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Thread: My Review of the LG Flex

  1. #1
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    My Review of the LG Flex

    The LG Flex is essentially a big G2. Both phones share similar design features and specs, but the Flex is larger (a 6.0-inch display vs a 5.2-inch display). There are differences beyond the cosmetic, but I'll get into them in details throughout the review.

    RF Performance

    I compared the LTE performance of the Flex with that of my Samsung Galaxy S4. As usual I headed downstairs to my basement where the LTE service on Band 4 was quite useable, but definitely borderline. The reported signal strength of the two phones differed by approximately 3 to 4 dB, with the nod going to the S4 for showing a stronger signal under all circumstances. However, this reported signal strength isn't always reliable, and so the best way to find the difference between two phones is to test their performance head-to-head in identical circumstances (or as identical as is humanly possible).

    When the signal was reasonable (around -115 dBm according to the S4 and -118 dBm according to the Flex) they both produced approximately equal latency and downlink/uplinks speeds. There was a slight advantage to the S4, but it wasn't enough to have made any practical difference. However, as the phones were moved to a much weaker part of the basement the S4 retained the ability to connect with the LTE network, while the Flex lost it. When the Flex did get a signal, it was unable to provide speeds that came anywhere near what the S4 could produce in the same location. However, the difference between the two phones was slight at best, and while the S4 does work better the Flex on close examination, it is unlikely that it would make much real-world difference. Once the signal was strong (better than -100 dBm), both phones turned in comparable speeds and ping times.

    WiFi Performance

    Both phones performed about the same when the WiFi signal got weak, but the S4 seemed able to pull in more super-weak WiFi hotspots from around my neighborhood than could the Flex. This suggested slightly poorer sensitivity, but as with the RF performance, the difference was so slight that in the real world it is unlikely to make much difference at all.

    Multimedia Audio

    The built-in speaker on the Flex is capable of producing slightly louder volumes than the S4, but it sounded markedly tinnier in the process. When the same songs were played side-by-side using the same MP3 file on the same player, the S4 had a richer tone to it than the Flex, though neither of them was exactly terrific. As I'd noted many times before, the HTC One raised the bar for what one can expect from built-in smartphone speakers and it leaves the Flex in the dust.

    Display

    The first thing you notice about the Flex is its curved screen. The name comes from the claim by LG that the phone can flex slightly to better survive in tight pockets or when it's dropped. It certainly isn't quite as rigid as one other smartphone, but one would be hard pressed to refer to it as FLEXIBLE. As it has Gorilla Glass 2 protecting the screen, I can't see that bending too much either. While novel, I didn't find any particular advantage to this shape, nor did I really find all that many disadvantages. Because of the bulge around the rear buttons/camera, the phone is quite stable when placed on a hard flat surface.

    What comes as a bit of a shock is the resolution of the Flex. Because it has a larger screen than the G2 you'd expect it to retain the 1080p resolution of its smaller brother, or even go larger like 2560 x 1440. Instead you actually get a lower-resolution phone with just a 720p screen (1280 x 720). While I've often said that 720p is more than enough for a smartphone, it starts to become noticeable on a phablet.

    At full brightness the LCD panel produces more light output than the Super AMOLED screen on the S4, and in direct sunlight the screen is slightly easier to see than the Samsung. However, the curved nature of the screen tends to focus the sun in your eyes more brightly than the flat screen of the S4.

    I don't know if there was something wrong with the Flex I had, but when the brightness was turned down (even as little as 50%) there was a distinct (and very annoying) random pattern to the solid colors. On solid white for example, there was scattered bluish pixels on the right side of the screen that weren't nearly as prominent on the left.

    With certain screen backgrounds it was also clear to see that the screen suffered from TEMPORARY BURN-IN, as I could see dark silhouettes of the icons and other elements that had previously been on the screen. These remnants faded within about 2 to 3 seconds, but I've never seen anything like that before on a smartphone screen. If this is actually the norm for the Flex (which I'm hoping is not the case), then it is by far the WORST screen I've tested since the early days of the smartphone.

    Processor and Chipset

    Like its smaller brother the G2 the Flex uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor clocked at 2.26 GHz. This is coupled with an Adreno 330 GPU. Given the lower resolution of the Flex however, the GPU doesn't have to work as hard (there are less than 50% as many pixels to process as there are on the G2) one would expect markedly better graphics performance. However, I was unable to find any real-world situation that would demonstrate it. Gamers might find they notice the improved performance.

    The flex comes with the current industry-standard 2 GB of RAM. It has 32 GB of storage space, but there is no support for an external MicroSD card to expand the available memory. This is in keeping with most LG phones release of late.

    Camera

    The Flex comes with a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera. I compared it to the S4, which also has a 13-megapixel camera, and I found that while the results were similar, the S4 produced better-quality images in almost all circumstances. The Flex does boost the exposure more on low-light photos, but only by applying more post-processing. Extreme low-light pictures were super-grainy and often had less detail than the same shot taken with the S4. The HDR feature works quite well on this camera (finally one that can give the S4's HDR a run for its money), but there are more issues with the bright areas of the shot that just don't seem to affect the S4.

    The Flex is capable of shooting video at 4K resolution, but what you'll probably find more useful is a 1080p mode that shoots at 60 frames per second. Most other phones (including the S4) can only shoot 1080p at 30 frames per second. The higher frame rate ensures you get smoother motion, especially when things are fast-moving. 60 FPS has been pretty much standard on stand-alone cameras for a few years now.

    GPS

    The GPS in the G2 I tested a few months ago was abysmal. In fact, there was every reason to believe that it had been faulty. The GPS in the Flex at least worked, but when compared to the GPS in the S4 it was a huge disappointment. The sensitivity of the receiver detectably worse and unless you were outdoors with a clear view of the sky the phone often did not get a lock on enough satellites to provide a position. I don't know which GPS chipset LG uses, but this is the second time I've been disappointed by the GPS in an LG product.

    Conclusions

    There is a lot to like about the Flex (just like its smaller brother the G2), but the screen was a massive disappointment. Even if the issues I'd found with it turned out to be just a faulty unit, the 720p resolution on a large 6-inch screen just doesn't cut it. The Flex should have had a 1080p screen, but for whatever reason LG chose to skimp in this department. Perhaps they can't make a curved screen of that pixel density yet, and if that's the case, then I guess the marketing value of a curved screen trumped the marketing value of a higher-resolution screen.

    The GPS is also a big disappointment. While this one actually works (vs the one in the G2 I tested in December), and while it does support Glonass satellites, it's one of the lowest-quality GPS chipsets I'd experienced in a smartphone in ages.

    If I were in the market for an oversized smartphone I'd probably be more inclined to look closely at the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
    Last edited by Steve Punter; 03-27-2014 at 11:59 PM.

  2. #2
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    Good review; as you said i hate only because it got only 720p for recording videos and taking photos. Now all the smartphones are having 1080p capacity on their SmartPhones; but think about the most expected G Flex. But looking out for G Flex 2; they may come out of the earlier failures.

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