LG Introduces Caressable Smartphone

LG Electronics has swung into the curved smartphone market with the launch of its LG G Flex.

LG G Flex

Surfacing on the heels of Samsung’s Galaxy Round, which curves horizontally, the LG G Flex curves vertically, and the shape is optimized for the average face, according to the company. The design apparently boosts voice and sound quality while improving grip.

The vertical curve of the LG Flex brings the microphone closer to the user’s mouth, though that’s essentially “the reason we have flip phones,” Carl Howe, a research vice president at the Yankee Group, told TechNewsWorld.

The G Flex is the first smartphone with a self-healing coating on the back, LG claimed. The elastic coating supposedly can repair scratches.

“We will have to see it when it comes to market,” telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan told TechNewsWorld.

G Flex Specs

The G Flex adopts the Rear Key system of the LG G2, with control buttons positioned on the rear of the device below the 13-megapixel camera. Along with the curved 6-inch, 1,280 by 720-pixel OLED screen, the front of the device includes a 2.1-megapixel camera.

It runs Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 and weighs 177 g (6.2 ounces). The G Flex is powered by a 2.26 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor and 2 GB of RAM, with 32 GB of eMMC storage.

The curved battery, said to be the world’s first, has a capacity of 3,500 mAh — enough power for more than a full day’s use, LG asserted.

The G Flex features a Dual Window mode for multitasking across two windows; quick access to photos, videos, and YouTube directly from the lock screen; and an “IMAX-like” experience when viewing videos and playing games in landscape mode.

The device includes LTE, HSPA+, and GSM network options, with near-field communication connectivity and USB 3.0 compatibility. It will only be available in a single color, “Titan Silver,” at launch.

Earnings Miss

The announcement of the device comes just four days after LG missed analyst earnings estimates for the three months to Sept. 30, as marketing costs for the G2 bit into profit. Net profit dipped 46 percent to 84 billion won (US$79.1 million). Analysts had predicted net profit of 201.3 billion won ($189.6 million), according to Bloomberg. The company’s mobile division reported an operating loss of 79.7 billion won ($75 million) for the quarter.

LG earlier this month claimed it would release its first curved handsets next year but seems to have quickened the product road map. The LG Flex hits the South Korean market in November through all three of the country’s major carriers, with availability elsewhere to be announced later. The company did not give a price for the new handset.

Who Wants It?

Rival Samsung revealed its Galaxy Round, which curves horizontally, earlier this month.

“There’s a reason for making a convex, horizontal curve in terms of making it possible to get your thumb from one place to another,” said the Yankee Group’s Howe. “The real question is, does it make the phone easier to use or perform better?”

The 5.7-inch device is also available only in South Korea for the time being, where the companies apparently are testing the water for curved phones.

The level of consumer demand, at this stage, is far from clear.

“These companies like Samsung and LG have really focused on delivering the curved screen to the marketplace, but the customer doesn’t really understand the value,” opined Kagan. “I think this is really a matter of companies rushing as fast as they can to introduce a new technology to claim the leadership position … . Are curved screens a gimmick or the real future of wireless?”

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