The G Flex 2 is a beautiful, high performance, highly desirable smartphone.
The smartphone world is full of sequels, and often the latest version of our favorite device can be a little underwhelming; but here’s one which is not only welcome, but a substantial upgrade over the original. It’s LG’s G Flex 2, and if it were a car, it would be the sleek, sporty coupe version of the LG G3.
Updated 04-20-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added in AT&T’s prices and availability dates for the LG G Flex 2.
The G Flex 2 goes global and hits the U.S.
Korea was first on the release list for the G Flex 2, with the release coming around the end of January. At the end of February, LG stated the phone will go on sale globally during the first week of March. It lists Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Germany, the UK, and the United States will be the first to get the new phone, while other regions will have to wait for a couple more weeks.
Sprint was the first to say it will get the G Flex 2 to U.S. buyers, starting on March 13. Sprint Easy Pay customers can get the LG G Flex 2 for $0 down and 24 monthly payments of $21, resulting in a total cost of $504. Preorders for the handset start on February 20 through Sprint’s website, though you can register now to be one of the first people to get the curved phone.
Previously, AT&T announced that it will carry the G Flex 2 on its network in the U.S. In late April, AT&T announced pricing and availability for the G Flex 2. The curved phone will arrive on April 24 at select AT&T stores and online for $0 down on an AT&T Next 24 plan with payments of $23.64 a month for 30 months. If you have an AT&T Next 18 plan, you’ll pay $29.55 a month for 24 months, and if you have AT&T Next 12, it’ll cost you $35.45 a month for 20 months. Subscribers can also get the G Flex 2 for $300 with a two-year contract or full price for $708.99.
In the UK, Carphone Warehouse have the G Flex 2 up for pre-order with deliveries expected starting March 16. It’s priced at £530/$820 SIM-free. Online retailer Clove Technology will also stock the phone, but has yet to confirm the price and release date.
Sleek, curvy, and red – just like the best coupes
Going back to the phone, LG’s happy comparing the G Flex 2 to a sporty car, saying it was inspired in part by the automotive industry’s willingness to use curves in its designs. It’s faster than the G3, and ultimately it’ll be the first phone to go on sale with the Snapdragon 810 processor — that’s Qualcomm’s, new, top-of-the-line 2.0GHz octa-core chip, along with 2GB of RAM.
Coupes should look good, and the G Flex 2 looks great. It even comes in red. Called Flamenco Red, it goes from a deep burgundy to a shining crimson when it catches the light. The Platinum Silver version looks very boring next to it, and the red model is most certainly the color of choice. So, it’s faster and better looking than the G3, but what about the technology?
Curved to match your new TV
The screen has a 23-degree curve, which matches that of LG’s 55-inch curved televisions – and is supposed to offer the same immersive experience. Visually, it’ll certainly do a better job than the original. The screen has been shrunk down to a more manageable, but still large 5.5-inches, and the resolution increased to 1080p, resulting in a pixel density of 403ppi.
LG uses the same Plastic OLED display seen on the G Flex and the G Watch R, and while it’s covered in Gorilla Glass, it’s even tougher than usual. LG took a regular sheet of Gorilla Glass and added a unique chemical treatment, making it 20 percent more durable than a standard piece. It’s the first of three features that make the G Flex 2 more resilient to damage than your average smartphone. It’s the first phone to make use of LG’s latest flexible battery and PCB, which along with the curved shape, helps the phone absorb sharp shocks more effectively than a slab-shape phone.
One of the standout features of the G Flex was its self-healing rear panel. Well, it’s back for the G Flex 2, and it heals faster than ever. Tiny scratches used to disappear in around three minutes, but the second generation coating they’ll go in about 10 seconds. It’s important to point out the coating only effectively deals with scratches picked up from it jiggling around in a pocket or a bag, not from something like dragging a key across the surface. The way it works is a thin layer of paint “bursts” through to smooth out blemishes, but if you cut too deep, it won’t work.
The phone will still take some abuse, and LG’s head of smartphone planning Dr. Ramchan Woo gleefully walked on and even sat on a G Flex 2 to prove its toughness. Despite all this, it’s slimmer and lighter than the G Flex, which combined with the subtly curved chassis makes it supremely comfortable to hold and use. One-handed use feels more natural than the G3, although the two share extremely similar dimensions.
Faster and more responsive than the G3
All the extra speed from the Snapdragon 810 and Android 5.0 also improves the user experience, and it’s noticeably smoother and snappier than the G3, even in the pre-production phone we tested out. The G Flex 2 does have a few extra features over the G3, including Glance View, where a swipe down the screen when it’s locked quickly reveals the clock, calendar, and notifications. It was a pain to activate Glance View on our test phone, but that’s something which should be fixed in the final version. It looks excellent though, and will undoubtably prove beneficial.
It’s slimmer and lighter than the G Flex, and supremely comfortable to hold.
The G Flex 2 retains the G3’s 13-megapixel camera sensor, dual LED flash, OIS+, and laser autofocus feature, but the camera software has been updated to be more responsive. In our quick tests, it looks like even the already speedy laser autofocus worked quicker
Related: Our review of the LG G3
There’s also a cool new selfie mode designed to be used with selfie sticks, where a gesture takes a photo, and moving the phone down towards you shows a preview of the snap. This is theoretically much quicker than tapping the screen to open the gallery. It was slick, and we can see it being helpful. On the accessory side, we should look out for a specially designed Quick Circle case for the G Flex 2 in the near future.
You’ll want it more than the G3
Supplying the G Flex 2 with energy is a 3,000mAh battery, which charges at 2.6A rather than 1.8A, and a reworked charger feeds it with a 50-percent charge in just 40 minutes. Due to the G Flex 2’s design, the battery is fixed in place, but the rear cover can be removed to reveal the SIM card slot, and a MicroSD card slot. Other features include Bluetooth 4.1, fast Category 6 4G LTE, and NFC.
The G Flex 2 is a beautiful, high performance, highly desirable smartphone; just like the sporty version of an established best seller should be. The upgrade in specs brings it bang up to date, and unless you’re absolutely set on having a 1440p screen, it’s very tempting next to the G3. LG says it expects the G Flex 2 to sell in fewer numbers though, and will be attaching a premium price tag.
Updated 02-25-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in LG’s confirmation of the G Flex 2’s global launch, plus UK price details.
Updated 02-19-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added Sprint’s announcement that the G Flex 2 will arrive on its network on March 13 and pricing info.
Updated 01-05-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added AT&T’s announcement that it will carry the G Flex 2.