LG Electronics took the wraps off its new G Flex smartphone, which features a curved display. The move ups the ante in LG's rivalry with larger competitor Samsung Electronics, which earlier this month announced its own curved-screen phone, the Galaxy Round.
LG's G Flex
LG said the G Flex is between 7.9 and 8.7 millimeters thick at various points along its vertical arc and has a 6-inch, 720p display. According to LG, the vertically curved design of the G Flex reduces the distance between a user's mouth and the microphone when the device is held against the ear, and uses a curvature arc that is optimized for the average face, to deliver improved voice and sound quality.
Interestingly, LG also claims the G Flex is first smartphone to apply a "self-healing" elastic coating on the back cover, which gives it "the ability to recover from the daily wear-and-tear scratches and nicks that un-cased smartphones are likely to receive." According to multiple reports, LG compared this feature in its Korean press release to the self-healing powers of the mutant Wolverine from the "X-Men" series.
The G Flex runs Android 4.2.2 and is powered by Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) quad-core 2.26 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor. LG said the phone's "Dual Window" feature divides the screen into two separate windows for more effective multitasking, and that its "Swing Lock screen" feature alters the image on the lock screen depending on how the G Flex is held. LG claims that the phone, in landscape mode, "offers an IMAX-like experience for multimedia."
LG did not reveal pricing for the G Flex but said it would be available in South Korea starting in November. The company said it plans to sell the device in additional markets, but declined to specify which markets.
Announced earlier this month, Samsung's Galaxy Round smartphone features a 5.7-inch full HD super AMOLED curved screen and is now on sale in South Korea for about $1,000 without a contract. Samsung has not said when, or if, the phone will come to the U.S. market.
As the New York Times notes, the two phones have different appearances: Samsung's Galaxy Round wraps slightly around the vertical axis while G Flex has a more apparent curve along its horizontal axis, like a banana.
It's unclear if consumers will care all that much about the innovation in curved displays, and the high price tags could scare off potential buyers. As Reuters notes, analysts have said the lack of must-have features could deter would-be buyers and manufacturing costs for such phones remain high.
Last week LG reported its first operating loss at its mobile unit in a year. The loss is likely due to intense competition and higher marketing costs for the company's flagship G2 smartphone. Meantime, Samsung's handset/network equipment unit last week reported an operating profit of $6.3 billion for the third quarter, up 7 percent from the second quarter and up from $5.3 billion in the year-ago period.
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