When you buy a smartphone, there is an adjustment period. If you purchase the device subsidized via a carrier, there is always a timeframe you have to return or exchange your device, and purchasing it outright usually leaves a grace period for returns. In considering those who may still be on the fence about the G Flex, we revisit the curved wonder. One month later, is the G Flex still enjoyable?
There’s no getting around it, and there’s no flat ignoring it: this phone is bent. We get what LG’s aim is here, and their recent ad campaign creepily hammers that home. They want the phone to feel like part of you, like it’s somehow ingrained into your being. It’s a nice theory, and physically it does what it promises, but overall the experience just falls short.
The G Flex feels great in-hand, that much is certain. Whether in landscape or portrait, it’s a joy to hold. The rear buttons have a home with the G Flex’s giant footprint in one-handed portrait use, and the curvature makes holding it in landscape with both hands comfortable. The problem is the rest of the time. In the pocket or in a bag, the G Flex is awkward. It just doesn’t have a place to fit in comfortably, meaning it often wedges its way in forcefully, creating negative space that’s just unnecessary.
LG’s UX also has as big a learning curve as the phone’s profile. Like Samsung’s TouchWiz, LG’s take on Android is cumbersome and often unnecessary. There are certain aspects to what LG has done with their software we enjoy, but overall — it’s not winning us over. We think, given a few more months, there would be reason to fall for some of LG’s tweaks. The problem here is the process it takes for even a seasoned Android user to get used to LG’s version of Android.
We really enjoy multitasking on the G Flex, with the floating windows and multi-app operations of LG’s Android. Maybe more than any other handheld, this one feels like a desktop in your hand between the size and robust functionality. We’re still not sure if we want all that heft to our Android smartphone’s software, though. We don’t mind a little toying with Android here or there, but when it starts to get lost in the shuffle, there’s a problem. The LG tweaks are often useful, but feel as though they’d be more useful on a larger tablet instead. Two tiny screens isn’t better than navigating between apps, and a floating window is niche at best.
As a writer and reviewer, I typically have access to a few phones at any given time. I may not have flagship devices from each OEM at my disposal all the time, but I do have alternatives. With so many devices on my desk, am I reaching for the G Flex? Do I gravitate toward it like lint does to its plastic rear cover?
Sadly, I’m not. The size and curve make it more awkward than I’d like, even though it’s more comfortable to hold. Some of LG’s takes on what Android could/should be are really neat, but I don’t crave them in any circumstance. I have yet to find a reason to have multiple apps on the screen in a day-to-day setting, even though I find the feature neat to play with. Bulky overlays like LG’s also bottleneck the Android upgrade process, which is just not something I’d want to deal with. I use a Nexus day-to-day, and the immediate update to the latest version of Android is part of the reason why.
If the device were a bit smaller — say 5-inches or so — it might be a bit more approachable with its curve. With a 6-inch screen, it’s an acquired taste to start with, and curving it only increases the divide. On more than one occasion, I’d pull it out of my pocket to a cocked head and confused look from someone — and not in a good way. That tells me the big, sloped G Flex is not going to have many dedicated fans.
The G Flex feels good in the hand, so we’ll give LG credit there. In regard to all other aspects of smartphone usage, the G Flex is just out of sorts. The screen is big, but yearns for more pixels (and that’s with normal viewing, not some crazy zooming or 4K video). The multitasking is nice, but not really useful for more than toying with it to show someone it can be done. LG’s take on Android is also a bit too much, and requires a learning curve that is often a radical departure from Android proper, even for simple tasks.
The specs (save for the screen) are just fine, and kept us humming along happily. The G Flex has a decent camera, and the internals are plenty powerful enough, but they’re lost on this device. The curvature is polarizing, and it just seems many will be happier to have never known it. In my full review, I noted that when in portrait mode it seems as though the top of the screen is peeling toward you, which is disorienting. That disorientation never went away, unfortunately. From curved to cumbersome, the G Flex is a miss for me. It’s actually pretty tough to get used to a device so different, but by now there shouldn’t be the pensive grimace on my face when I use the G Flex. Unfortunately, that hasn’t gone away either.