The Self-Healing, Flexible Smartphone: LG GFlex Review

LG’s GFlex is about to hit Australian stores after debuting in South Korea in December and CES in Las Vegas in January. The flexible, self-healing phone has had some significant hype around it since then and I was lucky enough to get a hands on look

 

Video & Review by Eryk Bagshaw

Follow @CyberShack on Twitter

LG’s GFlex is about to hit Australian stores after debuting in South Korea in December and CES in Las Vegas in January. The flexible, self-healing phone has had some significant hype around it since then and I was lucky enough to get a hands on look.

There’s currently only two curved smartphones in the world Samsung’s Galaxy Curved and LG’s newly minted GFlex, but pundits expect there to be many more within the next two years. LG itself predicts that the curved smartphone market will be worth $2.5 billion by 2018.

So what’s all the fuss about?

The South Korean giants would have you believe that the ‘optimised curvature of 700mm’ is the perfect fit for the human face. With a microphone that naturally falls closer to the speakers mouth and flexible form factor there’s no denying it is an impressive design.

And yes, as the name implies, it is flexible – impressively so.

Flexibility  

 

We tested three variants of pressure on the GFlex, a set of fingers, then two whole hands and finally a fully compressed elbow. Across all three it comfortably reverted to its original form afterwards.

There was not a dent, bend or mark to be seen across the handset. LG claims that the GFlex will comfortably handle up to 40 kg’s of pressure applied to the back of the phone. For that matter, the front facing gorilla glass is flexible to, although to a slightly lesser degree.

Why does it need to be flexible?

If curved phones are the way of the future then brittle, entirely rigid builds will compromise the structural integrity of the phone. Unless they are flexible, they’ll break and quickly too.

Good thing that one of the first off the mark passes the road test. Placing that much external pressure on a devices means that it’s inherently durable, which could mean a lot for the mobile future.

Fortunately, LG has also realised that an entirely flexible phone would feel a bit flimsy. It successfully retains its rigidity so that it feels like a premium device.

Self –Healing

The other big feature of this phone is the self-healing capacity of its back casing. This is a technology that has been tested on cars and other devices, but this is a first for the smartphone category.

 I tested with a standard pocket scratch inducing item – a key.

After putting some significant scratches into the casing, the back took about 4 minutes to heal itself over. While it’s not full proof and some marks are still slightly visible, the bulk of it completely disappeared. (Check out the video above for further proof)

Timelapse taken of the Self-Healing Process – Actual time to heal approximatley 4 minutes

I would caution against taking a razor blade to it, but for your standard pocket or bag tenants this should be more than capable of dealing with casual wear and tear.

The disappearing act almost has a biblical like quality to it, and I dare say it has the potential for further applications well beyond the smartphone or even consumer electronics markets.

Other Hardware

The GFlex packs in a Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 SoC, which has only been on the market for a few months but is fast becoming the go to chipset for flagship smartphones. It comes with a 2.26 ghz quad core processor and 2Gb of ram, making for a truly snappy machine.

The battery itself is quite powerful with 3,500 mAh, enough to last about 14 hours of higher than average usage.

The camera, at 13 megapixels is solid, if not outstanding.

Finally, the G2 ‘home’ button feature has reappeared on the GFlex, designed to naturally fit your finger when holding the device. For mine, this still doesn’t feel quite right. The huge size of the GFlex doesn’t help its cause in this respect.

Software

The hardware on this device is undeniably impressive, but the software is where it lets itself down. Why LG has chosen to stick with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean instead of shipping out with Kit Kat is a little bit beyond me.

Despite this, there are a couple of highlights including dual screen mode and drag and drop capabilities that let you receive a link in a text message, open that window in the browser and let you have the message open on the bottom of the screen, all simultaneously.

Conclusion

Honestly, this is good phone from LG. On power, specs and battery life alone it’s a solid top end option.

The problem is – it comes with a hefty price tag. At over $900 US you want to be really sure that you need a curved, flexible, self-healing phone. For most I’d say that this is out of the equation.

Ultimately, it’s a status symbol and concept phone for the early adopter. As one of the first of many to come, I’d bet that the price point is likely to drop as this technology increases in numbers and significance.

 

Follow @erykbagshaw on Twitter

 



LG SK9Y Soundbar