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.
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."
And 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 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.