batteries are much more common nowadays, specifically since smartphones have become so large (5-inch+), however, not all smartphones get big batteries that is why I appreciate the 3000 mAh battery, which pretty much guarantee a decent autonomy for this performance-packed device.
Depending on your network situation, you may be able to go on for a couple of days. More likely, you can at least use it for a full day and forget to charge it until the early afternoon. For heavy users, there’s a quick charge, so when paired with a proper power supply (a high Amps one), the unit will charge from 0 to 50% in 40 minutes.
Squeezing a 3000 mAh (curved) battery in this design is a remarkable feat, and that’s why the battery is not removable. LG needed every little bit of internal volume to make it happen. In Korea, it used to be that no “high-end” phone could afford to NOT have a removable battery, but the quick charge is changing the game.
The LG G Flex 2 is very impressive, both in terms of hardware specifications and pure product design. The Spin Hairline Pattern on the back delivers a stunning visual effect, specifically on the Flamenco Red version, which is our favorite. We highly recommend that you see it for yourself.
Surprisingly, LG has succeeded in making an elegant, thin, curved and be highly usable smartphone. The fact that is has a 3000 mAh battery also makes it one of the better size/capacity option on the market.
This is a very unique phone that is a refreshing change from the traditional small “slate” format. Our takeway is that it is a reliable great next-gen smartphone which feels great to use. As you do so, you will probably get a lot of questions and compliments about how it looks. We sure did.