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Long term review: The LG G Flex on AT&T

You're sort of unprepared for how big this thing is until you hold it in your hand next to just about any other phone on the market. It's a funny evolution. As little as two years ago, a phone with a 4.5" diagonal screen would've been considered almost comically large. The LG G Flex clocks in at a 6" diagonal, and that starts to feel "normal" after a couple days. It's a scary thought when phones like the HTC One (4.7" screen), the Lumia Icon (5" screen), and the LG G2 (5.2" screen) start to feel "small".

The back button arrangement on LG's bendable phablet.
Juan Carlos Bagnell

The G Flex represents a continued evolution of LG's new design aesthetic. The buttons controlling the phone are located on the rear of the device under the camera. I don't personally find any benefit to this arrangement, no do I find any detriment. It's just different. Some claim the re-positioning is what was necessary to make the bezels slim, and if that's true then more power to LG. LG also moved the IR port to the rear opposite the LED flash for the camera, and I actually do find this move to be a noticeable help. While using the universal remote app, you actually get to look at your screen, instead of pointing your phone flat like a regular remote. It is actually easier to see what your controlling this way.

The G Flex is sporting almost every cutting edge spec you could image, and in true Phablet fashion, it's an audacious tech test bed. The formidable Qualcomm 800 series chipset is on board rocking an incredible mobile quad core processor and fantastic LTE radio support. A 13MP camera with image stabilization is built in, and it's capable of shooting 4K video. 32GB of on board storage (no SD card slot to add more), 2GB of RAM, and a 3500mAh battery round out the internals.

The screen has been a particular point of contention as it's only 720p (1280x720 resolution) instead of the more "premier" 1080p (1920x1080). I can't say this lower pixel pitch gave me any great difficulty in using apps or services on my phone, and it only became apparent when placed directly opposite a similar sized screen like that found on the Lumia 1520. It was only last year that 7" and 8" tablets were out on the market with lower resolutions than this phone.

That screen does come with the neat trick of being bendable. That curve in the phone isn't just for show, and the name of the phone is playfully accurate. You can flatten this phone (see related video), and it'll spring back to its original shape. It provides a little durability and peace of mind for a screen this large. It'll most likely live in a back pocket, and you wont fear sitting on it occasionally. I'll happily trade a few dots on the screen for more durability.

The G Flex also comes with the neat trick of self-healing very light scratches and abrasions. It should help maintain the look of the phone over the course of a two year contract. I accidentally gouged a deep chunk out of the back plate during this review (again see related video), and while LG certainly doesn't claim it can recover from that damage, the phone actually did a halfway decent job of minimizing my goof. The gouge is still there, it just doesn't look nearly as bad as when I first scraped it.

The camera is a very solid outing. Having recently been spoiled by the terrific Pureview shooters paired with Nokia phones, there isn't anything I've found on Android or iOS that quite competes. Against the rest of the Android ecosystem, LG has improved the app over their G2 (which has a tendency to over-expose badly). Though, I wish they wouldn't scale back the frame rate in low light situations. Thanks to image stabilization, the camera competes quite well against Samsung, Apple, and HTC, and stands with the Note 3 as being one of the few at the time of this writing to support 4K video. We shot a full test suite of 4K video samples for you to enjoy.

I can't say I'm personally a big fan of big phones. The 5" screen is my sweetspot. I find a number of daily use issues when on the go, especially as my thumb can barely reach the middle of the screen, it guarantees that every use of the device is a two-handed situation. These phablets are excellent solutions when you're settled somewhere like the office or a coffee shop. I almost never lug my Nexus 7 around anymore, but I don't like trying to use them when out and about.

Those concerns shared however, the G Flex deserves to be near the top of a short list of excellently produced large screen phones, ably competing against the Nokia Lumia 1520 and the Galaxy Note 3, and happily it brings a few of its own unique tricks to the table.

Hit the related video for more hands on, or catch our camera test, our speaker test, and our comparison between the LG G Flex and the LG G2.

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