LG's G Flex, the company's first smartphone with a curved OLED display, may have leaked via press renders and Argentinian TV shows before its eventual announcement, but today marked the first time we were able to see the device for ourselves. LG held a press conference in South Korea to announce launch details and provide us with an opportunity to see just how that curved screen works out in practice.
Before you even notice the curve, you'll be taken aback by the sheer size of the G Flex. At 6 inches from corner to corner, the display beats out colossal rivals such as the HTC One Max despite having a comparatively low 720p resolution. While LG says the curvature of the screen makes viewing movies more "immersive," the size is likely to play a far stronger role in achieving that goal. In general use, we didn't find that the curve made much of a positive or negative impact either way.
The display's sheer size is more imposing than the curve
Resolution aside, the display itself is as high quality as we've come to expect from LG in other regards. We found the G Flex impossible to use one-handed, however, and the screen's shape makes the phone even more difficult to pocket, if anything. Next to a Samsung Galaxy Nexus (below), which placed slightly curved glass in front of a standard OLED display, the arc is far more pronounced; this is thanks to LG's flexible OLED and curved battery technology.
Otherwise, the industrial design is little to write home about: the G Flex looks just like a blown-up G2. Unfortunately we were unable to test the phone's most outlandish feature — its "self-healing" back cover — as LG representatives wouldn't let us scratch the device. As such, all we have to say about the phone's plastic build is that the "Titan Silver" finish is slippery and incredibly prone to picking up fingerprints.
LG provided us with the following video demo of the truly flexible nature of the G Flex:
Ultimately the G Flex comes off as a proof of concept as much as anything. Although flexible screens may play a big role in the future, it's hard to consider phones like the G Flex and Samsung's Galaxy Round an effective application of the technology. LG isn't even attempting to position the G Flex's display as an innovation that fundamentally enhances the smartphone experience — instead, the device is likely to appeal only to those who appreciate the tweaked form factor. And even if that's you, you might be out of luck; the G Flex comes out in South Korea on November 12th, but nothing has been announced for other regions.
Update: LG officials have said that the company is working to release the G Flex globally. It's not ready to announce any specific availability information, but LG says it's making progress in bringing its flexible phone to the United States, Europe and China "as soon as possible."
Additional reporting by Hyunhu Jang.