Hands on with LG's G Flex plastic OLED flexible phone

A few weeks ago I learned that LG started to market the G Flex smartphone here in Israel. I contacted LGE and they got the Israeli carrier Partner to send me a review unit. First of all - thanks guys!

So I switched phones, left my new GS4 behind and started using the G Flex. Here's a short hands-on review of this phone. Or actually, this isn't a real review - I mostly want to discuss the screen and my experience with this phone. There are many good reviews of this phone online already (here's Engadget's for example). I won't be showing you a video of how it flexes a little - it's been done.

So the G Flex is the first mobile phone to sport LGD's 6" 720p plastic-based flexible OLED. The phone is curved vertically - which basically resembled old phones from 20 years ago. Even though LGD covered the display with a glass, the whole phone can actually be flexed a little. This is not very impressive though - you need to apply a lot of force to flex this phone and it creaks a bit when you do it (it doesn't seem the phone likes it, really). But still - this is the world's first flexible phone and that's a little bit of history in my hands.

LG G Flex curved photo

The OLED display is large at 6" (very large in fact, almost like a tablet) - and it's bright and colorful. When I first switched from the GS4, it was clear that Samsung Full-HD 5" display is sharper, brighter, and, well, just better. But after a few days I got used to the G Flex and now I like the display. It's very comfortable to have such a large screen (although the phone itself is certainly too large for my liking). I also have to say that it is a lot of fun to have a curved display, sliding my finger on it and reading text, well, makes me a little bit happy. Maybe it's the fact that I've been waiting for flexible OLEDs for about 15 years now...

Raymond Soneira from DisplayMate is very enthusiastic about curved phones - saying how the curve cuts down on reflections. I have to say that I don't really notice this on the G Flex as the reflections seems to be on quite the same level as on the GS4. 

LG G Flex back photo

Interestingly, only a few weeks after launching this phone in Israel, LG already managed to make people aware of it. Several people noticed this phone ("hey, is this the flexible phone?") and wanted to try and flex it. One time at a cafe, a beautiful waitress start talking to me and said she "has to ask whether this is actually a phone" and whether it's any good. So yes - people notice this phone and that's always fun. According to Orange, people are actually buying this phone even though it is very expensive (over $1,100 in Israel. The GS4 for example costs about $700).

I do have several complains about this phone. It's too large, that's for sure, and I prefer Samsung's Android version to LG's (even though LG has some nice features, for example the knock to unlock and the QSlide). I also do not like the back buttons, and I had several calls in which the voice quality was not very good (this never happened to me on the GS4). Maybe the volume was too low, but the location of the volume buttons on the back is so annoying that I couldn't manage to increase it during the call. I also found LG's default notification and ringtone sounds very annoying (but it's easy to replace these, of course).

At the end of the day - this is a cool and unique device and that's something. It's very good as an Android phone, even though it's too large for my liking. The biggest advantage of the flexibility and the curved display is the "wow" factor. Personally, after a few days I got used to it and now I'm not sure I want to get back to the GS4 - purely because it's cool to have a flexible OLED phone. Also the GS4 seems so small now... As I'll have to give this unit back to LG, I won't have a choice really, so that's one decision I happily do not need to make.

Posted: Mar 24,2014 by Ron Mertens


So in other words: It's little more than a gimmick...at least for now.

One question though: You say that according to Orange people are actually buying this despite the price. I wonder how many people actually directly pay the retail price for this phone instead of paying for it through their overall payment plan with the carrier?

After all most carriers basically give away the phones as part of an overall payment plan...of course in the end the payment plan costs you more than the phone itself would have cost in the first place, but that still doesn't stop people from going for it.

Actually today in Israel the carriers do not "subsidize" the phone as part of a plan. All they give you is 12 payments for the phone, but they cannot tie you to a plan when you buy a new phone (that was done to improve competition in this market here in Israel). The carrier prices are usually high (10% or more compared to buying the phones in a shop).

Perhaps you can't test this easily, but I've been wondering if the flexible nature of the phone enhances its durability. If you can flex the phone, then it also seems reasonable to guess that it could be dropped with less chance of cracking the cover glass. Can you confirm or deny?

I can't confirm this, but I don't think it's much more durable. I think that the main problem with phone durability is when the screen shatters - for example if a sharp rock hits it (this happened to me once - my Galaxy S phone dropped dozens of time, but one time I dropped it on a gravel road and it shattered). I don't think the flexibility will be of any help here. 

And if it were more durable, I think that would have been pointed out in LG's marketing copy...

Interesting, didn't know that. Thanks!

I agree on the screen shattering and marketing. Still it seems like the curvature would reduce the incidence of the sort of event you had. I also find that dropping phones on edge, or especially corner, is a killer. Still, the cover glass must be able to flex for the phone do so, so it seems like there should be some benefit. Maybe its worth touching base with your contact and seeing what the terms of return are. Marketing has been known to make oversights.