LG G Flex display

The LG G Flex is seen as just the first step in new direction for smartphones

Why make a flexible, bendable, curved phone, you ask? 

"Probably we got bored," LG's Ramchan Woo joked at a small press gathering Tuesday night in a San Francisco hotel. And you sort of get a sense of that when you hear LG talk about the G Flex. The company certainly isn't against trying something new. In September in Berlin we got our first look at the LG G2, which moved the power and volume buttons to the back of the phone. 

Now we have the G Flex. (Check out our hands-on.) The 6-inch Android smartphone bends. It curves. It's flexible. You can smash down on it with up to 88 pounds of force — about what you'd get if you sat on it, LG says — without causing any real damage. Hell, the thing heals itself from minor scratches.

And Dr. Woo — and LG along with him — see this as the future.

Dr. Ramchan Woo

Some 40 percent of smartphones will be bendable or flexible or curved by the end of the decade, says Woo, who is head of the LTE Product Planning Division at the LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company.. "A lot of form factors like curved, bendable, foldable or wearable — you know the future. You can dream for the future. It will not be the same as today."

LG G Flex displayAnd that's where you start to get a sense of where the G Flex fits in. It's just the beginning of that shift. 

"All the phones today are just flat," Woo said. "However, when you project the future, it will not be the same as today. So the G Flex is on the right (path)."

And, actually, that shift is organic, Woo said. The phone has a 700mm radius curvature. More than 300 mockups ended with that "perfect fit for your body," Woo continued.

"Also, when you think about it, when you look at something around you, there's nothing actually flat around your body. Everything around your body is actually curved. So that's one of the biggest reasons why we chose to make a curved phone."

We got an inside look — quite literally — at what lets the G Flex get its bend on. Pretty much every major part of this phone has to flex somewhat. The paper-thin display. The glass that sits atop it (which Dr. Woo said finally is thin enough to be able to bend like this) — to even the battery.

LG G Flex battery

LG Chem, which provides batteries for the company's smartphones, came up with a new "safety reinforcing separator" system for the G Flex's power source, wherein the curved battery is somewhat like curving wood, with multiple layers that are able to slide slightly, thus keeping things from breaking. 

Even after all that, though, bending and flexing is just one part of what makes the LG G Flex so interesting. We'll have more coming up.


Reader comments

LG: Nearly half of all smartphones will be curved, bendable by end of decade


Maybe, but I think I'll be a part of the other half still using a flat device. The LG G Flex is nice, though.

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Agreed. I'm still at a loss to understand how a flexible phone will be of any advantage. I refuse to believe they have materials that can be folded and unfolded thousands of times with zero wear and tear. And if it's just bendable, I keep comparing it to trying to use a floppy kitchen sponge as a phone - it just doesn't seem practical.

It isn't folding completely, I'd hope- that would indeed create a large amount of damage (even the act of folding paper permanently damages the paper).

However, if it's just flexing, I'd imagine that we can get a significant amount of use (at least to last you long enough until your next upgrade, ala early adopters/quick upgraders), provided the construction and design work out. Think of bows (not composite bows), they're designed to handle the flexing motion and use it to store force/energy. Those are pretty reliable, and the string is likely to wear out and break before the bow does.

Stuff that has the ability to flex isn't new. We're just applying it in unorthodox ways. In 10-20 years, when every device flexs and you're scoffing at that, it'll be like the last few generations from out time scoffing at you for having a smartphone/computer in your pocket.

I'm not super excited about it myself, but Marques Brownlee posted a hands of with the Flex that showed off the flexibility and damage resistance, and it really was pretty damn impressive. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if this ends up being one of those weird, gimmicky features that turns out to have lots of initially unexpected applications.

Sent from my iPhone

I like my flat phones. The curve doesn't seem to do much for me. The only problem I have with phones is that they're too thin without a case.

Posted via Android Central App

Dr. Woohoo? Sounds so awesome, you cheer every time you say his name.

Seriously, though, this is quite the engineering feat. Remember that EVO LTE that someone sat on and snapped in half? Or all those Nexus 4s and fruity phones whose glass backs shatter when the get dropped the wrong way? Yeah, this should theoretically fix those problems.

Posted from my HTC EVO 4G LTE via Android Central App

I gotta say I'm kinda impressed with LG sort of pioneering this whole idea of a truly flexible phone. I have yet to see why I'd want a flexible phone and how it'd benefit me. I weigh much more than 80 something pounds, so I'd probably snap it if I sat on it. But I'm always open to new ideas and maybe things will eventually get to the point where flexible phones will be really practical and make sense, rather than just being a novelty

Sent via my Verizon Moto X

If the phone has give to it, it is more likely to survive drops and getting sit on. Watch a video about the LG G-Flex. I would say it is the first phone that a case is not necessary.

What's innovative here is the flexible display. Will this display make the screen less prone to breaking from a simple drop? The Achilles of every phone is that fragility of the display screen. Will this flexible display type result in a phone that you wont need a protective case for? Not crazy about the curve, but if the display can finally take some abuse without breaking, maybe screen protectors are a thing is the past.

Screen protectors are already a thing of the past. Screens are engineered to be scratch resistant. Currently that's why they're more prone to shattering. A screen protector will not stop a screen from shattering.

I'm in! I got the LG G2 to try something different. I was tired of Samsung and I really like the differences, so yeah LG bring it on!

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I don't care if it is flexible or not. I care about the superior display tech and cheaper manufacturing prices that a cheap plastic display provides. I'm glad they've finally figured out how to mass produce these things in an oxygen deprived environment with an inkjet!

I do like the idea of a device that starts (folded) at pocket size, or wrist size even, and then expands to tablet sized. A few years from now at most, there are going to be some amazing designs —it's great tech!

Why? This will only make phones more rugged and able to survive wear and tear. Try bending your phone now and see what happens.

I'm surprised by how dismissive the majority of people seem to be to something we haven't even seen/held/played with yet. I don't know that I'll necessarily like a curved or flexible phone, but it's certainly innovative. I think we should wait to see what develops before dismissing the idea altogether. We might be surprised.

Battery tech will have to drastically change to match form and function of a flexible display. Don't see that happening in the next decade.

I wouldn't mind a slight curve similar to the way the glass on the Nexus S was curved. The really major curves we are seeing with that new phone in Korea are too much though. I don't want to feel the curve when it is in my pocket and I don't want the phone curved the other way, in the shape of my leg. Curving a phone that way seems like something they are doing just because they can rather than doing it for a functional reason.

I understand that the flexible phones only bend enough to be durable and not break if in a pocket and sat on or dropped. But the issue with the LG flex is that it is curved the wrong way, top to bottom, to put in front pocket of jeans. Makes it bulge out in a pocket. The Samsung Round I understand being curved side to side it fits the contour of your leg.

Ah! Now THAT is brilliant! I'm embarrassed to admit that I didnt even consider how convenient the simple modification of changing the axis of the curvature truly is. Candidly, unlike the majority of unimpressed persons, I was intrigued by this new idea of flexing phones, and it seems rather reasonable to assume it actually would be harder to crack the screen by dropping your phone due to the ability of an arch to absorb more of the energy on impact. My humble opinion is that its absolutely genius! Side to side curvature - even BETTER!

Hey, if that's how it works out, good for them for anticipating the future.

Posted from my HTC EVO 4G LTE via Android Central App

How come the new flexible screens are still easily breakable like the previous ones?

Weren't they supposed to be much better in this matter?

Many seem to have it that the Lg G-Flex is the final product and no advancement to this particular feild will be implamented hmm i dont see the purpose of the G-Flex myself but this tech will advance and move forward- however i like my slate/bar phones if only they would concentrate on implementing materials that can resist drops and be minor scratch resistent. That would then keep the design of the phone and do away with ugly and annoying cases.

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it's cool looking tech and stuff of sci-fi. I'd definitely have to have a device in had to see if I'd even like it for day to day use but imagine e-readers made with this kind of tech! Get the feeling of print with the convenience of digital. I'd also think it would be more comfortable to hold for reading as the flexible nature would allow for a more relaxed grip. Anyways, it's cool to think about how and where this technology would go, there are many mobile applications but for a phone I think it would be less successful outside of anything like the G-Flex which is still rigid enough to hold like a phone but the flexible nature makes it less likely to shatter.

It's a way to differentiate it's phone. People will bite on this. Not sure how much given that phones are becoming a commodity, they need to find ways to differentiate so they can charge a premium. There really is no bad smartphone out there. They all have good and bad things but they all do the same thing. Anyway, I think this will have some legs.

Posted via Android Central App on BlackBerry Z30