It's harder than ever for smartphone makers to differentiate their devices, so we're seeing more experiments (often of questionable value), like curved screens. Let's look at the features and specs of the latest curved-screen phone, the LG G Flex 2, next to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
In an unusual turn of events, the LG G Flex 2 is actually smaller than its predecessor, the original G Flex. It's also 3 percent shorter and 5 percent narrower than the Galaxy Note 4.
The G Flex 2 is also 11 percent thicker than the Note, but the Flex has a tapered back and is 7.1 mm at its thinnest point (around the top and bottom edges).
The smaller G Flex 2 is also 14 percent lighter than the Galaxy Note 4.
The G Flex 2 looks a lot like a bent LG G3. Like the G3, it's casing is made of a faux metal-looking plastic.
The G Flex 2's backing uses a material that can "heal" some nicks and scratches (within limits, of course). And the G Flex 2 works this Wolverine magic faster than the original G Flex did.
We're looking at two color options for the G Flex 2 and four for the Note 4.
Last year's LG G Flex had a huge 6-in display, but this year's sequel measures a much tamer 5.5 inches. That has the Note 4 coming out at over 7 percent bigger.
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to screen size: the G Flex 2 uses up some of its area for onscreen nav buttons (except when Android's Immersive Mode fades them out), while the Note's below-screen buttons let apps use its full screen.
We're guessing the curved screen limits LG's options for display resolution (either that or a Quad HD panel would have eaten into profit margins), as it sticks with 1080p resolution. The Note's panel has ultra-crisp Quad HD resolution, and is about 28 percent sharper.
As we've already established, the G Flex has a curved (and flexible) display, ranging from a 400mm to 700mm radius. You can briefly bend it flat against a hard surface, but you can't bend it backwards or twist it.
The big question is what this adds to your experience. We'll have to wait for some extended hands-on time to say much one way or the other, but LG mentions that the phone's microphone sits closer to your mouth, to help reduce background noise on phone calls. The company also describes the display as providing a "truly immersive viewing experience from any angle."
Sounds a bit like a solution in search of a problem, but, again, we'll consider this an incomplete until we get our hands on a review unit.
LG's P-OLED display technology (also seen in the company's G Watch R) makes that curve possible.
It's a little surprising that more rival phablet makers haven't tried to copy the Galaxy Note's stylus input. We find that it adds to the overall experience, giving it more of a PDA feel.
The Note 4's S Pen is more responsive than the pens you'd find in older Notes.
The Note 4 also has a (swipe-based) fingerprint sensor, letting you secure your device without bothering with passcodes, passwords or pass-anythings.
It's too early to comment on the G Flex's battery life, but considering it has a lower-res display and newer processor (more on that in a minute), we'd bet it will fare just fine in this department.
The Note 4 lets you swap your battery on the go. That is, if you buy a spare and remember to keep it with you.
Ultra Power Saving Mode
Samsung's Ultra Power Saving Mode, first seen in the GS5, lets you stay on the grid if you're almost out of juice.
Both devices are compatible with Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0 tech, which lets you jump to 50 percent battery life (from a dead battery) in 30-40 minutes. You will, however, need to use compatible chargers, which both phones ship with.
It looks like the G Flex 2 has the same cameras as the flagship G3, which is a very good thing. The Note 4 also has an impressive camera, though we wish it would fire up a bit quicker.
Part of the G3 camera's appeal – and now the G Flex 2 – is its laser-based autofocus. It lets you take quick shots, by simply tapping the point of the screen that you want in focus.
Both phones have their own versions of Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), to help offset the effects of shaky hands.
Both phones should be very fast (we can vouch that the Note 4 is), but the G Flex 2 runs the new 64-bit Snapdragon 810.
Though this visual only shows the processor info for the US version of the Note 4, there's also a global version that runs an octa-core Samsung Exynos processor
The Note does, however, have an extra gig of RAM over the Flex.
The Note also doubles the Flex's internal storage options, and both devices have microSD slots.
Heart rate sensor
The Note 4 has a heart rate sensor on its backside.
If you want to be among the first to taste Oculus VR's excellent take on virtual reality, then the Note 4 is the phone to buy. It's the only handset compatible with the Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR. Though it isn't perfect (and can be susceptible to overheating if you don't aim a fan at it during use), it's much like a lower-powered and wireless Oculus Rift.
It's possible that the G Flex 2 will work with Google Cardboard developer kits, but its curved design may pose some problems there.
Speaking of that launch, LG has only announced availability for South Korea, where it will launch in January. Considering the G3 's US launch was about two months behind Korea's, though, it's possible Americans will still have to wait a while for the Flex.
Starting price (full retail)
This is another mystery for the G Flex 2. The Note 4 typically retails for around US$700 full retail.
Starting price (on-contract)
We also have to wait to see what the Flex will cost on-contract.
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