My Sprint LG G Flex 2 review...
The 32GB Sprint LG Flex 2 is the next generation of LGs’ attempt in curved screens. The first generation was eye opening with a big screen and smooth curved display and this generation continues the trend although the screen is a bit smaller and yet feels much better in the hands in those that felt the first generation was just too big.
I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of customers selected by Sprint to recieve a G Flex 2 early and the device was supplied directly from LG. It came in last week and I've been running it through my usual paces.
On with the review. (you can click on the images to open them up in a larger view.)
The box in which the device shipped in is compact and red in color, much like the phone itself. And yes this is a Sprint device as indicated on the box, unlike all those other reviews which have been showcasing the overseas version.
As you open up the box you are met head on with the device. Underneath it is the Fast Charge adapter, USB cord. Mine didn't come with a manual (available online) nor any headsets. On overseas editions they include the headset.
The device looks great in red and the back is removable. It comes with a SIM card and there is a slot for a micro SD card above it. The battery is non-removable. Due to its unique curve, it feels great in the hand and feels smooth against your face when making a call. It is a tad bit smaller in height and about 1/4" less in width when compared to my other phone, the Galaxy Note Edge, but bigger than the LG G2. Here, I compare it side by side to the LG G2, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge and Samsung Mega 6.3
The Flex 2 like the 1st generation does not have any buttons on its sides as in most phones. Both the volume controls and power button are located on the rear of the device. This allows the bezel to be smaller. On top of the device is the Infrared LED and what looks like a noise canceling mic. (Neither the manual nor any online documentation specifies what that hole is for). On the bottom is the charging port, headphone jack and microphone.
The placement of the buttons on the rear of the device took me a bit to get used to and I must say that after a while it felt more natural. Besides the power and volume buttons, there is a Laser Detection Auto Focus, LED Flash and the 13 megapixel camera with Optical Image Stabilization. The rear speaker is also located here. The rear cover is easily removable giving you access to the SIM card and micro SD Card slot. The SD card slot can accommodate up to 2TB (terabytes) micro SD cards. (Do they even make those yet?) The 3,000 mAh battery is non-removable. The rear cover is plastic and is constructed with a self-healing technology (a high density coating) that is supposed to prevent minor scuffs and scratches. Although I'll be honest, I am not about to test this on purpose with a key or coin.
Also on the front is the earpiece, front 3.1 megapixel camera with full HD camcorder and the proximity sensor at the top above the display. At the bottom is the LG logo. All this is powered with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 2.0GHz 64-bit octa-core CPU and 2GB ram.
One of the windows is dedicated for LG Health and Smart Tips. Smart Tips is pretty neat because it gives you tips about your device that you may otherwise no know or miss from (not reading) the manual. LG Health promotes physical activity by issuing notifications at set intervals to make you move around and be more active.
Since the Flex is curved and the power button is located in the back, LG included a Knock feature which wakes up and unlocks the phone by tapping the screen. It also turns off the display the same way providing you tap on a clear area on the display. It's a very neat and useful feature.
The Home touch buttons are configurable and allow you to re-arrange the buttons any way you desire. It comes in the Back, Home and Task configuration, but there are other buttons you can add if desired, such as Notifications, QuickMemo, QSlide and Dual Window. These last three I';; expand further in the software section.
The battery is a 3,000 mAh graphite anode type and can be fast charged using the supplied fast charge adapter. At first I wasn't sure that the supplied charger was of the fast charge type with it being so small, but upon inspecting the tiny fine print, it does say Fast Charge. I purposely let the device do down to about 5% to test the fast charge and just as they claim, it does bring the device back to about 50% in about 40-45 minutes and a full charge in about an hour and 20 minutes. Now being curious, I repeated the process a day later using a different brand of fast charger (which incidentally is twice the size of the supplied one) and it charged the Flex 2 to 50% in 30 minutes.
As for how long it lasts, well that depends on how one uses their phone. Each person is different and their use of their devices will never be the same. In my case, I am a heavy user. Twitter, Reddit, videos, streaming media, Facebook throughout the day. I'm also transferring every so often docs, files, images between phones, PCs and laptops. So basically my phone are task to the limit and why I usually have an additional charger not far from me. Still, the Flex 2 held up to my abuse. You could say it's the little engine that could.
The Flex 2 has an 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi with Bluetooth version 4.1. I had no problem connecting to numerous Wi-Fi signals. It even connected to my secondary router that is usually hard to connect to if I am out in the garage. The Bluetooth was a nice surprise as well since I've had issues with connecting devices in other phones. here it was a snap transferring files and connecting to the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio speaker.
The Sprint version of the Flex 2 comes with Android version 5.0.1 Lollipop and 32GB of storage. As mentioned previously, it does have a micro SD card slot that can take up to upcoming 2TB cards. After activation and the usual pre-load software installed you are left with about 21.36GB of data to use. The breakdown is as follows...
This is after installing just two apps (SignalCheck Pro) for testing purposes and Google Chrome.
With Lollipop, there is a feature called "Play Auto install", which instead of storing (permanently) pre-determined carrier apps on the system partition, will instead download those apps during the setup process. This will put them in the data partition and allow them to be completely uninstalled by the user. This allows the carrier to update the apps they would like to pre-load on the device without having to issue a system update every time. The G Flex 2 has Lollipop and thus has this feature. This is very welcoming change and allows users the choice to remove certain pre-loaded apps if they want.
Some of these apps are quite useful while some may find a few others just duplicate other apps that users would prefer. In the setup process, the following 23 apps are pre-loaded, (besides the usual Google Apps) and those determined by LG for their system overlay UI. 2 of the 23 cannot be uninstalled whatsoever (the ItsOn and Sprint Zone apps), and 4 others which can be disabled but not uninstalled. The rest can be be. These are the list of pr-loaded apps.
With a 5.5" screen, there is plenty of real estate to have numerous apps on the screen. The Flex 2 allows two apps in a Dual Window mode (thus the name). I can switch between Gmail and Maps for example, and I find this feature quite useful. There is a setting that allows for the Dual Window setting to be placed alongside the Home Touch buttons so it is always accessible instead of wasting time searching for it.
The Flex 2 also comes with ThinkFree Viewer Office Mobile for Android. It is created by Hancom, the makers of the excellent Hancom Office suite. But here it is a viewer only and allows you to view docs created by most office products. I would have preferred LG off the full Hancom suite instead.
There is also QuickMemo+ which is a neat notepad like app that also has a handwritten feature using your finger as a stylus. It is actually quite accurate with no lag when using your finger and I've also used a conductive silicone rubber tip stylus and it works well. The screen is not a digitizer so no N-Trig or Wacom styluses will work on the screen.
LG also includes a feature called QSlide which allows you to have pop up versions of certain apps. the available apps are Video player, Stock Browser, Phone, Messaging, Calendar, Email, File Manager and Calculator. You simply slide the app you want onto the home screen and a mini popup version appears.
But there is a limitation of only one app allowed to be popped up. LG should have allowed at least 1 or 2 more apps to be popped up. As well as allow the user to add other apps to be added to the list. If you try to add another popup, a message will come up telling you QSlide is already in use.
CAMERA - Front and Rear
The rear camera is a laser auto focus 13 megapixel camera with Optical Image Stabilization which also shoots in 4K ultra high definition when used as a camcorder. The pictures are taken quickly and come out clear due to the laser auto focus. For those that shake a bit while taking pictures, rest assure that the OIS will overcome any minor shake into a crystal clear shot. Try as I may, some of my shots always come with a blurry shot here and there unless i am super still or using a mini tripod. Thankfully OIS saves the day for me. The camera has the normal set of settings found in most phones but are actually out of the way of the picture being taken. They are placed to the left and right of the image shown and can even be further hidden by clicking on the 3 dot selector. There are a few modes available such as Auto, panorama, Dual (which takes both a rear and front shot at once). Burst mode for multiple shots at once, voice control (say cheese for instance), etc. It is a bit more streamlined which is a good thing since one does not have to go through so many layers of settings to get a certain setting. But on the other side of the token, it would have been nice to have a few of those modes at least one layer up for even quicker point and shoot time frame.
The front camera is 2.1 megapixel high definition and can also record in HD in camcorder mode. Great for selfies with a countdown timer that is activated by a simple hand gesture. What is pretty cool about this is that the screen will automatically switch between capture and preview mode based on the position of your hand.
After almost a week with the Flex 2 and I have to say that I really like the device. It is light, easy to hold, has a big enough screen, grabs a good signal and its in a really nice color. Granted, there are a few things that can be improved such as QSlide allowing more popups and the ThinkFree viewer should have been replaced with an actual productivity suite. But at least there is comfort in knowing they can be replaced with a more suitable play store app.
Now if I can only find a folio cover for it.
Excellent write up TS.
i have noticed that as well..i actually loved this phone..it worked great.