The LG G Flex was officially presented by its manufacturer last October, but it was not until the beginning of February before we could get our hands on it. It has actually been on sale at Orange for a few days, and LG was extremely kind to send me a copy of its terminal just before the weekend. Moral, if you are wondering what it is worth in the field, well the rest of this article should grab your attention.
If you are a regular reader then you probably know that this is not the first time that the Flex has come into my hands. It wasn't the final model, however, and there were still a couple of little things to do. This time , things are different, so we will be able to take his case very seriously.
The main feature of the LG G Flex is its flexible screen. Presented for the first time during IFA 2013 , it is 0.44 mm thick for a weight not exceeding 7.2 grams, and it can especially be folded within a radius of 700 mm. The structure of the Flex is significantly less flexible, of course, but it's not totally rigid either. If you press on the ends of the terminal, it will be perfectly possible to lay it flat.
But what about its technical sheet?
- 6 inch flexible OLED display.
- HD 720p type definition, i.e. 1280 × 720.
- 245 ppi pixel density.
- Qualcomm Snapodragon 800 processor clocked at 2.26 GHz.
- GPU Adreno 330.
- 2 GB of RAM.
- 32 GB of internal memory, without micro SD card slot.
- 13 million pixel BSI sensor.
- Records videos in Full HD 1080p at 60 frames per second.
- 2.1 million pixel front camera.
- WiFi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC, DLNA, Miracast.
- Accelerometer, barometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, proximity detector.
- Headphone jack, Micro USB 2.0 port.
- Non-removable 3,500 mAh battery.
- Dimensions: 160.5 x 81.6 x 7.9 mm.
- Weight: 177 grams.
It's not really a surprise, the LG G Flex is positioned on the top of the range and its technical sheet thus resembles the most popular terminals at the moment. I am thinking in particular of the Sony Xperia Z1, the LG G2 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 although the latter has 3 GB of RAM. This is rather a good thing considering the computing power of these.
The only downside is that the storage space cannot be extended and the terminal will therefore not be able to accept micro SD cards. I find that a real shame. That said, we can always console ourselves with the 32 GB of memory built into the terminal, more than enough to install our applications and our games.
Design & Ergonomics
The LG G Flex is a completely atypical terminal. First of all, it impresses with its dimensions. Massive, it is more imposing than the Galaxy Note 3, while being significantly more compact than the Xperia ZU. If you're allergic to phablets, that's for sure, the Flex won't suit you. The same goes for fans of very tight pants, and very close to the body.
The curvature of its screen is not as marked as you might think. It's not flat, that's for sure, but its lines are nothing shocking. In reality, it's just a matter of habit.
Otherwise, the Flex looks a lot like the LG G2 ( tested here ). On the front, apart from its monumental screen, we will find the front camera, the usual detectors and the speaker. No button in this corner, or even on the edges of the device. The manufacturer has effectively regrouped all the usual controls at the back of the hull , in the extension of the photo module and its flash. This is where we can get our hands on the two buttons dedicated to volume control and the power button.
Since we're talking about it, know that we will also be entitled to a lower speaker, a speaker directly cut from the shell.
The latter is not removable, LG has placed on the left edge of the terminal a hatch giving access to the SIM card. To open it, you will need the accessory delivered with the Flex, or a simple paperclip.
The headphone jack and the Micro USB port are integrated in the lower edge. Again, the configuration is the same as on the G2.
Importantly, the back of the hull benefits from a special coating capable of repairing itself and removing the most superficial scratches. If you want to know a little more about the subject, your best bet is to take a look at this article .
Screen, Power & Autonomy
As indicated above, the screen of the LG G Flex reaches six inches , for a definition of HD 720p type . Is this sufficient? It all depends on your requirements, and the use you want to make of your terminal. To hang out on social networks, do some research on the internet and relax with a few games is more than enough. On the other hand, if you consume a lot of movies and series and you are a fan of high definition, then the question may arise.
No, the real problem with this screen, from my point of view, is its grain. It is quite strange but when it is energized, we see like traces located behind the glass plate. They are not necessarily very visible, but they give a funny aspect to the platform, a little as if its interface were made of paper. If we add to this the intentionally minimalist icons of the Flex overlay, we obtain a rather strange effect.
At first, I thought it was my copy that was at fault but it seems from my research that this “problem” affects all Flexs currently available on the market.
What about its power? Unsurprisingly, the Snapdragon 800 does its job perfectly and it does it with all the honors. I don't play a lot, due to lack of time, but right now I'm spending a lot of time on Dead Trigger 2 beaming the nasty zombie. The title is as responsive on the Flex as on the Note 3 ( tested here ), even though the latter embeds 3 GB of RAM. Playing videos is no problem either, including high definition.
Do you like benchmarking solutions? Here are the results obtained by the Flex with the usual tests:
- BenchmarkPi: 107
- Quadrant: 19,667
- Linpack: 685,637
- An3DBench: 7,869
- GeekBench: 877 / 2,190
But the terminal's real asset, ultimately, is its autonomy. The guy does even better than the Note 3 on this ground. It was delivered to me on Friday, fully recharged (thank you Laure) and it lasted until Monday morning without going through the sector box, for normal use with email, social networks, Feedly and some parties frenzied as a bonus, on Dead Trigger 2 necessarily.
Lately, I have had the opportunity to test a lot of smartphones and none come close to the Flex on this ground.
Photo & Video
It's not really an open secret, LG has always lagged behind when it comes to photos and videos on its smartphones. However, the manufacturer managed to reverse the trend with the LG G2 ( tested here ) and the latter had strongly impressed me for once.
The LG G Flex is in line with its predecessor and that's pretty good news.
To access the camera, you must start by launching the associated application since the terminal does not include a physical trigger. The tool is quite minimalist but we find all the usual options. Different buttons at the bottom will allow us to start the capture, switch to recording videos or access the last captured image. Settings are made through buttons at the top of the screen. It will thus be possible to modify the operation of the flash (auto, deactivated, activated), to change cameras or to jump from one mode to another.
On this side, we are spoiled for choice with twelve different modes: normal , take and crop , dynamic tone , panorama , VR panoramic , burst , smooth portrait , dual camera , burst shooting , auto intelligence , sports or night .
It is also possible to access advanced settings and therefore set up voice capture, change the brightness, define the focus (auto, manual, face search), change the shooting format (4160 × 3120 4: 3, 4160 × 2340 16: 9, 3264 × 2448 4: 3, 1280 × 960 4: 3), set sensitivity (max 800 ISO), choose white balance, activate color effects, schedule a timer, set up geotagging and so on.
For videos, we'll have fewer modes (normal, warp, dual record, tracking zoom) and fewer settings. This being the case, we can juggle between several formats, in particular between UHD (3840 × 2160), FHD60 (1920 × 1080 at 60 fps), FHD (1920 × 1080 at 30 fps), HD (1280 × 720) and the QVGA (320240).
What about quality? Everything obviously depends on the light conditions, as often. When the light is on, the Flex does wonderfully and does as well as most high-end terminals on the market. On the other hand, in the less obvious conditions, we have to deal with quite noisy shots, more than on the Xperia Z1 ( tested here ) for example. This is not necessarily surprising since the latter has a set of specific technologies.
LG, like all manufacturers on the market, has given life to a real ecosystem based on Android with, as a result, specific functions and several applications designed for both beginners and the most demanding users. The idea is obviously to stand out from its competitors. The LG G Flex thus has many similarities with the LG G2, but also some differences mainly relating to its interface.
I am thinking in particular of the application icons which give pride of place to “flat design” or to the interface of certain applications, which are more sober and more efficient.
In addition to these aesthetic changes, we always find the same peculiarities.
It looks like two drops of water like that of the LG G2. The expression is rather well chosen, moreover, because it will evolve according to the metrological conditions and according to the time. The weather in the capital being what it is, that of my Flex remained very humid throughout this week, with a rapid clearing Wednesday, at the end of the morning.
As with other Android devices, the device lock screen is divided into two areas . At the top, we will find the widgets while the unlocking system will be integrated into the lower part of the screen. LG took the opportunity to make some changes to the clock widget, and the minutes appear below the hour as well. This is just a detail, of course, but the result is not bad to watch.
The notification center
It is simple, complete and well constructed. In a few moments, it will be possible to access the quick settings (no limit in number) but also the QSlide Apps which we will talk about a little later in the article. Always in the same place, we will also find sliders to modify the brightness of the screen or the sound volume. A button will also allow us to take a little more control of these settings.
And then, of course, there are the notifications themselves, generated by the applications installed on the terminal. Some of them will appear as a bubble at the top of the screen.
We have just talked about them, without explaining how they work. It is therefore imperative to redress this odious injustice.
QSlide Apps , as their name does not necessarily indicate, will allow us to launch certain applications in windowed mode and therefore display them on top of other applications. Very practical on the 5.2-inch screen of the G2, even more on that of the Flex since the latter reaches 6 inches.
Applications launched in this way can be moved freely on the screen and it is also possible to resize them on the fly or reduce their opacity. When they're no longer needed, just tap a button to close them.
Interesting but all is not rosy and these QSlide Apps finally have two major flaws . It is not possible to open more than two, and only some of the applications developed by LG are compatible with this mode. On this point, I prefer the Sony system, which is much more flexible.
Applications set aside
The multitasking integrated into Android is rather powerful but LG wanted to supplement it with an intelligent and well thought out function: the applications put aside . They were already present on the G2 but we can briefly recall their operation, just in principle.
The idea is quite simple since it suffices to launch an application and perform a horizontal swipe using three fingers to make it disappear and put it away on the left of the screen. You can then do the same with two other applications. To make them reappear, it will suffice to do the opposite. They will then be placed in a virtual binder and we will only have to tap on the tab of our choice to display the associated application again. If necessary, we can also close them by clicking on the button dedicated to this purpose.
The LG G Flex comes with a dozen different applications. I'm not going to go through them all, I actually prefer to focus on the ones that caught my attention the most like the really good restore and backup utility.
The latter will effectively allow us to save all the content of our terminal on the manufacturer's cloud. It will even be possible to schedule automatic backups so that we no longer have to worry about them. Then, when we change phones, we will just have to start the restoration to recover our data. As long as you stay with LG of course. It will therefore be best to rely on both the manufacturer's tool and our Google account.
Multimedia is not left out and we will thus find applications on the terminal to manage our music, videos and photos. These apps are simple, uncluttered, and do what they're asked to do. It will even be possible to configure our Dropbox to access its content from the tool. Be careful with the volume of data, however, because that can slow them down considerably.
I really liked the schedule too. It is well thought out and the fact that it is cut into two parts will save us precious time. We fell in love with Life Square, which will allow you to find the publications you have sent on social networks or even the photos taken through your terminal in one place.
The settings window of the LG overlay is rather intuitive and you can easily find what you are looking for thanks to the four tabs located at the top. In a few moments, we will be able to modify the connection sharing parameters, activate an audio profile, change the touch keys, access display the status of the internal memory or even scrutinize the terminal's energy expenditure.
The layout is very similar to that of the G2 and we find, overall, the same functionalities.
With two or three little things more. Like the arrival of a new option located in the menu dedicated to touch keys, an option that allows you to make them disappear when you launch certain applications to switch to full screen mode. Very practical for those who consume a lot of videos and who like to play a few titles every now and then.
Like the G2, we are also treated to two other very interesting tidbits: the smart screen and smart videos . They simply consist of leaving the screen active when the user is leaning over it, or of pausing the playback of a clip when he looks away. It works quite well.
Another function specific to the LG G Flex this time, the automatic color adjustment . What's the point ? To save energy by adjusting the brightness of the screen… according to the colors of the projected image. I discovered it a little late and I haven't had the opportunity to get a real idea of its usefulness.
The moment for the verdict has finally arrived. The verdict, and also when to approach the issue of the screen. Basically, its curvature left me very perplexed. I was even afraid of feeling embarrassed once the terminal was in my pocket. It didn't, and in reality that famous curvature is not a bad thing. It facilitates immersion in videos and games, while considerably reducing the effects of reflections.
The only downside, ultimately, are these famous traces mentioned a little above. They do not necessarily affect the readability of the screen, you end up very quickly forgetting them, but they are still present and this may slow down some mobile users.
Regarding the terminal's raw computing power, no bad surprises, it does as well as all high-end terminals of the moment. The Snapdragon 800 does it with all the honors , including in the most greedy games. On this side, therefore, the Flex has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of against the competition.
And then there is its master asset, the one that may push you to take out your credit card: its autonomy. She literally blew me away. I think it is hardly possible to do better at the moment.
There remains the question of the selling price. With an average price of around 800 euros for most traditional stores (I will deliberately leave out ValueBasket & Co), the Lg G Flex is not within the reach of all budgets. That said, you can also find it at Orange at 289.90 euros provided you take a package from the operator.