Steve's Conclusion

By

Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for LG_G_Flex.jpg
  • 13-Megapixel Primary Camera
  • 2-Megapixel Front Facing Camera
  • 6.0-Inch Touch LCD Screen
  • Powerful Snapdragon 800 processor
  • Dual camera recording
  • Back digital zoom/shutter release control
  • iAuto mode
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Internal rechargeable battery
  • Burst Shooting Modes
  • Dynamic Tone (HDR) Mode
Pros
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • 6-inch touch LCD is easy to see and operate
  • Program the back control for either digital zoom or shutter release
  • Excellent image quality with good light
  • Face detection and touch to focus control
  • Very fast burst shooting
  • HD video capture from both cameras
  • Good battery life
Cons
  • Lower image quality from low-light images
  • LED flash is not as accurate or color balanced
  • No optical zoom or image stabilization
  • No external memory capability
  • No HDMI output for HD movies on an HDTV
Timing Test Results
  • Home Screen to first image captured = 1.6 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 2/10 to 1.0 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.54 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 2.40 seconds
  • High Speed Burst = 13.33fps for 20 images
  • All tests were in Normal mdoe, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The LG G Flex is a powerful and very large smartphone. Its size is for those who are having trouble deciding between a phone and tablet. The processor and camera give it the capabilities of replacing a compact digicam minus the flash and optical zoom.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a smartphone that will really stand out. The curved body and powerful features make this a fantastic smartphone, if you can handle the size.
The LG G Flex is an innovative new smartphone with a very unique design. Instead of being flat like all other phones, the G Flex is curved for a more comfortable experience. This also means that the 6.0-inch touch LCD screen and powerful 3,500mAh battery are curved as well, giving the entire phone a smooth, fluid curve that is sure to impress. The G Flex also includes Qualcomm's 2.26GHz Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, 13-Megapixel primary camera, 2-Megapixel front-facing camera, rear control keys and all of the great features of Android's 4.4.2 KitKat OS. This entire combination makes for a large, powerful and fun to use device. This fantastic device is currently supported on the Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T cellular services.

LG has given the G Flex one of the most powerful processors available in the Snapdragon 800, to make sure the smartphone and its features can outperform the competition. This 2.26GHz quad-core processor allows the phone to run Android KitKat with multiple windows/programs running at the same time. As one of the few smartphones that currently allow true multitasking, and one of the few that are large enough to pull it off, this truly is like having a laptop in the palm of your hand. The Snapdragon processor is very useful when using the phone to capture images as well. Its power allows the camera to shoot and process several images very quickly as well as the capture of full 1080p HD video from either of the two cameras. 

A feature far more common on smartphones than on digital cameras is having a primary and a front-facing camera. The 13-Megapixel primary camera is much more powerful and will record the best possible images. This camera features the touch-control AF system and LED flash unit that the other does not. The front-facing camera has its benefits as well. First, it makes "selfies" as easy as ever, allowing you to look directly at yourself as you are capturing your images. It also allows for full HD video chatting, so the person you are chatting with will get the highest quality video feed possible. Just like we saw on the G2, the G Flex features the back control keys that allow you to either capture an image or control the camera's digital zoom with just one touch. 

While many people will be looking to replace their compact cameras with a new smartphone, there are a few drawbacks. First you will be without an optical zoom, limiting the versatility of the camera. These smartphones do have digital zoom capabilities, but like with any other digital camera, they will degrade the quality of the image. Next is the lack of a strobe style flash unit. The LED flash used by smartphones is not near as powerful or controlled as well as a typical flash. Finally you have to consider the overall size of the image sensor itself. While they are matching digital cameras in resolution, the sensor itself is much smaller in order to include it into the compact and very thin phones. The smaller sensors do not handle light as well, adding noise and reducing image quality compared to a compact digital camera.

Our outdoor image samples from the G Flex look outstanding, and very surprising coming from a smartphone. We can see the excellent exposure, color and sharpness of the images without any problems. This shows the camera sensor and processor have no problems handling bright light situations, making this a great option if you will be traveling to bright locations and shooting outside. You can also see in some of our standard outdoor shots that the lack of an optical zoom can cause some framing issues, as we were not able to get to the correct positions to compose our images in the normal manner. This is due to the camera's rather wide fixed lens.

The image quality from our indoor images was a little more of what we expected. The smaller sensor did not perform as well in lower-light situations. Increased noise and lower amounts of detail are evident in these images, although the color and exposures still came out well. The lower-light shooting is also made more difficult by the lack of a tripod mount and image stabilization, forcing you to have to hold the camera still enough to capture a sharp image. There is an LED flash unit associated with the primary camera, and it does come in handy when some extra illumination is needed. However, it is not controlled as well as a standard flash and is not color balanced. 

Recently the AF systems on smartphones have become much more advanced, giving us many of the features that we are used to seeing on digicams. The G Flex uses a 9-point AF system in standard shooting. Touch screen and face detection with tracking features are also available to assist you in your different shooting scenarios. Touch screen AF is the easiest way to compose your images, allowing you to touch the spot on the screen that you want in focus. With the large 6-inch OLED Touchscreen, this is as easy as ever. The camera's face detection software works fairly well, detecting and following the faces within the frame. It also gives the faces priority for focus and exposure when capturing your images, so your faces are always the focus of your photos. Our sample image came out well for an indoor image. The phone decided not to use the flash for this situation, being set to Auto. Even though it raised the ISO setting, it kept redness from the eyes and the natural color tones that would have been altered by the LED flash.

Panorama, burst shooting and Dynamic Tone are a few of the special shooting modes that the G Flex are capable of thanks to the Snapdragon 800 processor. It allows the camera to capture images at a rate of up to 13.33fps for 20 images. This high burst rate also allows the camera to capture several images that can be combined or stitched to create a more creative image. High Dynamic Tone or HDR captures several images at different exposures, then combines them to create an image with more detail in both the light and dark areas of the image. Panorama will capture images as you pan the phone, then stitch them into one single image that is much wider than normal. A separate VR Panorama will capture images and stitch them in whatever direction you turn the camera. You can use this to capture a full 360° image. While the image file will look a little strange, as ours does, when played back on the phone you will see a much more accurate-looking image as it scrolls across the screen.

Shooting movies with the G Flex is much like using a digicam that does not allow the optical zoom. For our tests we stay away from using the digital zoom to keep the image quality as high as possible. The lack of a zoom lens limited our shooting a little, causing us to have to move the camera to get the shots that we wanted. Our videos played back very smoothly, but the videos were grainy. The small built-in mic left us with some strange sounding audio as well. It sounds like the camera tried to cancel the background noise and at the same time increase the other audio, giving us a strange water sound. With no HDMI output you are left to watch your videos on the phone's LCD screen or download them to your computer. 

Powering the G Flex is a very unique 3,500mAh rechargeable battery. This high-capacity battery has been designed with the same curve as the phone to keep with the slim styling. The 3,500mAh capacity is crucial to allowing you to use the phone all day on a single charge with its high power usage from the LCD and processor. Providing up to 19.4 hours of talk time, and many more on standby,  the battery really does hold its own in the power consumption department. During our tests the battery did very well when comparing it to the offerings found in other phones.

Bottom Line - The LG G Flex is a large and powerful smartphone with the distinct curved body that will really makes it stand out. For some people the 6-inch screen will be too large to carry on a regular basis, but to others bigger is better. The powerful processor and 13-Megapixel camera allow for multi-tasking: work, play and keeping up with social medial all at the same time. The camera'd quality does give you the option to leave your regular digital camera at home, especially if shooting in well-lit situations. In low-light the image quality does suffer, and the lack of a strobe-style flash and optical zoom also offer setbacks.


Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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