Testmodo Challenge #3: Four Readers Put the LG G Flex2's Curved Screen to the Test

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We're into the homestraight for the LG G Flex2 Testmodo season, and our crack team of readers (Jassen Payen, Tom Price, Suzanne Atkins and Samuel Hudson) are still working hard to bring you their thoughts on LG's curvy phone. They've waxed lyrical about its design and given David Bailey a run for his money while testing the camera. Now, the attention turns to that curved screen, and what it's like to watch movies, view photos and play games on.

Is there really a benefit to watching TV or playing games on a curved mobile screen? Our Testmodo team goes on the hunt for answers with the LG G Flex2.

Let’s not beat around the bush. The most obvious thing that differentiates this phone from other handsets is that curved screen. Pull this out of your pocket, or bag in public and you’re sure to get a few double takes and casual glances. It might look pretty funky, but how does that curved screen affect user experience? I’m delighted to report that it is largely positive and my favourite ‘feature’ of the LG G Flex2 so far.

As you are aware from following this Testmodo, the screen is curved inwards at 23 degrees, and has all that OLED goodness, which makes content appear extremely vibrant, colours nicely saturated, and blacks intense and true. What you may not realise is that unlike other variants of OLED technology, the LG G Flex 2 uses P-OLED, which is what allows the screen to flex up to 75mm, and to be stronger than Gorilla Glass 3.

I’ve always viewed curved screens as a bit of a gimmick, and haven’t really thought much about how it could enhance the overall experience of viewing media, but the LG G Flex2 has made me a believer. Still shots exhibit warm, saturated colours that are intense, thanks to the OLED display. I do find that whites in particular are not as ‘brilliant’ as those on IPS displays, but the warmer white to me was easier on the eyes.

With video, the first thing I did try was a random 1080p video on YouTube, and I was taken in by the immersiveness of the screen, aided no doubt by the curve. Seeing sprawling landscapes and scenery come to life on this phone is something I wasn’t expecting. Compared to my OnePlus One, it makes media on my old handset appear cold and flat. What gives it that lift, that extra dimension, is the combination of the curved screen, and colour vibrancy of the OLED display to treat the senses.

I usually relegate my media viewing duties to my tablet, as you would normally think bigger is better. However ‘dat screen’ has changed my perception. Viewing Netflix, I cued up an episode of the brilliant Daredevil series, and was impressed with the detail and immersion offered up. Daredevil is dark in places, but the OLED display handled all that dark imagery and motion in full HD rather well. The iPad mini, however, is able to pick out details in the extreme whites and blacks better, most likely attributed to the Retina screen, but colours looked more saturated and impressive on the LG G Flex2.

As a fan of Anime, I also decided to test a few episodes of Dragon Ball Kai on the phone using Kodi (previously XBMC). I was most impressed by the way colours were handled on the screen. Animation appears to show the best level of immersion and ‘pop’ that one associates with OLED. Again, the curve adds to this, and makes content on the screen appear bigger than what it really is. To benefit from the effect of the curve with media, I find that it is best viewed from 20+ cm away, as the closer you bring the phone the less of an effect the curve has when viewing the screen.

Is there a downside to ‘dat curve’? Possibly. If you rely on viewing straight lines for work purposes, scrolling through the GUI, lists, and viewing content in some applications and browsers can be a little jarring, because at some angles, straight lines are no longer…er…straight. So there is a very slight level of distortion that may bother some people. Me? I loved the screen. I think it will be a staple of my portable media viewing consumption going forward, but this has also personally given me a compelling reason to reconsider purchasing a curved OLED TV in future.

So we know the phone is curved, and we have already discussed in previous weeks the benefits of this ergonomically, but what are the benefits of the curved screen when it’s actually turned on? Surely they went to all this effort for a reason?

The Flex2 boasts an impressive P-OLED full HD 5.5 inch screen with that iconic sleek curve. The idea behind this curve is to make your viewing experience more immersive and, in my opinion, it works. Kind of. The curve's angle is only very slight, but enough to give you slightly more depth, which adds to the experience when viewing landscape videos or reading in portrait. Whilst you think this might not be a big deal it is almost enough to prevent me from missing the Quad HD screen of my G3.

I found most benefits when watching videos on Netflix and YouTube because they are capable of streaming at top quality, and during shows where immersion seems add to drama. During House of Cards, I almost started my own presidential campaign I was so into it. Where the screen doesn’t excel is when viewing photographs. I found that in this scenario I did miss the higher resolution I got with my G3. This did lead to me originally thinking the camera was not so good which I discussed when reviewing the camera, but I know feel I may have been wrong in that case.

The screen delivers deep colours and whilst it isn’t as bright as the G3’s IPS LCD, this is really irrelevant. In fact, is some ways the Flex2 is easier on the eye than the G3 with warmer colours, and the depth of the Flex2 seems to make it friendlier (if that is even a thing)!

The fact that the resolution is only Full HD isn’t really an issue as most content on the Internet isn’t any higher in resolution, but having said that the QHD is nice.

Whilst the sound quality is above average (compared to older devices which seemed to use tin cans to transfer sound) the situation of the headphone port, in the bottom left of the phone when in portrait, makes holding the phone in landscape more annoying, more noticeably than on flat phones due to the curve extenuating the protruding mini-jack cable. However, really I’m just being picky.

Whilst all of this is fantastic there is one major flaw I found with the screen. Because it is curved towards your eyes, and because it is made of glass (which has a certain reflective quality) if there is any sun, at all, then the screen becomes very difficult to see and all the light is directed at your retina. This is annoying.

All in all, the LG G Flex2's screen is cracking quality, and viewing media on it is a joy, provided it’s cloudy outside!

I don’t drive, which means that I spend more time than I care to admit on trains, tubes and coaches – travelling around the country to see friends and family. Due to this, my phone is my life saver and it needs to be good at entertaining, or my three hour Megabus trip is going to be hell. So how does the LG G Flex2 measure up when viewing media? And does the curve actually mean anything when watching videos or playing games?

Initially I was struck by the brightness of the phone. Even on the lowest setting it was still twice as bright as my previous iPhone 4s. Though this could be a downside if you don’t want people snooping on your texts over your shoulder, it means that you’re always getting the best colour and deepest detail out of the phone – and also (sorry to disagree, Samuel!) means that you never have a problem with sunlight. Whatever the weather, the sun never gets in the way of your usage. This can all be put down to the display’s fantastic 1080p resolution, whereas the original G Flex only had a measly 720p. Though I never experienced the G Flex2’s predecessor, it’s obvious that LG are learning in their upgrades – and no one could argue that 720p just wouldn’t have been good enough.

Media-wise, I’ve tested across the board from Netflix to BBC iPlayer to Now TV – but three weeks in I’m still trying to figure out whether the curve adds enough. It does really bring you into the content you’re watching, you do feel totally immersed. But compared to flat screens, I don’t think it’d be a swaying factor. I could easily go back to watching videos on a normal screen without feeling as though I’m missing out.

I think it’s in playing games where the screen really comes to life though. The 5.5-inch screen size, the resolution, and the bright colours of gaming combine to create a great experience. It feels more enjoyable when you’re on games, and the time I’ve spent playing on them has vastly increased since moving to the G Flex2.

So yes, the screen is great. It definitely satisfies when you’re on a long journey or just want to waste some time. But is it on a par with a lot of competitor phones being released at the minute? Probably, and neither does the curve sway the argument enough to state that the LG G Flex2’s screen is the be all and end all of current phone tech.

LG stepped up the game with the screen for the 2nd generation of their Flex phone. They leapt up from 245 pixels per inch for the original G Flex, to a lovely 403ppi. This allowed them to move on from the original 720p screen to 1080p. Full HD, all the way!

The more pixels on the screen ensure the image is sharp, whether it’s a video or a photograph. The focus is clear, and you are able to appreciate what it is you’re looking at.

Whilst the curve is slight, it's enough to draw your eye to the screen and what's happening there. I'm easily immersed in what's happening on my phone screen, and when comparing the experience to watching a video on the flat LG G3, I felt more comfortable watching a video on the G Flex2. I spend a lot of time holding my phone one handed whilst commuting. Holding the curved phone in one hand is comfortable, and therefore makes for an easy viewing experience. I can cup the phone and easily see the screen without any hindrances, with the curve directing the screen towards my eyesight.

Good CGI swoons with this screen. It's an obvious example but whilst watching Game of Thrones on the phone, I was able to pick up all the intricate details on screen, from the snowflakes in the north, to the flames from the dragons. Bright colours work particularly well on the G Flex2 screen. Any bright photographs look fantastic, and videos including bright colours such as animations, very much stand out. The videos are fluid, with no jarring effects or lagging.

In the name of science (and for no other reason, I swear!) I dug through Netflix and tested out the original series of The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Obviously this is from the 90s and isn't a particularly impressive TV show in any stretch of the word, but somehow the full HD 1080p screen makes even 90s shows look good! It’s smooth, and picks out the sights and sounds well. In other words, you can’t really go wrong with your choice of show. (Hello, nostalgia!)

I find that when watching a video in bright light, the curve of the phone helps to prevent that annoying glare on the screen, as the light doesn't catch the screen as easily. So yes, I'll have to disagree with Samuel too on that front! As we push into summer, this is a highly functional feature, especially as the screen brightness can’t go bright enough to counteract the natural light of even the British summertime. The curve doesn’t eliminate the problem, but it curbs it. Every little helps. I do find the range of brightness on the screen a little lacking. It doesn’t seem to go as bright or as dull as I would expect. I find my old Moto G had more of a range of brightness.

Overall, viewing media on the G Flex2 is an all-round viewing pleasure.

Previously on the LG G Flex2 Testmodo Challenge…

Testmodo Challenge #2: Four Readers Put the LG G Flex2's Camera to the Test
Say "Cheese!"

Testmodo Challenge #1: Four Readers Put the LG G Flex2's Curved Design to the Test
Our four plucky Testmodo winners get to grips with LG's curvy handset. Read More >>

Check back for the final Testmodo challenge on May 29th, and follow our Testmodo winners' tweets using the hashtag #testmodoGFlex2.