Technology

LG G Flex curved screen smartphone unveiled, Australian release delayed

Andrew Sadauskas /

LG has unveiled its first curved screen smartphone, the LG G Flex, although production limits on curved glass displays are likely to mean it could be a while before the new devices are available in Australia.

Earlier this month, Samsung unveiled its curved-screen device, the Galaxy Round, which features a curve across the display from left to right when held in portrait position.

By comparison, the LG G Flex is curved from top to bottom, with the company describing it as the first device contoured to the shape of the human face.

In a statement, the company claims numerous benefits for its curved design over traditional “flat” smartphones.

“The curved form increases the sound level by 3dB compared to typical flat smartphones. The curved design also offers a more reassuring grip and fits more comfortably in one’s back pocket,” LG says.

“What’s more, in landscape mode, the display offers an IMAX-like experience, with the result being the most comfortable viewing angle for watching videos or playing games.”

The new device uses two technologies LG’s sister companies – LG Chem and LG Display – put into mass production earlier this month in Plastic OLED (POLED) displays and curved batteries.

Unlike Samsung’s curved OLED displays, LG’s POLED display uses an OLED panel built on a plastic substrate, rather than glass.

As with the company’s flagship LG G2 smartphone, the device features most of its main buttons on the back.

As with the LG G2, it uses a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor running at 2.26GHz.

It’s 6-inch display uses a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, significantly less than the 1920 by 1080 pixel 5.2-inch display on the G2, although LG claims its Real RGB display technology – incorporating red, blue and green sub pixels in a single display pixel – means a more precise display.

The device also runs Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2 and features a 13-megapixel rear camera with a 2.1-megapixel front camera.

The back of the device features a “self-healing” elastic coating and comes in a colour called “titan silver”.

As SmartCompany reported earlier this month, the LG G Flex is part of a series of new smartphones and devices the company is releasing ahead of Christmas, including a low-end device running Mozilla’s Firefox OS and a yet-to-be-released Google Nexus device.

However, the bad news for potential consumers in Australia is that the device is initially only being released in South Korea, with low production volumes and yields meaning a mass-market curved OLED display smartphone is unlikely to reach the Australian market in the short term.

As of August, Samsung Display had a production line serving both rigid and flexible displays capable of handling 8000 1300x1500mm sheets per month, although even with an unrealistically high yield of 100%, this would only produce between 1 million and 1.5 million 5 to 6-inch panels per month.

LG’s capacity was even lower, with its plants currently handling 12,000 730×920 sheets per month, meaning less than 500,000 panels per month with an unrealistically high yield of 100%.

Samsung has also revealed it has had difficulty putting the technology into mass production, with low yields causing over a year of delays in its attempts to mass produce flexible displays.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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