LG Electronics (NASDAQOTH: LGEAF) may not have unveiled the unbreakable OLED smartphone some investors were hoping for this week at CES 2015. But it certainly didn't disappoint.
Rather, LG did announce its second curved OLED device in the widely anticipated G Flex 2. But considering many consumers viewed the original G Flex as a novelty given its high price and unwieldy 6-inch curved display, nobody would blame you for wondering if G Flex 2 will suffer the same fate.
As it turns out, however, many industry observers have already given the G Flex 2 rave reviews. The Verge, for example, even calls it the "first great curved smartphone," while Popular Science insists the G Flex 2 "ushers in the next great generation of Android smartphones."
To be sure, the G Flex 2 stands out for three surprising reasons:
1. More subtle shape and size
Ironically, two of the biggest drawbacks of the original G Flex were its enormous size and dramatic curve. These made it feel almost as though LG was trying to prove a point by showing off the G Flex's novel plastic-OLED tech from LG Display in as dramatic a fashion as possible.
This time, however, LG has reduced the display size to a more manageable 5.5 inches, which is in line with Apple's iPhone 6 Plus, and slightly smaller than Samsung's 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4. LG also favored moderation by making the G Flex 2's curve slightly less pronounced. As a result, consumers are left with a smaller, easier-to-handle curved device they might actually consider buying and using.
2. Beefy specifications
To go with its newly honed form factor, the G Flex 2 also sports monstrous hardware specs.
For perspective, last year's G Flex elicited "meh" reactions with its 720 x 1280 resolution at 245 pixels per inch (ppi). To LG's credit, it was an undoubtedly difficult engineering feat to commercialize the original G flex's curved display. But the fact remains if electronics connoisseurs are paying top dollar for such a device, they want that display to not just be curved, but comparable or superior in every other way as well.
Sure enough, the G Flex 2's smaller P-OLED display has been bumped up to full HD, with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 at 403 ppi. By comparison, Apple's iPhone 6 Plus features the same resolution at 401 ppi.
And perhaps most important, the G Flex 2 is the first smartphone to come equipped with Qualcomm's impressively upgraded Snapdragon 810, an energy efficient, Octa-Core 64-bit beast of a processor optimized for Android 5.0 Lollipop. Couple that with 2GB RAM and a solid 13 megapixel rear-facing camera, and the G Flex 2 should have plenty of horsepower to make even the most ambitious tech junkies drool.
3. It's strangely durable
Finally -- and this might just be the most intriguing piece -- LG's G Flex 2 is incredibly durable. So much so, in fact, that the aforementioned reviewer at The Verge actually watched an LG employee purposefully throw one on the floor and step on it. Later, he tried it out himself with his test unit before going so far as to toss it 20 feet in the air without so much as making a dent -- albeit on a carpeted surface and not concrete.
Even then, LG insists the G Flex 2's flexible form factor helps it better resist abuse than flat, more rigid devices. In addition, while the G Flex 2 does continue to employ Corning's Gorilla Glass as its protective cover of choice, this time LG used its own proprietary chemical treatment technology to make its Gorilla Glass roughly 20% more durable than when Corning handed it over. LG calls this variation its "Dura-Guard Glass" and states it's particularly effective near the edges of the device where many devastating Gorilla Glass cracks tend to occur.
Also like the original G Flex, the G Flex 2 features LG's unique "self-healing" back cover. But while the original required around three minutes to repair most minor dings, the G Flex 2's newly improved self-healing back can make the same nicks and scratches disappear within 10 seconds at room temperature.
A worthy successor
Of course, these three items don't necessarily mean LG's G Flex 2 will take the world by storm and dominate all competitors. However, given its more palatable form factor, impressive hardware specs aside from that form, and delightful damage resistant design, I view it as a welcome next step in LG's journey toward building an ideal smartphone. In the end, time will tell whether the G Flex 2 proves a runaway commercial success in and of itself, but I can't wait to see where LG takes it from here.