LG G Flex (Sprint) review

The LG G Flex shows off the potential of curved display technology, but it's the fast performance and top-notch multitasking prowess that make this loaded phablet more than just a tech demo.
Photo of LG G Flex (Sprint)

LG’s G Flex might be a part of a fad, or it could be a peek into the future of smartphone design. Either way, the supersized phablet’s unique design is a welcome oddity in the homogenous world of touch-screen smartphones. At $299.99 (with two-year contract) on Sprint, the G Flex falls right in between the $350 Galaxy Note 3 and $250 HTC One Max. The Note 3 remains our Editors’ Choice for its sharper 1080p display and stylus integration, but the G Flex comes within striking distance thanks to that immersive curved display and excellent multitasking capabilities.

We’ve already reviewed the LG G Flex on AT&T, so head over to that review for a full rundown on the design and features. The Sprint version is physically identical so we’ll focus on the carrier differences for this review.

Network and Call Quality
The Flex runs on Sprint’s 3G CDMA (800/1900MHz) and tri-band Spark LTE (800/1900/2500MHz) networks, meaning it’ll have access to some of the fastest LTE speeds around—where it’s available, of course. Spark LTE is currently only available in a handful of markets, but we’ve seen it reach speeds in excess of 30Mbps down and 20Mbps up. To put that in perspective, I routinely see Verizon and AT&T’s congested LTE networks struggling to reach 10Mbps at times. That said, those bigger carriers have much wider coverage, so the advantage for Sprint isn’t all that practical yet.

I tested the Flex in New York City in an area with good LTE coverage, and in an area with Spark LTE. With a solid Spark connection, I saw speeds of 20-25Mbps down and 6-10Mbps up, which is excellent. Like its AT&T counterpart, the Sprint Flex proves to be a more than capable voice phone. LG will tell you it’s because of the curved design, but I don’t buy that—at best the microphone is fractions of an inch closer to your mouth. In any case, voices coming through the earpiece sound clear with plenty of volume to spare. Transmissions through the mic sounded a bit flat, but still completely intelligible. Noise cancellation is excellent, as the Flex dispensed with some very loud street noises during my tests.  

The Flex comes equipped with a custom-made, curved 3500mAh battery back, which is one of the largest we’ve seen. My initial test call dropped after 9 hours, but the Flex only lost about 40 percent battery in that time so the results look positive so far.

Bloatware and Android
Of the 32GB of internal storage, 23.85GB is available to users out of the box. After seeing the mess AT&T made with its pre-loads, Sprint should be commended. Its Flex has a good deal of pre-loads, too, but every app except Sprint Zone is removable.

There are a few small differences to Android on the Sprint Flex. The settings menu has a traditional single scrolling page style, whereas the AT&T version groups different settings into tabbed pages. Sprint’s version also has a widget loaded onto the home screen that walks you through some of the basic features of the Flex. It’s also got pop-up tips like on the AT&T version, so the widget is pretty redundant, but easy to disable as well. The software keyboard choices are different on the Sprint version. Sprint bundles LG’s default keyboard and the third-party keyboard Swype, which offers predictive text and swiping text entry. AT&T also has LG’s default keyboard, but instead of Swype you get the Android AOSP keyboard. I prefer the latter, but they’re fairly similar and it’s easy enough to load your own favorite third-party keyboard.

Conclusions
The curved screen and physical flexibility are the marquee features here, but I’m more impressed with the LG G Flex’s power and multitasking chops. That, coupled with the engrossing display, make it a better choice than the HTC One Max or the more affordable Samsung Galaxy Mega, which Sprint is selling for $150. Neither of those can keep up with the Flex’s speed and multitasking features. Still, our favorite phablet remains the Galaxy Note 3, which packs a sharper 1080p display, equally adept multitasking abilities, and superb stylus integration.

Specifications
Phone Capability / Network GSM, CDMA, UMTS, LTE
Screen Resolution 1280 x 720 pixels
NFC Yes
Dimensions 6.32 x 3.21 x 0.31 inches
802.11x/Band(s) 802.11 b/g/n/ac
Video Camera Resolution 1080p
Processor Speed 2.26 GHz
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Quad-Core
GPS Yes
Service Provider Sprint
Total Integrated Storage 32 GB
High-Speed Data LTE, CDMA 1X
Weight 6.24 oz
Screen Type P-OLED
Operating System as Tested Android 4.2.2
Physical Keyboard No
Camera Resolution 13 MP Rear
2.1 MP Front-Facing
Screen Pixels Per Inch 245 ppi
Bands 800, 1900, 2500
microSD Slot No
Form Factor Candy Bar
Screen Size 6 inches
Bluetooth Version 4

Verdict
The LG G Flex shows off the potential of curved display technology, but it's the fast performance and top-notch multitasking prowess that make this loaded phablet more than just a tech demo.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc