LG's new curved smartphone is a powerful Android device with a slew of great software features for business users, even if it is a bit gimmicky. The LG G Flex 2 is the follow-up to the original G Flex, launched last year. Like that phone, the whole body curves slightly from top to bottom.
But the new 5.5-inch device is a lot smaller and more practical than its 6-inch predecessor, while retaining its best productivity features and gaining a slew of impressive hardware upgrades. We went hands-on with it this week.
The first thing I noticed about the G Flex 2 is that it's a lot more manageable than last year's model, which had a whopping 6-inch display. I could easily reach the top of the Flex 2's 5.5-inch screen when holding it in one hand; the original G Flex was practically impossible to use without two free hands. In a time when smartphone makers are rushing to churn out bigger and bigger devices, it's refreshing to see LG take a step back with this one.
LG also toned down the degree of the phone's curve. While last year's model curved in a sweeping arc, the G Flex 2's curve is subtler.
Of course, that doesn't answer why you'd want a curved smartphone in the first place. LG says the unusual design allows for a more immersive viewing experience for video, and while I buy that argument for curved TVs, I'm skeptical that it applies to a 5.5-inch phone. Still, the curve does have a few practical benefits. It makes it slightly easier to reach the top corners of the device compared to phones with flat 5.5-inch panels. Plus, the curve of the original G Flex actually made phone calls clearer, since the speaker naturally rests nearer to your mouth and ear.
On the software side of things, the G Flex 2 has a few standout productivity features. For starters, it comes with a dual window feature that lets you run two applications in a split-screen view. To use it, just hold the back button to bring up the dual window drawer, then drag two apps onto your screen. I like this feature because it makes multitasking easier, letting you use the calculator or perform a Web search while composing an email, for example.
Like other LG smartphones, the G Flex 2 comes with Knock Code, a handy security feature that lets you register a unique sequence of taps to unlock your phone. It's a useful way to keep your work phone locked down without having to type in a cumbersome password every time. The device also comes with a handy gesture for checking notifications when the display is turned off; just swipe down from the top of the screen to see your new messages and alerts without fully waking the device.
Finally, I'll mention a few of the phone's hardware highlights. It's the fastest Android phone yet, as the first mobile device with Qualcomm's new octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor. The new chip gives you better data speeds and snappier performance when you're using apps and browsing the Web. It's also more efficient and allows for better battery life. That's a plus, since the G Flex 2's battery has been shrunk to 3,000 mAh, from 3,500 mAh in last year's model. The included turbo charger, which LG says can take it from dead to 50 percent battery life is just 40 minutes, also helps. And the G Flex 2 comes with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded later via a microSD card slot.
Overall, the LG G Flex 2 looks like an enticing business phone for anyone who wants cutting-edge hardware. Exact pricing and release date details haven't been announced yet, though you can expect the phone to launch sometime in the first half of the year.